Chester pool visitor retested and confirmed negative for coronavirus

CHESTER, Vt. – During the Wednesday, July 15 Chester Selectboard meeting, Town Manager Julie Hance reported that the girl who had reportedly tested positive after visiting Chester’s town pool, may have been a “false positive.” Follow-up information after retesting has confirmed that the girl is, in fact, negative for COVID-19.

The initially positive test result came from a rapid results test, which according to information Hance received from the Vermont Department of Health, could result in a “60-70% chance of a false positive.” Information from the Contract Tracing Division of the VDH had also determined that the girl would not have been contagious on that day regardless based on her exposure.

Hance was confident that the town’s response was appropriate given the information they had as it was unfolding, and they will continue with those procedures in future. The town put out a press release the day after becoming aware of the positive test result, alerting everyone that there had been a positive test at the pool. The pool was also shut down for a day while a specialized cleaning company came in to completely disinfect the pool house and area. The pool area is thoroughly cleaned after each swim session, and the virus cannot survive in chlorine.

Board member Leigh Dakin questioned whether the town should decrease the number of pool participants allowed at one time. The current number is 40 people at a time for 45-minute blocks. Hance said that an earlier limit of 25 people had seemed like it wasn’t worth opening the pool considering its size, but she did agree to discuss the issue with Recreation Director Matt McCarthy.

The board discussed the issue of considering a mandatory mask ordinance in Chester with members falling on both sides of the issue and no definitive action being taken.

The board went through their six-month financial review, noting that 42% of the budget had been spent in a six-month period, 8% below expectation. Hance praised the town’s department heads for limiting spending for anything not essential. There is also $240,000 left in money borrowed through a tax participation note.

Ron Smith from RHR Smith & Co, the town’s outside auditor, walked the board through the balance sheet saying that for the moment nothing was jumping out at him. With tax bills just mailed out, a look at September and October will provide more information, specifically about possible tax delinquencies.

Smith will begin working with Hance on crafting the specifics on setting up a Reserve Fund, which was approved at town meeting but had no details attached at the time. The details will then be presented to the board for their feedback and approval.

The board approved a capital improvement loan for $100,000 for paving, and capital equipment borrowing for a $110,000 town back hoe, and $140,000 for a town dump truck.

The next Selectboard meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 5 at 6 p.m.

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