Town Administrator Tom Mayo and Assistant Town Administrator Michelle Monsegur gave the following updates at the May 19, 2020 Board of Selectmen meeting.
- Yesterday, the Baker-Polito Administration published the Reopening Massachusetts plan developed by the Reopening Advisory Board. The goal of the four-phase reopening plan is to methodically allow businesses, services, and activities to resume while avoiding a resurgence of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.
- I would encourage everyone to read the 29-page report if they haven’t already. It’s available on the state’s website mass.gov and we have also posted a link to it on the Town’s COVID-19 Update Center.
- The reopening plan is driven by public health data, which means that key public health metrics will determine if and when the state decides to proceed through the reopening phases. The state is tracing these six key public health indicators:
- COVID-19 positive test rate
- Number of individuals who have died from COVID-19
- Number of patients with COVID-19 in hospitals
- Healthcare system readiness
- Testing capacity
- Contact tracing capabilities
- As of yesterday, Massachusetts is in Phase 1. The state is allowing organizations in the following sectors to reopen this week or next under new guidelines: construction, manufacturing, places of worship, car washes, hair salons and barbershops, laboratories, office spaces, pet grooming, and retail remote fulfillment and curbside pickup. There is also guidance on some outdoor recreation activities and resumption of health and human services. Detailed sector-specific guidance is available on the state’s website.
- In addition to implementing sector-specific protocols, all businesses must comply with the state’s Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards before reopening in the appropriate phase of the plan. The Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards are designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission to employees and customers and are applicable to all sectors and industries. They cover social distancing, hygiene protocols, staffing and operations, and cleaning and disinfecting.
- Businesses and organizations must self-certify that they have met the Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards, developed a COVID-19 Control Plan, and complied with applicable sector-specific protocols before they can reopen. Businesses currently providing Essential Services and businesses eligible to reopen in Phase 1 have until May 25, 2020 to comply with these new requirements.
- We have included an online COVID-19 Complaint Form on our COVID-19 Update Center website where members of the public can report non-compliance issues observed at Hingham businesses and organizations with respect to the state’s new Phase 1 requirements.
- We know this is a lot to digest. Our local reopening team is reviewing the state’s guidance and reaching out to different sectors of Hingham’s economy to educate organizations about the new requirements and advise on compliance. We are meeting with representatives of Hingham’s houses of worship tomorrow afternoon to talk through their specific concerns and procedures.
- We also continue to work on our own plans to reopen Town facilities safely. During a call with municipal leaders this afternoon, Lt. Governor Polito noted that her team is working on guidance for how the state will manage its buildings, workforce, and public-facing services like the RMV, and that cities and towns may find this guidance useful in developing our own plans and procedures.
- Our local reopening team is working on consolidating all state guidance as well as our internal procedures for Town facilities and organizing that information into one Hingham-specific reopening plan that our residents, businesses, and employees can reference. We will have more details to report on that next week.
- We also continue to plan for Town Meeting. As of now, we are still planning for Town Meeting on June 22nd at 7pm. That plan is being evaluated against this new guidance from the state, plans in other communities, new and proposed state legislation, and other considerations. We have a meeting planned for tomorrow with Selectman Johnson, Town Moderator Michael Puzo, Town Clerk Eileen McCracken, and Town Counsel John Coughlin.
- Governor Baker has indicated that each of the four phases of the reopening plan will last for a minimum of three weeks. If the data indicates significant increases in COVID-19 transmission, we may have to return to a prior phase or close sectors of the economy.
- With restrictions and capacity limitations, the state expects:
- Phase 2 to include retail, restaurants, lodging, additional personal care services (nail salons and day spas), campgrounds, playgrounds and spray decks, public and community pools, all athletic fields and courts, and limited youth sports;
- Phase 3 to include bars, arts and entertainment (casinos, gyms, museums), all other businesses except for nightclubs and large venues, additional recreation and outdoor activities, and youth sports with games and tournaments with limited crowd sizes; and
- Phase 4 to include a full resumption of activity in a “new normal.”
- The state plans to publish guidance for sectors opening in later phases on its website in advance of those phases.
- Lt. Governor Polito mentioned today that she expects guidance on summer camps will be posted next week, which will help our Recreation Department plan its programs.
Safer At Home Advisory
- As for residents, we are currently operating under a “Safer At Home” Advisory, which means that everyone should leave home only for healthcare, permitted work, shopping, and outdoor activities.
- People over age 65 and people who have underlying health conditions – who are at high risk for COVID-19 – should continue to stay home except for essential errands.
- Frequent handwashing and social distancing remain critical, and face coverings are still required when a social distance of six feet cannot be maintained in public.
- Lt. Governor Polito stressed the idea of personal responsibility and asked everyone to do their part to make the reopening process successful.
- In terms of the latest data, as of last Wednesday, DPH was reporting 223 laboratory-confirmed cases in Hingham.
- As of today, DPH is reporting 87,925 cases in Massachusetts, of which 7,198 are in Plymouth County.
- Please keep in mind that the numbers reported by the state are lower than the actual number of cases, because they only include those who have tested positive. A total of 476,940 people in Massachusetts have been tested to date.
- About 2.8% of reported Massachusetts cases are currently hospitalized. The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has been slowly decreasing since April 21, according to DPH data.
- Lt. Governor Polito’s team reported today that Massachusetts has been the third hardest hit state in the country in terms of COVID-19. We continue to stress the importance of taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 so we don’t erase the progress we’ve made thus far.
- As the number of new cases reported each day slows down and our Health Department receives assistance from the state’s Community Tracing Collaborative, our local COVID-19 response is shifting from contact tracing to focus more on working with businesses, employees, and members of the public to implement the state’s new reopening procedures.
- Last Friday morning, our Veterans Services Officer Keith Jermyn presented Police Chief Glenn Olsson with a memorial wreath in front of Town Hall in honor of Peace Officers’ Memorial Day to show our continued support for our officers and to honor those who lost their lives or were injured in the line of duty. This year’s ceremony had to be small due to the COVID-19 crisis, but our Veterans Services Department continues to find creative ways to mark these important occasions despite the circumstances.
- Another example of that resourcefulness and spirit is the virtual Memorial Day celebration VSO Jermyn and Lisa Potts have organized in collaboration with Harbor Media. Residents can tune in to channels 9, 22, and 97 with Comcast or channels 29, 30, or 2131 with Verizon to watch the ceremony on TV on Monday at 11am. It will also be posted to Harbor Media’s YouTube page. The ceremony will feature remarks from local resident Jack Chapin, who graduated from Hingham High, served for over 30 years in the US Navy on both active duty and in the reserves, and now works for the Massachusetts Environmental Police.
- This Sunday evening, the night before Memorial Day, you may notice that GAR Hall and the Veterans Memorial at Town Hall will be lit in gold light. Thanks to VSO Jermyn, HMLP’s Paul Heanue, and the Town Hall team led by Jeff Pizzi, Hingham will participate in a statewide initiative to light up buildings and other structures in gold in recognition of Memorial Day and the Gold Star Families in our community.
- Elder Services staff continue to conduct outreach calls to seniors in Hingham and make referrals for services.
- Staff are reporting an increase in medical transportation requests as medical appointments rescheduled from March are coming up. They are transporting seniors to critical appointments only at this time and are cleaning and disinfecting the vehicle between each trip.
- Staff are auditing existing Zoom classes and assisting in the development of new ones. They expect to have a “Ladies Coffee” meeting starting next Friday. There has been an increase in requests for social opportunities from seniors feeling the longer term effects of isolation.
- The Hingham Public Library continues to offer online and remote services and resources. Staff can help you get a library card; find and access digital resources such as eBooks, audiobooks, music, and movies; learn how to use online programs like Zoom; or troubleshoot technology issues.
- The Library is also offering online storytimes, coffee breaks to connect and chat with others, yoga, craft programs, technology classes, and more. Sign up for a virtual class, request an appointment for one-on-one help, get a library eCard, and learn about upcoming programs and digital resources at hinghamlibrary.org/online or by leaving a message at 781-741-1405.