Fire Chief Jason Viveiros, Police Chief Joao Chaves, and Board of Health Agent Bob Valery were all present at the November 23 special meeting of the Halifax Board of Selectmen. These meetings have been held weekly since the onset of the pandemic.
Valery began by saying that for the previous week there had been one confirmed case on Thursday, two suspected cases and one confirmed case on Friday, and one confirmed case on Saturday. At the time of the meeting, there were no hospitalizations from cases in town. Selectman Tom Millias asked how many total cases there were in town. Valery said that there were 18 active cases and estimated eighty something total cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Valery also told the Board that the first responders are notified of cases every Monday.
“Stores were pretty painless over the weekend; they were busy but seem to be handled pretty well,” Valery said of local shops. Millias agreed saying that the stores he drove by had counters out front calling it “encouraging” and adding “they’re at least trying to keep track of how many people were in the store.” Millias said that this would be a difficult time of year with the holiday season.
Valery recommended that people try to avoid shopping during peak hours like 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. when possible. Both Millias and Valery recommended using curbside pickup where available.
Chief Viveiros gave an update on the testing program in town. The program will begin by administering antigen tests to town employees on December 1 and 8. Tests for this population have already been paid for through the town. Employees with symptoms or known exposure are asked to receive a PCR test through a drive up at the fire station.
A community testing event will be held on December 5 and 6 at the Halifax Elementary School. Those wishing to be tested should provide their health insurance information. According to Viveiros, if they don’t have health insurance, they can provide their social security number and the test can be billed through the federal government as money has been set aside for that purpose.
Chief Chaves told the selectmen that according to the state, a first responder who has had contact with a known case of the virus, can still be expected to report to work as long as they remain asymptomatic. Chief Viveiros said that in spite of the guideline, his department would still be erring on the side of caution. He said that as long as there wasn’t a shortage of personnel, any member of the department with a known exposure would be asked to stay home.
Millias provided an update on the Pope’s Tavern roof project. The Building Committee said they have had discussions with the contractor and that the plan is to start work on the roofing membrane and the ice and water shield. They are, however, reluctant to put shingles on the roof during the cold weather. Millias said as with the spray foam insulation, the shingles need warmer temperatures to adhere properly.
Highway Surveyor Steve Hayward was in attendance to speak to the toy drive that will take place on December 5. The event will be two-fold with a drop off option as well as a pickup one. Santa will be driving through the town from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and several cars with Girl Scouts will be trailing to pickup donations from people’s homes. The drop off portion will be a drive up at the town barn with volunteers taking the items directly from people’s trunks. More information is available on the town website.
Hayward also told the selectmen that he was now in possession of the necessary equipment, acquired through CARES Act funding, to spray disinfectant at certain street crossings as well as park benches. He asked if the selectmen would like him to begin spraying the HOPS playground. “If we have the capacity to do it, I can’t see saying no thank you,” Millias said. Hayward said that the playground at the school is being sprayed between recesses. While the HOPS Playground can’t be done as frequently, Hayward said it could likely be done once a day.