Seekonk Hard Hit by Covid
Seekonk has been hit hard by the pandemic, with a soaring rate of new infections due to the Omicron variant.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Health, the town reported a daily positivity rate of 19 percent during the 14 day testing period which concluded on January 1. Rehoboth’s daily positivity rate was 18.94 percent. In comparison, the statewide daily positivity rate is 15.03 percent. The 14 day average daily incidence rate for Seekonk is 95.8 per 100,000 residents.
Nearby communities are faring even worse.
- Dighton has a 14 day average daily incidence rate of 127.9 per 100,000 residents.
- Swansea has a 14 day average daily incidence rate of 145.1 per 100,000 residents.
- Fall River has a 14 day average daily incidence rate of 165.9 per 100,000 residents.
On January 4, all town offices were closed to the public for the remainder of the month. The Seekonk Public Library is also closed.
“A lot of this is for staffing purposes,” Selectmen Chairman Justin Sullivan said on January 5. “We’re thin in some areas for sure but we also want to protect those staff members who are healthy as well. There is obviously a spike going on right now. We do appreciate the public’s patience while we continue to work through it. Services should not be changing. It’s just the fact that we have to limit the face to face contact for a little bit. Hopefully it subsides here by the end of the month and we can get back to normal again.”
Town Administrator Shawn Cadime said 26 town employees were absent either because they tested positive for Covid or were in quarantine after receiving a positive test result.
Cadime insisted town officials have remained “proactive” and have worked “diligently” during the pandemic. “The Board and the Town have followed and enforced all guidelines and orders coming from the Department of Health and the Governor,” Cadime said Friday. “The Board has strongly advised that the public wear masks especially in town buildings. The town was prepping for a vaccination clinic, which was to be held at the Senior Center, up until the State stated that they would not be providing municipalities with vaccinations.” The infection rates include “high numbers of individuals that have been vaccinated and boostered” according to Cadime.
In 2020, the Seekonk Fire Department partnered with Sturdy Memorial Hospital to participate in a Mobile Integrated Health program. Cadime said the program won the full support of the Board of Selectmen. The program was designed to send a paramedic to the homes of high-risk patients to perform wellness checks.
Cadime added residents should “strongly consider getting vaccinated, boostered if vaccinated, wearing a mask, social distancing, washing hands, and isolating if they do not feel well.”
The schools have also been impacted. According to the Seekonk Public Schools Covid Dashboard, there were 19 cases reported on Thursday. Seven each at Seekonk High School and Hurley Middle School, two at Aitken Elementary School, and three at Martin Elementary School.
School Superintendent Rich Drolet said there are no plans to institute distance learning: “Along with the state of Massachusetts and DESE, we have prioritized in-person learning this year. There is always a possibility that a class, grade level, or school may need to shift to distance learning if there is an outbreak or large cluster of positive cases, but I do not anticipate us going back to distance learning as a whole here in Seekonk.”
“We have had Covid tests as part of our "test and stay" program for students and staff since the beginning of the school year, but other than that we do not have extra tests,” Drolet continued. “We did receive a small allotment of rapid test kits from the state and distributed them Sunday to staff before returning yesterday. We only got 270 home testing kits allotted from DESE to Seekonk, and we have about 320 staff. Other than being short of some kits, the distribution went well thanks to many helping hands.”
The CVS at 1479 Newman Avenue offers Covid-19 testing by appointment only. Other nearby testing locations include Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro and Walgreens at 196 Pleasant Street, Attleboro. Both are by appointment only.
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