Haverhill Puts Partnership to Work on Student COVID-19 Testing; Reports Nursing Home ‘Cluster’

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Haverhill said it put its partnership with Pentucket Medical to work last week when two middle school students were found to have contracted COVID-19.

Contrary to an initial report, Mayor James J. Fiorentini said in a social media post that five “close contacts” were sent for rapid testing and found negative for the virus. As WHAV first reported Friday, an email to School Committee members reported the middle school students are a John Greenleaf Whittier School pupil, who attended classes without symptoms last Monday, but became ill the next day, and a Dr. Albert B. Consentino student who was diagnosed Friday, but also attended school a week ago.

A separate email to parents from Whittier Principal Tim Betty acknowledged, “Parents of students who were in close contact with the community member will be notified privately.”

Betty told others, “Though we cannot provide specific information about our school community member who tested positive, your child was not a close contact (defined as being within 6 feet of the person for at least 15 minutes) of the affected school member. Please continue to monitor your child for symptoms, and keep your child home if he/she/they shows any symptoms or is not feeling well.”

Besides the two middle school students, a Haverhill student attending Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School was also diagnosed with COVID-19. All three were said to be isolating at home.

Fiorentini also confirmed this weekend that 20 new coronavirus cases are part of a “cluster” associated with Lakeview House nursing home, 87 Shattuck St., Haverhill. He said the state is checking every resident and staff member at the nursing home and five residents have been hospitalized.

As new cases in Haverhill are expected to push the city into the state’s high-alert, “red” category, the mayor said he spoke with Health Secretary Marylou Sudders. “At my request the state is sending in a rapid testing team starting next week.” He said the locations—open to both people with and without symptoms and without the need for a physician’s referral—will be announced.

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