The number of Newton residents who had a COVID-19 diagnosis and died climbed to 105 as of Tuesday, an increase of nine deaths since last week, Mayor Ruthanne Fuller reported.
The deaths in Newton have largely been among people who were age 80 and older, Fuller said in a statement Wednesday, making up 79 percent of the city residents who died after contracting the coronavirus.
“We know grieving for loved ones who have died is difficult. In these extraordinary times when our usual rituals have been so drastically curtailed, it’s that much harder. Our thoughts and our sympathies are with all those who are grieving,” Fuller said.
Fuller also reported 35 new cases of coronavirus in Newton, bringing the city’s total to 710. About 44 percent of the city’s cases are among those living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Newton, she said.
City officials are also looking to reopen some buildings and facilities as the summer approaches, she said.
That work includes planning how and when Newton will reopen City Hall, and other buildings like the Newton Free Library and Senior Center, she said.
Those steps will include some services which will be available online, while in-person visits to conduct city business will be done by appointment, with measures taken to ensure distancing in buildings, adding Plexiglas dividers, and changing the movement of people as they pass through building halls and offices, she said.
“When these measures are in place, we will reopen. We know it will take at least a number of weeks,” Fuller said in the statement.
Officials are also reevaluating recreation programs and camps to determine if they can safely open this summer. That includes areas like Crystal Lake and the Gath Pool, she said.
One activity that will be canceled this summer is the city’s Fourth of July celebration, she said. The cancellation includes fireworks, children’s events at the Newton Centre playground, and the Open-Air Market at Albemarle.
The decision was made because physical distancing is not possible during these festivities, and officials took into account the health and safety of residents, vendors, staff, and first responders like police and firefighters, she said.
“This is a disappointing decision but the right one for Newton,” Fuller said.
John Hilliard can be reached at email@example.com.