As of 6/5/2020, the positive COVID 19 case count in Massachusetts is 102,063 with 11,529 in Worcester County. There have been 7,201 COVID-19 related deaths reported in Massachusetts. The number of positive tested cases in the Town of Webster is now at 192; however, of the 177 positive cases 141 have fully recovered. Unfortunately, three Webster residents have passed away from the novel coronavirus. Our thoughts are with the deceased’s friends and family. PLEASE NOTE: Today, the Department of Public Health will begin reporting both confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and deaths. This change is in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control to include “probable” COVID-19 cases and deaths in data collection and reporting efforts. This change will increase the number of cases and deaths reported. Today’s newly reported totals are a result of a retrospective review of probable cases and deaths dating back to March 1, 2020.
Yesterday, Governor Baker issued an Executive Order that provides a detailed list of businesses and activities that fall into Phases II, III, and IV of the Commonwealth’s Re-Opening Plan. The Order also permits all Phase II enterprises, including retail, to begin preparations to safely resume operation in advance of the start of the second phase. In addition to the retail sector, the Executive Order details further requirements for the safe resumption of amateur youth and adult sports and outdoor dining. Effective immediately, the Executive Order permits Phase II businesses to reopen their physical workplaces to workers only to conduct necessary preparations prior to the start of Phase II. Preparations include but are not limited to completing a COVID-19 Control Plan, implementing sector-specific protocols, and complying with Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards.
-For Reopening Phase II Executive Order:
-For Childcare Provider Reopening Order
VIEW UPDATED LIST OF ENTERPRISES IN PHASES II, III, and IV
Retailers: Retail stores will transition from curbside pickup and delivery-only to browsing and in-store transactions with restrictions at the start of Phase II.
Social distancing guidance requires each retail store to monitor customer entries and exits and limit occupancy at all times to either 8 persons (including store staff) per 1,000 square feet of accessible, indoor space, or 40% of the retail store’s maximum permitted occupancy, whichever is greater.
Grocery stores and retail stores with pharmacy services must provide at least one hour of dedicated time for adults 60 years of age and older, while all stores are encouraged to offer exclusive hours or other accommodations for high-risk populations. For staffing, stores should adjust workplace hours and shifts, including leveraging staggered arrival / departure, to minimize contact across workers and to allow for on-going and off-hour sanitation and cleaning. Stores should also conduct frequent disinfecting of heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces.
Operators of enclosed shopping malls and other indoor, multi-tenant retail spaces must monitor customer and worker entries and exits to common areas and limit occupancy of common areas at all times to 40% of maximum permitted occupancy levels. Mall amenities like seating in food courts, children’s play areas, and arcades must remain closed, while mall food vendors and restaurants may only provide take-out or delivery service.
Once Phase II begins, these standards will apply to all retail businesses except for Farmers’ Markets, which shall continue to be governed by Department of Public Health guidance. These standards will supersede and replace existing Department of Public Health guidance governing grocery stores and pharmacies.
Retailers that have been defined as providing Essential Services pursuant to COVID-19 Order No. 13 will be required to comply with these sector-specific safety protocols within one week of the date that Retailers are authorized to open pursuant to the Governor’s Phase II Reopening Order. For full retail business guidance, click here.
Sports: The Order also allows organizers of amateur sports programs for youths and adults to open their premises to staff only to make preparations in advance of the start of Phase II. In addition to requiring generally applicable COVID-19 workplace standards, the Order specifies that during Phase II organized sports programs will operate under the following provisions:
- Limiting traditional contact sports to no-contact drills and practices;
- Prohibiting games, scrimmages, and tournaments;
- Separating participants to into groups of 10 or less;
- Restricting the use of indoor athletic facilities to supervised sports programs and sport camps for youths under the age of 18.
Further sector-specific guidance for youth and adult amateur sports programs will be issued in the coming days. Subject to the implementation of COVID-19 health and safety rules adopted by respective leagues, this Order permits professional sports organizations to reopen their premises to employees and other workers for practices and training; however, professional sports organizations are not allowed to engage in inter-team games and sporting facilities will remain closed to the public.
Restaurants: Lastly, the Order permits restaurants to provide outdoor dining service with restrictions upon the start of Phase II; providing continued positive progression of public health data, indoor dining may be authorized by a subsequent order during Phase II. In order to provide improved opportunities for outdoor table service, the order also provides flexibility to a local licensing authority to grant approval for a change for any type of license that permits the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption. In both outdoor and indoor dining cases, restaurants will be required to comply with sector-specific COVID-19 workplace safety rules for restaurants.
Nursing Home Visitation Update
Beginning June 3, 2020, the Commonwealth is easing family visitation restrictions at nursing homes, rest homes and assisted living facilities to allow for scheduled outdoor visits. In addition, long-term care facilities should continue to use alternative electronic methods for communication between residents and visitors, such as Skype, FaceTime, etc.
Guidance was issued today for nursing homes, rest homes and assisted living facilities detailing how to safely allow scheduled visits with residents to occur. These measures include:
- A resident who is suspected or confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 cannot be visited. A resident who has recovered from COVID-19 may be visited.
- Visitors must be screened for fever or respiratory symptoms. Any individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 infection will not be permitted to visit with a resident.
- A long-term care facility staff member trained in patient safety and infection control measures must always remain with the resident during the visit.
- Visits must be limited to no more than two individuals. A visitor must always remain at least 6 feet from the resident and attending staff member(s) during the visit.
- Staff and residents must wear a surgical face mask and visitors must wear a face covering or mask for the duration of the visit.
Contact Tracing: We need your help. If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 or had contact with someone who did, the COVID Community Team will be reaching out via phone to you and your close contacts to slow the spread. We’ll make sure that you are getting the medical attention you need and support through quarantine. Your caller ID will show the call is coming from 508-713-3983 or 833-638-1685 or 857-305-2728. Your name will not be released.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has developed a dashboard with many statistics regarding the evolving COVID-19 situation. The Dashboard includes daily and cumulative confirmed cases; cases by hospital, county, and age/sex/ethnicity; testing by date; hospital capacity; nursing home data; and PPE distribution. The dashboard is updated daily and can be found here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-response-reporting
COVID-19 Public Resources Map: MEMA, together with MA VOAD and other partners, has developed a COVID-19 Public Resources Map showing the location of resources available to the public, such as food banks, houses of worship, school lunch sites, and Project Bread site locations. Please note that this map is not inclusive of all resources, and is only as accurate as the information that has been provided to MEMA. The map can be found here: https://memamaps.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=5867d881a9324121839605c56a3d7cc9
Please remember to:
- Avoid unnecessary travel and other unnecessary activities.
- Protect yourself by following public health advice about keeping your hands clean and covering coughs and sneezes.
- Stay home if you are sick. If you need to consult a health care provider, call ahead first or use telehealth services.
- Protect others who are most at risk of COVID-19 by keeping your distance from people (at least 6 feet away from others), especially those who are older, and people living with chronic health conditions.
- If you are outside, avoid crowds.
- Don’t shake hands or hug.
- Stay connected to friends and loved ones by phone or through other technology.
- Get information from trusted sources such as the links below.
- Take care of your emotional health and help others do the same. If you need emotional support during these stressful times, call 2-1-1 and choose the “CALL2TALK” option
Links to Relevant Information
Local information: The Board of Selectmen received an update on the COVID-19 pandemic at their meeting on 3/23/20. A video can be seen here (the audio improves greatly at the 7:37 minute mark) and the minutes of the meeting can be found here. Prior, situational awareness updates can be found here: 3/19/20, 4/2/20, 4/15/20
For more information regarding COVID-19 and the Federal Government’s response, please see the CDC website www.coronavirus.gov.
For more information regarding the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ response to COVID-19, please see www.mass.gov/covid19.
For a complete list of emergency orders click here.
The Commonwealth has established a COVID-19 text alert system for immediate updates from the State. Please text COVIDMA to 888-777 to subscribe.
Here is also an interesting article from the WSJ regarding the virus and how to protect your self.
Town Response to COVID-19
Enforcement of State and Federal Regulations and Recommendations
Town officials have been very busy contacting each and every establishment and business in Town enforcing Governor Charlie Baker’s emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities until their appropriate reopening phase. These businesses are encouraged to continue operations remotely. The Baker-Polito Administration issued a list of designated businesses and other organizations that provide essential services and workforces related to COVID-19 that shall continue to operate. The list can be found here. Restaurants are able to remain open for drive-thru or take out only. Additionally, we are enforcing the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s order to limit public gatherings to no more than 10 people.
Cancellation of all Town-Sponsored Activities and Events
All non-essential Town of Webster sponsored group programs and events are suspended until further notice. If you have any questions about a particular event, please do not hesitate to contact the Recreation Office at 508-949-3800 ext. 1023
Memorial Beach and Town Parks: Memorial beach and town parks will remain open for passive recreational activities groups must be limited to no more than 10 people. Athletic and recreational activities that bring participants into close, physical contact are prohibited. Playgrounds are closed as well.
Closed Public Buildings to the Walk-in Public
Town buildings will be closed to the walk-in public until further notice; however, employees will still be working and available to assist via the telephone, email, etc. Most, if not all, Town services can be performed online and we encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity. This includes applying for most permits, making payments, etc. If you have any questions about a particular service, please do not hesitate to contact the respective department directly.
As a reminder, many library products are available through the library website or its many smartphone app partners. Library patrons may pick up books placed on hold by calling ahead to the library and coordinating a pick up time in the library vestibule.
Individual and Family Relief
School lunches: During school closures free meals will be available to all residents 18 and under Monday through Friday from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Meals will be provided in a grab and go drive thru at the following locations:
- Bartlett High School
- Webster Middle School
- Park Avenue Elementary
All meals must be consumed off site. Check www.webster-schools.org for menu updates.
School Closures: All schools have been closed for the remainder of the academic year.
Unemployment: Governor Baker signed S.2599 to provide unemployment assistance to workers impacted by COVID-19. This legislation will allow new claims to be paid more quickly by waiving the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits. To find out more information and to apply for unemployment benefits please visit: https://www.mass.gov/topics/unemployment. In order to better meet the needs of customers whose employment has been affected by the coronavirus, DUA will be hosting daily town hall meetings where we will take our constituents through a step by step process of achieving a successful unemployment claim and taking questions from claimants across the Commonwealth. Click here for more information.
Housing Stability: The Commonwealth announced steps to keep vulnerable families in their homes, preserve the health and safety of low-income renters and homeowners, and prevent homelessness due to reduced or lost income. Please click here for more information.
Blood Shortage: The American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during the COVID-19 outbreak. There is an urgent blood donation need now for patients with chronic conditions and trauma, as well as for ensuring an adequate blood and blood product supply going forward. The Governor has deemed “Blood and plasma donors and the employees of the organizations that operate and manage related activities” as an essential service. Donating blood is safe and people should not hesitate to give. In addition, there is a need for community blood drive sites in the eastern part of the state. Those who are healthy, feeling well, and eligible to give blood or platelets are urged to make an appointment by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Health Care Professional Volunteers: The Commonwealth has developed a portal at: https://www.mass.gov/health-services-covid-19-volunteer-form to connect health care professionals with volunteer opportunities to help in the fight against COVID-19.
Online Symptom Checker: The Commonwealth has developed a web tool for residents to assess their symptoms at www.buoy.com/mass.