By Beth David, Editor
The Fairhaven Selectboard held two meetings in the last week in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) threat. The board met with all department heads on Friday, 3/13/20, to discuss preparedness and plans to deal with the outbreak, and a possible large influx of cases.
The board also met briefly on Monday, 3/16, to declare a state of emergency in Fairhaven, although there have, as yet, been no confirmed or presumptive cases in Fairhaven. The declaration allows the town to tap into a variety of state and federal resources, should they become necessary.
Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in the state and ordered all schools closed until April 7, banned food consumption the premises of any business; and banned gatherings of 25 or more (read story here).
Town Administrator Mark Rees said the town is working to enact policy changes for employee sick time. The town will allow employees to go into negative overtime to encourage them to stay home if sick. The payout for not using sick time has been suspended.
All town offices are closed to the public. Employees are working, though, so that town business is still being conducted.
Residents who need town hall services are asked to call the department they need to find out how they can conduct the business they need. Call 508-979-4023, and you will hear a list of extensions.
All bills can still be paid at town hall, but not inside the collector’s office. Residents are asked to use the drop box that is to the left of the front doors of town hall. Many bills can also be paid online now, so residents are also encouraged to use that service (https://www.fairhaven-ma.gov/town-clerk/pagesonline-bill-pay-options)
Mr. Rees said that all meetings have been canceled, but he is hoping that will change soon. The town is looking at ways to hold meetings remotely, and to invite the public to participate by dialing in.
All regular public services, such as trash removal, water and sewer work, road work, etc. are being conducted as usual. The public works building is also closed to the public. Call them at 508-979-4030.
Fairhaven Health Agent Mary Freire-Kellogg said the health department is working with its partners regionally and at the state level to be prepared.
She said, though, that people need to be aware of how the situation is affecting children. Parents need to talk to their children to reassure them. If they are hearing news reports, or people speaking, they could very well be afraid that everyone is going to die.
“We as adults have to be attentive and pay attention to what’s going on and keep up to date with information,” said Ms. Freire-Kellogg. “But we have to be confident that kids are listening to us. We don’t need to inundate our kids with this information. So pay attention, but reassure your children.”
The Fairhaven emergency preparedness meeting is available on demand at https://www.fairhaventv. com, or use this direct link: https://livestream.com/fairhavenlive/events/7191980/videos/202878374
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Click here to download the entire 3/19/19 issue: 03-19-20 CandNight