By Beth David, Editor
Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker has tightened restrictions on businesses in the Commonwealth, due to COVID-19, the coronavirus. On the national level, restrictions have also been tightened.
Gov. Baker has ordered all schools closed until April 7; prohibiting gatherings of 25 people or more; restricted bars and restaurants from serving food inside their establishments, allowing take-out only.
At this point, nearly everything is shut down, except retail stores. Shutdowns include all schools, public libraries, entertainment venues.
Even government buildings have closed their doors to the public, but employees are at their posts, and most business can get done. Residents are asked to call the department they need (see page 4 for Fairhaven and page 16 for Acushnet).
The federal government has also tightened its recommendations, asking people not to go to gatherings of more than 10 people, but not making anything mandatory, rather leaving that to the states.
The situation is changing almost hourly, so residents need to stay up to date by watching newscasts, and visiting reputable news sites on the internet.
The Neighb News has added a “Latest Updates” blog so that we can add information to our website more between our weekly publications.
Visit NeighbNews.com, then go to “Latest News” in the top menu bar, then click on “Latest Updates.”
Or use this link: https://fairhavenneighborhoodnews.com/category/blog/
As of press time there are five confirmed cases in Bristol County, two in Barnstable County, five in Plymouth County; there are 256 confirmed case in Massachusetts.
If you believe you should be tested, call your health care provider, do NOT walk in or go to the emergency room.
There were reports of a Fairhaven person testing positive for the virus, but it turned out to be a mistake. Officials caution, however, that this does not mean there are no cases in Fairhaven. Most likely, every community in Massachusetts has some cases, they just have not been identified and confirmed.
Many people will get the virus and will be able to fight it off on their own, so they will not necessarily be counted. However, it is a highly contagious disease, much more contagious than the seasonal flu.
It is also about ten times more deadly according to federal officials.
Older people and people with underlying health conditions will very likely need hospitalization and aggressive treatment, many in Intensive Care Units (ICU). This is why the drastic measures of “social distancing,” closing down businesses, and encouraging people to stay at home are being so aggressively pushed by officials.
The very contagious nature of the disease, and its severity, mean the hospital systems could get overwhelmed very quickly.
The federal government and state governments are working to address this possibility. They are freeing up hospital beds by discouraging all elective surgeries, calling in retired medical personnel (nurses and doctors), and setting up extra capacity where possible.
The federal government may also use the military to set up temporary hospitals if necessary.
The idea of the social distancing, closing restaurants and bars and any place that people congregate, is to slow the spread of the disease so the “curve” that arches up as the disease spreads, will not be too high too fast. This is called “flattening the curve,” and if the measures are successful, the hospital system will be able to handle the influx of cases so that everyone will be treated.
Fairhaven Health Agent Mary Freire-Kellogg said that the town is part of the Bristol County Emergency Preparedness Team. She said they meet on a monthly basis to be ready for these kinds of situations.
“That’s part of what we prepare for all the time,” said Ms. Freire-Kellogg
So far, there have been no shelter in place orders for the state.
“If people follow these guidelines, then we won’t get there,” she said. “We don’t have to go to a shelter in place.”
Ms. Freire-Kellogg also said that people are starting to feel a lot of anxiety. She said there are resources on the website for people who are having a hard time with the situation. Her department is continuing to put together more resources, she said, so people should check back periodically (https://www.fairhaven-ma.gov/board-health/news/coronavirus)
The state’s website is also being updated daily with a wealth of information on the virus, new directives from the governor, and resources. Visit mass.gov and click on the banner right on the top, or use this link: https://www.mass.gov/resource/information-on-the-outbreak-of-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19
Stop & Shop has offered special hours for anyone over 60, who may feel especially vulnerable to the virus. They may shop from 6–7:30 a.m.
People who are feeling isolated may also want to look into the various platforms that allow virtual group meetings, such as Zoom, Go To Meeting, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, Skype, Slack, Doxy.me, Facebook Live, Google Hookup.
With schools closed, many students will lose out on the meals they get. Fairhaven students many go to the front entrance of Elizabeth Hastings Middle School, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily. Each “Grab and Go” meal contains one lunch and one breakfast for the next morning.
Use this link for all updates by the Fairhaven School system regarding COVID-19: https://bit.ly/3d9rNZN
For information from the federal government on COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control website at https://www.cdc.gov
The Fairhaven Selectboard met with department heads and declared a state of emergency in Fairhaven
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Click here to download the entire 3/19/19 issue: 03-19-20 CandNight