SANFORD (WGME) — The city is closing some public outdoor spaces in response to a growing outbreak of COVID-19 at Sanford High School, where a dozen students have tested positive.
Benton Park is one of the facilities that will be closed for the time being as city officials ask everyone to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“The high school outbreak is very fresh. We don’t know where the numbers are going to end. A lot of these students have younger siblings and those younger siblings also play sports,” said Sanford City Councilor Maura Herlihy.
With a rise in outbreaks and cases in Sanford, city councilors voted 6-1 to close down public parks, playgrounds and ballfields to keep people from gathering.
“Basically parks but it’s really the playground equipment we’re thinking of. It’s the basketball courts where people are in tight surroundings. And it’s the fields where kids can play sports in teams,” Herlihy said .
Herlihy said it was a difficult decision but one that needed to be made.
It came after the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said 12 high school students tested positive for COVID-19 through community transmission.
The cases had been traced back to two gatherings of students off-campus, one of them a pickup football game and the other, a gathering of high school students.
“We need to get a handle on the outbreak,” Springvale resident Carol Forbess said.
She said everyone needs to do their part.
“I’ve driven around town and seen gatherings of kids at the basketball courts at Goodall Park that weren’t wearing masks, so I think we need to take a serious stand,” she said.
The parks, playgrounds and sports fields, along with any activities associated with the community’s parks and recreation department, will remain closed until further notice.