With the media bombarding us with COVID-19 guidelines about social distancing, I think that the person who organized, and called for, the Melrose DPW meeting where an unfortunate employee was infected was irresponsible to the point of being negligent. Makes you wonder what kind of people are in charge at the DPW. At the minimum, that person should be fired, but politics being as they are in Melrose, Brodeur will do nothing except back up one of his political hacks. This situation is akin to those irresponsible parents who let their kids go down to Florida for spring break, well aware of the COVOD-19 crisis and the problems and possible consequences from Florida. I have a daughter in her 3rd year of college and she and her friends had plans to go to Florida. Thank goodness I stopped her. It was only yesterday the Governor of Florida finally got on board to do social distancing.
DPW Worker Fights For His Life As Melrose Coronavirus Cases Grow
The 56-year-old man developed symptoms two days after attending a sizable department meeting. There are now 24 coronavirus cases in Melrose.
By Mike Carraggi, Patch Staff
Mar 30, 2020 3:48 pm ET | Updated Mar 30, 2020 4:48 pm ET
The Melrose Department of Public Works employee with coronavirus is a father of three whose son said has "literally dedicated his life to Melrose."
The Melrose Department of Public Works employee with coronavirus is a father of three whose son said has "literally dedicated his life to Melrose." (Mike Carraggi/Patch)
MELROSE, MA — A longtime Melrose Department of Public Works employee is fighting for his life after a coronavirus infection landed him on a ventilator just days after attending a sizable department meeting.
The 56-year-old man, whose son asked not be identified to limit how much is known about the severity of his condition to certain family members, is in the intensive care unit at Lahey Hospital in Burlington. He has preexisting health conditions, including a lung disease.
Mayor Paul Brodeur confirmed the man's illness Monday afternoon. Health Director Ruth Clay said there were 24 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city and no deaths. Brodeur said the city is reversing course and will return to publicly announcing the number of confirmed cases given the state's "evolving position" on the matter.
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The DPW worker, a father of three whose son said has "literally dedicated his life to Melrose," started showing symptoms two days after a March 18 DPW meeting at the cafeteria above the department garage.
His son said there were 50 people at the meeting, despite the state at that point limiting public gatherings to half that. City officials said there were fewer than 50 people, as it was primarily for operations managers. The department consists of some 60 people.
The meeting was to implement scheduling changes and other efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The city has been tracking the worker's social interactions, despite him living out of town. An infected person's city of residence is usually responsible for getting in touch with people the person may have had contact with.
Still, there are privacy laws the city must be careful not to violate.
"In some respects it's distressingly complicated," Brodeur said.
"We want to give [people] the best information they can about potential exposure given a particular scenario," he added. "The Health Department has been in touch with at least three folks that have been initially identified as close contacts ... One of the three was deemed not to be a close contact under the protocols. The other two were and will be quarantined."
Officials will talk with DPW workers Tuesday about what they can do if they are concerned about being at the March 18 meeting.
The man's son said he thinks everyone in the department should be quarantined.
The man worked March 20, two days after the meeting. He came home feeling ill.
"It rapidly spiraled from there," his son said.
The man developed a fever five days after the meeting, then a bad cough. He was taken to the hospital a week after the meeting and a test came back positive the next day.
His son said his father is the first person the city would call when something went wrong and the first to show up.
"He's willing to help anybody, he's always there for everybody," his son said. "The amount of support he's received from his friends and family tells you the kind of guy that he is. He's a great person."
Brodeur sent his well-wishes to the man.
"My heart goes out to the employee and the family," he said. "We're keeping him in our prayers."
The city, meanwhile, will resume making the number of positive tests public. Clay said the city is seeing new cases every day.
The man's son, who was distressed to hear Brodeur say over the weekend the city was not releasing coronavirus numbers, was hoping for a reversal.
"I understand that there's an economy that needs to keep going but you can't keep people in the dark," he said. "You don't know whose going home to an elderly grandparent. To be completely honest with you I was taking this lightly — this COVID-19 thing — but when it hits close to home like this and how fast and how rapidly my father has declined — it scared the [crap] out of me."