Covid-19 in Southborough: Situation and Updates on reopening

[For links to stories related to Covid-19 or reopenings, scroll down.]

Info below was last updated – May 7th, 12:25 pm.

Vaccine Clinics

On April 14th, the Regional Covid-19 Vaccination Clinic opened at the Westborough Doubletree Hotel located at 5400 Computer Drive. Each week, some slots are reserved for Southborough residents. In addition to shots reserved for partnering Towns, other appointments are available to the general public through the mass vaccination registration system. (Click here for details.)

On May 8th, the clinic will hold special hours for community students ages 16+. (You can find those details here.)

Previously, the Town posted information about last minute appointments that will be posted each Wednesday – Friday. (Click here for those details.) You can check for other vaccine clinic opportunities on the Town’s site here and my latest posts on clinics here.

The numbers in Southborough

May 6 - tracking Covid in Southborough

  • May 6 - Confirmed per Day in Southborough over 14 daysThe Town last updated its Covid-19 figures “as of” 10:00 am on May 6th.
  • 0 cases were confirmed reported since the prior report on Monday, 9 in the previous 6 days. 
  • The Town’s cumulative total over the course of the pandemic remains at 499 cases with 35 cases labeled active. May 6 - Cumulative total Covid in Southborough(For details, click on graphs above and right.) 
  • As for the accuracy of “active cases”. . . A mid-December surge combined with Public Health staffing issues, created an inaccurately high peak in mid-December. (It’s possible for other surge spikes since to contain cases no longer in isolation when staff falls behind on the ability to officially clear cases.) As for why (conversely) the number of newly confirmed cases can rise while the number of active cases in isolation stays low or decreases, that relates to the timing of the infection and symptoms vs. when test results come back. (You can read the explanation from Southborough’s public health nurse here.)
  • As of Sunday, March 28th, a third resident was reported as having died from Covid-19. The first resident died in late June and the second death was reported on December 17th. This case was reported as of March 28th, with the last previous data reported as of the morning of the 23rd. (No information has been publicly posted clarifying the identity of the most recent deaths.) All other patients no longer classified as active were released from isolation.
  • Demographics: The Town website page provides the number of those cases under quarantine and those released from it, plus the age ranges of infected residents.* Below are my graphs showing the current age breakdown and the ages over the course of the pandemic. (Click to enlarge.)

May 3 - Covid by ages in SouthboroughMay 3 - Covid by ages in Southborough over time 

  • State reporting:
    • Risk Classification – This week’s report (issued May 6th) kept Southborough’s risk at yellow.
    • May 1 - Southborough Testing and Positivity RatesTesting & Positivity Rates – The report lists 16 cases in two weeks with the Average Daily Incidence Rate per 100,000 as 11.8 (lower) and the % of tests confirmed positive as 0.78% (<0.10% difference from prior report). (The reports are issued on Thursday evenings, based on data covering the 14 day period ending on the prior Saturday.) (You can read more about why there are sometimes differences between the Town data I track and the state’s figures in their reports here.) See my tracking of the testing & positivity rates right.
    • History:
      • On November 6th, the state changed its metrics for reporting community level risk. That moved Southborough to a low level risk community. While the Town was labeled as high risk by the state for several weeks this fall, under the new standards, it wouldn’t have met that threshold.
      • Under the old criteria, all Towns’ risks were measured based on the number of cases confirmed per 100k of residents. That meant that a few cases had a big impact on a small Town’s risk level assessment. The state now uses three different models risk based on population size categories. As a Town with less than 10,000 residents, the calculation is much simpler. To move into yellow, there need to be more than 15 new cases per 14 days, and more than 25 cases per 14 days to be labeled red. (The most cases I tracked Southborough as ever confirming in 2 weeks prior to November 6th was 20.)
      • On Thanksgiving, the state elevated Southborough’s risk to yellow. On December 3rd, the state classified Southborough as red. The Town remained in the high risk category for 11 weeks until February 18 when it was lowered to yellow, then finally back to green on March 12th. The very next week, we were back in yellow – for two weeks before the shift back to red on March 31st for two weeks. The state returned us to yellow the week of April 15th.
  • NSBORO School District Data:
    • The Northborough-Southborough schools’ weekly Dashboard for April 26 – May 2 shows 6 new cases were confirmed across the districts. That makes 301 cases this school year (for in-person schooling). 
    • While the screening program remains well below the 80% goals, it successfully screened out 2 asymptomatic students last week.
    • 85 students and staff were isolated/quarantined last week. (64 of those were due to Travel Quarantines the week following spring break.) In addition, 17 students/staff were asked to monitor symptoms under revised quarantine policies.
    • Below are charts and info from the latest Dashboard and my tracking of their data since the start of the school year. (The isolation/quarantine graphs have been modified based on a policy change in the school’s handling of contacts in the range of 3-6 feet.)

 May 2 - NSBORO Covid-Dashboard p 1 May 2 - NSBORO Covid Dashboard p3 May 2 - NSBORO Covid Dashboard p2 May 2 - New cases in NSBORO schools by week May 2 - Southborough Students-Staff in Quarantine-Isolation May 2 - Algonquin Students-Staff in Quarantine-Isolation

  • Surrounding towns
    • This week, the state lowered Northborough to green and kept all of our other immediate neighbors in yellow (Marlborough,  Westborough, Hopkinton, Framingham, and Ashland).
    • Circling one more level out, most of our secondary neighbors are also low risk except for three yellow communities (Holliston, Hudson, and Milford).
  • Vaccinated Residents
    • As of this week’s report – 6,873 Southborough residents have received shots. That means 71% of our Town is at least partially vaccinated (as of May 4th).
    • 88% of residents 20+ are at least partially vaccinated. 65% of ages 50+ are fully vaccinated.
    • More highlights by age group and gender are in charts below:
      May 4 - Residents vaccinated by age May 4 - Vaccinations-table May 4 - Vaccination progress by age group
    • (For more details on those groups, plus race/ethnicity, click here.)

Story & Update links

The Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is keeping many families at home to reduce risk of quickly spreading the virus.

  • For related stories, starting with the most recent, click here. (This includes info on Town services restricted or enhanced to deal with the stay at home advisory.)
  • For stories on school reopening plans, click here.
  • For stories on other reopenings in Southborough, click here.
  • Official updates by the Town are on the Town’s dedicated website page – click here. (And click here to subscribe to their email updates.)
  • The Town published a 2-page Resources for Residents mailer that highlights help available for those who need it. You can view that here.
  • For stories on how the community is trying to feel less isolated, offer aid, spread some joy or help mitigate stress, click here for coming-together posts.
  • For information beyond our Town, click links for CDC, updates by Mass DPH and the Governor, updates from our state representative, and the Mass AG’s page for Frontline Worker Resources.
  • On May 18th, the state issued plans for the phased reopening and moved from “Stay at home advisory” to “Safer at home advisory”.

Resources for assistance

  • The Southborough Food Pantry is still open during regular hours except for Tuesday nights. They have sent safety instructions to clients. If you want to help, you can make a gift card or cash donation. Or you can drop of items in Pilgrim Church’s donation bin. (Items left there are “quarantined” for days before being added to the pantry stock.)
  • Seniors who need assistance should contact the Southborough Senior Center at 508-229-4453.
  • Small Businesses impacted can check the Economic Development Committee’s posting of resources for help through state and federal agencies.
  • Those having difficulty making ends meet because of a loss of job, change in income, medical bills, or other hardship can find information on the Southborough Emergency Fund in a resource for residents mailer from the Town here.
  • Residents Experiencing Job Loss or Loss of Income can look at resources information shared by State Rep Carolyn Dykema
  • Emotional Support – Southborough Youth & Family Services is offering Online Support Groups with parenting issues, family matters, experiencing intense emotions, feelings of isolated and loneliness, worry over health concerns, or all of the above.

Facilities

  • Open
    • The Southborough Library – partially. The Library opened curbside pickup service on June 8th. Find those details here. Some online resources are also available to patrons with library cards via the Library’s website. (You can read about those here and here.) The Library is also posting info and resources (including occasional virtual storytimes and book clubs) on Facebook.
    • Public Trails remain open. (Note: Chestnut Hill farm’s trails temporarily closed, but reopened on Friday, April 24th. No dogs are allowed on the farm’s trails.)
    • The Southborough Golf Club is open for golfing now with some restrictions.
    • Trottier’s running track has been re-opened for walking and jogging. The public is asked to maintain social distance while using it. No dogs, bikes, or strollers are allowed.
    • After a 2-month closure, most Town athletic fields reopened on May 25th (except for Depietri Field and 9/11 Field). The fields are open with restrictions on use (like caps on gatherings and prohibitions on pickup games and organized sports). Organized sports will be allowed to resume non-competitive, uses by permit on June 15th.
    • Tennis courts opened on Tuesday, May 26th. With some restrictions. Restrictions will loosen somewhat on June 15th.
    • Playgrounds closed in March and reopened on June 15th.
  • Closed/Cancelled
    • Depietri Field and 9/11 Field. (Repairs are being made to Depietri Field. The other field is leased from the state, and under the agreement only organized, by-permit use is allowed. Those uses for playing fields aren’t allowed under the current phase of the state’s “Reopening Plan”.) See details.
    • The Southborough Senior Center closed in mid-March “Until Further Notice”. There will be no classes, programs or Saturday Morning Unstructured Activities. The staff will be working in the building and available by phone. If you need to speak to a Staff Member, Staff Nurse or Outreach Coordinator, please call 508-229-4453.
    • Town buildings are still closed to the public (see details below under Town)
    • The Southborough Library is still closed for public entry – though other services as described above are available.
    • Summer Camps (run by the Town) and most Recreation programs were cancelled for this spring and summer. Town Rec is working to see if they can offer some events and/or limited programs sometime this summer. At this point they have one vendor offering Soccer Camps for one week in August.
    • Southborough Summer Nights is cancelled. (News is still pending on Heritage Day and the Gobble Wobble.)

Restaurants & Markets

  • Most Restaurants/Coffee shops in Southborough are still offering take-out and delivery service. (Though some offer delivery only through 3rd party services.) Some have opened indoor/outdoor dining. Click here for the updated list from December.
  • Most Markets are still open during regular hours. Two businesses are offering curbside delivery. Click here for the updated list from December.
  • Hair Salons reopened the week of May 25th, with some restrictions. Click here for the updated list from December.

“Coming together” community efforts

  • Southborough Front Steps project – was taking photos of residents outside their homes (from a safe distance) and collecting money for the Food Pantry and Youth and Family Services
  • Other news includes fundraising drives and support groups.

Town of Southborough

  • The Town has declared an emergency to clarify unusual authority or relief the Town government is allowed during this state of emergency.
  • All Town buildings are currently closed to visitors unless an appointment is made in advance by phone. Town employees are still working at this time. You can find their contact information on the Town website here.
  • Some regular Town services are curtailed due to the situation. For details on what is and isn’t available via the following departments, click links below:
  • Committee and Board Meetings – Under relaxed OML rules as mandated by the Governor, the Town is only allowing virtual access to meetings.
    • Click here for the dedicated YouTube channel for Town meetings. Click here for information on participating in upcoming Town meetings.
    • Click here for information on viewing school committee meetings.
    • The meetings were being limited to: Board of Selectmen, Board of Health, School Committee, or any permitting board that needs to meet in order to avoid a constructive approval on a project.
    • On the evening of March 24th, the Board of Selectmen voted that other boards & committees can also meet if they have critical or time sensitive matters to discuss, or issues related to covid-19. The urgency will be left to discretion of the committees.
    • On March 31st, the Town posted information on how public comment would be made possible in some virtual meetings.
    • On April 7th, selectmen voted to open up virtual meetings to regular business of boards and committees. There were some caveats about ensuring appropriate public participation is allowed. (Click here for more detail.)
  • Voting impact

Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough

  • Public Schools of Southborough and Northborough closed on March 13th. Closure was extended to March 30th, then April 6th, then May 3rd, finally the end of the school year – which was June 16th. The schools initially offered their students online options for education during the break.
  • Mandatory remote learning – Under new guidelines, the school shifted to mandatory learning launched on Monday, April 6th. Details were posted for parents on Wednesday, April 1st.
  • Spring Break 2020 was cancelled.
  • Fall Reopening: The reopening of Hybrid schooling under a Phased approach for reopening schools in a Hybrid Model, gradually by grade, started September 16th. The Combined School Committees approved the plan at their August 12th meeting. Some families took advantage of the option for a fully remote model. You can view the school’s reopening plan website here.
  • In the winter, the administration announced plans to phase in increased in-person learning opportunities, starting with K-5 this spring.
  • You can find general school news here. For news specifically related to the Reopening Plans, click here. Click here for stories related to how the district has been handling schooling-in-a-pandemic.

*The Town website states that under medical privacy laws, they can’t reveal patients’ identities. But it reassures:

The Southborough Health Department will continue to work with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) to ensure any affected residents are properly monitored, quarantined and isolated per the guidelines set by MDPH. . .

Each confirmed case will be contacted by the Health Department. Those considered to have been in close contact with a confirmed case will be contacted by the Health Department with proper instructions regarding quarantine and testing.