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 – December 4, 11:46 am.

The numbers in Southborough

Dec 4 - tracking Covid in Southborough

(click to enlarge)

  • The Town’s Covid-19 figures were updated as of the morning of December 4th. Cases keep shooting up, the biggest spike Southborough has seen during the course of the pandemic. In the past 14 days, 40 cases have been confirmed, 26 in the last week. There are currently 31 active cases in Southborough.
  • Dec 4 - Cumulative total Covid in SouthboroughThe Town’s cumulative total over the course of the pandemic is now 142. (For details, click on graphs above and right.)
  • To understand why the number of newly confirmed cases sometimes rises while the number of active cases in isolation stays low or decreases, read the explanation I received from Southborough’s public health nurse here.
  • The most recent weekly report  from the state (issued December 3rd) raised Southborough’s risk level to red/high risk. (You can read more about why there are sometimes differences between the Town data I track and the state’s data here.) 
    • 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 never would 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 have tracked Southborough as ever confirming in 2 weeks was 20.
  • Currently, the “active case” patients are in isolation. One patient died in late June. All other prior patients were released from isolation. (You can see the data I’ve tracked from the Town’s posts in my graph above.)
  • To see if the numbers have changed, click here for the Town’s information page and here for my latest post.
  • 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.)

  Dec 4 - Covid by ages in Southborough Dec 4 - Covid by ages in Southborough over time 

  • NSBORO School District Data: The state is currently designating Northborough at yellow. The Northborough-Southborough schools’ November 29th Dashboard shows 4 currently active cases, 31 over the course of the pandemic. The number of students/staff kept home for isolation/quarantine was back up to 84 last week. That’s higher than recent weeks but lower than peak figures in October. The schools’ data is below, followed by my charts capturing data since the start of school from past announcements. These days, the district is releasing weekly “Dashboard” reports on Sunday evenings. As of the morning of December 3rd, the town of Northborough has 56 active cases.

   Nov 29 - NSBORO Dashboard p1 Nov 29 - NSBORO Dashboard p2 Nov 28 - NSBORO new cases Nov 28 - NSBORO quarantines and isolations

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 November.
  • Most Markets are still open during regular hours. Two businesses are offering curbside delivery. Click here for the updated list from November.
  • Hair Salons reopened the week of May 25th, with some restrictions.

“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
    • Town Meeting was held outdoors on June 13th. Several Articles were postponed to the next Town Meeting – originally described as a Fall Special Town Meeting. At this point the timing is up in the air. You can read more details here.
    • Town Election was held on June 16th

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 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.
  • 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.