COVID 19 Responses Ramp up
By Gregory T. Federspiel
The situation with the novel coronavirus continues to evolve. So, too, does the Town’s response. The developments are very fluid and require daily monitoring and decision making. Fortunately, we have a good team in place to help us all through this crisis. Our public safety personnel in particular are taking a strong leadership role here.
As I write this, we have our first confirmed COVID 19 infection in Manchester. The individual is so far doing fairly well and is quarantined at home. Hopefully recovery continues without incident. We will likely have more cases in the days and weeks ahead. A local infection puts an exclamation point on the critical need for social distancing and strong personnel hygiene practices.
Getting outside for some needed R&R or exercise is probably even more important during these stressful times. However, to help prevent people congregating in groups the Selectmen made the difficult decision to close the beaches and parks in Town. Despite the strong recommendations to avoid gatherings, the town parks and beaches were very crowded last weekend with many large groups of people interacting at close distances. Such activity is a prime way for the virus to spread and, at this critical time of trying to prevent the rapid escalation of infections, is extremely critical to avoid.
While Town Hall remans closed to the public all municipal departments remain in operation. Residents are encouraged to email or call the department they need to access. We are working to put as much information on-line as we can and will continue to provide updates through various mediums. We are now conducting public meetings virtually through the StartMeeting platform. Each upcoming meeting agenda, which is posted on-line, will have the log or call in information (you can access the meetings via your computer or your phone.) Our first meeting using this new platform had some 50 “attendees”!
Daily we receive new updates from the state and federal government. (You, too can access the state’s Department of Public Health website and well as the CDC’s site.) The Selectmen have declared a local emergency in concert with the state’s declaration. We have opened a local emergency operations command center within our police station to serve as a central clearing house of information for all staff and, when appropriate for the public. Special thanks to Police Chief Todd Fitzgerald and recently promoted Lieutenant Mark McCoy for getting this operational. We have gone to a revised schedule for many departments where-by half the staff remains working at home one week with the other half on-site and then swapping the next week. We hope to maintain a healthy crew at all times using this approach.
As you may know, the Annual Town Meeting is postponed. We will be setting a date for the meeting later. New legislation has just been adopted at the state level to allow local elections to be postponed as well. The Selectmen will take up this postponement at their next meeting currently scheduled for March 30th (via the virtual platform.
It is an understatement to say that these are unusual times. We will continue to keep you up to date through various communication channels. Again, please be vigilant in adhering to the strategies we all must take to fight this virus and prevent it from being even more widespread and disruptive than it already is. By curtailing (yes, sacrificing!) our normal activities now we will hopefully usher back sooner life as we want it to be.
Please don not hesitate to reach out with concerns or questions and stay healthy!