Town Administrator Tom Mayo and Assistant Town Administrator Michelle Monsegur gave the following updates at the April 28, 2020 Board of Selectmen meeting.
• Today, Governor Baker extended the closure of non-essential businesses, the prohibition on gatherings of more than 10 people, and the MA Department of Public Health’s (DPH) Stay At Home Advisory until Monday, May 18th. Residents are strongly urged to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel and other unnecessary person-to-person contact during this time period.
• Today, Governor Baker also announced the formation of a 17-member Reopening Advisory Board, which will be comprised of three public health officials, three municipal officials, and 11 leaders from the business community. The three municipal officials are the Mayor of Lawrence, the Mayor of Easthampton, and Boston’s Chief of Staff. This group is charged with advising the administration on strategies to reopen the economy in phases based on health and safety metrics. It will develop a report by May 18th that will include DPH approved workplace safety standards, industry frameworks, and customer protocols and guidelines, including enforcement mechanisms and coordination with municipal leaders. While the report is due on the 18th, the administration has made it clear that public health data and guidance from health care experts will dictate the timeline of the re-opening process.
COVID-19 Cases & Advisories
• As of today, DPH is reporting 4,744 COVID-19 cases in Plymouth county and 58,302 cases in Massachusetts. As of last Wednesday, DPH was reporting 108 confirmed cases in Hingham. Since the state has been expanding COVID-19 testing, particularly in nursing homes, that accounts for part of the increase in COVID-19 cases reported in Hingham.
• Please keep in mind that the numbers reported by the state are lower than the actual number of cases - they do not include clinical diagnoses of COVID-19 by medical professionals, people who self-diagnose and stay at home, or asymptomatic people who don’t realize they have the virus.
• The CDC has recommended the use of a simple cloth face covering to help slow the spread of the virus. Covering your face protects others more than it protects you, so it is most effective when we all participate. On Friday, the Hingham Health Department issued an advisory urging members of the public to wear face coverings when a social distance of six feet can’t be maintained in public settings indoors or outdoors. We are distributing signage and will be placing sign boards conveying that message at the Transfer Station, Bathing Beach, and the Carlson Field entrance to Bare Cove Park. We are asking everyone to take this step for the health and safety of our entire community.
Elder Services Update
• To date, our Elder Services Department has made 1,000 individual phone calls and sent our four recorded messages about Senior Center resources and two recorded messages from our Executive Health Officer to 4,700 recipients each time.
• Staff created a 4-minute PSA with Harbor Media on updated resources for Hingham seniors and that announcement is running on the Harbor Media cable channel this week.
• Our Elder Services Director has been working closely with HinghamLink to connect seniors with resources, especially cloth masks.
• Senior Center staff are also working to introduce more Zoom classes, including yoga, and they will have likely a memoir writing group start a pilot program via Zoom next week.
Town Election Update
• Our Town Clerk, Eileen McCracken, sent out a message yesterday about the Town Election, which is now scheduled for Saturday, June 27. We want to encourage as many people as possible to participate in the Town Election while minimizing their risk to COVID-19. For that reason, our Clerk has posted links to download applications for absentee ballots and early voting ballots on the Town website. Residents who complete those applications will receive a ballot by mail.
• The new state legislation allows people taking precautions related to COVID-19 to qualify for an absentee ballot by reason of physical disability. This includes those who are sick, self-quarantined, or those who simply choose not to go to a public place for their own safety or for a family member’s safety.
• The other option is early voting, which is open to any registered voter in Hingham. There will not be any in-person early voting for the Town election this year.