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Rising COVID cases continue to have local impacts

  • Peterborough Fire Chief Ed Walker takes Governor Chris Sununu’s temperature during a recent trip to town. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/23/2020 3:52:29 PM
Modified: 11/23/2020 3:52:10 PM

COVID-19 cases are surging in New Hampshire, with increases in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, all of which lead Governor Chris Sununu to issue a statewide mask mandate for all public spaces last week. 

There were 4,200 current cases of COVID-19 in the state, as of Sunday, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. Of those cases, 117 are currently hospitalized. The state also announced four new deaths attributed to the virus, two men from Belknap County, one man from Sullivan County and one woman from Coos County, bringing the state’s deaths attributed to COVID-19 to a total of 512.

Locally, Rindge has the highest number of active cases at 29, with Jaffrey and New Ipswich each reporting a total of 17 and Peterborough 16. Antrim, Bennington,  Dublin, Francestown, Greenfield, Greenville, Hancock, Lyndeborough, Mason, Sharon, Temple and Wilton are each reporting five cases or less.

Sununu has issued the state’s first mask mandate, requiring masks to be worn in all public spaces. The mandate has multiple exemptions, including people with medical or mental health conditions that make mask-wearing difficult. Residents do not have to show documentation of medical issues to qualify for the exemption.

Health officials continue to encourage the same common-sense counter measures as they have since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic: wear masks, maintain physical distance, frequent hand washing, covering your mouth while coughing or sneezing, staying at home while ill and limiting holiday travel and gatherings to your immediate household.

“The Governor’s most recent Executive Order requiring Granite State residents to wear a mask when they are unable to maintain social distance is very important and a signal of just how serious this situation is as we seek to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed,” a joint statement from the New Hampshire Hospital Association, New Hampshire Medical Society and New Hampshire Nurses Association issued Monday reads. “We are not powerless in the battle against COVID-19. We can make a difference by following these simple, commonsense measures. We can get through this together. But we have to act now. New Hampshire is counting on you to do your part.”

Positive test closes one of ConVal’s pods

A COVID-19 case closed one of ConVal’s 26 pods last week, one week before the whole district is scheduled to switch to remote learning through January.

Last Wednesday, the school district announced they had learned about a positive COVID-19 case at South Meadow School.

“While there were very few individuals that were potentially exposed, we will be transitioning the “Red Pod” at South Meadow School to remote learning because we are unable to properly staff the pod for appropriate supervision of students,” Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo Saunders wrote in an announcement. At the time of the announcement, the school had already contacted the DHHS as well as anyone who had close contact with the infected person, defined as being within six feet for a total of 10 minutes or more, beginning two days prior to the first illness onset or the positive test, whichever was earlier. The families and staff that had been exposed are directed to get tested and stay quarantined until 14 days following their last possible exposure. 

The Red Pod started with remote learning on Nov. 19, and the rest of the district still learning in person, including four other pods of students at South Meadow School, are scheduled to start remote learning on Nov. 30, following Thanksgiving recess. In-person learning is scheduled to resume for students who opt in, given low community transmission rates, on Jan. 19. 

As of last Wednesday, ConVal’s COVID-19 dashboard reported 39 school community members quarantined across the district, with 13 of those in SMS. On the same day, there were 28 active cases of COVID-19 reported among the District’s nine towns, with nine cases in Peterborough, six in Antrim, five in Dublin, and four apiece in Bennington and Hancock.

Although ConVal announced the intent to go remote over the holidays to prevent the spread of COVID-19 amidst families traveling and college students coming home, neighboring school district Mascenic recently opted to switch to remote learning through Jan. 4 after a number of positive cases, and Jaffrey-Rindge and Wilton-Lyndeborough are looking into solutions for an anticipated shortage of teachers and substitutes due to the coronavirus.

New Ipswich and Peterborough libraries to shut down for December

The New Ipswich Library and Peterborough Town Library are closing down to walk-in customers for the month of December, due to rising cases of COVID-19 in the state and town.

“Cases are rising, in New Ipswich specifically, but also in the places often frequented by people in town, including Milford and Rindge, where a lot of people do their grocery shopping,” New Ipswich Library Director Michelle Pelletier said. “We’re just trying to be proactive and not get anyone sick.”

Pelletier said the shut down is planned to last at least until Jan. 3, but there isn’t a firm return-to-service date, and it will likely coincide with the reopening of local schools, which are currently in a full-remote model through Jan. 4. 

The library will still be operating during the month, however, and patrons can call or email the library to schedule a short appointment to come in and browse for materials, or request books for pick up or use the inter-library loan system.

The library intends to close regular service after Nov. 30.

November usually includes one of the library’s yearly fundraisers, it’s “Small Business Saturday,” a day when vendors can set up booths in the library for browsing shoppers. The event typically draws more than 100 people, and that’s just not feasible right now, Pelletier said.

“It would be irresponsible to do that right now,” Pelletier said.

Instead of its usual Small Business Saturday event, the library is holding a raffle featuring prizes contributed by local businesses, which will be on sale for $5 for six tickets through Nov. 28. Ticket buyers can use their tickets for any of the more than 40 available prizes, including Somero Maple Farm products, hand crafted jewelry, a print by New Ipswich wildlife artist Matt Patterson, and gift certificates from local shops and restaurants. The funds will be put towards purchasing a new computer for the library’s circulation desk.

Tickets can be purchased at the library.

The Peterborough Town Library has also announced it will also be suspending in-person browsing of items on Nov. 30, and will be reverting to curbside pickup services and computer appointments.

“We are making this move in anticipation of the gathering happening around the holiday and the unfortunate increase in community spread throughout NH and surrounding states,” Library Director Corinne Chronopoulos wrote in an announcement of the closure on Monday. “We need to do this to keep our staff safe and protect our ability to continue the core services of the library. If you have visited the library, you know that the temporary library is a small space and in addition to housing the new books, it is the location where all the staff have space to perform their jobs.”

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.




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