COVID-19: NEEDHAM FAQ’S
The following information was updated April 29, 2020. Information will be updated as frequently as possible.
Q: Is it safe to get takeout or delivery from restaurants?
A: In Needham, Public Health is working with our restaurants and food establishments to ensure that they are following all proper protocols. We have provided them with continuous guidance about safe food handling and are routinely inspecting restaurants ensuring old or expired food items have been discarded, equipment has been cleaned, sanitizing and cleaning products are readily available, hand wash sinks are accessible and fully supplied, sufficient glove supplies are observed, there is appropriate social distancing and take-out procedures in effect. We will investigate any complaints the Town receives.
Q: Are there precautions that people should take when getting takeout?
A: There are a few things you can do to help keep your food and yourself safe.
- Remove food from takeout containers and put in your own dishes before eating.
- Frequently wash your hands, especially after handling exterior packaging and before eating any food.
- Practice social distancing when picking up food items. Stay at least 6 feet apart from any person in the establishment. If possible, try to pay the full amount over the phone or online before picking up food.
- Throw away any unpackaged items (bread, for example).
Q: Do I need to wash fruit and vegetables in a special way?
A: You should wash produce as normal, rinsing well under cold water. There are also produce cleaning sprays available. You should NOT use bleach to clean your produce.
Q: Is construction allowed to continue in Needham?
A: (As of 4/10) Construction is still allowed in Needham so long as proper social distancing protocols are followed. The Town is currently not issuing permits for new construction or demolitions. However, those seeking such permits may begin the application process by visiting: https://needhamma.viewpointcloud.com/
Q: How can I donate PPE?
A: Thank you for your generosity! The Town is collecting PPE including masks (homemade, surgical and N95), gloves, goggles, caps and other protective equipment. There is a bin outside the Rosemary Recreation Complex Monday through Friday from 10 am to 5 pm. The bin is emptied daily. Donated items will be distributed to healthcare workers, first responders, Town employees, postal workers, grocery store workers and other workers in need. To donate directly to BID-Needham, you can donate equipment in the dropbox located at the emergency room entrance. To donate funds, visit https://www.bidneedham.org/giving/healthcareheroesfund
Q: Is the RTS still open?
A: RTS Remains Open for Waste Disposal
Some Town services have been impacted as the Town follows social distancing guidelines and reduces staff at Town facilities to essential workers only. To continue to provide critical services under these conditions and protect the health and safety of workers and patrons, the Recycling and Transfer Station is implementing the following changes:
- The number of vehicles that may enter the RTS at any one time will be limited. No more than 18 vehicles will be allowed in the trash/recycling area at once. No more than 6 vehicles will be allowed in the yard waste area at once.
- There will be two lanes of traffic to enter the RTS – one lane to the left will be for vehicles going straight to yard waste. The right lane will be for residents disposing of trash and recyclables.
- Bulky waste will no longer be accepted until resumption of normal business. Bulky waste are objects too big to fit in the yellow Pay As You Throw bags (items cleaned out from basements and garages for example).
- No trash can be disposed of without being placed first in a yellow bag.
- Contractors will not be allowed to utilize the RTS on Saturdays until the resumption of normal business. There are no exceptions to this.
- Residents are encouraged to visit the RTS during non-peak hours. Saturdays continue to be very busy, making social distancing a challenge. If you can deliver your waste on other days, that would be appreciated.
- In addition, the Swap Shop, donation bins, Goodwill Trailer and drop-off area for scrap metal, tires, refrigerators/air conditioners, and TVs and computers remain CLOSED.
Q: Where can I purchase Yellow Bags?
A:Residents who need yellow bags to drop their trash at the RTS have options for purchasing the bags while practicing social distancing. In addition to purchasing bags in-store, the following retailers are making additional accommodations:
- Harvey’s Hardware – bags available via curbside pickup (please practice social distancing)
- Roche Bros Supermarket – bags available via delivery
- Sudbury Farms – bags available via delivery
Q: What information can you share with the public about any presumptive positive cases in Needham?
A: Due to privacy laws, we cannot provide any additional specific information to the public including family information; places recently visited, or close contacts. Individuals who may have had contact with a presumed positive case will be contacted directly by Public Health nurses who will provide guidance for those individuals.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases will be announced by MDPH by county with the person’s gender and general age to ensure patient confidentiality. No personal information will be shared publicly. The individual may disclose their own health information. MDPH and CDC guidance will be followed to communicate with people who may have been a close contact of a person with COVID-19 to reduce the spread of illness.
The Town of Needham will provide a weekly update on the number of confirmed cases in Needham. It is important to understand that confirmed cases do not represent the reality of the situation. Because of a lack of testing state and nationally, we believe the number of people who have COVID-19 in Needham is significantly higher than the numbers suggest.
Therefore, everyone should be vigilant in adhering to the guidance to social distance, wash hands, avoid touching your face and other guidance as prescribed by state and federal health officials.
Q: Needham announced that it has confirmed COVID-19 in the community. What can you tell me? Am I at risk?
A: When we are made aware of confirmed cases, we work with state officials to ensure the person is instructed to quarantine. Public Health and Town officials work with state officials to communicate with anyone who may have had close contact with those infected individuals to reduce any spread of illness. You will be notified if we believe you are at risk.
If necessary, additional public information will be posted at www.needhamma.gov/coronavirus
Q: What’s the latest with the Needham Schools?
A: Per Governor Baker’s orders all Public and Private elementary and secondary schools are closed for the rest of the 2020 school year. For more Needham School Specific information http://www.needham.k12.ma.us/
Q: Public and Private schools are closed, is my child’s daycare closed as well?
A: Yes, Per the Needham Board of Health, Needham Daycare Facilities were ordered to close by end of day March 16, 2020. Emergency daycares are operating statewide for first responders and other critical workers.
Q: How are our public buildings and schools being cleaned?
A: Our public buildings, including our schools, are all regularly cleaned. This includes disinfecting bathrooms and wiping down surfaces. Our State and Federal partners have stated that routine cleaning practices are appropriate at this time.
Q: Why was the Center at the Heights Closed? When will it re-open?
A: In the wake of the State of Emergency declared by Governor Baker March 10, 2020 and additional guidance issued by his administration, Needham Public Health and Town officials have closed the Center at the Heights (CATH) indefinitely. The CATH serves residents who are most at risk of contracting the virus. This is a proactive step to protect the patrons of the CATH. Staff of the CATH are providing alternative arrangements for seniors who need access to important services. For questions, call 781-855-3629 and leave a message.
Q: Are Needham community events still happening? Should I Cancel my Event?
A: As of March 13, 2020, all Town-sponsored events are cancelled for the time being. On March 23, 2020 Governor Baker’s order prohibits gatherings of 10 people or more.
Q: Can I hold a large event like a wedding or bar mitzvah?
A: The Governor has banned gatherings of 10 people or more effective on March 23, 2020. This includes concerts, fundraisers, parades, fairs, conferences or any similar event or activity that brings together more than 10 people.
Q: Can I still go out to dinner with family and friends?
A: On March 15, 2020 Governor Charlie Baker issued an order prohibiting restaurant, bar or establishment that offers food or drink from offering onsite consumption as of March 17, 2020. Establishments may continue to offer take-out and delivery, while still practicing social distancing protocols.
Q: Is the Needham Library open?
A: The Needham Free Public Library is closed as of March 14, 2020. There are many services still available remotely. Visit the Library’s Facebook Page for resources available to you at home. https://www.facebook.com/NeedhamFreePublicLibrary/
Q: Can we go to local playgrounds and parks?
A: Needham Public Health has advised that all public playgrounds, fields and tennis courts are closed. Play structures and park furniture are not sterile surfaces nor suitable locations for social distancing. Currently, we are urging people to refrain from gathering in large groups. We understand, especially with children at home, that people want to spend time outdoors. Trails are still open for your enjoyment; visit the Park & Recreation Page for more information: http://www.needhamma.gov/724/Maps-Trails-Information
Q: What More Can I do to Keep Myself and My Family Healthy:
A: Because guidance and information is changing rapidly and in real-time, you should regularly visit MA DPH’s website as well as the CDC’s. Needham-specific information will be updated at www.needhamma.gov/health
Q: How can I help members of the community?
The Medical Reserve Corps is looking for individuals. You can sign up here.
Q: Who can I contact in Needham if I have additional questions?
A: If you have specific health concerns, please contact your provider. For other Needham-specific questions, you may contact Needham Public Health via email firstname.lastname@example.org . You may also call 781-455-7934 and leave a message. Your call will be returned as soon as possible during normal business hours. You may also call the state 2-1-1 hotline to receive COVID-19 information and resources.
Q: State public health officials have announced community spread of COVID-19 in Norfolk County. Does that include Needham?
A: “Community spread” means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. Now that community spread has been reported in Norfolk County, it is highly likely that there are residents of the community who have the virus who may be showing symptoms or who may be asymptomatic.
According to the CDC, the United States nationally is currently in the initiation phases, but states where community spread is occurring – Massachusetts, for example – are in the acceleration phase. The duration and severity of each phase can vary depending on the characteristics of the virus and the public health response.
Q:Who is considered a “close contact” for purposes of knowing whether I need to quarantine?
A: As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, close contacts are persons who have come into contact for 15 minutes or more, within 6 feet. This includes household contacts and can include friends and co-workers. Casual encounters such as voting, events in large venues (not including any known close contacts who attended the event with the infected person), or someone who entered the household but had no direct contact with the case are not considered close contacts.