Town Hall closed as Dartmouth is back in the red
On Friday morning, officials announced the closure of Town Hall through Dec. 3 — just after the state released data categorizing Dartmouth as a high-risk community for coronavirus transmission once again.
State data released on Nov. 19 puts Dartmouth “in the red” again for the first time since early this month, when a new system for identifying high-risk communities was put into place.
The high-risk status is due to Dartmouth’s 14-day average daily case rate of over 43 per 100,000 people and a percent positive test rate of 5.97%.
To be categorized as “high risk,” communities of Dartmouth’s size need to have an average daily case rate of 10 or higher and a percent positive test rate of at least 5%.
In a press release sent early on Nov. 20, Town Administrator Shawn MacInnes announced the closure of Town Hall “out of a need to protect the health and safety of the employees and public,” citing “widespread community transmission of Covid-19.”
Public Health Director Chris Michaud stressed that residents should take all necessary precautions to reduce the risk of transmission, reminding them that just 15 minutes of contact accumulated over 24 hours can transmit the virus.
“All of this is for the purpose of reducing transmission,” he said. “We have to reduce transmission. It’s out of control. We’re too high right now, and every week we’re going up.”
The press release stated that “many public and private operations abruptly close” during these times due to a loss of staff to quarantine, whether they have the virus themselves or are simply taking precautions.
Close contacts of any positive individual are contacted by a public health investigator, the statement continued, asking residents to “remain vigilant with prevention practices at all times.”
Michaud noted that Dartmouth’s businesses have been “very responsive” when an employee or contact alerts them of a positive case.
“Businesses are doing the right thing,” he said, adding that both public and private groups — including schools — have done “an extraordinary job” to protect the community.
“We’ve got to continue to do that in our households,” he said. “Thanksgiving is upon us, cold weather is upon us, everybody’s going back indoors. Vaccines are still a ways out — they’re not coming tomorrow or next week.”
“Until we see a large scale administration of vaccine in Dartmouth, we have to continue to do our part,” he added.
Officials asked residents to wear face coverings in public at all times, maintain social distancing, limit gatherings, and stay at home if feeling sick.
Town offices will remain open through remote operations.
Departments will be accessible by email or voicemail, with contact information for all departments available on the town’s website at www.town.dartmouth.ma.us.
Residents are still able to apply for permits and make tax payments online.