Published June 3, 2021
By MAUREEN DOHERTY
NORTH READING — Last Friday morning the North Reading Board of Health (BOH) voted to rescind three of the four local COVID-19 orders that have defined the lives of everyone in town for the past 14 months.
The three-member board of Chairman Gary Hunt and members Pam Vath and Karen Martin opted to leave in place the March 19, 2020 Town Emergency Declaration until at least June 15, 2021. This is the date the board has scheduled its next meeting specifically to evaluate the results of the relaxing of standards statewide two weeks after the Memorial Day holiday.
The June 15 meeting date also coincides with the date which Gov. Charlie Baker has set as his goal to rescind his statewide State of Emergency declaration from March 2020.
So as not to be in conflict with recent state Department of Public Health directives which relaxed COVID-19 precautions as of Saturday, May 29 per Gov. Baker, by a unanimous vote, the BOH rescinded its remaining three orders, with a caveat that the board would be free to reinstate them if clinical data reveals it to be necessary.
The three orders rescinded by the Board of Health effective Friday, May 28 are:
• April 18, 2020: Facial Coverings to protect others from the spread of COVID
• April 25, 2020: Directing all long-term care facilities and nursing homes in the town to undertake further precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19
• June 11, 2020: Restricting the number of persons allowed in essential business establishments.
Health Director Robert Bracey subsequently issued a Public Health Advisory urging all residents to continue to be vigilant in guarding against the spread of COVID-19.
Bracey noted during the meeting that 60% of the town’s 16,656 residents, or 9,883 people, have received at least one dose of the vaccine – including 10% of residents 75 years and older – while 49% of residents are fully vaccinated. He added that these percentages have not yet reached herd immunity levels.
The town’s public health nurse, Donna Hovey, reported that out of the town’s total reported case count of 1,296 throughout the pandemic, a total of 1,284 residents have recovered. As of Friday, she was monitoring eight cases, which was down from 55 cases one month ago.
Hovey added that since the board’s last meeting there have been two deaths; one of those deaths had been attributed to COVID and the person had been hospitalized for 26 days.
State expands Homebound Vaccine Program
Those who are homebound and unable to get to a vaccination site have another option. They may call 833-983-0485 to register for an in-home vaccination. The registration phone line is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more details, visit mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-homebound-vaccination-program.