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Board of Health Members Provide Select Board with COVID-19 Update

Members of the Board of Health were at the Select Board meeting on Monday evening with an update on the COVID-19 situation in town and where they come down on a potential mask mandate for businesses.

The representatives were board Chair Dr. Ed Weiner, Member Wayne Saltsman and Public Health Director Susan Lumenello.

Dr. Weiner started off by saying that in Burlington a total of 67 percent of residents are fully vaccinated. In the last two weeks there have been 2,684 tests with 66 positive results.

“We are in the yellow and things are consistent,” he said.

Lumenello said she wanted to remind residents that the department continues to do contact tracing after every positive test and that if anyone tests positive they should expect to receive a call to determine their recent activity. She also said residents can be proactive and contact the department if they receive a positive test to be informed of the proper protocol.

“If you test positive and don’t hear from us please reach out to us,” she said. “We can walk everyone through the requirements.”

Dr. Saltsman said there are three components to a successful vaccination campaign – getting people vaccinated, having a vaccine with high efficacy and “filling in the gaps.” He said in this case Burlington’s vaccination rate is pretty good and the vaccines are highly efficient.

That leaves the filling in the gaps, things he said include continued mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing. He added that from his experience out in the community he believes most people are taking these measures to stay safe.

“We have a community that has come together during this and has been good citizens, has made itself educated and has done what it should have done,” he said. “The question has come up whether or not the board recommends a mask mandate rather than an advisory.”

Dr. Saltsman said that at this time he does not believe a mask mandate is necessary but that individual institutions should be free to impose them if they so choose.

“Mandates are difficult and they are difficult to enforce,” he said. “And we’re a year and a half into this and people know what they should do and should be doing it. If businesses want to do it on their own, I think that’s fine. If the Select Board wants to mandate masks in municipal buildings, that’s fine. We think having an advisory is really the way to go and continue advocating for education and for people to be smart.”

Members of the board said they were appreciative of all the hard work of the Board of Health and the department.

“I just want to thank the three of you for your expertise and your time,” Select Board Member Nick Priest said. “It’s important we connect and have these meetings and conversations and as leaders in the community that we have a united front and continue to educate and inform members of the community.”

“We’ve heard it as a board just how fortunate we are to have such a talented and educated Board of Health here,” Member Mike Runyan added. “We appreciate your guidance and can’t thank you enough.”