Covid-19 public health update: Clarification on “released” cases; Status of emergency personnel

Over a week ago, the Town launched a COVID-19 information page. More data was provided, including the number of cases “released from isolation”. But no details were provided on how patients are cleared. Plus, data isn’t provided on non-resident Town employees.

I checked in with the Town for more clarity and an update on how our public safety department is doing.

Public Safety Status – healthy, well staffed, and equipped

The overall message on our Police and Fire Departments was good news. The departments are still well staffed and personnel are healthy. According to Town Administrator Mark Purple:

This is due in no small part to both Chief Paulhus and Chief Achilles, who have taken actions to ensure social distancing protocols within their operations, as well as ensuring the use of PPE for all calls.

Purple confirmed that the departments still have the Personal Protective Equipment they need. Paramedics are using both N95 and surgical masks. Police officers are also wearing masks.

Chief Achilles is working with MEMA (Mass Emergency Management Agency) on maintaining inventory through their stockpile. Right now, that inventory is meeting the department’s needs.

Infected Cases “cleared”

The Town’s website was updated yesterday to reflect that 16 Southborough residents have been infected. 11 have already been released from isolation. I asked for some clarification on that process.

Purple confirmed that the Public Health Nurses are following guidelines from the Dept of Public Health and the CDC on when patients can be released from isolation. He followed:

The Public Health Nurse, Leslie, and now Emily, are tirelessly monitoring confirmed cases on a daily basis. As these guidelines are tweaked and amended from time to time, I suggest that you check the CDC website for the most updated information.

However, he also provided what the guidelines are as of this morning: 

Persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:

  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and,
  • At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

Test-based strategy (simplified from initial protocol) Previous recommendations for a test-based strategy remain applicable; however, a test-based strategy is contingent on the availability of ample testing supplies and laboratory capacity as well as convenient access to testing. For jurisdictions that choose to use a test-based strategy, the recommended protocol has been simplified so that only one swab is needed at every sampling.

Persons who have COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:

Persons with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms may discontinue isolation when at least 7 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test and have had no subsequent illness provided they remain asymptomatic. For 3 days following discontinuation of isolation, these persons should continue to limit contact (stay 6 feet away from others) and limit potential of dispersal of respiratory secretions by wearing a covering for their nose and mouth whenever they are in settings where other persons are present. In community settings, this covering may be a barrier mask, such as a bandana, scarf, or cloth mask. The covering does not refer to a medical mask or respirator.

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