Dracut, Pepperell announce first COVID-19 cases

Totals in other local communities continue to grow

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. (CDC via AP)
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DRACUT — Officials in Dracut and Pepperell both announced the first positive COVID-19 test results in their communities on Thursday, as the number of positive cases found in communities around the region continued to rise as expected.

“As testing becomes more available and more individuals get tested it is likely the number of positive cases of COVID-19 in a community will increase,” the town of Pepperell said in a prepared statement, echoing the warnings put out by Gov. Charlie Baker and dozens of other officials this week.

Elsewhere, Lowell rose to 30 confirmed cases, an increase of 9 from Wednesday; Billerica is up to 15, an increase of 1 from Wednesday; Chelmsford is up to 9, an increase of 2 from Wednesday; and Wilmington is up to 14, an increase of 3 from Wednesday.

Tewksbury and Westford both reported on their town websites that they have 6 cases each.

Billerica and Tewksbury also began reporting the number of cases in their towns in which people have met the criteria to be considered recovered from COVID-19, with Tewksbury reporting two recovered cases and Billerica reporting 7 recovered cases.

Statewide, the latest update from the Department of Public Health, released Thursday afternoon, said there were 10 more deaths statewide, bringing the total death toll from COVID-19 to 25.

Three of those who died from COVID-19 since Wednesday were Middlesex County residents, according to an email update from Ann Scales, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Health. Among the 10 new deaths were was a Middlesex County man in his 80s, a Middlesex County man in his 70s and a Middlesex County woman in her 80’s, according to Scales, who reported that all three had preexisting conditions.

Scales said that as of Thursday afternoon there are 2,417 confirmed cases in Massachusetts, with 23,621 people tested.

“The patient is in isolation and recovering at home, per DPH orders,” the post from the Town of Dracut stated. “Public health officials are conducting contact tracing to identify and give guidelines to anyone who has been in close contact with the individual.”

The post does not include any information about the patient’s age or places they may have visited recently, and specifies that no further information will be released in order to protect the resident’s medical privacy rights. This is standard procedure in all local communities that are announcing totals.

Local officials ask that anyone who experiences symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever, cough or shortness of breath, immediately contact their primary care provider. Residents are also asked to stay home unless absolutely necessary and maintain a six-foot distance from others when they do, as well as practice good hygiene by regularly washing their hands for at least 20 seconds, covering coughs and sneezes and staying away from people who are sick.

Additional information about the town’s response to the pandemic is available at www.dracutma.gov/covid-19/