To the Editor:
The Westfield Board of Health met on June 1. The Board discussed the progress and accomplishments of the Westfield Regional Health Department in responding to the pandemic of Covid-19 in Westfield and our 7 contract neighboring municipalities and in planning for the continued presence of disease. Although the incidence is currently decreasing, the health department will prepare for increases in the future and take the lead in the local response, health education and contact tracing.
Contact tracing is a tool used by the health department which works with patients to help protect their family members, friends, coworkers and others who may have had close contact with the virus that causes Covid-19. If you test positive for Covid-19 or may have had close contact to a confirmed patient, you should expect a call from the health department. You will be provided education, information and support to understand your risks and what you can do to help protect yourself and your loved ones.
If you are contacted by phone or text by the Westfield Regional Health Department, please cooperate with them. The health department is only trying to help you, your family and our community. In doing so, the health department adheres to all privacy and confidentiality requirements and will never ask for any financial information. Please be aware that there are scammers out there, so never give any personal financial information to anyone over the phone who calls you.
The most current information about Covid-19 is available in the Mayor’s Covid-19 Updates at https://www.westfieldnj.gov/coronavirusupdates and the town’s Coronavirus Information Center at https://www.westfieldnjgov/coronavirus. You will find useful information there about protecting yourself, such as the need to correctly wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, use social distancing, properly wear a face mask over your nose and mouth, and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
In response to a request from the town’s Green Team, the Board reviewed its regulation concerning the use of rain barrels, which can help promote conservation. Rain barrels that are properly maintained and functioning as per manufacturers’ specifications can be used in town. However, rain barrels that are not properly maintained, just like any other body of water in which mosquitoes can breed, are not permitted. The issue is important because mosquito-transmitted diseases are increasing in the state and standing water can be a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Seven immunization audits were conducted in 3 schools, 3 religious-affiliated preschools and one other preschool. All schools and preschools had 100% compliance with the State immunization requirements. Of the 641 children’s records reviewed, 634 or 99% were up-to-date for vaccinations. Seven children had religious exemptions, of whom only one was in a religious-affiliated program. The department will vigorously monitor immunizations when schools reopen, because some children are currently behind on their vaccinations due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The health department will restart its child health clinic with new infection control measures in place.
Information about the health department’s activities, free education programs and helpful health-related advice and recommendations, such as concerning e-cigarettes and immunizations, is available at https://www.westfieldnj.gov/health. The department’s monthly newsletter, Your Health Matters, recently highlighted summer health tips concerning swimming, sun exposures and preventing diseases from insects, including mosquitoes and ticks. It is available on the department’s website in the June Newsletter tab. You can sign up to receive health department information through https://www.westfieldnj.gov/townupdates.
The complete minutes of the June 1 meeting will be posted after review and approval at our August 3 meeting to which the public is invited to attend.
Lawrence D. Budnick, MD, MPH
President, Westfield Board of Health