Town leaders in Cohasset implement new policy for first responders after potential coronavirus case

COHASSET, Mass. — Changes are happening in Cohasset as leaders brace for a possible case of coronavirus in town. They’re still waiting on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm the results, but the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced on Monday that a Norfolk County woman tested positive for coronavirus.

A source told Boston 25 News that the patient is a 27-year-old Cohasset woman who recently traveled to Italy with a Rhode Island high school. Two other people from that trip, who are Rhode Island residents, have also tested positive for coronavirus.

Town leaders met again on Tuesday to discuss the situation.

PREVIOUS: Norfolk County woman tests positive for coronavirus, health officials say

Cohasset’s town manager told Boston 25 News that senior leaders, like police, the school superintendent and the fire chief are going to be meeting every day going forward in order to evaluate this developing situation.

The town is already making some changes to keep everyone safe, including a new protocol for first responders.

“People should be calm and cool about this,” said Town Manager Christopher Senior, who added that the town started preparing for a potential coronavirus case weeks ago before there was even a threat. “Our public health folks asked a few weeks ago, ‘can we order some extra thermometers and alcohol wipes and stuff.’”

But now that a member of the Cohasset community may be infected, they’re making even more changes to keep people safe. Those changes include implementing a new policy for first responders.

PREVIOUS: Cohasset woman under quarantine due to potential coronavirus exposure

“The protocols have been tweaked so that if it’s a flu-like symptom response, the police officers won’t go in first, they’ll wait for our paramedics,” Senior said. “All of our firefighters are paramedics in Cohasset.”

Senior said that’s because, unlike police officers, firefighters have protective gear and face masks.

“The firefighters are fitted for those kinds of things so if they have to get up close to somebody, they’re going to be protected in a different kind of way,” he said.

In Seattle, more than two dozen firefighters are now being quarantined after coming in contact with coronavirus patients. If that were to happen in Cohasset, it would wipe out the whole department, which is made up of 21 fulltime firefighter-EMTs.

“Having a virus in the community is tough to hear and you don’t want anyone to get sick that you know or anyone in the town,” said Adam Manoli of Cohasset. “It’s such a small town, there’s only 7,500 people here.”

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But Senior says that people shouldn’t change their daily routines. “If we were told by the state that we need to do certain things, we would,” he said. “At this point they’re saying, ‘no we’re good.’”

Tips from the CDC to stay healthy

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

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