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Rouse evaluating EEE risk, sports still on early schedule

WESTFIELD- Public Health Director Joseph Rouse said late last week that he would like to see restrictions on outdoor extracurriculars eased as the month goes on. 

Rouse said that the state stopped testing mosquitoes for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) on Oct. 11.  Westfield remained in the High Risk category for EEE. Despite that, he said he thinks the risk is not as high as it may have been just a couple weeks ago.

“Any time the temperature goes below 50 degrees, mosquito activity is limited,” said Rouse, “If a Friday night football game has a kickoff temperature between 40 and 50 degrees, we would probably lift the high risk status for that because people would be dressed in a way that protects against mosquitos.”

He noted that if one is outside at dusk or dawn during peak mosquito times, they should use insect repellent just in case for the time being. 

Rouse added that he does not anticipate mosquitoes to have any effect on trick or treating on Halloween night. He did say that before the risk of EEE can be considered nonexistent, Westfield needs to be the recipient of a hard frost. 

The city has experienced at least one light frost where lawns may have been lightly iced, but nothing severe enough to be done with mosquitoes for the winter. In order for something to be considered a hard frost the temperature needs to be 28 degrees or lower for two hours, or 32 degrees for three hours. If frost or ice needs to be scraped off of their windshield, then that can be considered a hard frost. 

Joe Rouse, Westfield Director of Public Health

Rouse said that the state will not remove the high risk status for Westfield or any municipality until there is a statewide hard frost. He added that he will put out an advisory in the next couple of weeks indicating if the risk is gone, practically speaking. Judgement calls will need to be made town-by-town until there is a statewide frost.

There are several days in the coming weeks that are expected to have high temperatures of just above 60 degrees, but there are no days where the low temperature is supposed to touch 50 degrees, meaning that at night and early in the morning, there should be few mosquitoes.

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