Wellesley COVID-19 update: Schools closed for rest of school year; cases spike by 40%; pollen’s here; smiley neighborhood cookies; endless dump line

Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday ordered all public and private schools in the state closed for the remainder of the school year due to COVID-19 concerns. That should make Tuesday night’s Wellesley School Committee meeting extra interesting.

Cases spike by 40%

Wellesley had a relatively quiet weekend on the COVID-19 front according to the Monday, April 20 report, with the number of cases rising from 84 on Friday to 87 as of Monday night.  But the case numbers rose dramatically by Tuesday to 122 following widespread testing at local longterm are facilities. The state’s COVID-19 dashboard shows between 10-30 confirmed cases at Elizabeth Seton Residence, which tested residents and staff, regardless of whether they were symptomatic.

Elizabeth Seton Residence posted on its Facebook page that: “We tested all residents Friday and learned that most with symptoms did indeed test positive, while a number of residents who are not currently showing any symptoms also tested positive. This information was very helpful, as we have been able to further separate those who tested negative from those who may have no symptoms, but are positive. All those testing positive are being monitored very carefully, and tended by staff in full protective gear. We are focused on maintaining comfort, providing supportive care, and managing symptoms to give our residents the best chance for their bodies to fight this virus. We appreciate your words of support, kindness, and prayer.”

Separately, and before the latest numbers were released, Wellesley Communications and Project Manager Stephanie Hawkinson answered a few questions for us based on an inquiry from a reader over the weekend about the town’s process for reporting (or not reporting) on COVID-19 cases.

The town assembles its daily reports with input from the Health Department and all other town departments and boards. There’s a daily 4pm meeting when the Massachusetts Department of Public Health case numbers are shared and other news to be disseminated to the public is discussed. “Most of us are working remotely but are in touch throughout the day as we conduct Town business, hold virtual meetings, develop new programs to support the community, and generally keep the Town running. I continually draft and update information on the Town website, the Coronavirus Information Hub, social media, and news releases. We all also monitor the information from the Governor, the State Legislature and surrounding Towns to make sure what we’re providing to Wellesley residents is as up-to-date as possible,” Hawkinson says.

The town had been issuing updates 7 days a week at the start of the crisis but has scaled that back to weekdays unless something significant happens locally over the weekend. This is a common practice for local communities, which generally only have 1 communications person (if any).

The Town does not report on deaths. Following guidance from Mass DPH, the state reports fatalities by county only to help protect privacy. Other communities, such as Natick, are reporting deaths. The town has been shaken by 17 deaths at the Mary Ann Morse Healthcare Center, whose CEO has been providing public updates.

The state is now sharing numbers on suspected and confirmed cases by hospital and by confirmed cases at nursing homes.

Pollen’s here

Sure, nature’s beautiful, blah, blah, blah. But not this vernal pool coated with pollen. That’s just bad news for allergy sufferers.

vernal pool pollen
Courtesy of reader PC


Complicating COVID-19 self-diagnosis is the arrival of spring allergy season. The itchy eyes, nose etc., are more likely a sign of allergies than COVID-19, but consult symptom checkers and your physician if unsure.


Smiley neighborhood cookies

Our neighborhood’s great, but clearly needs to step up.

Wellesley’s Karen Griffith and friend Alison shared a surprise gift in Wellesley’s “Historic Triangle” neighborhood.

“We’re a close-knit group that are truly ‘neighbors’ to each other and I thought this would put a smile on their faces during this time,” Griffith says. “We get together for birthdays, graduations and New Year’s Eve and I always bring my cookies! I teamed up with my friend Alison who has an Etsy shop making these cards and prints (@alisonrosevintage). She custom made the ‘neighbor’ card for me to include with my cookie gifts.”

Smiley cookies

Endless dump line

The line of cars heading into the Wellesley Recycling & Disposal Facility on Tuesday morning, the day after 2 days of the RDF being closed, reached epic proportions.  Past the Brook Street intersection.

Credit to Mrs. Swellesley, who on Monday night recommended that the Swellesley Jrs. wait until after today to bring our stuff. The RDF recently put in new social distancing rules that limit the number of vehicles at the dump and separate the ones that are in there.

dump line rdf
photo shared by MC


Share your good, bad or ugly COVID-19-related news: theswellesleyreport@gmail.com What’s really going on out there?