Easton Health Officials Discuss EEE Threat, Proposed Regulation
Most town organizations are already taking precautions to avoid mosquitoes, officials say.
Easton health officials said Monday night that a number of factors would play into a decision to enact any type of nighttime activities ban in Easton.
The Board of Health is holding a public hearing on Sept. 4 to vote on a regulation that would give it the ability to enact Orders to protect the public from threats of mosquito-borne illnesses. Even with the passage of the regulation, though, officials stressed that a nighttime activities ban is not definite.
Health Agent Kristen Kennedy said the regulation would act as a "tool in the toolkit" should there be an imminent risk of public health and safety from mosquito borne illness.
"We may never use this regulation," said Board of Health Member Gil Heino.
Board of Health Chair Jennifer Nichols said should the regulation pass, the decision to impose a nighttime ban would be based on the severity of the situation at the time. While the state has currently labeled Easton at a "critical" risk for EEE, the town could be in a different situation in two weeks.
"If the regulation passes we’re going to reassess the situation," said Board of Health member Scott Aronson.
Health Agent Mark Taylor also said any type of ban, should one be enacted, would be for public places like parks or schools and not private residences.
"We’re not going to go into a backyard barbeque and tell them to go inside," he said.
A second round of aerial spraying occurred Monday, Aug. 13. Taylor said the state will likely update the public of EEE or West-Nile positive findings early this week. The update will paint a clearer picture of the spraying's effectiveness.
Officials also acknowledged that organizations in town are already taking it upon themselves to stay protected from mosquito-borne illness. Kennedy said most groups have ended outdoor activities before nightfall and complied with a state-issued calendar depiticting nightfall times provided last month.
"If nothing else, this is really making people think," she said.
"If everyone is in compliance on that list, then we’ve accomplished the goal, which is maximum protection," added Nichols. "We’re following the state's lead on this and I think we’ve been in lockstep with their recommendations."
Nichols also said that in addition to analyzing data found from mosquito sampling and consideration of current procedures from organizations and groups, the Board should listen to feedback from the public.
"I do feel strongly that we need to listen to what people are saying," she said. "I feel we would not be doing our jobs at all if we just blindly went ahead with something."
The Public Hearing in regards to the proposed regulation is on Sept. 4 at 6 p.m. in the Selectmen's meeting room at Easton Town Offices. For a look at the proposed regulation and a list of nightfall times, click on the attached .pdfs.