As of 7/8/2020, the positive COVID 19 case count in Massachusetts is 108,854 with 12,534 in Worcester County. There have been 8,159 COVID-19 related deaths reported in Massachusetts. The number of positive tested cases in the Town of Webster is now at 263; however, of the 263 positive cases 232 have fully recovered. Unfortunately, nine Webster residents have passed away from the novel coronavirus. Our thoughts are with the deceased’s friends and family. Over the past three weeks, the Town of Webster has had a steady increase in the number of positive COVID-19 patients while much of the rest of the state has seen significant decreases. As we have analyzed the data, besides one long-term care facility, the new cases in Webster appear to be members of the same household being infected from someone else in the home that was already positive. There have been 50 positive cases in the above-mentioned single long-term care facility, with seven COVID-related deaths. All efforts are underway to ensure that the best care and protection is supplied at this facility.
Transition to Third Phase of Four-Phase Approach
As of July 6th, Massachusetts has moved to Phase Three of the Reopening Plan. The Department of Public Health (DPH) also issued updated guidance to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Step One of Phase III:
Since mid-April, the 7-day average for the positive COVID-19 test rate is down 94 percent, the 3-day average of hospitalized patients is down 83 percent and the number of hospitals in surge is down 95 percent. More than 1,000,000 total COVID-19 tests have been administered, and testing continues throughout the state.
The following businesses are eligible to reopen in Step One of Phase III, subject to industry-specific rules concerning capacity and operations:
- Movie theaters and outdoor performance venues;
- Museums, cultural and historical sites;
- Fitness centers and health clubs;
- Certain indoor recreational activities with low potential for contact;
- Professional sports teams, under the authority of league-wide rules, may hold games without spectators
Full guidance and list of businesses eligible to reopen in Step One of Phase III can be found at www.mass.gov/reopening. Businesses and sectors set to begin opening in Phase III are subject to compliance with all mandatory safety standards.
Revised Gatherings Order:
Under the updated gatherings order, indoor gatherings are limited to eight people per 1,000 square feet, but should not exceed 25 people in a single enclosed, indoor space. Outdoor gatherings in enclosed spaces are limited to 25 percent of the facility’s maximum permitted occupancy, with a maximum of 100 people in a single enclosed outdoor space. This includes community events, civic events, sporting events, concerts, conventions and more. This order does not apply to outdoor, unenclosed gatherings if proper social distancing measures are possible. This revised order does not supersede previously issued sector guidance.
Public Health Guidance:
In Phase III, health care providers may continue to provide in-person procedures and services as allowed in Phase II, with the addition of certain group treatment programs and day programs. These programs include adult day health, day habilitation programs, and substance abuse services day treatment and outpatient services. Certain human services programs can reopen including community-based day services for adults with intellectual and cognitive disabilities and psychosocial rehabilitation clubhouses. Health care providers are subject to compliance with all mandatory safety standards, and must continue to utilize prioritization policies established in Phase II for care delivery and scheduling, as well as monitor patient volume for non-essential, elective procedures and services.
In Phase III, visitation guidelines have been updated for 24/7 congregate care facilities and programs overseen by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, including the Departments of Developmental Services, Youth Services, Children and Families, Public Health, Mental Health and the Mass Rehabilitation Commission. Offsite visits, including overnight visits, will be allowed, under specific guidelines. Other updated guidelines, including visitation for long term care facilities, was also released. Complete visitation guidance is available at www.mass.gov/hhs/reopening.
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.