Cases up, masks on

Abington residents, workers urged to don masks in stores

As the number of COVID-19 cases peak in Massachusetts, Abington’s health agent is asking both customers and shoppers to wear masks inside retail stores.

“The information on COVID-19 is rapidly changing and it is crucial that our community adapts to each new development,” the health agent, Marty Golightly, wrote in a public notice. “Hence forth the Abington Board of Health and Health Agent are recommending an additional safety and social distancing protocol for our businesses.”

Abington has 54 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Wednesday, April 15. Although that figure has more than doubled over the past week — there were 24 cases on April 8 — Abington’s rate of positive tests (300.65 cases / 100,000 residents) is actually in line with many local communities and below the state average of 487.76 cases / 100,000 residents). Golightly has previously cautioned that because testing is not readily available, the actual number of people with the virus  is likely much higher. 

Massachusetts public health officials has been projecting that COVID-19 cases would peak between April 10 and April 20. “We are in the surge,” Gov. Charlie Baker said during a press conference on Wednesday. The number of Massachusetts residents who have died from the virus now exceeds 1,100.    

Golightly’s latest recommendation aligns with social distancing strategies encouraged by the CDC to reduce the spread of the virus. One factor that prompted the latest advisory, Golightly said, was to remind people that although they may feel well, they may still be a carrier. 

“Asymptomatic residents could unknowingly transmit the disease,” he said. 

Golightly has also recommended businesses close earlier to allow employees more time to restock and sanitize, limit the number of customers allowed in, and marking out six-foot spaces for checkout lines.   

The CDC has published recommendations on the best type of masks to wear in public.