Watertown Firefighters, Police Taking Steps to Reduce Exposure to COVID-19, Need Supplies

Watertown firefighters and police officers have begun taking extra steps to protect themselves from the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and both departments have found it hard to keep supplies of equipment to protect them from the virus. Along with extra equipment, the Watertown Police and Fire departments have started using some new procedures during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Fire Department may ask people to come out of their homes to reduce firefighters chances of getting COVID-19, said Watertown Fire Chief Bob Quinn. “On certain Medical calls we will have people exit the home if they have COVID-19 symptoms or are in an environment with a COVID-19 positive person,” Quinn said. “This also reduces the risk to the Firefighters responding to the call as lees people will have interaction with the patient.  All patients will get the proper required care but we will be operating differently to protect unnecessary exposure to our members.”

Watertown Health Department’s Tips for Staying Healthy During COVID-19

The following information was provided by the Watertown Health Department:

The purpose of this notice is to remind our Residents here in Watertown of specific provisions and procedures that can be put in place in light of the New Coronavirus (COVID-19). We as a Health Department take great pride in the safety and well-being of our residents. To ensure we continue to operate this high standard and protect our community, we HIGHLY recommended the following guidelines:

RECCOMENDATIONS

Recommendations that may help you and your fellow residents during this time: Practice everyday preventive actions now. Remind everyone in your household of the importance of practicing everyday preventive actions that can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.Staying home from work, school, and all activities when you are sick with COVID-19 symptoms, which may include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.Keeping away from others who are sick.Limiting close contact with others as much as possible (about 6 feet).Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles) using a regular household detergent and water. o If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent and water prior to disinfection.

Watertown Schools Look to Adjust to Extension of School Closings for COVID-19

The following letter was sent out on Wednesday by the Watertown Public Schools Administration:

Good evening,

I want to provide you with the recent announcement this afternoon by Governor Charlie Baker that Massachusetts schools will remain closed until May 4. We will follow up later this week with further information about the implications of this extended closure, but be assured we will continue with the excellent plans in place for the WPS community. As we learn more about the opportunities as well as the limitations that remote learning presents, we will all become more skilled as partners on this journey to keep the learning moving forward even when our school buildings are closed. Attached you will find a joint statement from the twelve communities that comprise the Middlesex League about our shared vision and goals for the extended closure. Our primary goal for the remainder of this week is to identify students who still need access to online learning and to provide continued support for all of our families. Originally, our focus was on families with limited access to devices or the internet.

Gov. Baker Extends School, Child Care Closure Until Early May

Massachusetts State House. Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday that K-12 schools and non-emergency child care facilities in the Bay State will remain closed until May 4 as a precaution due to the Coronavirus outbreak. The announcement came as the number of cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) jumped by 679 in Massachusetts in one day. In Watertown the number went from 12 to 15. Also, the Mass.

Three MTBA Bus Drivers Test Positive for Coronavirus

The following announcement was provided by the MBTA (Note the Cabot bus facility is located in South Boston):

Following three confirmed employee cases of COVID-19, the MBTA took immediate steps to protect its workforce and riders by enacting its facility maintenance protocols to clean and disinfect all exposed work areas, vehicles, and equipment at the T’s Cabot bus facility. The three confirmed cases are MBTA Bus Operators and were reported yesterday. “We ask the public to keep our employees in their thoughts, and I continue to express my deep gratitude to the women and men of the MBTA workforce who are serving a vital purpose in combatting COVID-19,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “To ensure we can protect the health and safety of our workforce, we strongly urge essential travel only, and we will continue our enhanced protocols for cleaning and disinfecting all vehicles, equipment, and surfaces.”

Consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), the MBTA has enacted its COVID-19 outbreak plan. We are disinfecting the employees’ workspace, vehicles, and equipment that they may have come into contact with. 

Through the public health tracing process, public health officials alert close contacts of the individuals who tested positive and will provide them with instructions for self-quarantine. Under health information privacy laws, the MBTA is prohibited from providing identifying information about a particular employee’s medical status.

Town Council, School Building Committee Meetings Cancelled During Coronavirus Outbreak

Watertown’s Town Hall. Watertown’s Town Council and the School Building Committee will not be meeting until at least April 7, due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Town Council President Mark Sideris sent an email to Councilors alerting them that for now, they will not be meeting, even using video conferencing. The message reminded the Council that the March 24 Council meeting would not be taking place. “I cancelled the council meeting scheduled for (Tuesday) as there was nothing pressing that could not be dealt with at a later date,” Sideris said in the message.

UPDATED: Confirmed COVID-19 Cases Up to More Than a Dozen in Watertown, Parks Still Closed

The sign posted at Watertown parks and fields reminding people that they are closed due to the Coronavirus. The number of Watertown residents who have tested positive for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has reached 15, as of Wednesday. Also, Town officials remind residents that parks and fields remained closed in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. The number of confirmed cases in town was published on the Town’s COVID-19 web page. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts has increased significantly over the past six days.

MassBay College Moving Many Courses Online in Response to Coronavirus

The following information was provided by MassBay College:

Joining in the global movement to limit large gatherings, MassBay Community College is encouraging faculty to transition their courses online in an effort to facilitate social distancing wherever possible. Much of the training and curriculum conversion will happen the week of March 16, 2020 during spring break. The following week of March 23, 2020, online courses already in progress will continue as usual. However, no face-to-face classes will be held to allow professors more time to convert their classes and prepare their students for the change in format. Students are encouraged to check their MassBay email accounts often, from today on, as professors will be communicating changes in their class formats that will begin the week of March 30, 2020.