Haverhill School Nurse Tests Positive for COVID-19, Has Mild Symptoms and Resting

Haverhill Public Schools' Physician Dr. John Maddox and Director of Health and Nursing Services Katie Vozeolas previously addressed the City Council. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill’s school nurse reported today she has tested positive for COVID-19, but has only mild symptoms and is resting at home.

A School Department statement released tonight reported, Director of Health and Nursing Services Katie Vozeolas began to feel ill this past Tuesday, March 17, left work immediately and has been home since. Officials stressed Vozeolas was not considered contagious when students were still in school last week.

“We thank Katie for her bravery in coming forward to share this information in such a transparent manner, the forthright public sharing of the details of her illness provides comfort to those who have been in contact with her during the previous week,” said the statement signed by from school Superintendent Margaret Marotta and school pediatrician Dr. John L. Maddox.

Vozeolas answered questions during a live WHAV interview Tuesday morning.

In a related action, Mayor James J. Fiorentini told city employees that City Hall, already scheduled to be cleaned and disinfected this weekend, will be closed Monday and Tuesday. The mayor said all department heads and employees who can work from home should do so. He said a city employee, whom he did not mention by name, has been “diagnosed positive for the coronavirus.” He said the employee does not have a City Hall office, but does have contact in the building.

“It is important to note that Katie’s symptoms began days after schools was dismissed on Thursday March 12. According to CDC guidelines she would not be considered contagious at that time. Given the guidance provided by the CDC, Tuesday is the first day that she would be considered contagious, however, out of abundance of caution, we are considering Monday, March 16 as a day she was potentially contagious,” according to the statement.

The remainder of the statement related to levels of exposure and appears below.

There are 3 categories of potential exposure in such situation:

  1. Medium risk: those in close contact with the individual, once symptoms appear. Close contact is defined as being within 6-feet for 15 minutes or more.  Recommendations for those individuals follows below.
  2. Low risk: those in the same indoor environment (e.g. a classroom or conference room) with someone with symptoms found to be positive, but without close contact.
  3. No risk: interactions with a COVID-19 confirmed infection, such as walking by the person or being briefly in the same room, carry no identifiable risk.

For those who were in close contact with a person diagnosed (medium risk):

  • If you are NOT symptomatic, remain home. Self-isolate for 14 days after exposure. Practice social distancing, avoid travel. You do not need to be tested.
  • The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever (subjective or measured), cough or shortness of breath. If you have these symptoms or develop these symptoms, call the Lawrence General Hospital Community Screening Line 978-946-8409. They will assess you to see whether you need medical evaluation, including testing.  Many cases of mild COVID-19 illness, like the flu, will recover at home.

For those in the low risk category:

  • If you are NOT symptomatic, there is no restriction on your movement. You do not need to be tested.
  • If you have or develop symptoms of COVID, remain at home until recovered. Seek advice from your health care provider about whether you should have a medical evaluation based on your personal risk factors.

Deep cleaning as recommended by MA DPH protocol has occurred this week in our buildings and for City Hall will occur over the weekend.

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