New Year, New Idea: Part 2
I am a firm believer in keeping the public as informed as possible. Except for sensitive material (security, personnel based), I think the public has a right and a need to know what its local government knows.
Sharing information takes many forms. In the community in which I work, a program through an internet based provider allows for recorded messages to go out via phone calls on topics ranging from street closures to trash pick-up.
As a Fairhaven resident I routinely receive recorded calls regarding school issues, water concerns and in the last few months, testing provided by the Fire Department. Each of these calls is appreciated.
But what about Covid generally? I remember receiving one call in the early days but nothing since. To be fair, I may have missed them but I do know there is no regular sharing of information via the reverse call system because my phone never rings. The town’s website does provide very basic Covid information but unless you know where to look it could be easily overlooked.
Some communities, Acushnet and New Bedford for example, send weekly messages on a particular day at a particular time. This allows the residents to get accustomed to receiving calls. Updated information is provided on the total number of new positive cases identified that week, changes in the state data, advice on personal protection practices, testing schedules and locations as well as other Covid specific information. I am personally aware of one such community’s efforts as I am the person given the responsibility of co-writing and recording the weekly message.
A recent informal survey found most of the responding residents in a neighboring town appreciate these calls. They commented on these calls being “useful,” as well as helping “keep families informed.” One comment received stated that the weekly calls made them “feel connected,” as a community.
To be fair, not all comments were positive as some respondents stated that the information shared can be found elsewhere or it wasn’t detailed enough (number of deaths, hospitalizations, repeat test numbers, false positives).
These types of calls are passive in nature. You don’t need to listen. You can hang up if you want. But if you are like me and appreciate information, like knowing if things are getting better or getting worse, wonder what the game plan is regarding public access to vaccine then these calls are indeed “useful,” will help “keep your family informed,” and may make you “feel connected,” as a community.
A new idea: weekly phone recorded messages from the town to all Fairhaven residents providing Covid related updates.
I know it is easy to do and I know most will appreciate the effort.
Kevin Gallagher, Fairhaven, Candidate for Board of Health.
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