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Out of precaution, Deerfield Town Hall closes for possible exposure to COVID-19

Staff Writer
Published: 12/3/2020 4:59:46 PM

DEERFIELD — Town Hall closed midday Wednesday as a result of a staff member’s possible exposure to COVID-19.

“Out of an abundance of caution we were closing until we got word back on a test,” Selectboard member Trevor McDaniel said Thursday. “It’s just to be safe — you never really know.”

The staff member’s possible exposure was not with a confirmed case.

Town Hall employees are set up with a VPN, the private network used at the office, which allows them to work from home, so town business can continue relatively as normal, he said.

The building was sanitized after employees left Wednesday, and is being cleaned any time an employee stops in to pick up material they left behind, according to McDaniel. Otherwise, the building remained closed as of Thursday afternoon, and administrators said a date of return for staff was still to be determined.

In the meantime, Town Administrator Kayce Warren encouraged residents to use online resources, as well as the outside dropbox, to conduct town business.

At a Selectboard meeting Wednesday night, Selectboard member Carolyn Shores Ness noted that unless more funding becomes available, the town’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding — federal COVID-19 assistance for state, local and tribal governments — runs out Dec. 30.

“I feel like there will be support from the federal government at some point, but we might have to cover January and part of February” if the money is slow to arrive, Shores Ness said. “So I think, just a heads up, we might need to transfer $4,000 to $5,000 from the Finance Committee to cover (contact) tracing.”

She said that money will likely be needed to keep contact tracing “in house” as opposed to using the state’s Community Tracing Collaborative.

“They’re just so slow. We’re on top of every case right now,” said Shores Ness, who also sits on the Board of Health. “We track (close contacts) down, whether it’s Thanksgiving Day or not. … I feel like it’s really, really important that we keep it in house.”

Warren advised that the transfer of funds be made only when it becomes necessary.

Shores Ness reminded the community Wednesday to continue wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing.

“We’re really nervous about community spread,” she said. “So far it seems like it’s small gatherings in private homes and a couple of work places, but please, please, please, be so vigilant. Here, even in our Town Hall today, we’re shut down.”

McDaniel, speaking to the “good news” of the potential for a vaccine in the next few months, also asked residents to do what they can to reduce transmission.

“It’s not the big outdoor concerts or rallies, it’s the family living room kind of situations,” he said. “It’s just a few more months, i f we can hang in there.”

An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that the employee was a close contact of an individual who tested positive for COVID-19. Neither individual involved has received a confirmed test result at this time.

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne




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