attleboro public library

Attleboro Public Library on North Main Street

The Attleboro Public Library and another city department shut down Tuesday and Seekonk closed its town hall until further notice as coronavirus cases surged locally and across the state.

Mayor Paul Heroux said seven city employees have contracted the disease and another 10 are being tested in nine city departments. In an online posting, a photo in the library window stated it expected to reopen on Wednesday.

Cases also surged in city schools.

School officials reported 19 new coronavirus cases for the week ending Nov. 13.

That’s the highest number since school opened. The previous high was seven for the week ending Oct. 30. Last week there was just one.

Out of the 19 new cases, 14 were students and five were staff members.

All of those infected contracted the disease outside of school, according to officials.

There were 65 close contacts connected to those 19 cases, 25 were in school and 40 outside of it.

There have been 56 cases in schools since Sept. 11, which is a little less than 1 percent of the student and staff population. There are about 6,000 students and 700 staff members.

Meanwhile, Seekonk Town Hall closed to the public on Monday because of rising case numbers in that town, which is in the state’s coronavirus red zone.

“All those needing to do business with town offices should contact the appropriate office by phone or email,” the town said on its website. “For high priority and emergency business in-person visits will be accommodated via appointments.”

Go to Seekonk-ma.gov. for contact information.

“For those concerned about tax payments or dropping off documents, a drop box is located at the front door to Town Hall,” the town said.

Cases in Seekonk schools also bumped up. Since Friday, there have been nine new cases and 16 close contacts. Since Oct. 25, there have been 17 cases and 32 close contacts.

In Attleboro, Heroux said he closed the assessor’s office and the library after employees in each were reported to have COVID-19 or had been exposed to it.

Both locations are undergoing a “deep cleaning,” he said, adding that all employees with the disease or suspected of having the disease are required to remain at home.

Prior to this week it was typical to have one or two employees a week reported to have the disease but it exploded on Monday, he said.

“All of a sudden this week, all hell broke loose,” Heroux told The Sun Chronicle in a telephone interview. “It got to the point where we were losing track.”

Included in the number of confirmed cases are one in the police department and one in the fire department. But so far there has not been a cluster of cases in either as happened in the fire department about six weeks ago. Back then, 11 members were stricken and one became seriously ill but survived after being hospitalized.

The other departments currently affected by the virus are recreation, park, forestry, public works and personnel.

Heroux said employees who tested positive must isolate themselves for 14 days.

If they came into direct contact with a positive case they must quarantine for 14 days.

“In either situation, if they were at work within a certain amount of time before they came down with symptoms or came into contact with someone who is positive, we close the office and do a deep electrostatic cleaning,” the mayor said.

The number of cases statewide has not been this high since early in the pandemic.

For the week ending Nov. 14, the state recorded 15,532 confirmed cases and another 1,034 probable cases for a total of 16,566. That’s the highest number of cases since the week ending April 25, when 16,976 cases were reported, which is the biggest weekly number for the pandemic to date.

For the week ending April 25, there were 1,170 deaths statewide for a death rate of 6.47 percent.

For the week ending Nov. 14, there were 162 confirmed deaths and one probable for a total of 163, and a death rate of 1 percent.

As of last week the average age of those dying from the disease statewide was 80 and the average age of those hospitalized was 67.

Attleboro has suffered 67 deaths and 1,223 confirmed cases and 188 probable cases since the beginning of the pandemic. The death rate is 4.74 percent with probable cases included and 5.47 percent without.

Since Nov. 1 there have been 225 new cases according to the health department, an increase of 22.5 percent in confirmed cases.

Most of the Attleboro deaths occurred early in the pandemic in April.

George W. Rhodes can be reached at 508-236-0432.

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