Billerica reports first COVID-19 death

Other towns in region report increasing numbers of cases

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BILLERICA — Billerica, which has already had a first-responder diagnosed with COVID-19 along with 43 other residents, announced on Thursday afternoon the town’s first death due to the virus.

The individual was elderly and had pre-existing conditions, according to the town’s website.

“The Town will not release the age, gender or the date of death of the people that have succumbed to the virus to prevent violation of the HIPPA Laws,” the update read. “The only relative information that will be provided is whether the individual was in a high risk group or had pre-existing health conditions that made them more vulnerable to the virus.”

To date, Billerica has had 44 positive cases. Of those 44 cases, 27 are active and six are listed as new cases on the town’s website.

Billerica Town Manager John Curran was not immediately available for comment.

While some communities, such as Chelmsford and Tewksbury, have stopped releasing updates on how many residents have been diagnosed, other communities have not.

Lowell reported a total of 121 positive cases in the city as of Thursday, while Wilmington reported 29 positive cases and seven residents in quarantine.

According to the update posted on the Wilmington’s Facebook page, four positive residents had recovered and were released Thursday.

Dracut reported a total of 23 positive cases in that town as of Wednesday afternoon.

Gov. Charlie Baker has warned everyone to expect a surge in cases over the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, in the Nashoba Valley, yet another town reported its first case of the virus.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health alerted the Townsend Board of Health on Wednesday afternoon that two residents had tested positive for COVID-19.

“The Board of Health will continue its disease surveillance and monitoring activities to help slow the spread of this disease,” the announcement read.

These are the first two cases reported in the town out of 7,738 reported cases in Massachusetts.

The first cases in the area were reported in Ayer on March 20, with the second virus-related death in the state being an Ayer woman in her 50s reported on March 22.

A resident of Shirley tested positive for the virus on March 23, with Groton announcing one of its own residents testing positive on March 25. Pepperell announced a resident tested positive for COVID-19 on March 26.

Townsend Town Administrator James Kreidler said on Wednesday that the town is still in a state of emergency and that all town buildings, except for the Townsend Police and Fire Department headquarters, are closed to public access until April 6.

Kreidler said that the Board of Selectmen was set to have a remote meeting at 3 p.m. Thursday to discuss the potential extension of the public building closure.

Staff writer Robert Mills contributed to this report.