WEST NEWBURY — The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in town as reported in a text alert issued Tuesday morning by selectmen Chairman David Archibald.
“The patient has been isolated and is being supported and monitored according to public health guidelines,” stated a press release issued by Fire Chief Michael Dwyer and Police Chief Jeff Durand. Dwyer said no further information about the person is available.
“Yes, a West Newbury resident has tested positive to the COVID-19 virus — which is not surprising,” Emergency Management Director Lee Ann Delp said. “Residents should expect to see an increase in the numbers locally, across the commonwealth, and the country as the virus spreads and more testing becomes available.”
“We will get through this together,” Archibald’s message said.
Selectmen declared a state of emergency last week — a legal mechanism that offers Town Manager Angus Jennings and other officials more tools with which to manage the COVID-19 crisis.
“The local state of emergency will not impact essential services, which include police, fire, public works, public health and social services,” Archibald said.
Trash and recycling collection should continue without interruption, although Mello Disposal Corp said this week trash and recycling not enclosed in proper barrels and bins will not be picked up.
“The best way to protect your friends, your family, our community, and our health care system from being overwhelmed is by protecting yourself,” Archibald said.
He reminded residents of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to keep 6 to 10 feet away from others; stay home and only venture out for necessary errands or to get fresh air and exercise; practice good handwashing protocols, and limit gatherings indoors or in confined spaces outdoors to 10 people or fewer.
“First responders throughout the nation are practicing social distancing when responding to emergency calls. When responding to a call for service, first responders will ask residents to do the same, which entails keeping separated by approximately 6 feet if possible,” the press release stated.
Public safety personnel stand ready to respond to any emergency; and staffing levels will be adjusted accordingly based on the needs of the town, the press release said.
Residents are asked to refrain from seeking nonemergency walk-in services at the public safety complex, 401 Main St. Instead, call the departments‘ business lines (police: 978-363-1212) or (fire: 978-363-1111) or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Gov. Charlie Baker and the state Legislature are working on a legal solution to give local officials authority to delay meetings and town elections.
“The specifics of potential Town Meeting postponement, and contingency planning in event budget adoption is delayed, are both being researched and would be affected by legislation now under consideration — but not yet adopted — on Beacon Hill,” Jennings said. One or more of the bills may be adopted this week.
Selectmen are to meet remotely today at 4 p.m. to review policies and protocols regarding the coronavirus. To see the agenda or learn how the public can access the meeting remotely, visit www.wnewbury.org.