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Swampscott resident tests ‘presumptive positive’ for coronavirus

By Gayla Cawley | March 17, 2020

SWAMPSCOTT — A Swampscott resident has tested “presumptive positive” for the coronavirus and is under a self-quarantine, the town’s health department announced Monday.

The person is the first to test positive for COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus, in Swampscott. The “presumptive positive” result means the case has not been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

Due to privacy concerns and laws, the town is not providing any additional information on the person’s identity, including the resident’s location, places the resident has recently visited, or circumstances surrounding their contraction of the virus, the Swampscott Health Department said in a statement. 

“COVID-19 is an evolving situation and there are now cases throughout Massachusetts,” said the town’s Health Director Jeff Vaughan. “The Swampscott Health Department and the Town of Swampscott have been preparing for this threat for some time, and we are working closely with state and federal agencies on mitigation and safety protocols.” 

While the town said it cannot provide specifics about the case with the public, the Health Department will publicly share the number of presumed positive cases as the information is updated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The DPH is “performing extensive contact tracing to identify close contacts” of the infected Swampscott resident, according to the statement. 

The number of coronavirus cases in Massachusetts increased to 197 on Monday, an uptick from the 164 that were reported on Sunday, according to the DPH. Just eight of those cases are from Essex County, where Swampscott is located. 

As of Monday, the CDC reports there have been 3,487 cases and 68 deaths from the coronavirus in the United States. Declared a “pandemic” by the World Health Organization, the outbreak first started in Wuhan, China and has since spread across the globe, with more than 150,000 cases and 6,000 deaths worldwide. 

The CDC recommends a precautionary 14-day self-quarantine for anyone who has come into contact with an infected person, and the town said “social distancing” continues to be the most important precaution against contracting COVID-19. 

Following Gov. Charlie Baker’s order Sunday, the town’s schools will remain closed until April 7 and town buildings, including Town Hall, the Swampscott Public Library and Swampscott Senior Center, will be closed to the public, but will offer limited services. Playgrounds have also been shut down. 

All restaurants and bars are banned from providing dine-in services, but can continue to provide takeout options. 

“We understand this is a time of great uncertainty,” reads the town’s statement. “We will continue to monitor this situation and will distribute the necessary information and guidance. Thank you for your cooperation and continued support as we work to keep Swampscott safe.” 

Baker, a Swampscott resident, announced Sunday he was closing all Massachusetts schools for at least the next three weeks and banning gatherings of more than 25 people. 

The ban effectively closes the majority of public establishments and applies to churches, gyms, theaters and workplaces. Grocery stores and pharmacies won’t be impacted. 

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.