Published: 2/12/2022 15:02:41
Modified: 2/12/2022 15:00:48
DEERFIELD – With reference to a sharp decline in cases in the city and region, the National Board of Health has voted to lift Deerfield’s mask mandate and return to a consultation on 18 February.
The advisory will take effect exactly one month after the board voted to introduce a mask-wearing policy across the city on January 18th.
“The really, really good news is that our numbers are falling,” said board member Carolyn Shores Ness. “I suggest we lift our mask mandate and go back to a mask counseling sometime next week.”
In the two-week period from Jan. 23 to Feb. 5, Deerfield saw 39 people tested positive for the virus, a drop from 88 cases two weeks earlier, according to data from the Department of Public Health.
The board chose to wait until the end of the week to drop the mandate to ensure any post-Super Bowl infections are identified before masks become optional in the city.
“The only reason I keep it is is that the next big event people are attending is the Super Bowl,” Shores Ness explained. “We need to emphasize to people that there is still a pandemic.”
Shores Ness added that Deerfield Academy, which accounted for many of Deerfield’s positive cases over the past month, had zero cases in its most recent round of student test.
“We are doing very well,” she said.
Between the vaccination rate and the number of people infected over the past few months, health agent Alex White said the city should be significantly protected from the virus.
“We have really good vaccination rates,” White said, “and vaccine-induced and perhaps also infection-induced flock immunity is underway.”
Presenting data from the Department of Public Health, White said 51% of Deerfield children ages 5 to 11 have been fully vaccinated and that other age groups are well over 70% inoculated.
The National Board of Health also voted to reopen the town hall and other municipal buildings to the public on 22 February. The change will make it possible to hold meetings in person or in hybrid formats.
“It’s up to the chairmen how they will hold meetings,” said board member Trevor McDaniel. “Meetings that are already scheduled, leave them as they are. Depending on the 21st, you can schedule as you wish.”
City Hall will be open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed on Fridays.