While there are no cases of the Coronavirus in Watertown, the Town’s Emergency Team met Tuesday to discuss ways to respond to the Coronavirus in Watertown.
The town has already begun posting information about ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (the Coronavirus) in town buildings, and a liquid hand sanitizer dispenser and a sign saying “Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands” were placed outside the Town Council Chamber before Tuesday’s meeting.
At Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, Town Manager Michael Driscoll read statements from Director of Public Health Larry Ramdin and Fire Chief Bob Quinn.
Ramdin stressed there are no cases of COVID-19 in Watertown, but added that on Tuesday, Gov. Baker declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts due to the Coronavirus.
He added that the Town has a phased plan for a pandemic influenza, which will be used to guide the process. It can be changed to different levels of response as the situation evolves.
Ramdin went on to say:
“We are in constant contact with the School Department and other departments for actions that can be taken to minimize the spread. The health department set up a separate webpage to provide information to the public (https://www.watertown-ma.gov/965/CORONAVIRUS).”
The Fire Chief said that the Emergency Team meeting will be the first of many.
“This is a continuous evolving situation and we will be convening at least weekly moving forward,” Quinn said. “The health department’s website and social media will be the main sources of information regarding the issues of COVID-19.”
Ramdin said the Town’s information on COVID-19 is guided by the advice of Mass. Department of Public Health and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Ramdin added that, at this time, he believes it is OK for the Town to continue to hold public meetings.
“At the current time there is no need to cancel meetings as the risk is from infected individuals is minimal at this current time in Watertown that may change in future as the situation evolves,” his statement reads.
Town Councilor Lisa Feltner asked whether the Town Council can hold meetings remotely, using video conferencing technology, and if so, whether there is a way for residents to not only watch but participate in the meeting.
Latest Health Department Statement
As it relates to Coronavirus, there currently no cases of Corona virus in Watertown.
The Health Department has a phased plan pandemic influenza response plan and it will be moved to different levels as our risk increases. We have a working group that will be meeting weekly to discuss the town’s response as the situation evolves. We are in constant contact with the School department and other departments to advise on actions that can be taken to minimize spread. I was also interviewed by Watertown Cable access for their news program and provided information on Coronavirus.
Additionally, we are coordinating efforts through the emergency response team. The Health Department has set up a separate webpage for coronavirus to provide information to the community. We will be working with the Fire Department to get the messaging out using Everbridge. We will also be increasing our messaging through the Webpage and social media, the messaging will be developed by the Health Department and distributed /linked by other town Departments so we are all sharing the same information.
Additionally, we will be providing hand sanitizers to department and promoting precautions in the absence of vaccines, advocating proper hand and cough hygiene, self-monitoring for symptoms of the Virus and highlighting the need to contact medical provider in the event that one has shown the following symptoms:
Shortness of breath
I have been advised that the Governor has declared a State of Emergency which allows for a more coordinated response to the Coronavirus. We are currently developing signs for posting on town buildings that will allow community members to assess their health and self-exclude from meetings etc. There are signs currently posted on all entrances to Town Hall.
At the current time there is no need to cancel meetings as the risk is from infected individuals is minimal at this current time in Watertown that may change in future as the situation evolves. Also, we will be guided by advice from the department of Public Health and the CDC
Where can I learn more about COVID-19?
For updated information, visit the Massachusetts Department of Public Health at their website: www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus
More detailed information and additional guidance is available from the CDC at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus
Watertown Health Department Corona virus webpage: https://www.watertown-ma.gov/965/CORONAVIRUS
For questions contact Watertown Health Department at 617-972-6446, your doctor, or clinic.