Editor’s Note: In addition to Bedford’s current case counts, today’s update includes Back to School Supports for Parents, Influenza Vaccine Requirement and Flu Clinics, and Election Information
The semi-weekly update is also available in the following places if you’d like to share with your friends:
The MA DPH is now reporting COVID-19 data on a community level and releasing the data weekly on Wednesdays. Based on this data, each city or town will be designated a color – gray (formerly designated white), green, yellow, or red. Gray and green are lower risk communities, yellow represents a moderate risk community and red represents a higher risk community. Based on data reported by the state through yesterday, Wednesday, August 26, 2020, Bedford is unchanged from last week and is currently a gray, lower risk community. The color-coded relative risk designation established by the state is a tool that can be used by the Town to set policy and implement safety protocols for the protection of the community. In the coming weeks, this data will continue to be updated by the state on a weekly basis. For the current color-coded risk map, please navigate to https://www.mass.gov/info-details/community-level-covid-19-data-reporting.
1 Previous-14 day data is used by the MA Department of Public Health to determine Bedford’s COVID-19 risk category (gray, green, yellow or red) on a weekly basis
2 Confirmed cases = positive viral test.
3 Demographics unknown for confirmed case. Follow-up required. Often cases are reassigned to the proper community for follow-up or become probable/confirmed.
4 Recovered cases counts are adjusted due to deaths subsequent to recovery and/or reassignment of cases to other communities.
5 Previously identified COVID-19 cases that had recovered, subsequently passed away. MA DPH attributes these deaths to COVID-19 and affects these outcome numbers.
6 Probable cases = positive antibody test or clinical diagnosis. Probable cases are not included in the Confirmed Cases totals. Shading used to correlate various data sets.
The total case number presented in the dashboard 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. Positive cases in any segment of our population affect the overall town-wide case counts and the assigned risk category due to the consideration that staff and, in some cases, folks residing at these facilities have the opportunity to come and go, visit Bedford businesses, attend camp and school and utilize our parks and open spaces.
A chart depicting case trends over time can be viewed here: https://www.bedfordma.gov/bedford-board-of-health/pages/covid-19-coronavirus.
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 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 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
Back to School Supports for Parents
As any new school year approaches, there is stress for families. Back to school in 2020 will bring new stressors into the mix. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is offering a free webinar – Ask the Expert: In-Person, Virtual and Everything In Between – Supporting Families and Children Returning to School” on August 27th at 4pm ET. Dr. Meghan Walls and NAMI’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ken Duckworth will discuss how to prepare and support your child for return to school. Register here: https://bit.ly/2EiYmY8
Additionally, MassSupport, a Crisis Counseling Program, is providing free community outreach and support services across the state in response to COVID-19, in an effort to help alleviate stress. As part of this effort, they are hosting a statewide, virtual “Back-to-School” Town Hall on August 27 from 7-8:30 p.m. with Dr. Nicole Christian-Brathwaite, MD and Robert Macy, PhD. You can register here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_qW71iljaSki_-fTZSqgzTw
Finally, Bedford Health and Human Services will also be offering Bedford focused back to school support webinars for parents in the coming weeks. Please stay tuned for those announcements.
Influenza Vaccine Requirement and Flu Clinics
Last week, state public health officials announced that influenza immunization will be required for all children 6 months of age or older who are attending Massachusetts child care, pre-school, kindergarten, K-12, and colleges and universities. The new vaccine requirement is an important step to reduce flu-related illness and the overall impact of respiratory illness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students will be expected to have received a flu vaccine by December 31, 2020, for the 2020-2021 influenza season, unless either a medical or religious exemption is provided. Also exempted are K-12 students who are homeschooled and higher education students who are completely off-campus and engaged in remote learning only. This new flu immunization requirement to enter school in January is in addition to existing vaccine requirements for all those attending child care, preschool, K-12, and colleges and universities in Massachusetts. Elementary and secondary students in districts and schools that are using a remote education model are not exempt.
The Bedford Board of Health will host the first of its planned weekly drive-thru flu clinics for the Bedford community on Monday, September 14th. Details on the location/time and registration requirements will be released in the coming days. While the drive-thru clinics will be open to all residents over the age of 6 months, additional clinics for Bedford’s school-aged population are being planned with the Bedford Public Schools and will be announced once school starts.
All voters are reminded to wear a face mask or covering when voting and to maintain social distancing at all times. More information on the September 1 primary election can be found here: https://www.bedfordma.gov/home/news/primary-election-information-september-1
As always stay safe, practice social distancing, and wear a mask!