By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
On July 30, the Sherborn Board of Health (BOH) released a statement about the growing number of coronavirus cases, noting: "Since July 19, Sherborn has experienced a doubling of our Coronavirus volume - increasing from 25 cases on July 18th to 51 cases on July 29th. This testing included both 'Probable' cases (antibody tests) and 'Confirmed' cases (PCR tests)."
While the number seems high, the Board of Health does not think it necessarily is reason for alarm. "There were many antibody tests completed for Sherborn residents in the last few weeks but there was no spike of confirmed COVID-19 cases (there were three confirmed cases, which is not an unusual number for Sherborn)," wrote Daryl Beardsley of the Sherborn Board of Health and Kay Petersen of the Dover Board of Health. "A confirmed case is one that has a positive PCR test result. A PCR test is the best test for active COVID-19 infection, whereas a positive antibody result indicates probable previous infection. The three confirmed cases do not represent a cluster because they are not connected. Some of the antibody tests were completed to meet travel and camp requirements."
A positive antibody test doesn't automatically mean that someone contracted COVID-19. According to the CDC, it could mean that you have antibodies from another virus from the same type; the common cold, for example, is one of the viruses that might set off a false positive. It could also mean that someone contracted COVID-19 and that they presented as asymptomatic. It is unknown whether having these antibodies will prevent individuals from contracting COVID-19.
Sherborn and Dover’s respective boards of health took extra precaution to ensure that the possible cases did not lead to a spike in cases. “While the Boards of Health were awaiting final test results, there was a temporary suspension of some sports activities. The Boards of Health reminded residents to continue to be diligent about practicing safety measures even as re-openings occur,” wrote Beardsley and Petersen.
On August 7, the Dover Board of Health announced that numbers had remained low, with no new cases in town, and only three active cases in Sherborn. As a result, the suspension of activities was lifted. “The Sherborn Board of Health and the Public Health Nurse investigated numerous positive COVID antibody tests that were completed in Sherborn last week. Additional tests indicated that all of the antibody tests indicated either past infection with COVID or were false positive tests. There were three positive PCR tests, which indicate active infection, in Sherborn,” the Dover BOH affirmed.
Though cases are still relatively low, the number has been on the rise over the last couple of weeks throughout the state. Residents should continue taking precautions to avoid catching the virus. Precautions include avoiding social gatherings with people other than members of one's own household, socializing only outdoors, continuing social distancing, and sanitizing hands to avoid contracting the virus. Residents are encouraged to take steps to prevent catching the flu this year, as well. “We urge taking the extra precaution of obtaining a flu shot to maintain overall health and resiliency. Please check with your primary care physician or Board of Health websites for details regarding flu clinics,” wrote Beardsley and Petersen
The COVID-19 pandemic is far from being over. By taking proper precautions and committing to testing, residents can help lessen the spread and ensure that it will remain under control. With students returning to school in just a few weeks, that need is more urgent now than ever.