Town Administrator Tom Mayo and Assistant Town Administrator Michelle Monsegur gave the following updates at the April 14, 2020 Board of Selectmen meeting.
April 13, 2020 storm
- Our DPW Superintendent referred to this storm as a “major event”.
- Approximately 38% of HMLP customers were affected to one degree or another. As of this report, only 3-4 customers remain without power.
- Debris pickup is ongoing and may take several weeks. DPW called two crane crews to assist. Debris pickup may take longer in part because DPW staff are complying with social distancing and PPE guidelines - there is only one person per vehicle, everyone is wearing masks and gloves and being extremely careful.
- The Fire Dept reported over 60 calls between noon and midnight yesterday, much higher than what they’ve seen in the last few weeks.
- HMLP called Braintree Light to assist in Hingham.
- There was minor damage to dwellings in town and one car was totaled.
COVID-19 Incident Management Team updates:
- We are preparing for a tough two weeks ahead. Estimates are still that we’ll see a caseload peak/surge around April 20 in Massachusetts.
- The whole IMT meets every morning at 9:30am to share the latest information, and updates. The command team meets later in the day to review new developments and talk through operational decisions.
- IMT staff are in regular contact with nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other residences for seniors and vulnerable citizens in town to advise on procedures and protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
- We are also in touch with grocery stores and more than 100 food establishments about social distancing guidelines and new guidance from the state; with local hospitals about their procedures and current capacity; and with residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 to trace close contacts and advise on isolation and quarantine procedures.
- The IMT team continues to ensure that essential Town staff and first responders have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to safely do their jobs. We have received one shipment of PPE from MEMA so far and know that funeral homes and long-term care facilities in town have received similar supplies from MEMA.
- We get regular reports from MEMA and DPH about new state and federal guidelines.
- The Health Department received a second check for about $10,000 from DPH for COVID-19 related expenses that we’ll likely use for surge staffing.
- Everyone on the IMT is working extremely hard to try to flatten the curve.
- We continue to follow DPH’s recommendation to report positive cases by county.
- As of today, the state is reporting 2,207 COVID-19 cases in Plymouth county. We believe that Hingham is experiencing COVID-19 cases proportionally to the other 26 communities in the county.
- Please keep in mind that the numbers reported by the state are lower than the actual number of cases, as they do not include clinical diagnoses of COVID-19 by medical professionals or people who self-diagnose and stay at home.
Domestic violence resources
- Unfortunately, sometimes there is an increase in domestic violence during situations like this where people are confined to their homes for extended periods.
- Last week, the state announced expansion of SafeLink, the Commonwealth’s statewide, 24/7, toll-free, confidential domestic violence hotline that now includes resources and support for survivors of sexual assault.
- The SafeLink toll-free number is (877) 785-2020. For the hearing-impaired, the SafeLink TTY number is (877) 521-2601. It is also available through the 211 line.
- If you are experiencing violence within your home or you are concerned about a loved one that may be experiencing violence, please call the SafeLink hotline for support and resources. If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.
Mental health resources
- During this stressful time, it’s important to take to care of your mental health and help others do the same. If you need emotional support during these stressful times, available resources include:
- Hingham Health Department’s licensed Social Worker, Cheryl West. Cheryl is a great resource and she is available via telephone to residents to talk things through or just to listen. She can be reached at 781-804-2370 or by email at email@example.com.
- Massachusetts residents can dial 211 and choose the “CALL2TALK” option.
- Samaritans is continuing operations 24/7, as always. During this unprecedented time, it can feel overwhelming to receive constant messages about COVID-19. Call or text their 24/7 helpline any time at 877-870-4673.
- Another resource is the Disaster Distress Helpline which can be reached at 1-800-985-5990, and is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster, including disease outbreaks like COVID-19. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available nationwide.
- We’ve posted messages about these domestic violence and mental health resources on our COVID-19 webpage and Facebook.
- We know this is a tough time for everyone. We appreciate all of the steps our residents and businesses are taking to protect themselves and others against COVID-19. We are not through this yet - we have to stay vigilant and we appreciate everyone’s efforts and sacrifices thus far.
- Town Counsel helped us issue guidance about permit application procedures in effect during the state of emergency to ensure our permitting boards (PB, ZBA, ConCom, etc) can continue their work. That guidance can be found on the Town website as a newsflash and also on each permitting board’s page.
- As some boards/committees consider using Zoom’s video conferencing capabilities, we’re staffing all Zoom public meetings to make sure they go smoothly and that everyone can participate. We have a small team of staff from different departments that are quickly becoming Zoom experts.
- Quick update from last week to follow up on the Transfer Station scale being closed.
- New England Recycling is one option where residents can bring bulky waste/construction. They are located in Taunton and we recommend calling ahead of time to verify fees and drop off times. Their number is 508-822-4345.
- South Shore Recycling Cooperative is another good resource online with information about a number of recycling and trash options. Their website address is https://ssrcoop.info/.
- With the help of the Senior Center staff and staff from other Town departments, approximately 200 individual phone calls are being made each week. Most seniors receiving the calls are very appreciative of the personal contact and eager to talk. At the end of this week, almost 1,000 total calls will have been made.
- Meals on Wheels, home delivered meals by South Shore Elder Services, are still going out daily from the Senior Center.
- Three fitness instructors have taken their classes online via Zoom, as well as two discussion groups. Recordings of some fitness classes were also submitted to Harbor Media for viewing on cable.
- Pre-recorded phone calls are sent out weekly to Hingham Seniors, providing resource information and important updates. The next one will feature information about how to get in touch with the Library’s tech team for help with technology questions and connecting to digital library resources.
Update from Hingham Public Schools
- Hingham Public Schools rolled out its Remote Learning Plan to students in grades PK-12 last week. The district is now over a week into our Remote Learning Plan and, for the most part, we have received positive feedback.
- While no plan can perfectly address the many needs of the variety of families we have in the community, we do feel that the plan has addressed the needs of many, with individual supports being put in place to support those who may need more support.
- Our plan provides resources for students to be engaged with roughly one-half of the typical school day (e.g., if the typical length of day was 6 hours, remote learning provides work for 3 hours per day). We will continue to refine and re-assess a time goes on to ensure our plan is as responsive as possible.
- Last week, the School Committee voted to adjust the school calendar to work through April vacation week (April 21 - 24) to continue the momentum created by the new remote learning plan.
- The School Department continues to provide “grab and go” lunches for Hingham students in need. Meals are picked-up Monday - Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at the picnic tables outside of the Hingham High School Cafeteria. If anyone is unable to physically pick-up a meal, they can email Kim Smyth, Director of Food Service, at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a home drop-off.
- The School’s Food Services team has also been providing these same meal services to Hingham veterans and their families in need in partnership with our Veterans Services Department.
- Quick reminder about an upcoming deadline for anyone with younger children: the School Department has extended the window for fall Kindergarten registration until this Friday, April 17. Registration forms can be found on the school website. Any family who is registering is strongly encouraged to please let the school department know of your intent to enroll by Friday. These numbers are needed to ensure the proper number of sections and teachers.