COVID-19 Rises at Sippican Health Center, ORR Schools

            Whittier Health Network reported an increase of COVID-19 cases at Sippican Healthcare Center as of November 9. The parent company’s website published the following update: “As of November 9, 44 residents or staff have confirmed COVID-19.” That number increased from the 33 positive cases reported at the Marion facility as of November 6.

            On November 8, three positive cases of COVID-19 were reported by Old Rochester Regional Superintendent of Schools Mike Nelson, Mattapoisett Town Administrator Mike Lorenco, and Mattapoisett Board of Health Chairman Carmelo Nicolosi.

            On Sunday, the ORR School District and Massachusetts Superintendency Union #55 were informed of a single case related to Center, Old Hammondtown, and ORR Junior High Schools in Mattapoisett. As of the November 8 report, all three people who tested positive were self-isolating according to the state Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocol. ORR and Mattapoisett school districts were immediately notified. No further information is available about the individuals, per state and federal health privacy laws.

            The positive cases are the 10th, 11th, and 12th involving individuals in the ORR school district since schools reopened on September 16.

            The Mattapoisett Board of Health’s initial contact tracing effort yielded five close contacts related to the Center School case, none related to the Old Hammondtown School case, and one related to the ORR Junior High case. Those people were reported to be quarantined with the recommendation that they test for COVID-19.

            All ORR District schools began the November 9 school week on regular schedules according to the recommendation of the Mattapoisett Board of Health. All schools will continue to be cleaned every day after school and as needed.

            The Town of Marion announced on November 9 that its Veterans Day Observance scheduled for November 11 at Old Landing Memorial had been canceled as one of the multiple measures taken in the face of the coronavirus surge. The “Grab and Go Lunch for Veterans” put on by the Council on Aging and Marion Recreation Department remained on the schedule.

            Since May 8, Whittier reports that Sippican Healthcare Center has had 58 confirmed cases of COVID-19. In addition, Sippican has had three clusters of three or more residents and/or staff with new onset of respiratory symptoms within 72 hours of one another.

            Whitter’s statement continues: “When a resident tests positive, we notify residents and their representative(s) of their condition and implement protocols for their care and treatment. We also follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), including return to work guidance, for staff who test positive. Ten residents and staff have recovered from COVID-19; 212 residents and staff have tested negative for COVID-19; it has been zero days since a new resident or staff member has tested positive.

            “Mitigating actions that Sippican Healthcare Center is taking to prevent/reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 include the following: altering or suspending normal operations of the facility pursuant to CMS/CDC/DPH guidelines, including limitation of visitors and social distancing and separation of residents; screening employees every shift; requiring employees to use PPE as indicated, including N95 and regular face masks, gowns, face shields, gloves, and droplet precautions equipment; increasing cleaning and sanitizing, including sanitizing with Clean Republic Hypochlorous Acid Disinfectant; providing new admissions with cloth masks and providing education to them on the use of the masks, hand hygiene and cough etiquette; distancing of residents; limiting residents’ movements outside their rooms; and separating COVID-19 positive residents from other residents.”

            The Whittier website states that the company performed COVID-19 testing for residents and employees at Sippican in May. Acknowledging a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), the website states that there is currently adequate PPE at the Sippican facility.

            ORR’s press release concluded with the advisory that, should you or your child experience symptoms such as fever, chills, respiratory illness, aches, or change in taste and smell, to please stay home and get a COVID-19 test. Testing can be done either through primary health care providers or at one of the testing sites located throughout the state.

            Deep cleaning of all schools will continue to be conducted each night. High-touch surfaces are and will continue to be cleaned frequently and as needed throughout the day while the buildings are occupied. Sanitizing wipes remain available in each classroom to wipe down desks when necessary.

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