An upturn in the new COVID-19 cases concerns Watertown Health Director Larry Ramdin, who worries that the state may go back into more strict shutdown rules if the trend gets worse. During the first week of August, Watertown had its first COVID fatality reported since the second week of May, bringing the total to 24. For the first time in several weeks, the number of new positive COVID-19 cases is into the double digits in Watertown, and the state numbers are growing by around 2,000 a week. “People are going on vacation, it is summer, there is a little complacency,” Ramdin said. “People are going to social gatherings, they are not social distancing, not wearing face coverings, expose themselves.”
The areas opening in the first phase of the governor’s COVID-19 reopening plan are construction, manufacturing and houses of worship. East End Town Councilor Angeline Kounelis shared the information about Monday’s announcement which she received from the Mass. Municipal Association. Along with the sectors reopening, Gov. Charlie Baker will also unveil specific safety protocols which these workplaces and places of worship must follow. These go along with the safety standards for workplaces that were announced last week, which include social distancing, hygiene protocols, staffing and operations, and cleaning and disinfecting.
With the number of COVID-19 related deaths in Watertown went over 20 this week, and the number of cases surpassed the 300 mark, Town Council President Mark Sideris encouraged residents to remain vigilant in efforts to stop the spread of the virus. Town Manager Michael Driscoll gave the latest Coronavirus numbers for Watertown at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting: 331 confirmed cases, 148 have recovered, and the town has 22 COVID-19 related deaths. The numbers rose from 298 cases and 19 deaths as of May 7. Sideris said that the virus has already taken too high a toll in Town. “Our deepest sympathies go out to all people who have lost family members, never mind only in Watertown, but across the country and across the world,” Sideris said.
Watertown’s Diana Saville heard from many of her friends that they were struggling to explain the Coronavirus to their children, so she decided to help out by co-writing a children’s book on COVID-19. She teamed up with Srini Pillay, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist, and illustrated and co-wrote King T and the Gamma Troupe: The Story of a Brave Bodyguard Who Vanquished the Viral Villain. Saville has a background in molecular biology, neuroscience, and scientific animation, but this is her first children’s book. “So many of our friends were having trouble explaining coronavirus to their kids in a way that is both honest and not-scary,” Saville said. “It’s a little rhyming adventure with a focus on how the body is built to fight off viruses and other invaders.”
The Watertown Library building remains closed, but its collection will be open to be borrowed using curbside pickup beginning May 11th. The library sent out the following information:
The Watertown Free Public Library will offer curbside pickup of library items for Watertown residents while the library is closed, starting the week of May 11.
“The library is a lot of things to a lot of people,” said Library Director Leone Cole, “we often talk about how the library is more than just books, but to some people, those books are a lifeline. We know people are struggling mentally and emotionally and we hope that doing this will offer respite and a little extra energy for everyone to stay committed to physical distancing until it is safe to live our lives more publicly again.”
Curbside pickup will not be “library business as usual”–only items that are currently available in the library can be checked out, no holds can be placed for items at other libraries or items that are already checked out, there’s a limit of five items, and only Watertown residents are eligible for the service. “We’d love to be able to do more,” Cole said, “but it just isn’t possible at this time. We’re working with extremely limited staff and we want to be safe and cautious about how we do this.”
Placing Orders: Starting Monday, May 11, Watertown residents can call the dedicated curbside pickup line at 857-228-8308 to place an order.
State Rep. John Lawn of Watertown, who represents the 10th Middlesex District. Watertown State Rep. John Lawn is lead co-sponsor for a bill that would call for the state to mail absentee ballots to all voters, would require towns to take safety precautions during early voting and extends the deadline for accepting absentee ballots. The bill, HD.5075, is called “An Act ensuring safe and participatory 2020 state elections in response to COVID-19.” Lawn, who is co-chair of the the Joint Committee on Election Laws, filed the bill with Second Assistant Majority Leader Rep. Michal Moran, of Boston, on Wednesday. In an announcement about the bill from Common Cause Massachusetts, Lawn said:
“COVID-19 presents an unprecedented challenge to our election administration.
Riders of MTBA buses, subways and other public transportation must wear face coverings as part of the Governor’s order to stop the spread of COVID-19. The following announcement was provided by MassDOT:
Effective Wednesday, May 6, MBTA customers must wear face coverings when using the MBTA. This requirement is pursuant to the Executive Order issued on May 1, which takes effect tomorrow. The Executive Order applies to any person over the age of two who is in a place open to the public, and expressly requires masks or face coverings when using public transportation or when in an enclosed or semi-enclosed transit stop or waiting area. The Department of Public Health notes that mask use by children two years of age and up to the age of five is encouraged but also at the discretion of the child’s parent or guardian with full information available via the Department of Public Health.
This week, lawn signs will begin to pop up around Watertown congratulating the high school’s Class of 2020. This is one way the school has come up with to celebrate the seniors in a year when a normal graduation ceremony and other traditional events will not likely happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People at the school and the community are trying to come up with other ways to acknowledge the Class of 2020, WHS Principal Shirley Lundberg told the School Committee on Monday night. There may be a car parade of seniors, a specific time when the town applauds the senior class (similar to the celebrations of medical workers), and at some point in the future, perhaps, a live and in-person graduation ceremony. The last day of class for seniors is May 28, and graduation was scheduled for Friday, June 5.