Updated: Haverhill and Methuen Both Report Two Residents with COVID-19; Residents Isolated

Haverhill City Hall. (WHAV News file photograph.)

The Cities of Haverhill and Methuen separately reported today each community has two new cases of COVID-19.

In Haverhill, officials say, the two residents, who were not named for privacy reasons, are staying home in compliance with protocols put in place by Massachusetts public health officials.  Mayor James J. Fiorentini said they are being monitored by Haverhill Public Health Nurse Mary Connolly following state guidelines. The mayor said family members and others who have been in close proximity are also being tested.

In Methuen, Mayor Neil Perry said the two people there have been isolated. He also announced plans to issue a daily report of Methuen residents impacted by COVID-19. The data, which will be released by the Methuen Board of Health at approximately 5 p.m. each day, will be based on the official reporting to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Haverhill’s head school nurse reported Friday she tested positive for COVID-19. Director of Health and Nursing Services Katie Vozeolas, who does not live in Haverhill, told officials she has only mild symptoms and is resting at home. Vozeolas has authorized the use of her name.

Superintendent Margaret Marotta and school pediatrician Dr. John Maddox said in a joint statement Friday that Vozeolas began to feel ill Tuesday, March 17, left work immediately and has been home since. They stressed she was not considered contagious when students were still in school last week.

Marotta and Maddox added, “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.”

The statement continues, “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.”

Vozeolas was in WHAV’s studios last Tuesday for a live, on-air interview. WHAV was informed early Friday night and its studios and offices will be closed Monday for cleaning. Staff will work remotely until further notice.

At the time of Vozeoloas’ interview, she said, the schools have been getting medications back to parents that may have been stored at individual schools.

“They’re only allowed so many each month, so if we had a two- or three-week supply of a medication that a child takes every day, they in turn would need that. The nurses did a great job of calling around to all those parents with kids who had daily medications and others who they thought may need those medications. Most of them have already been picked up. There’s a few stragglers today that are coming through,” she said.

While school staff are not allowed to make house calls, she noted, they are available to listen and remotely support families.

Recapping other related news:

Haverhill City Hall is closed completely tomorrow and Tuesday after a city employee tested positive for COVID-19.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini did not mention the City Hall worker by name, saying only the employee does not have a City Hall office, but does have contact in the building.

Both Haverhill and Methuen declared states of emergency Friday.

In Haverhill, the Haverhill Board of Health directed the Recreation Department to cordon off playground equipment and ordered all gymnasiums and fitness clubs to close tomorrow.

Barbershops and hair and nail salons were also ordered to see clients by appointment only. In those cases where hair and nail patrons must wait, Health Board members asked for a requirement to be sure they are placed at least six feet apart. Mayor James J. Fiorentini participated by telephone in the emergency Health Board meeting. City Solicitor William. Cox also attended.

Haverhill Police, Public Health Nurse Mary Connolly and Cox are responsible for enforcement of the emergency declaration, said Chairman Peter Carbone.

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