MARBLEHEAD – The Jewish Community Center of the North Shore said on Wednesday, Dec. 9, that it had been notified of three separate lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 among various members or participants with potential exposure dates of Dec.1, 2 and 7, according to an email from Executive Director Marty Schneer.
Schneer said they worked with the state Department of Public Health and the Marblehead Board of Health to identify close contacts of each case, and those people were contacted individually.
“The risk of exposure for any other individuals present in the building on that date is no greater than the risk of contracting the virus in the general community,” Schneer said.
In addition, Schneer said they don’t believe the three cases are connected.
“The positive individuals likely contracted the virus outside the building,” Schneer said, “as they were never in contact with one another in our building. Unfortunately, the nature of the virus is such that it is currently spreading among the entire North Shore community (and beyond), and all we can do is to remain vigilant in our extensive COVID-prevention protocols.”
“The cases are not related to each other, and we have no reason to believe that they were related in any way,” said Karen Robinson, JCCNS’s director of public relations and marketing, in an email on Dec. 10. “We worked with the local Board of Health to ensure that we are following all necessary protocols following the notification.”
Robinson added “that to date (Dec. 10) these are the only three cases involving anyone having been in the JCCNS building that we have been notified of. The affected individuals never had any contact with each other on the property.”
JCCNS remained open, including the Early Childhood Center, fitness classes and floors, the remote learning program, after-school classes, and health centers, Robinson said.
Robinson said two Early Childhood classrooms were affected, and those people deemed to be close contacts within those classes were contacted right away and they were required to quarantine, and they cannot return until they do so.
“In following with our protocols,” Schneer said in the email, “and out of an abundance of caution, we have taken action to sanitize the JCCNS building including common rooms and hallways, and we have closed the infected Early Childhood classrooms for two weeks from the date of possible exposure.”
Robinson said they were not required to inform members of these cases, but the center decided to do so for transparency’s sake.
Since its reopening in phases starting in June – starting with the outdoor pool, then camp, then the Early Childhood programs, and indoor fitness in early July – the JCCNS has asked members to minimize the spread of the virus by wearing a face covering, keeping six-feet of distance from others, washing hands with soap and water often, and covering coughs and sneezes, among other measures. The center has also asked those who are sick to stay home. The center has also requested that those who have traveled to a high-risk state to quarantine or produce a negative test before entering the building.
“I realize how difficult and stressful these notifications can be, but please know that we do our very best to keep everyone who is a part of our JCCNS community healthy and safe,” Schneer said in the email.
The announcement from the JCCNS on Community Road comes amid a surge of cases in the state this fall, and not long after the state rolled back its reopening plan to Step 1 of Phase 3, which meant gyms had to reduce capacity from 50 percent to 40 percent, according to the state’s website.
However, Robinson said the rollback will not impact their operations.
“Governor [Charlie] Baker’s latest rollback announcement does not affect us in any way just yet, as we have been overly cautious in all our programs and offerings, maintaining safe mask-wearing and social distancing requirements, as well as limited participation numbers throughout. We have gone beyond guideline recommendations in order to keep our members as safe as possible, and maintain a thorough cleaning regimen throughout the facility,” Robinson said.