To the Editor:
The Westfield Board of Health met on Aug. 3.
The Board discussed the progress and accomplishments of the Westfield Regional Health Department in responding to the pandemic of Covid-19 in Westfield and our 7 contract neighboring municipalities. The rate of new cases is currently increasing, so the health department is increasing its already expansive efforts. Its current emphases are to educate the public and to work to Stop the Spread, primarily through contact tracing. Since we are a community in this together, each of us can help to stop the spread. As the State Department of Health says, “For Each Other, For Us All.”
Here’s what you can do:
- Get tested for Covid-19. If you are ill, please stay home while awaiting test results, even should you feel better.
- If you have a positive test, stay in isolation for 10 days, to protect those you love. If you are ill, stay in isolation at least 10 days and until you have no fever while off fever-reducing medications for at least 24 hours.
- If you get a call from the Health Department, please TAKE IT. They have information to help you protect yourself and your loved ones. They have called you because someone cares about you and said you are a contact. All information is strictly confidential.
- If you have been exposed to someone with Covid-19 – a contact is within 6 feet for at least 10 minutes without protection, like a face covering - then please stay home in quarantine for 14 days.
- Wash your hands often. Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds or a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay socially connected but keep a physical distance of 6 feet from those not in your “bubble.”
- Cover your mouth and nose with a face covering when out in public to help protect others. Especially cover coughs and sneezes.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
- If you are ill, stay home and isolate yourself.
Residents can learn the most current information from the Mayor’s Covid-19 Updates at https://www.westfieldnj.gov/coronavirusupdates and the town’s Coronavirus Information Center at https://www.westfieldnjgov/coronavirus. You will find more useful information there about protecting yourself.
In other business, the Board discussed the need to continue vaccinating children against communicable diseases. Other diseases, like measles, chickenpox and pertussis, are still present and so all NJ school immunization requirements will continue to be enforced. Parents should ensure that their children get their routine check-ups and vaccinations.
Similarly, adults should continue to get their needed preventive exams, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, and to seek medical care if they are ill. And this upcoming winter, we should all be vaccinated against the flu, which can appear similar to Covid-19.
In addition to all its work concerning Covid-19, the health department is continuing its public health promotion and oversight functions. For example, 10 food establishments and four pools were inspected, and all were satisfactory.
Finally, there was an increase in reports of rats in town. The health department investigated 15 complaints concerning rats and rat burrows in June and July. All were successfully addressed with the cooperation of the homeowners and extermination companies, except one. Please do NOT feed wild animals, since this helps rats thrive.
Information about the health department’s activities, free education programs and helpful health-related advice and recommendations is available at https://www.westfieldnj.gov/health. The department’s monthly newsletter, Your Health Matters, recently highlighted summer and hot weather health and safety tips. It is available on the department’s website in the August Newsletter tab. You can sign up to receive health department information through https://www.westfieldnj.gov/townupdates.
The complete minutes of the Aug. 3 meeting will be posted after review and approval at our Sept. 8 meeting at 5 p.m., to which the public is invited to attend.
Lawrence D. Budnick, MD, MPH
President, Westfield Board of Health