COVID-19: FAQ

TOWN SEAL20PUBLIC HEALTH

COVID-19: NEEDHAM FAQ’S

The following information was updated March 24, 2020. Information will be updated as frequently as possible.

Q: Is the RTS still open?

A: RTS Remains Open for Waste Disposal
The Recycling and Transfer Station remains open for waste disposal in Needham during the global COVID-19 outbreak with modified operations. Residents and commercial haulers may continue to drop off household waste and recycling during normal business hours. The RTS is also currently accepting yard waste.

Please note the following changes:

  • The Swap Shop is currently closed;
  • The Goodwill trailer is currently closed;
  • Scrap metal, tires, refrigerators, air conditioners, propane tanks, and computer and TVs may not be dropped off for recycling until further notice;
  • The bottle and can shed recycling program is suspended. Bottles and cans may be recycled in the comingle containers for the time being or may be kept at home for the time being until the shed is re-opened;
  • Used napkins, paper towels, tissues, wipes and similar items are not recyclable. They must go in the trash.

Stickers scheduled to expire March 31st for commercial haulers will be automatically extended to April 30, 2020.

Please adhere to social distancing guidelines, including staying 6 feet away from fellow RTS patrons and staff. To minimize interaction, consider dropping items off during off-peak times instead of Saturdays.

Q: What information can you share with the public about any presumptive positive cases in Needham?

A: Due to privacy laws, we cannot provide any additional specific information to the public including family information; places recently visited, or close contacts. Individuals who may have had contact with a presumed positive case will be contacted directly by Public Health nurses who will provide guidance for those individuals.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases will be announced by MDPH by county with the person’s gender and general age to ensure patient confidentiality. No personal information will be shared publicly. The individual may disclose their own health information. MDPH and CDC guidance will be followed to communicate with people who may have been a close contact of a person with COVID-19 to reduce the spread of illness.

The Town of Needham will provide a weekly update on the number of confirmed cases in Needham. It is important to understand that confirmed cases do not represent the reality of the situation. Because of a lack of testing state and nationally, we believe the number of people who have COVID-19 in Needham is significantly higher than the numbers suggest.

Therefore, everyone should be vigilant in adhering to the guidance to social distance, wash hands, avoid touching your face and other guidance as prescribed by state and federal health officials.

Q: Needham announced that it has confirmed COVID-19 in the community. What can you tell me? Am I at risk? 

A: When we are made aware of confirmed cases, we work with state officials to ensure the person is instructed to quarantine. Public Health and Town officials work with state officials to communicate with anyone who may have had close contact with those infected individuals to reduce any spread of illness. You will be notified if we believe you are at risk.

If necessary, additional public information will be posted at www.needhamma.gov/health 

Q: What’s the latest with the Needham Schools?

A: Per Governor Baker’s orders all Public and Private elementary and secondary schools are currently closed until April 6, 2020. Needham Public Schools were closed on March 13, 2020 and currently plan to reopen Tuesday, April 7. For more Needham School Specific information http://www.needham.k12.ma.us/

Q: Public and Private schools are closed, is my child’s daycare closed as well?

A: Yes, Per the Needham Board of Health, Needham Daycare Facilities were ordered to close by end of day March 16, 2020. Emergency daycares are operating statewide for first responders and other critical workers. Notice to the Daycare Facilities can be found here.

Q: How are our public buildings and schools being cleaned?

A: Our public buildings, including our schools, are all regularly cleaned. This includes disinfecting bathrooms and wiping down surfaces. Our State and Federal partners have stated that routine cleaning practices are appropriate at this time.

Q: Why was the Center at the Heights Closed? When will it re-open?

A: In the wake of the State of Emergency declared by Governor Baker March 10, 2020 and additional guidance issued by his administration, Needham Public Health and Town officials have closed the Center at the Heights (CATH) indefinitely. The CATH serves residents who are most at risk of contracting the virus. This is a proactive step to protect the patrons of the CATH. Staff of the CATH are providing alternative arrangements for seniors who need access to important services. For questions, call 781-855-3629 and leave a message.


Q: Are Needham community events still happening? Should I Cancel my Event?

A: As of March 13, 2020, all Town-sponsored events are cancelled for the time being. On March 23, 2020 Governor Baker’s order prohibits gatherings of 10 people or more.

Q: Can I hold a large event like a wedding or bar mitzvah?

A: The Governor has banned gatherings of 10 people or more effective on March 23, 2020. This includes concerts, fundraisers, parades, fairs, conferences or any similar event or activity that brings together more than 10 people.

Q: Can I still go out to dinner with family and friends?

A: On March 15, 2020 Governor Charlie Baker issued an order prohibiting restaurant, bar or establishment that offers food or drink from offering onsite consumption as of March 17, 2020. Establishments may continue to offer take-out and delivery, while still practicing social distancing protocols.

Q: Is the Needham Library open?

A: The Needham Free Public Library is closed as of March 14, 2020. There are many services still available remotely. Visit the Library’s Facebook Page for resources available to you at home. https://www.facebook.com/NeedhamFreePublicLibrary/

Q: My child(ren) are now home for 3 weeks, can we go to local playgrounds and parks?

A: Needham Public Health has advised that all public playgrounds and fields are closed. Play structures and park furniture are not sterile surfaces nor suitable locations for social distancing. Currently, we are urging people to refrain from gathering in large groups. We understand, especially with children at home, that people want to spend time outdoors. Trails are still open for your enjoyment; visit the Park & Recreation Page for more information: http://www.needhamma.gov/724/Maps-Trails-Information

Q: What More Can I do to Keep Myself and My Family Healthy:

A: Because guidance and information is changing rapidly and in real-time, you should regularly visit MA DPH’s website as well as the CDC’s. Needham-specific information will be updated at www.needhamma.gov/health 

Q: How can I help members of the community?

A: There has been tremendous support to help our older adults in the community. The Center at the Heights has created a form for you to be able to fill out to be able to assist as needed. Volunteer Form

You can also sign up to join the Medical Reserve Corps here.

Q: Who can I contact in Needham if I have additional questions?

A: If you have specific health concerns, please contact your provider. For other Needham-specific questions, you may contact Needham Public Health via email publichealthnursing@needhamma.gov. You may also call 781-455-7934 and leave a message. Your call will be returned as soon as possible during normal business hours. You may also call the state 2-1-1 hotline to receive COVID-19 information and resources.

Q: State public health officials have announced community spread of COVID-19 in Norfolk County. Does that include Needham?

A: “Community spread” means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. Now that community spread has been reported in Norfolk County, it is highly likely that there are residents of the community who have the virus who may be showing symptoms or who may be asymptomatic.

According to the CDC, the United States nationally is currently in the initiation phases, but states where community spread is occurring – Massachusetts, for example – are in the acceleration phase. The duration and severity of each phase can vary depending on the characteristics of the virus and the public health response.

Q:Who is considered a “close contact” for purposes of knowing whether I need to quarantine?

A: As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, close contacts are persons who have come into contact for 15 minutes or more, within 6 feet. This includes household contacts and can include friends and co-workers. Casual encounters such as voting, events in large venues (not including any known close contacts who attended the event with the infected person), or someone who entered the household but had no direct contact with the case are not considered close contacts.