News Flash

Town of Webster News Flash

Posted on: April 7, 2020

COVID19 Update: 4/7/20

We’d like to thank everyone again for taking precautions and staying home. From all reports we are hitting a critical time over the coming two weeks. We are asking you to work even harder at staying home. Before going to the store ask yourself if you really need the items you’re going for. If not stay home. If they truly are necessary look through your house to see if there is anything else that you need to save you a second trip. Please don’t tax the already over worked grocery store employees by stock piling items. We are asking you to go out as little as possible over the next two weeks, but if you need something during that time you still have the ability to go out. 

Please use social distancing and lots of hand washing when you go out. The CDC is also suggesting the use of non surgical or cloth face masks.  Please keep at least six feet from others, wipe down your grocery cart and wash your hands often. 

Taking a walk is a great way to get some fresh air and exercise.  Even outside though, please remember if you run into a neighbor to keep your distance while you catch up.  Thank you for all your cooperation and stay safe and healthy.

4/7/20 UPDATE

As of 4/7/2020, the positive COVID 19 case count in Massachusetts is 13,837 with 1,077 in Worcester County. There have been 260 COVID-19 related deaths reported in Massachusetts. The number of positive cases in the Town of Webster is now at 23.  

Ventilators: Over the weekend Massachusetts received a shipment of 100 ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile. The equipment has been evaluated and tested, and starting today is being distributed to community hospitals and academic medical centers.

Memorial Beach and Town Parks: Memorial beach and town parks will remain open for passive recreational activities that only involve transitory movement (walking, jogging, running, etc.) and for solitary beach fishing. Sitting, sunbathing, and other stationary recreational activities are prohibited at Memorial Beach. Additionally, athletic and recreational activities that bring participants into close, physical contact are prohibited. Playgrounds are closed as well. 

PPE Need: The Town is receiving a shipment of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from MEMA today. This is critical to keeping our first responders safe. The Town is still seeking donations of PPE to supplement our current low supplies for those on the frontlines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Donations can be dropped off at the Police Station lobby. At this time the Town is primarily collecting donations of the following materials:

  • N95 masks (highest priority)
  • Surgical masks
  • Face masks with integrated shield
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Protective suits/gowns
  • Booties/shoe covers
  • Headcovers
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sanitizing wipes

Thank you in advance for your support.

Please remember to: 

  • Avoid unnecessary travel and other unnecessary activities.
  • Protect yourself by following public health advice about keeping your hands clean and covering coughs and sneezes.
  • Stay home if you are sick. If you need to consult a health care provider, call ahead first or use telehealth services.
  • Protect others who are most at risk of COVID-19 by keeping your distance from people (at least 6 feet away from others), especially those who are older, and people living with chronic health conditions.
  • If you are outside, avoid crowds.
  • Don’t shake hands or hug.
  • Stay connected to friends and loved ones by phone or through other technology.
  • Get information from trusted sources such as the links below.
  • Take care of your emotional health and help others do the same. If you need emotional support during these stressful times, call 2-1-1 and choose the “CALL2TALK” option

Links to Relevant Information

Local information: The Board of Selectmen received an update on the COVID-19 pandemic at their meeting on 3/23/20. A video can be seen here (the audio improves greatly at the 7:37 minute mark) and the minutes of the meeting can be found here.  A situational awareness update from the Town Administrator was recorded on 4/2/20 and can be found here.

For more information regarding COVID-19 and the Federal Government’s response, please see the CDC website www.coronavirus.gov.

For more information regarding the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ response to COVID-19, please see www.mass.gov/covid19.

For a complete list of emergency orders click here.

The Commonwealth has established a COVID-19 text alert system for immediate updates from the State. Please text COVIDMA to 888-777 to subscribe.

Here is also an interesting article from the WSJ regarding the virus and how to protect your self.

Town Response to COVID-19

Enforcement of State and Federal Regulations and Recommendations

Town officials have been very busy contacting each and every establishment and business in Town enforcing Governor Charlie Baker’s emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities until May 4th. These businesses are encouraged to continue operations remotely. The Baker-Polito Administration issued a list of designated businesses and other organizations that provide essential services and workforces related to COVID-19 that shall continue to operate. The list can be found hereRestaurants are able to remain open for drive-thru or take out only.  Additionally, we are enforcing the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s order to limit public gatherings to no more than 10 people. 

Cancellation of all Town-Sponsored Activities and Events

All non-essential Town of Webster sponsored group programs and events are suspended until May 4th, 2020, and will be re-evaluated at that time. If you have any questions about a particular event, please do not hesitate to contact the Recreation Office at 508-949-3800 ext. 1023

Closed Public Buildings to the Walk-in Public

Town buildings will be closed to the walk-in public until further notice; however, employees will still be working and available to assist via the telephone, email, etc. Most, if not all, Town services can be performed online and we encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity. This includes applying for most permits, making payments, etc. If you have any questions about a particular service, please do not hesitate to contact the respective department directly.

As a reminder, many library products are available through the library website or its many smartphone app partners. Library patrons may pick up books placed on hold by calling ahead to the library and coordinating a pick up time in the library vestibule.

Scheduled board and committee meetings have been cancelled as well. Future meetings will only be scheduled to conduct urgent business and may be done via technology to avoid large gatherings.

Small Business Relief

Commonwealth Small Business Loan Program: The Baker-Polito Administration announced a $10 Million Small Business Recovery Loan Fund which will provide emergency capital up to $75,000 to Massachusetts-based businesses impacted by COVID-19 with fewer than 50 full- and part-time employees, including nonprofits. Loans are immediately available to eligible businesses with no payments due for the first six months. Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation has capitalized the fund and will be its administrator. To apply, complete the application on www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org and email it to MGCC with the subject line “2020 Small Business Recovery Loan Fund."

Cash Flow Relief for Small Local Business: The Governor announced new measures for administrative tax relief for small local businesses impacted by COVID-19, especially in the restaurant and hospitality sectors. For small businesses, defined as those who paid less than $150,000 in 2019 in sales and meals, or room occupancy taxes, we will be postponing the payment of their respective sales, meals, or room occupancy taxes.

1.Taxes due for March, April, and May will instead be due on June 20.

2.All penalties and interest that would otherwise apply will be waived.

SBA Small Business Loan Program: The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans of up to $2 million for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Businesses may contact Kevin J. Kuros, Regional Director – Central Mass Massachusetts Office of Business Development to discuss assistance options for small businesses.  His contact information is kevin.j.kuros@mass.gov or (617) 549-1803 cell.

Individual and Family Relief

School lunches: During school closures free meals will be available to all residents 18 and under Monday through Friday from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Meals will be provided in a grab and go drive thru at the following locations:

  • Bartlett High School
  • Webster Middle School
  • Park Avenue Elementary

All meals must be consumed off site. Check www.webster-schools.org for menu updates.

School Closures: Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order extending the closure of all public and private schools, and all non-emergency childcare programs, until May 4 to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.

Unemployment: Governor Baker signed S.2599 to provide unemployment assistance to workers impacted by COVID-19. This legislation will allow new claims to be paid more quickly by waiving the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits. To find out more information and to apply for unemployment benefits please visit: https://www.mass.gov/topics/unemployment. In order to better meet the needs of customers whose employment has been affected by the coronavirus, DUA will be hosting daily town hall meetings where we will take our constituents through a step by step process of achieving a successful unemployment claim and taking questions from claimants across the Commonwealth. Click here for more information.

Housing Stability: The Commonwealth announced steps to keep vulnerable families in their homes, preserve the health and safety of low-income renters and homeowners, and prevent homelessness due to reduced or lost income. Please click here for more information.

CARES Act 2020 Summary

1.) Income for American Families  a. One-time tax rebate check. b. $1,200 per individual, $2,400 per couple and $500 per eligible child. c. Not reduced for lower income Americans. d. They are reduced for higher income earners, starting at $75,000 for individuals, $112,500 for head of household, and $150,000 for married couples. e. Phases out completely at $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for married couples.  f. Expanded unemployment insurance to cover gig workers and self-employed and non-profit employees.

 2.) Small Business Assistance a. New SBA-backed loan program to help small businesses pay for expenses.  b. Loans taken by small businesses to keep employees on payroll may be forgiven. c. 501 (c)(3)s will also be eligible for this program. d. Federal government will forgive 8 weeks of cash flow, rent and utilities at 100% up to 2.5x average monthly payroll.

 3.) Assistance To Distressed Job Creators a. Loans, loan guarantees, and investment authority totaling $529 billion, with $454 billion to be used by Treasury, working with the Federal Reserve, for all sectors and $75 billion in loans, guarantees and grants for passenger airlines, cargo carriers, and businesses critical to national security. 

 4.) Ensuring Access To Care For All Americans a. Increase in Medicare reimbursement rate to assist providers caring for our most vulnerable population.  b. Increases access to testing by allowing the Strategic National Stockpile to stockpile swabs necessary for test kits.  c. Allows the FDA to quickly approve the use of new medication and treatments.  d. Facilitates the use of new and innovative telemedicine technology to protect and contain the spread of COVID-19. 

 5.) Direct Funding to Combat the Pandemic a. $340 billion supplemental appropriation  i. $150 billion for states, cities, localities to fight pandemic.  ii. Support for health care workers and hospitals.  iii. Funding for PPE.  iv. Support for our local responders.  v. Funding for the research of new treatments and vaccines.  vi. Support for small businesses. vii. Support our local colleges and universities.  viii. Support for veteran health care. ix. Support for DOD response to COVID-19.

Other

Blood Shortage: The American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during the COVID-19 outbreak. There is an urgent blood donation need now for patients with chronic conditions and trauma, as well as for ensuring an adequate blood and blood product supply going forward. The Governor has deemed “Blood and plasma donors and the employees of the organizations that operate and manage related activities” as an essential service. Donating blood is safe and people should not hesitate to give. In addition, there is a need for community blood drive sites in the eastern part of the state. Those who are healthy, feeling well, and eligible to give blood or platelets are urged to make an appointment by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Health Care Professional Volunteers: The Commonwealth has developed a portal at: https://www.mass.gov/health-services-covid-19-volunteer-form to connect health care professionals with volunteer opportunities to help in the fight against COVID-19.

Online Symptom Checker: The Commonwealth has developed a web tool for residents to assess their symptoms at www.buoy.com/mass.

RMV: The RMV is enforcing a strict no walk-in policy at its eight Service Centers open to the general public. The only transactions that will be processed at service centers are those that require an in-person transaction, including Commercial Driving Licenses or Permits (CDLs / CLPs), some new registrations, out of state conversions and new Mass IDs. Customers who need to complete these transactions will be required to make an online appointment reservation, and customers arriving without an appointment will be asked to leave and make an appointment online to return at a future date.

Appointment reservations can be made online at www.Mass.Gov/RMV in the myRMV Online Service Center under “Make or Cancel a Reservation.” Customers who make an appointment will be sent a confirmation email that they should be prepared to show on arrival at their designated time at a specific Service Center.

Conclusion

We ask that each individual take preventative steps to protect themselves from the risk of this disease by washing their hands often with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds use sanitizer whenever you are not immediately able to wash hands; cover coughs and sneezes with your arm; clean and sanitize commonly touched surfaces often; and stay home if you are not feeling well. These steps will help keep you and your loved ones safe.

Additionally, during this time of social distancing, please contact the elderly, lonely or others that may have particular needs through technology to provide love and support as well as to see if their physical needs are being met.

 


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