Marion confirms new cases of virus, will release numbers weekly

Apr 16, 2020

MARION — In an April 16 email to residents, the Marion Board of Health confirmed three positive cases of coronavirus and in an emergency video meeting the previous day, it voted to release the number of cases in Marion on a weekly basis every Thursday morning.

The three residents who tested positive are in quarantine and the state is in the process of contact tracing people who came near them.

It is not clear at this time whether there are three new cases, or two new cases plus the one case that was already confirmed by the town.

In the email, the town said testing supplies remain limited in Massachusetts and across the country and that the actual number of cases is likely higher.

The board also specified that if there is a drastic change in numbers, they will be released before Thursday. 

Public Health Nurse Kathleen Downey said that releasing the numbers daily would be “muddying the waters” for what the number of cases means and doesn’t mean.

Selectman Norm Hills was at the meeting and pushed back on the idea of releasing weekly numbers. Instead, he favored the idea of releasing the numbers of cases anytime they increase, saying it “isn’t that big a hurdle” to release the new numbers as they come in.

All members worried though, that releasing the numbers frequently will make it unclear as to what the number means.

The town chose to release numbers on Thursday morning following the release of numbers by the state on Wednesdays. 

This also makes the process easier for Town Administrator Jay McGrail who said that he receives requests from the press for numbers on a daily basis.

Although Board member Edward Hoffer, MD favors open communication with residents rather than secrecy, he said “does it [the daily release of case numbers] change anyone's life? No.”