Manager say that, if warranted, impact on Town Meeting would be discussed
UPDATED, March 6: The Town of Arlington is actively monitoring the novel coronavirus outbreak, Covid-19, a March 6 email from the town says.
"This is an emerging and rapidly evolving situation," the statement says. "The risk to Massachusetts residents remains low at this time," a view reported in the earlier update, Feb. 28. "
In a post on the MA Residents Facebook group, Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine was quoted as saying: "This topic [virus impact on public meetings] actually came up this morning at our planning meeting regarding coronavirus. I plan to look into the legalities involved and plan for a worst-case scenario.
"If the need arises to cancel/postpone Town Meeting, we’ll certainly have to have a very public dialogue about it. Stay tuned."
The Arlington Health Department is following guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Town officials are working on communication and preparedness efforts, including members of public health, public safety, Arlington public schools, facilities and town-management officials.
Emerging infectious disease is one of the many areas of Emergency Preparedness that the Health Department has worked on for many years.
Although Covid-19 is new, Arlington is prepared to respond to any emergency situation. Due to the evolving nature of this situation, it is understandable for residents to feel concerned or anxious. Residents can expect recommendations may change and that the Health Department will provide updates as needed on a dedicated webpage. Here you will also find frequently asked questions to help you better understand the situation and what residents can do to be prepared.
Visit the Town of Arlington Coronavirus (Covid – 19) Information Page at arlingtonma.gov/health.
Feb. 28 announcement
The Arlington Health Department has been actively monitoring the global spread of the new coronavirus, Covid-19, notifying residents that the risk of catching the virus remains low.
Members of the Arlington Health Department have been in communication with the Massachusetts Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since January and continue to receive information on the status of the virus as it becomes available.
The Arlington Health Department works regularly to prepare for and prevent disease outbreaks, and this planning is done regionally and has been ongoing for approximately 15 years utilizing state and federal funds to ensure communities are ready in the event of a disease outbreak.
According to the state DPH, contracting the flu is far more likely than Covid-19. The DPH announced the state's first, and currently only, case of the the 2019 novel coronavirus Feb. 1. The man who contracted the virus was returning from Wuhan, China and sought medical care shortly after his arrival in the state.
The CDC confirmed Wednesday, Feb. 26, that a new patient in California has contracted Covid-19, and may be the first case of community spread of the virus in the United States.
"We've been very closely monitoring updates regarding Covid-19, but it's very important that residents note that the risk of catching this virus is low," said Natasha Waden, town public-health director. "We are in the thick of flu season, however, and we encourage residents to practice habits to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. These include frequent hand washing, disinfecting frequently used surfaces and covering your coughs and sneezes. These are steps that help keep you, and everyone around you, healthy."
As of Feb. 3, only 11 airports have been accepting travelers from mainland China in the U.S., none of whom are in Massachusetts, according to the DPH. Those arriving at those airports are also being screened for the virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, symptoms of the virus appear within 2-14 days of exposure. The DPH reports that symptoms of Covid-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath and pneumonia in severe cases.
At this time, the DPH is not recommending people wear masks in public, as the risk to the public remains low, and there is no substantial evidence suggesting wearing a mask protects an individual outside of preventing someone from spreading a respiratory illness to others in a clinic waiting room.
In the meantime ...
In an effort to prevent the spread of flu, colds and other respiratory illnesses, the Arlington Health Department wishes to provide residents with recommended actions from the DPH:
- Wash hands frequently, with soap and water, for a minimum of 20 seconds.
- When sick yourself, stay home to protect others.
- Always cover your cough or sneeze
The CDC recommends everyone 6 and older gets an annual flu vaccine, with few, rare exceptions. The Arlington Health Department also wishes to remind residents that it is not too late to get the flu vaccine, and vaccines are still available at the Arlington Health Department. To schedule an appointment, contact Public Health Nurse Jessica Kerr at 781-316-3140.
This news announcement was published Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. Its writer, Kelsey Bode, works for John Guilfoil Public Relations, which provides news releases for the town. This information was updated March 6, with a posting on the town's website.