North Andover In The Red Zone

North Andover In The Red Zone

Kelsey Parr

North Andover, the home of one of the local colleges, Merrimack College has now gone into the red zone. According to the Massachusetts COVID-19 risk map, North Andover has the highest rate of new cases throughout the state. North Andover has been following the same state-wide restrictions, but once the school year started for college students, a breakout of cases caused the town to not continue with the next step of restrictions. The town’s residents itself only have 16 cases, but because of the recent outbreak among college students, the town is now considered to be in the red zone.

The town itself, obviously does not want to be blamed for this new title among the COVID-19 “zones”, so the town officials are pushing Governor Baker to let them continue with the opening of certain places. The town thinks that since, the outbreak has been contained and not affected the greater community, they should be considered out of the red. In their letter to Governor Baker, they explain that without the university outbreak, the town would have an incident rate of 3.8% which would put them in the green zone. Many businesses that haven’t opened yet such as libraries, and small businesses believe that they have earned their reopening and that the Governor should not “penalize” the town.

From the article, it seems like the town has split opinions on the subject of continuing with the following phase. Obviously, the town wants to not only help their community but also their business owners. One resident, Tammy Gandhi says, “How are they ensuring it’s contained? That’s something you can never be sure of. You can’t fight something you can’t see.” I think a lot of residents may have this opinion, but the town wants to please everyone. Clearly if the town is waiving for the governor to let them continue, they see that it is in the best interest of the community and also for their safety. In the letter, Chris Noble (the chair of the board of selectmen) says, “We haven’t seen any ripple effect into the community whatsoever”. The town believes that since this is the case and the outbreak at Merrimack College has now been contained, it is safe to continue. Of course, Governor Baker will make the final decision.

When it comes to people’s opinions on this pandemic, people are very vocal. Some residents may think that it is absolutely necessary to continue with reopening, especially those business owners. These people could also not have children at Merrimack College or are concerned with those students. Another perspective is that people are hesitant to reopen after a big outbreak. These residents believe that they shouldn’t get excited too fast or move on, because it could happen again. Because of these two opposite opinions among the matter, the town is trying to make sure everyone is comfortable and safe with their choice.

Now, before Merrimack College went back into session on campus, they had many restrictions. So if they had these restrictions and still had a huge outbreak, what does that lead people to believe? If the governor goes along with this decision, there could be another outbreak potentially leading to the complete shutdown of the school, or crippling the community. The projected outcome is to allow businesses to open, but to continue to keep the community (including the university) safe.