July 6, 2020: Town of Bedford Update on COVID-19

Important Updates: Annual Town Meeting Logistics, Mental Health Resources
July 6, 2020: Town of Bedford Update on COVID-19

Town of Bedford Update on COVID-19

July 6, 2020

The Bedford COVID-19 Task Force met Monday, July 6, 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

Jon Sills, Superintendent of Schools

Heidi Porter, Director of Health and Human Services

Robert Bongiorno, Police Chief

David Grunes, Fire Chief

Taissir Alani, Facilities Director

Case Counts

As of today, July 6, 2020, there have been a total of two hundred fifty-eight (258) positive cases of COVID-19 reported to the Town of Bedford Board of Health by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA DPH), of those, one hundred forty-six (146) are Bedford residents not living in a healthcare/long term care setting. The deaths of forty (40) 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 any and all 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 and one (201) 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 Board of Health 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 Board of Health.

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

Phase III of Reopening the Economy to Starts today, Monday, July 6th

Today, Governor Baker announced that Phase III of the state’s gradual reopening will begin Monday, July 6th. As occurred in previous Phases, all businesses will be required to comply with the General Workplace Safety Standards at all times, and specific sectors will have additional requirements. Businesses currently included in Phase III of the Reopening Plan include gyms, fitness centers, museums, casino gaming floors, movie theaters and aquariums. Professional sports teams will also be able to hold games without spectators. Phase III includes expanded reopening for public and semi-public swimming pools, youth and adult amateur sports activities, indoor recreation activities with low potential for contact (batting cages, driving ranges, go karts, bowling alleys, rock-climbing walls) and non-athletic instructional classes in arts, education, life skills.

For details on which businesses and programs are allowed to open in Phase III and for sector specific guidance, please navigate to the state’s webpage on Reopening Massachusetts - https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-when-can-my-business-reopen

Town Meeting to be held Saturday, July 11th at 9 AM

At their May 27, 2020 meeting, the Select Board voted to recommend, with the full support of the Town Moderator, that Annual Town Meeting be held on Saturday, July 11, 2020, at 9:00 AM on Sabourin Field (Bedford High School Football Field). After much consultation and consideration among the Select Board, Public Health Director, Town Clerk, Town Moderator, and the COVID-19 Task Force, the Town is confident that Annual Town Meeting can occur outside, while making the process as safe as possible and ensuring that the democratic and legislative functions of Town Meeting remain intact. This decision followed weeks of work and site evaluations by the Select Board, Town Moderator, and the COVID-19 Task Force. Please note, as the Governor’s order regarding large-group outdoor gatherings does not allow for tents, as they are considered a “confined space,” the meeting is beginning at 9:00 AM, with registration starting at 8:00 AM, to allow for cooler temperatures.

A Special Town Meeting will occur within Annual Town Meeting to consider one warrant article for a proposed Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement for Ultragenyx Corporation, for vacant land at 170 Middlesex Turnpike. 

COVID-19 Safety Measures – If you are feeling sick on the morning of Town Meeting and exhibit COVID-19 symptoms (fever, chills or shaking chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, sore throat, headache, body aches/myalgia, or new loss of sense of taste or smell) please stay home. In order to ensure the safety of all residents, all attendees will be required to wear face coverings for the entirety of Town Meeting. A mask will be provided by the Town, if you do not have one. Physically distanced chairs will be set up on the turf field, and Town staff will guide residents to their seats in order to ensure proper distancing. Staff will also assist residents with how to properly leave the field once Town Meeting has concluded. Hand sanitizer, sunscreen, and ADA-accessible portable restrooms will be available for all attendees.

For more information on Annual Town Meeting, parking and entrance details and a listing of the proposed articles, please navigate to https://www.bedfordma.gov/town-meeting

Mental Health, Social Services and Support Groups Available to Bedford Residents

During this time of purposeful separation from loved ones, friends and neighbors to keep each other safe, feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression may set in or perpetuate. Bedford’s Social Work services remain available to all Bedford residents and the town Social Workers are available via phone and can assist with:

  • Ensuring individuals have food security during this time. Residents who are struggling with having an adequate amount of food in their homes can reach out to the Social Workers for assistance getting connected to the Bedford Food Bank, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP/EBT), and other community resources. The Social Workers will work with residents faced with a hardship and unable to travel outside their homes through food bank home delivery.
  • Information accessing financial supports such as SNAP, unemployment, MassHealth, and utility assistance.  
  • Transportation to appointments and essential services.
  • General support for coping with anxiety during this time. Residents are able to call and speak with a Social Worker who can provide strategies for managing anxiety.  
  • Outreach calls for residents who are experiencing isolation. Residents who are concerned about individuals who are experiencing isolation can contact the Social Workers.
  • Getting residents connected with Health and Mental Health providers. At this time counseling services at the Town Center through Eliot Community Human Services have shifted to a tele-health service and referrals continue to be accepted.  Intakes are being conducted over the phone or by Zoom.  Please note that Bedford residents do not pay a co-pay for therapy through Eliot and lack of insurance is not a barrier to services.

Contacts:

If you are a resident who is 60 or older please contact Social Worker Danika Castle in the Council on Aging at 781-275-6825.

If you are a resident under the age of 60 you can contact Social Worker Christopher Bang in the Youth and Family Services Department at 781-918-4328.

Any Bedford resident seeking mental health counseling or therapy services can contact one of the Social Workers or reach out to Eliot Community Human Services directly at 978-369-1113.

Domestic Violence Services Network, Inc. (DVSN) is continuing to follow up on domestic violence referrals and requests for service on a daily basis and provides community advocacy and safety planning for anyone who calls in or is referred for help and support by law enforcement partners.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, DVSN clients need support more than ever and DVSN shall continue to provide CONFIDENTIAL support, advocacy, and resources via telephone to the extent possible.  For help and support, PLEASE CALL DVSN’s Help Line - 888-399-6111.

Advocates Psychiatric Emergency Service team is always available to offer skilled, compassionate support and connections to resources and services during difficult times. If you are experiencing a mental health or emotional crisis, please call (800) 640-5432 to speak to an Advocates crisis clinician. They are available to help 24 hours a day, every day.

Our colleagues at William James College have made their virtual educational resources and support groups available to Bedford residents. Please use the following links to access these resources:

William James College Virtual Public Events- From Educational/Informational Resources to Support Groups:

https://www.williamjames.edu/community/resource-hub/public-events-calendar.cfm

Mental Health & Wellness Tips During Quarantine:

https://interface.williamjames.edu/guide/mental-health-wellness-tips-quarantine

Additional Resources:

Recovery Connection Centers

Physical Location Based out of Hyannis, Brockton, Fall River, and Quincy

http://southeastrlc.org/?fbclid=IwAR0e-PTux_nOfWcTRH8CBm7Kv4u9O44qdtiIm-b5_xJrDmkFMrmvPZkfWn4

RCC is planning to incorporate Zoom meetings into their format moving forward beyond COVID-19.  An individual’s location does not factor into participating in Zoom meetings.  There are diverse groups for anyone looking to join including arts, peer support, mental health education, men’s group, woman’s group, LGBTQ, open chat, and games.  Individuals who wish to attend can log into the meetings with no requirement for prior registration.  The different locations on the website have different schedules for their respective meetings.

Recovery Learning Community

Physical Location Based out of Holyoke, Springfield, Pittsfield.

http://www.westernmassrlc.org/hidden-community-happenings-fix/888-on-line-and-phone-supports-march-2020

There are no restrictions for an individual’s location and there is no intake process.  Interested individuals need to only phone in or join the zoom meeting using the link on the website. There is a large diversity of online groups including addiction support, mental health, health, LGBTQ, grief and loss, young adult, autism, and open groups. 

Support Group Central

Based Online

https://grouppeersupport.org/gps-events/7-15-join-sgc/

SGC is an online-based support group network.  The website requires a registration and login creation.  Once a login is created, groups can be attended and tracked.  Some groups are free and some have a ‘contribution’ to attend that is typically around $4.99 a group.  There is a diverse set of support groups to join including substance addiction, mental health, health, young adult, Covid-19, LGBTQ, and veterans.

The Emotional PPE Project

https://www.emotionalppe.org/healthcare-workers/individual-therapy

This website dedicated to connecting health care workers and other individuals whose occupation is directly impacted by COVID-19 to individual therapist free of charge.