Small town dealing with spread of global pandemic

DOUGLAS — Six days after its first confirmed COVID-19 case, town officials announced there are now six confirmed cases, and they expect that number to continue to grow.

According to a public notice posted on its Facebook page, the Douglas Police Department reported on Monday afternoon that a half-dozen residents have been identified as testing positive for COVID-19. The first confirmed case in this town of fewer than 8,500 residents came on March 24, but as of 9 a.m. on March 30 that number had increased to six confirmed cases of coronavirus.

“Over the next two weeks, the number of total reported cases will go up, as the combination of additional testing and increased development of symptoms in those exposed before preventive measures began in earnest run their course,” officials cautioned in the post.

With 5,752 confirmed cases statewide, including 390 in Worcester County, the exponential spread of the disease has increased daily. Local officials said the virus can be transmitted quite easily, making it a difficult problem to solve quickly.

“The coronavirus is highly contagious and the full measure of people exposed and taking ill as a result will not be fully known for some time,” read the police department’s post. “The public can expect this situation to continue through the end of April at the least.”

In an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19, all municipal buildings in Douglas have been closed until further notice. The town’s transfer station remains open, though its recycling center is not available.

“Frequent interactions between people in the recycling area, including Transfer Station staff, have made it unwise to keep it open,” local officials explained.

As the situation continues to develop locally, statewide, nationally, and across the globe, officials here have pledged to remain steadfast in their diligence and preparation.

“The Town continues to take a proactive stance when it comes to planning for a deepening of the public health situation and resulting economic disturbance,” read the police department post. “The Town Nurse and Board of Health staff interact with those who test positive to review quarantine protocols and to coordinate assistance, if needed. We are monitoring the outlook for Town Meeting and reallocating staff and budget as needed for emergency response.”

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