July 30, 2020: Town of Bedford Update on COVID-19

Important Updates: Diapers and Personal Items Available for Residents In Need, Hand Sanitzer Recall, New Food Bank Location and Hours, COVID-19 Travel Order
July 30, 2020: Town of Bedford Update on COVID-19

Town of Bedford Update on COVID-19

July 30, 2020

The Bedford COVID-19 Task Force met Thursday, July 30, 2020 to review the latest guidance from the Department of Public Health (DPH), the office of Governor Charlie Baker, and Town Legal Counsel.

The COVID-19 Task Force is comprised of the following Town officials:

Sarah Stanton, Town Manager

Philip Conrad, Superintendent of Schools

Heidi Porter, Director of Health and Human Services

Robert Bongiorno, Police Chief

David Grunes, Fire Chief

Taissir Alani, Facilities Director

Christopher Laskey, Code Enforcement Director

Case Counts

The Bedford Board of Health (BOH) continues with comprehensive review of COVID-19 positive cases and the case count as reported to the town by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA DPH). The review this week revealed that several cases previously identified as Bedford residents (due to input of the testing location address versus home address on the lab report form) are actually employees of a facility operating in Bedford and reside out of town. The BOH was able to transfer those cases to the Boards of Health in the cities/town in which those employees live for proper isolation/quarantine follow-up. This transfer of cases resulted in a decrease in our total and recovered case count as reported today. As more information is obtained by the Bedford BOH relative to ongoing case investigation, the total case count will be adjusted and reported accordingly.

As of today, July 30, 2020, there have been a total of two hundred sixty-seven (267) positive cases of COVID-19 reported to the BOH by the MA DPH, of those, one hundred fifty-four (154) are Bedford residents not living in a healthcare/long term care setting. The deaths of forty-six (46) Bedford residents have been attributed to COVID-19. The total case number includes residents of the Town of Bedford, including but not limited to those in: single-family homes, apartments, the VA campus, Hanscom Air Force Base, special needs group homes and other larger assisted living/care facilities in Bedford as reported to us by the MA DPH.

As you may be aware, long-term care facilities serving the elderly and congregate care facilities, house susceptible populations with underlying conditions who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Increased testing occurs at these facilities and results in more positive cases being identified. As such, cities and towns with these facilities, like Bedford, experience elevated positive case counts and, unfortunately, deaths due to the vulnerability to COVID-19 of the populations within those facilities.

Two hundred nineteen (219) of the total Bedford cases have already recovered and have come off isolation and there may other Bedford residents who would be considered persons under investigation in that they are symptomatic, have undergone testing but have not yet received results. There are other individuals impacted by COVID-19 in the community that have not sought medical attention, and/or have not been tested and are isolating at home regardless. Those individuals do not appear on the surveillance reports the Town receives from the MA DPH.

The BOH continues to do the appropriate follow-up and outreach to those residents and close contacts known to us and the VA is conducting follow-up and contact tracing of the Veteran’s under their care. Many of the identified close contacts of some of the Bedford cases never exhibited symptoms, have completed their required quarantine period and have been released from quarantine by the BOH.

Please note, in part to alleviate the community concern, the VA does do a daily report of their numbers, which includes inpatients, outpatients and staff, many of whom do not call Bedford home. The information can be found here: https://www.accesstocare.va.gov/Healthcare/COVID19NationalSummary

Diapers and Personal Items Available for Residents and Families in Need

Bedford Youth and Family Services has launched a Diaper and Personal Items Bank to help Bedford families who are in need.  Families will be able to receive a 3 week supply of diapers (sizes 1-6), pull-ups (sizes 2-6), baby wipes, and/or feminine hygiene products.  These essential supplies are not covered by the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and can be a significant financial burden, especially given the other economic stressors present during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Residents of Bedford who need to access the Diaper and Personal Items Bank can contact Community Social Worker Christopher Bang at 781-918-4328 or [email protected].  

Donations are currently being accepted and there is a high demand for baby wipes and diapers in sizes 5 & 6.  People looking to donate can ship their donations to Youth and Family Services, 12 Mudge Way, Bedford, MA 01730 or contact the Community Social Worker to arrange a drop off.  The Diaper and Personal Items Bank has an Amazon Wishlist if residents are interested in contributing:  https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/3AGXUMU1NUWJE?ref_=wl_share 

Hand Sanitizer Recall

On July 27, 2020, the United States Food and Drug Administration, (FDA) issued a warning to customers and health care professionals not to use certain alcohol-based hand sanitizers and is recommending a voluntary recall of various brands of hand sanitizer. These hand sanitizer products are recalled because the sanitizer was made with Methanol instead of Ethyl Alcohol. Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, can be dangerous when ingested or absorbed through the skin. Substantial exposure to Methanol can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, blurred vision and even permanent blindness. Seizures, comas, permanent damage to the nervous system and death are also listed as possible side effects. Anyone who has been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol and is experiencing methanol poisoning symptoms should seek medical treatment. To view a partial list of hand sanitizers that have tested positive for methanol and should not be used, see the full BOH announcement at: https://www.bedfordma.gov/bedford-board-of-health/news/hand-sanitizer-recall-72720

COVID-19 Travel Order

Effective Saturday, August 1, 2020, all visitors and returning residents entering Massachusetts must follow new travel orders to help us keep COVID-19 transmission levels as low as possible. All visitors entering Massachusetts, including returning residents, who do not meet an exemption, are required to:

  • Prior to arrival in Massachusetts, complete the online Travel Form (https://www.mass.gov/forms/massachusetts-travel-form), unless you are visiting from a lower-risk state designated by the MA DPH.
  • Quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72-hours prior to your arrival in Massachusetts.

If your COVID-19 test result has not been received prior to arrival, visitors, and residents must quarantine until they receive a negative test result.

MA DPH has indicated that failure to comply with the order may result in a $500 fine per day.

To find more information about the Travel Order, effective August 1, 2020, including the list of lower-risk states, exemptions, business guidance and other details, please visit: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-travel-order

For current travel information, applicable until the August 1st Travel Order takes effect, please visit: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/travel-information-related-to-covid-19

Food Bank – Planning for a new location and day/time

The Town of Bedford has operated a successful drive through Food Bank every Friday from 1-3 pm at the John Glenn Middle School (JGMS) at 99 McMahon Road since the pandemic struck in mid-March. To date, over 3,500 bags of food, to supplement meal preparation during the week, have been provided to Bedford seniors, school children, Veterans and residents experiencing food insecurity.

In an effort to allow the school staff to prepare for reopening in the fall, the Food Bank location is shifting locations and distribution day/time, after tomorrow’s July 31st Food Bank at JGMS. Starting the first week in August, the Food Bank will be operated out of the Town Center Building (yellow building behind Town Hall) at 12 Mudge Way, situated on the Town Campus. The drive-through model will be maintained with residents pulling up to the front door of Town Center via the rotary. Signs directing residents to the location will be posted. The process for bag pick up will essentially be the same with cars pulling up to the door and a volunteer placing the bag in the car trunk, back cargo area or back seat. Residents do not get out of their vehicle. The new schedule for the Town Center Food Bank will be Thursdays from 4 - 5:30 pm, with the first event on Thursday, August 6th from 4 – 5:30 pm.

Families and guardians of Bedford school children are welcome to continue to access Bedford's Food Bank.  Starting in August, the intention is to provide one robust bag of food per household in need, but separate bags will no longer be customized for school students.  For nutritious meals adhering to school nutrition guidelines, the summer nutrition program is Waltham is also available to Bedford families.  Please navigate to https://meals4kids.org/find-summer-meal-site for hours and directions, as well as information about other summer feeding programs for school children in the area. 

The Town Center Food Bank will continue to operate primarily on a drive-through basis, with limited exception for residents who are on foot. Those utilizing the Food Bank cannot park their car and walk up to the site. Residents should enter the Town Center rotary from Mudge Way and will be directed in reverse around the rotary. The separate Food Bank delivery system will continue to operate for homebound seniors, and disabled residents. If you are a homebound resident and in need of food assistance, please e-mail [email protected]

Thank you to the Bedford Food Pantry, Gaining Grounds in Concord, the Greater Boston Food Bank and donors to the Bedford Emergency Relief Fund for the continued support of this well needed effort which serves upwards of 150 families each week during this crisis.

Need a COVID-19 test?

Free COVID-19 testing sites are open in sixteen communities as part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s “Stop the Spread” initiative. Testing sites in the following communities are free to all residents of the Commonwealth regardless of symptom state and will remain open until August 14th to help stop the spread of COVID-19: Agawam, Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Marlborough, Methuen, New Bedford, Randolph, Revere, Springfield, Taunton, and Worcester. Visit www.mass.gov/stopthespread to find out more.

If you need testing closer to home or beyond August 14th, consider navigating to https://memamaps.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=eba3f03... to find a testing site.

Common Sense Actions to Protect Yourself and Others from COVID-19

Employ Social Distancing Basics:

  • Stay Home, especially if you’re feeling sick, have a fever, or a cough as to avoid contact with other individuals. If you are sick, stay at home and contact your healthcare provider for further instructions.
  • Call/Facetime/Online chat with friends and loved ones

If you go out for essential needs:

  • Avoid Crowds
  • Stay 6 feet away from others
  • Don’t shake hands or hug
  • Wear a face covering or mask if physical distancing is not possible. Always have a face covering with you. You cannot always predict or control when someone will be close to you.