Dedham has put off a Sept. 21 start date to resume limited in-school education, and will now be getting a three-day visit from a mobile Covid-19 testing unit now that the state has added the town to its list of communities with elevated testing numbers.
Board of Health Chairwoman Leanne Jassett says it looks like the town's latest numbers are the result of "two recent gatherings of young people in town, including a party attended by high school students, which have resulted in two clusters of positive cases."
The state Department of Public Health added the town to its high-risk list yesterday, reporting the town has a current positive test rate of 2.65% - compared to a statewide rate of slightly under 1%, and 0.34% in neighboring Needham. The state reported an average daily incident rate of 9.74 people per 100,000 in Dedham, compared to 1.71 in Needham.
Town officials say that remote learning for local public-school students will begin on Sept. 16 as planned, but that letting students return to school on Sept. 21 has been put off indefinitely.
In a statement this morning, Jassett and Town Manager Leon Goodwin said they expect a state mobile-testing unit to arrive in town within the next few days to provide free tests for residents. The specific location and hours have yet to be announced, but they encouraged residents to get ready for a test. "We are encouraging as many people to get tested as possible," both to provide care to people who test positive and to begin trying to track and contact people who might have been in close contact with them.
Jassett added that even people who had no direct contact with people at the two parties should consider getting tested:
While it is believed that these clusters are the cause of the recent rise in positive cases, the increase means that it is imperative for residents to get tested now so health officials will have the best possible understanding of the current COVID-19 situation in our community.