July 9, 2020: Town of Bedford Update on COVID-19

Important Updates: Watching the Weather for Annual Town Meeting, and New Interface Mental Health Referral System
July 9, 2020: Town of Bedford Update on COVID-19

Town of Bedford Update on COVID-19

July 9, 2020

The Bedford COVID-19 Task Force met Monday, July 9, 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, Superitendent 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 9, 2020, there have been a total of two hundred fifty-nine (259) 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-seven (147) 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.

Town of Bedford-COVID-19 Positive Cases

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

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

Please note: As there is a possibility of rain/thunderstorms on Saturday, town officials are closely monitoring the weather forecasts to ensure a safe Town Meeting. If we do need to delay Town Meeting or move it to another day, updates will be posted on http://www.bedfordma.gov, Twitter, and Facebook, and a Code Red (reverse 911) call will be made.

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

INTERFACE - An Outpatient Mental Health Resource and Referral Helpline available in Bedford

During this time of purposeful separation from loved ones, friends and neighbors in an effort to keep each other safe, feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression may set in or perpetuate and the need for access to mental health services becomes even more crucial.

The Town of Bedford and the Bedford Public Schools are pleased to announce a new affiliation with the William James College INTERFACE Referral Service, an outpatient mental health resource and referral Helpline, open Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm, and available to Bedford residents and students of Bedford Public Schools. The Helpline can be reached at 888-244-6843 for resource information and/or outpatient mental health provider referrals from a trained resource and referral counselor.

Data collected from Bedford’s 2018 Youth Risk Behavior Survey and the 2019 Community Mental Health Needs Assessment, supports the acute need for increased and expedient access to mental health services for children, families, and adults. Our partnership with INTERFACE serves to facilitate access to timely and appropriate outpatient services. INTERFACE aims to help break down the “silos” that often exist between various agencies, mental health providers and support systems that can at times hinder access to mental health and wellness services for individuals.  Through the INTERFACE Helpline, callers from subscribing communities like Bedford are able to work with a Resource and Referral Counselor who will help them navigate finding mental health services. Each caller will be assigned a lead counselor who will provide matches to services, as well as provide information and resources about mental health and wellness.

The Helpline assists callers by gathering information about their or their minor child’s mental health concerns in order to match the caller to referrals for outpatient mental health professionals who best meet their needs based on insurance or fee requirement, specialty request, location needs, and general availability. INTERFACE Resource and Referral Counselors may at times re-direct callers to other resources in lieu of their service, or in addition to their service, based on their needs (for example, for callers presenting in crisis or with a need for a higher level of care).

INTERFACE Resource and Referral Counselors utilize a database of over 9,000 licensed and vetted providers. Callers receive a referral match, on average, within 2-3 weeks of their call to INTERFACE. The number of matched referrals and the time it takes to secure a matched referral will depend on a variety of factors, including insurance or fee requirement, specialty request, location need, and general availability of both callers and providers.

After providing referral matches, INTERFACE Resource and Referral Counselors contact callers to follow up to see if the referrals provided were a good fit for the needs described during the intake and to provide additional support and education. Counselors continue to work with the caller until a successful match has been established or the caller indicates they are satisfied and no additional assistance is needed at that time.

We encourage the community to take advantage of this new service now available in Bedford. For further mental health resources and information on the INTERFACE referral service, please navigate to https://interface.williamjames.edu/community/bedford. For information on what to expect when you call the INTERFACE helpline, please navigate to https://interface.williamjames.edu/about/what-to-expect. To reach the INTERFACE Helpline call 888-244-6843 between the hours of 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday. Should you have any other questions regarding mental health and social service supports or do not have health insurance, please do not hesitate to contact Bedford’s Community Social Worker Christopher Bang at 781-918-4328 or cbang@bedfordma.gov.