WILMINGTON — The Board of Selectmen started their meeting on Monday night with the standard COVID-19 update from Board of Health Director Shelly Newhouse and Fire Chief Bill Cavanaugh. Chairman Jonathan Eaton segued into this part addressing that the board decided to meet remotely that night due to the rising number of positive cases.
Newhouse numbered 51 active positive cases and more than 100 residents in quarantine.
“The trends that I’m seeing are whole families getting it,” she said.
She explained how easy it is to go to a small gathering and bring home COVID-19 for the rest of the family. She later named carpooling as another trend in spreading cases.
She also discussed a new metric system from the Department of Public Health, which excludes closed pod numbers like nursing homes. This way, even with greater than 10 average cases in a population of up to 100,000, but not greater than five percent positivity rate, Wilmington is in the yellow this week. However, she said Wilmington’s positivity rate is 2.55 percent, falling above the state average of 1.7 percent.
In terms of reception of Governor Charlie Baker’s new orders, Newhouse said that the feedback isn’t bad so far.
“Everyone wants to do the right thing and stop the virus from spreading and making the numbers go up,” she continued.
One win right now that she named is there aren’t any COVID cases in Wilmington’s nursing homes.
When Fire Chief Cavanaugh joined, he mentioned that the police and fire departments have seen plenty of COVID cases recently. He said at one point, one third of the fire department was either positive or in quarantine.
“I’m happy to say that most of our people have recovered and we’re back to business as normal,” he reported.
He went on to give examples of COVID protocol changes like using fewer people in medical situations and decontaminating ambulances between uses.
The board thanked Newhouse, Cavanaugh, and both of their departments for all the work that they’re doing.
Kevin Caira asked if the town’s flu shots were all used, and Newhouse said they have more in case anyone calls. However, she recommended getting a flu shot at CVS, Target, or the doctor’s office.
Jomarie O’Mahony asked her to explain the new protocols for masks that started late last week.
“If you’re out in public, you have to wear a mask,” Newhouse answered. “Reduced capacity for events has changed.”
Town Manager Jeff Hull wondered how people have been lately with contact tracing, and Newhouse explained that it’s a lot of work for her department but residents have been cooperating.
Several board members brought updates from the committees on which they represent the board. Greg Bendel said that P3 was picked for the OPM for the new senior center.
O’Mahony shared that the MBTA Advisory Board is allowed only one member of the same community to vote — either the Town Manager, the chairman of the Board of Selectmen, or the selectmen appointee. She said she’d have another update on Nov. 23 after their supplemental meeting Nov. 16.
Other communications read by Hull included information on New England Transrail, which is largely waiting on the EPA to finalize the Olin remediation plan; the new town hall/school admin building committee getting ready for OPM candidates; considerations to changing the intersection at Route 38 and Wilmington Crossing; the fiscal year 2022 budget presentation; and using Shriner’s auditorium for the Nov. 3 election.
Another update he delivered was that Wilmington’s Veterans Day services will be live streamed on WCTV so that people can participate and support remotely via channel 9 on Comcast, 37 on Verizon, or on WCTV’s Facebook page.
The board approved seven requests that night to use town spaces for different fundraisers, promotions, and annual events — eight if you include the 2020 Santa Parade. The Santa Parade request came from Officer Daniel Furbish on behalf of the Wilmington Police Department.
He said that accommodations have been made where this will only be a drive-by parade with no stopping at schools. However, they’ll still collect donations of toys and food pantry items.
Wilmington Sons of Italy brought three requests alone for events in the Town Common/Swain Green parking lot: their annual member’s children’s Christmas party on Dec. 13; a blood drive on Saturday, Dec. 26; and the joint yard sale with Wilmington Band Parents on Sept. 18, 2021.
Wilmington Community Fund asked to use the municipal lot for community shredding on April 10, the WHS Football Touchdown Club requested the 4th of July parking lot for a car wash on Sept. 26, and We’re One Wilmington asked to put signs on the town common advertising their Festival of Trees event.
Public comment, now placed further down in the meeting agenda, contained one resident’s question about the reimbursement for the WHS project which was finished in 2015. The resident also questioned the necessity of the new town hall/admin building and asked about the MBTA Advisory Board designee.
Hull explained the number he expected was around $1.5 million to be reimbursed and that they still had one final request to make for it.
Eaton stood by the Town Meeting approval of the new town hall/school admin building and repeated what O’Mahony had said, which was that only one community member could vote on the MBTA Advisory Board.
During announcements, the board called out several veterans recognitions made possible by Veterans Services and Director Lou Cimaglia. These were dedicating a street to Sergeant George Veloza and a new monument for Wilmington’s fallen heroes on the town common.
They took time to thank Wilmington’s veterans for their service and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in honor of Veterans Day.
The next meeting for the Board of Selectmen will be on Nov. 23.