Coronavirus Cases Increase In Salem (April 6 Update)

coronavirusPhoto: CDC

This COVID-19 (coronavirus) release/story continues to develop; Salem cases increase, say, City officials

SALEM, Mass.—As of 4:00 p.m. on April 6, 2020, currently 74 Salem residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Additional data about Salem COVID-19 cases is below.

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Currently, in Massachusetts, there are 13,837 confirmed coronavirus cases and 76,429 Individuals have been tested so far. According to Mass.gov the Stay-At-Home advisory’s first part is “directed to those Massachusetts residents who are 70 years and older and those with underlying health conditions to strongly advise them to stay-at-home with the exception of essential trips for food, medicine, and focused time for exercise and fresh air.” The second part is for all to stay at home unless they are in need of essential services, like going to the grocery store, pharmacy, picking up the delivery of goods, etc. For more information about it, visit Mass.gov. A list of essential services that are open can be read here.

Salem Mayor, Kimberley Driscoll, exhorted Salemites to follow the state’s stay-at-home advisory and the social distance protocol in effect for the country.

“People should not go out unless absolutely necessary. If they must go out, try to maintain at least 6-feet of distance from one another,” said Mayor Driscoll to The Rainbow Times via e-mail. “Wash your hands or sanitize them if you come into contact with commonly used surfaces. Avoid touching your face and sneeze or cough into a disposable tissue.”

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued an order that all non-essential businesses cease in-person operations through April 7, 2020. A list of essential businesses can be found here.

The Wall Street Journal has issued a guide to state coronavirus lockdowns. You can read it here.

Mayor Driscoll asked Salem residents to follow the governor’s guidelines in the city.

“There’s currently no plan for a local ‘lockdown’ or shelter in place,” said Driscoll. “We will continue to look to the state for guidance on matters such as that since those measures are only effective if they are done more broadly than in just one city on its own.”

 

Marginalized groups, gender violence

Point Neighborhood Association president, Lucy Corchado, expressed concern for the community the organization represents.

“I have been sharing all pertinent information received by City and news via text, phone calls, Nextdoor website, and Point Facebook page to many residents in the Point,” said Corchado, also a member of the Latino Leadership Coalition. “As you know, this Neighborhood is a low-income immigrant neighborhood so we have arguably the highest percentage of the vulnerable community which could be hit the hardest during this health crisis.

“We do see, however, how people pull together and help each other out as much as possible. I’m appreciative of the resources advertised by the Mayor’s office as well as local businesses like ROOT, North Shore Family Health, N.S. Community Development Coalition offering assistance to our community.”

And, women who have experienced gender violence at home, who have been able to get away temporarily from such situations to purchase goods or pharmacy items have, indeed, invoked the code “Mask 19,” reported CNN.

“We know that ordinarily the window of opportunity for women with abusive partners to make a call and seek help is often very limited,” said Sandra Horley, Refuge’s chief executive, to that network. “Now, it is likely that window has become even smaller.”

 

New updates from Salem

An advisory from the Salem Board of Health: Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced they were recommending the use of cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Therefore, in accordance with the new guidance from the CDC, the Salem Board of Health advises all residents to wear a mask or cloth face covering while in public to help slow the transmission of this virus.

Residents can access the Surgeon General’s instructional video on how to make a cloth face-covering here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YLXEhSjVsw. Residents are reminded that social distancing is of critical importance in helping slow the spread of this disease. It is crucial to emphasize that residents should continue to maintain all social distancing requirements of 6-feet or greater.

The Massachusetts National Guard has canceled the First Muster event originally planned for April 18th on Salem Common. It will be rescheduled for a future date to be determined.

New resources on www.salem.com/together: information about economic impact payments from the IRS and how to donate items to North Shore Medical Center.

 

Evolving situation

“Cases of cases COVID-19 have been reported in every state, as well as across Massachusetts,” said Health Agent David Greenbaum. “The Salem Board of Health and the City of Salem have been preparing for the last several weeks for the arrival of COVID-19 in our community. The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation and we expect to see additional cases in Salem as it progresses. The Salem Board of Health and the City will continue to share COVID-19 information as it becomes available.”

An extensive epidemiological investigation, including contact tracing, is being conducted for these three cases. Through this investigation, the Board of Health will determine and identify all contacts of these cases. If you have not been contacted by the Salem Board of Health, you are not considered a contact of one of these cases. All people determined to have had had direct, face-to-face contact with one of these cases are being instructed to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms for a period of fourteen (14) days.

Because the risk level for COVID-19 is rising throughout Massachusetts and the illness has now been identified in Salem, the Board will not issue additional press releases announcing new cases; however, a current count of positive cases, less recovered individuals, will continue to be included in the City’s regular updates posted at salem.com/covid19.

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Salem, Mass. City Hall; Photo: Wikipedia

 

 

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Social distancing, staying home, washing your hands and following the advice of medical professionals is key to staying healthy; Photo: Ashkan Forouzani / Unsplash

About the COVID-19 Coronavirus

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can cause mild to more severe respiratory illness. Most patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have recovered on their own. However, COVID-19 can cause severe illness, and even death, particularly among those who are older or who have chronic medical conditions. Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person. COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. As of recently, however, health care experts have said that the virus can spread when someone exhales or inhales someone else’s air from one another when people aren’t at least 6 feet away from each other.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health agencies insisted at first that the primary route of transmission for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is through “respiratory droplets, up to 1 millimeter across, that people expel when they cough and sneeze,” according to Science Magazine online.

“Gravity grounds these droplets within 1 or 2 meters, although they deposit the virus on surfaces, from which people can pick it up and infect themselves by touching their mouth, nose, or eyes. But if the coronavirus can be suspended in the ultrafine mist that we produce when we exhale, protection becomes more difficult, strengthening the argument that all people should wear masks in public to reduce unwitting transmission of the virus from asymptomatic carriers.”

 

Public Health recommendations to reduce the risk of infection with COVID-19:

While there is currently no vaccine to prevent the COVID-19 coronavirus, there are several important measures you can take to stay healthy. These precautions are similar to those you would take to avoid the flu:

  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or by coughing or sneezing into your elbow
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Avoid gatherings of more than 10 people

The Board of Health is aware that events are being postponed or canceled and employers are encouraging employees that can work from home do so.  Residents should stay at home if they are sick. Information now indicates that anyone (infants, children, healthy adults, etc.) can contract this virus. What is also known is that some members of our community are at higher risk. These include:

  • People 60 and older
  • People with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes
  • People who have weakened immune systems
  • People who are pregnant

People at higher risk should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible, including public places with lots of people and large gatherings where there will be close contact with others.

For more Information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the City recommends residents always rely on trusted sources for the most accurate information about novel coronavirus.

Please visit the Massachusetts Department of Public Health COVID-19 website at (mass.gov/dph).

www.mass.gov/resource/information-on-the-outbreak-of-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19 or the Centers for Disease Control (cdc.gov) coronavirus website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html for more information.

 

Not safe at home?

If you or a family/household member does not feel safe at home, please call 1-800-799-7233 for live support.  If you are unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org to chat online, or text LOVEIS to 22522. If you have another concern or need regarding stay-at-home, please call 211.

 

Previous Updates Still In Effect (to read previous updates visit www.salem.com/news and click on a previous COVID-19 update.

  • While Waste Management will continue to pick-up sealed or tied trash bags left next to your toter curbside on collection day, residents are asked to not place more than two such extra bags per household out at a time. Excessive numbers of bags slow down the collection of trash in your neighborhood. Thank you for understanding.
  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering grants of up to $10,000 to businesses. Businesses should go to www.sba.gov to review programs. Of particular note are the following:
    • Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) – This is a low-interest loan program that can provide up to $2 million of financial assistance (actual loan amounts are based on amount of economic injury) to small businesses or private, non-profit organizations that suffer substantial economic injury as a result of the declared disaster.
    • Emergency Injury Disaster (EID) Grant – The grant or “Loan Advance” is for up to $10,000. Businesses need to apply for an EIDL and indicate on the application that they are also applying for the grant. Even if the business decides not to close on the EIDL or the loan is denied, the grant will be awarded within 3-4 business days after the application is submitted. The grant does not need to be repaid.
    • Paycheck Protection Program – This is a new loan program as part of the CARES Act. It provides a direct financial incentive for small businesses to keep employees on the payroll. The SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. To learn more about the program and to download a sample application so you can see what information will be required, please go to https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/paycheck-protection-program-ppp. Applications will be accepted as early as April 3, 2020. This program will be available through June 30, 2020.
  • Whether or not you are looking into applying for an EIDL, seeking an EID Grant, or are interested in the Paycheck Protection Program, please go to www.sba.gov to register for their programs. This will put you ahead of the game and ready to apply when the new programs are rolled out. There will be additional programs both through the SBA and through other government agencies focused on business support in the form of grants, loans, and tax credits. As programs, applications, and opportunities are finalized they will be posted at www.salem.com/together under the Worker and Employer Resources section.
  • Pursuant to guidance from the Commonwealth’s Inspector General, the City of Salem’s Purchasing Office has opened a post office box to which all bids and proposals should be sent going forward. Bids and proposals should no longer be mailed to the Purchasing Office at City Hall and instead should be submitted to: Salem Purchasing Office, P.O. Box 928, Salem MA 01970.
  • New resources added to www.salem.com/together: Rental Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) updates, guidance from the CDC about how to protect yourself from COVID-19, a listing of area hotels offering discounted accommodations for healthcare workers, a link to new supplemental guidance from the state for construction projects, Salem Chamber resource page for small businesses, and U.S. Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Loan Program details, as well as a guide for small businesses to the CARES Act.
  • The Commonwealth has extended the closure of non-essential businesses through May 4, 2020. Accordingly, the City has extended the closure to the public of all City buildings through May 4, 2020. This includes City Hall, City Hall Annex, the Mayor Jean Levesque Community Life Center, and the Salem Public Library. Salem Public Schools had already been closed through May 4, 2020.
  • The Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued new guidance today around hotels, motels, inns, beds and breakfasts and other short-term residential rentals. Based on this new guidance, hotels, motels, and short-term rentals may only be used for efforts related to fighting COVID-19, like front line health workers or individuals, or for Massachusetts residents who have been otherwise displaced from their residences.
  • The City of Salem is finalizing an application form that property owners will be able to submit to request a deferred payment plan for property tax and other bills. The form will be posted with instructions to salem.com/news and made available on the resource page at salem.com/together once it is ready.
  • On March 20th, Governor Baker extended the closure of all public schools, including Salem, and all non-essential childcare facilities through May 4, 2020. In addition, the Governor has temporarily lifted the plastic bag ban communities with such a regulation in place, including Salem.
  • Upon request, the City ​will suspend loan repayments for a period of up to six months from small businesses who are recipients of the City’s Small Business Loan Program. For more information, please call the Department of Planning and Community Development at (978) 619-5685. In addition, the City is suspending rent payments due from its business tenants on Artists​’ Row for a period of three months and its tenant at Old Town Hall ​on a month-by-month basis, all subject to change. The City encourages all landlords – both commercial and residential – to consider suspending, waiving, or deferring rent collection to the greatest extent feasible, to help Salem’s small businesses and residents cope with the unprecedented economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • New resources at Salem Together include: sign up to receive text message updates; apply for cash assistance for income-eligible families, children, older adults, and those living with disabilities; assistance and information about housing from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development; find housing resources from the Joint Center for Housing Studies; information from the Federal Trade Commission to protect yourself from online scammers and fraud. The page now features a section dedicated to housing resources.
  • As the Salem Public Library is closed through April 7th, due dates for all materials currently checked out have been extended through April 8th and no overdue fines will be charged during this time.
  • If you have a question about whether a Salem business is considered “essential” or to report a potential violation of the Governor’s order relative to non-essential businesses in Salem, please call the Salem Health Department at (978) 741-1800.
  • Waste Management has reopened its customer call center at 800-972-4545 and has resumed scheduling and carrying out bulky item pick-up.
  • Effective noon on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, Governor Baker has ordered that all non-essential businesses cease in-person operations through April 7, 2020. A list of essential businesses can be found here.
  • The closure of City Hall, City Hall Annex, the Mayor Jean Levesque Community Life Center, and the Salem Public Library has been extended until April 7, 2020. Essential personnel only will be working in person; all other departments will continue to work remotely and be available to the public by phone and e-mail.
  • Residents who wish to donate personal protective equipment for local healthcare workers and first responders may do so by dropping it off in the designated bins in the lobby of the Salem Police Station, 95 Margin Street.
  • New resources have been posted at www.salem.com/together, including emergency child care resources for essential personnel, a survey for Salem businesses impacted by the emergency, a volunteer sign-up form and a grocery distribution schedule for the Salem Pantry, and resources for Salem’s immigrant community.
  • All non-emergency court events, including small claims matters, civil matters, and summary process cases — also known as eviction cases—in Massachusetts Housing Court will be postponed until at least April 21, 2020. This means that the Court will not hear any non-emergency matters, including eviction cases, until April 21 at the earliest. Currently, there is a bill pending in the state legislature seeking to place a moratorium on all evictions as well as some efforts being made at the federal level to halt evictions during the pandemic.
  • Gates at Museum Place and South Harbor Garage have been opened and there is no charge to park in those garages until further notice.
  • Due to the temporary closure of Zagster’s warehouse facility, Spin electric scooters will be unavailable until further notice. The City will resume the Spin pilot at the conclusion of the emergency. An announcement about the Zagster bike share is expected in the near future.
  • Any resident in need of assistance with water/sewer payments should call 978-619-5673. The City is working with people to address their needs and put in place payment plans as needed.
  • Effective Sunday, March 22, 2020, the Salem Board of Health is temporarily closing all personal service businesses until further notice. This includes beauty salons, hairdressers and barber shops, nail salons and spas, tattoo establishments, fitness centers and gyms, massage and foot spa establishments, churches and religious congregations and services, and psychic studios and parlors.
  • The Mayor and Board of Health have declared a local emergency effective 11:59 p.m. Saturday, March 21, 2020, consistent with existing federal and state declarations. This designation qualifies the City for additional supports and resources, as necessary, to address the escalating situation.
  • The City has temporarily suspended enforcement of parking meters on-street and in lotsAll other parking regulations are still being enforced, including handicapped parking spaces, blocking of driveways and hydrants, and so forth.
  • City buildingsincluding City Hall, City Hall Annex, the Mayor Jean Levesque Community Life Center, and the Salem Public Libraryare closed to the public. Departments can be reached by phone or email. Public works and public safety departments continue to function. Note that City offices are being staffed reduced hours at City Hall and City Hall Annex, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and 8:00 a.m. to noon on Fridays.
  • Visit Salem Together at www.salem.com/together to sign up to volunteer, find tools to request assistance, see charitable funds accepting donations, and discover a wide variety of informational resources all in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • The Salem Public Library will no longer provide curbside check-out and will no longer be circulating materials to the public. Materials that are checked out can be returned via the book drop at the front of the building. Online services and resources all continue to be available at www.salempl.org.
  • Residents can use SeeClickFix to request assistance from neighbors. This tool can be useful for those who wish to communicate with neighbors around them but may not have their neighbor’s personal contact information. To use the tool, visit seeclickfix.com/report and create a new request using the category “Help a neighbor during COVID-19 emergency.” Residents can set up notifications to get an alert when a neighbor posts one of these requests so they can respond if they are able.
  • The City of Salem is utilizing the Zoom platform for remote participation of public meetings during this public emergency. Details about accessing each meeting, including the toll-free dial-in number and the meeting ID number, will be posted in the meeting notice/agenda for each meeting scheduled to take place remotely at least 48 hours before the meeting.
  • The use of playground equipment and structures at City parks is prohibited during this public emergency.
  • Waste Management’s customer service number (800-972-4545) is currently out of service. This has no impact on trash and recycling pickup; all trash and recycling pickups will continue to operate on a normal schedule. If you need to report a missed trash or recycling pick up, please report it using SeeClickFix. Bulk items and white good pick-ups will not be scheduled during this time.
  • The City of Salem has extended the Community Preservation Act grant application deadline to April 16th.
  • The City of Salem is waiving the late fees on any unpaid automobile excise bills that were due March 9th. This waiver will be in place until April 17th, unless otherwise announced. The waiver only applies to late fees and not to the regular bill amount. You can pay your automobile excise bill online at salem.com/paybills.
  • Salem Public Schools are closed through April 6th. For updates regarding the status of Salem Public Schools, please visit www.salemk12.org.
  • Ensure you are subscribed to Salem’s three primary communication platforms, all available at www.salem.com/subscribe: (1) CodeRED, the emergency notification system, (2) City Alerts, found under the “Urgent Alert” menu, and (3) City News & Announcement, found under the “News or Announcement” category.
  • Members of the public with cold-like symptoms, fever, cough, or other illness should contact their healthcare provider. To ensure the effectiveness of efforts to slow the spread of the virus, avoid congregating in groups of more than 10 people.

[From a News Release and Other Reporting Additions from Staff].

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