March 25 2020

Burlington Board of Health Reports 8 Confirmed Cases of Burlington Residents with COVID-19

By: Rich Hosford

Editor's note: This story was updated Friday, March 27 to reflect the change in the number of positive cases in town from 8 to 11. 

The Burlington Board of Health has released the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in town. 

According to the Board of Health there are 11 confirmed cases among Burlington residents. 

However, as noted by Health Director Susan Lumenello, this number may not be the full extent of the total cases in town as there has been a lack of testing. 

“Due to limited testing capacity and the nature of this illness, this case count may not accurately reflect the actual number of cases in Burlington,” she explained. “It includes residents of Burlington, not those who work and shop here and does not include cases that have been clinically diagnosed by a physician (people who did not receive laboratory testing).  Person-to-person spread is occurring in all cities and towns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition, people do not need to exhibit symptoms to have the virus and could potentially spread it to others. Please stay at home as much as possible and continue to follow public health precautions to prevent virus transmission.”

Lumenello also said she wanted to explain the way in which case investigations are conducted.

“When someone is exhibiting symptoms and calls their doctor, their doctor may or may not administer a COVID-19 test to that individual,” she said. “Doctors can decide to clinically diagnose the patient, in other words, they may believe the patient has COVID-19 based on their symptoms but do not order confirmatory laboratory testing. With the absence of laboratory testing, there is no notification to local Boards of Health. If a doctor decides to get confirmatory laboratory testing and a patient is positive for COVID-19 those laboratory results are then sent electronically through the MA Epidemiological Network or MAVEN to the Board of Health where the patient resides.”

When that happens the Board of Health begins to track the case and those in contact with the patient are placed into quarantine.  

“The Board then begins what's referred to as case management and contact tracing,” Lumenello explained. “The patient is put in isolation until released by the Board of health based on CDC guidelines and any close contacts (had contact with the patient for more than 15 minutes at a distance of less than 6 feet when the patient was symptomatic) are put into quarantine.  If close contacts do not become ill, quarantine will last 14 days, however, could be longer if the close contacts reside with the patient.”

Lumenello also explained the procedures for patients at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center. 

“Laboratory results of hospitalized individuals who test positive are sent to the Board of Health in the city or town in which the patient resides, therefore, the Burlington Board of Health would only receive information on Lahey patients who reside in Burlington,” she explained.


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