PEABODY — It was just last Friday when the Board of Health announced the city's first confirmed positive case for COVID-19, and the Board of Health declared a public health emergency in Peabody.
Since then, that number has jumped to four cases in Peabody as of Tuesday, said Sharon Cameron, the city's health director, during a virtual meeting of the Board of Health held Tuesday afternoon focused on COVID-19 in the city.
Cameron said that Tuesday morning, she had attended a briefing with city department heads to give them an update on how things were quickly evolving.
To illustrate the speed at which things are changing, Cameron told the Board of Health during the 4:30 p.m. meeting there were 777 cases in Massachusetts, up from 256 six days prior. But updated totals on the state's website at 4 p.m Tuesday show 1,159 cases.
Cameron told the board that as of Tuesday, there were four cases in the city, up from one on Friday.
Nurses have been busy giving information to these individuals and their families about the need to quarantine at home, and they have been performing contact tracing to identify their close contacts.
"All that contact tracing is really labor intensive," Cameron said.
The Peabody Health Department is lucky to have the school nurses under its purview, and the school's four nurses have been trained to do contact tracing to help the city's public health nurse. Cameron did not give any specifics about the cases, other than to respond to a question from the board if the four cases represented a cluster.
"This does not appear to be a cluster," Cameron said.
While there is widespread community spread in Massachusetts, Cameron said that does not appear to be the case in Peabody.
She said addresses of the Peabody cases have been shared with public safety officials in case they have to respond to these addresses so they would know to take precautions.
Information about cases comes from the state's MAVEN electronic disease case management and surveillance system, with MAVEN being short for Massachusetts Virtual Epidemiologic Network. Clinicians and labs report directly to the state, and the city's public health nurse is then notified about them, she said.
The board did not take any further response actions and scheduled its next meeting for Wednesday, April 1, at 4 p.m.
For residents with questions about COVID-19, multilingual public health nurse in English, Portuguese and Spanish will be available on Wednesday, from 10 a.m to 2 p.m., by calling 978-538-5962.