WILMINGTON — The first item for the Board of Selectmen on Monday night was the regular COVID-19 update from Board of Health Director Shelly Newhouse and Fire Chief Bill Cavanaugh. The board welcomed them with appreciation and thanks for all of the health, fire, and police department’s efforts.
Newhouse reported for the first time in months that the town’s numbers are trending down. The positives, she shared, totaled 164, which is down more than 100 from the week before at 286. They were almost evenly split between 0-18, 19-31, 31-50 and 51-65. She said she hopes that the decrease will continue as residents wear masks, social distance, and follow other state guidance.
She also talked about the vaccine after Governor Charlie Baker announced the upcoming start of phase two earlier that day.
“Hopefully I’ll start receiving it next week… I’m still in phase one,” she said.
Once she finishes with first responders, congregate care settings, home-based healthcare workers, COVID and non-COVID facing healthcare workers, and long term care facilities, she’ll be able to start with residents aged 75 and older. She also mentioned other vaccine sites like Gillette Stadium, Fenway Park, and the Doubletree in Danvers.
Clinic sign-ups for the vaccine will be online on a first come, first serve basis. She later added that anyone who can’t go online may call the senior center to sign up. She said the available times will be on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, starting 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. and increasing as she gets more vaccines. They’ll be held in the Shriner’s auditorium. After registration, residents will sit down at one of the seven stations and be attended to by a nurse and a scribe. Someone will also walk around to monitor them for 15 to 30 minutes before they leave.
Furthermore, she included that during the short monitoring period after receiving the first dose, residents can sign up for their second dose.
Selectman Greg Bendel said, “It’s important that we get that message out there… it will be fairly quick and painless, and we want people to be comfortable.”
Gary DePalma asked if there are enough volunteers, and Newhouse said that she hopes so, but she’s not ready for them yet.
Selectman Jomarie O’Mahony joined the health director in reminding everyone to keep washing hands, wearing masks, social distancing, and following state guidelines even after they get the vaccine.
“Just because you get the first dose doesn’t mean you’re immune,” Newhouse added. “That’s what the second dose is for.”
She also said that she doesn’t think guidance on masks and social distancing to be lifted for some time.
The only trend that she noticed in town was again with whole households getting COVID-19 from one family member who spreads it to the rest.
“I’m not seeing spread in schools or in the community,” she continued.
She commented that two masks would provide even more protection than a single mask before Fire Chief Bill Cavanaugh took over.
Cavanaugh didn’t have much to report besides helping the health department however they can, receiving the first doses of the vaccine, and staying on top of CARES and FEMA reimbursement requests.
Newhouse mentioned that all of the first responders who received dose one had signed up to receive dose two, and it would be given at the public safety building.
After the budget proposal, Town Manager Jeff Hull took the board through a number of communications regarding Textron, school playground communication boards, and the Olin Superfund Site remediation plan, among others.
The first said that Textron is selling property and will only keep building 9. The second said that Allison Bolanos is fundraising to establish communication boards on school properties.
Four communication items were related to the Olin Superfund Site. First was a letter from Chairman Jonathan Eaton to Bevin Engelward, who’s part of the MIT superfund research program, responding with interest in supporting their research in order to clean the drinking water for residents affected by Olin.
Then, there was a letter from GeoInsight to the EPA with comments about their plan for the containment cap, specifically regarding their need for wider definitions, more inspections and monitoring locations, and specificity on the types of material needed. Kevin Caira asked if Hull expected to hear back and he said yes.
There was also an update from the EPA in reference to their 46 access agreements requested with property owners, of which they have 40; and the last was EPA’s letter to the Historical Commission and Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe asking if there was any indigenous or historic use of the site.
The final communications regarded a proposed Woburn Street truck exclusion to the Mass DOT and the placing of a Princeton Elm Tree on the Town Common in recognition of longtime Tree Foreman Robert Allen.
The board unanimously agreed to move the annual Town Meeting on May 1, 2021 to the Shriner’s Auditorium and for the Sons of Italy to use the 4th of July parking lot for their annual diaper drive on March 27 and 28.
Announcements included congratulations to winter athletes for resuming sports and all of the upcoming Finance Committee meetings that will be available on WCTV live and on demand.
Before they could end, Caira asked Hull to comment on the MBTA receiving a $1 million grant for the North Wilmington substation. Hull said it appeared this was more than what they’d originally budgeted and asked Senator Bruce Tarr’s office for more information.
Their next meeting will be Feb. 8 at 7 p.m.