Editor’s Note: In addition to the current case counts and a link to the full update to learn more about the way Bedford’s cases are tallied, Town Manager Sarah Stanton describes the Select Board’s decision to hold Annual Town Meeting at 9 am on the morning of Saturday, July 11, 2020.
The daily update is also available in the following places if you’d like to share with your friends:
As of today, May 28, 2020, there have been a total of two hundred seventeen (217) 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 twelve (112) are Bedford residents not living in a healthcare/long term care setting. Thirty-seven (37) deaths of 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.
Please see “Data Reporting Explained” in the linked report for detailed information on why Bedford experienced an increase in positive case counts today.
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.
Sixty-three (63) of the total Bedford cases have already recovered and have come off of 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 who 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 Veterans 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
ANNUAL TOWN MEETING
Yesterday, the Select Board voted to recommend, with the full support, and forthcoming declaration, 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.)
This decision followed weeks of work and site evaluation by the Select Board, Town Moderator, and the COVID-19 Task Force. Although the scheduling of a morning Town Meeting will have impacts on the religious observations of members of our community, we are, unfortunately, in extraordinary times, with extraordinary challenges, and all alternatives were considered.
In preparation of holding Town Meeting, the working group highlighted above evaluated the following questions:
- Can we ensure the safety of the voters?
- Have the voters felt that the process of Annual Town Meeting is legitimate? Legitimacy will be measured by the people who attend – and by those who do not. Are the conditions such that an unacceptable number of voters are disenfranchised?
- Does the meeting allow voters to see, hear, speak, and make amendments and vote? Can Town Meeting serve its deliberative function?
With the full support of the Town Moderator, and after consultation with the Select Board, Public Health Director, Town Clerk, and the COVID-19 Task Force, we feel comfortable that Annual Town Meeting can meet and exceed the questions and concerns posed above.
Although Town Meeting will not look and feel the same as it has in past years, the Select Board, Moderator, and Town staff are confident we can make the process as safe as possible, while ensuring that the democratic and legislative functions of Town Meeting remain intact.
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, with registration starting at 8 AM, to accommodate for cooler temperatures. As the Town has historically done with weather-related impacts to holding Town Meeting, if the weather on the day of the meeting is deemed unsafe by the Town Moderator, Select Board, and public health and safety staff, the meeting will be postponed until a later date.
Please stay tuned for more information on meeting registration protocols, site maps, and other important articles and event details.
Stay healthy…and keep washing your hands.