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COVID-19 Update for Wednesday, April 22

Apr 16, 2020 10:00AM ● By Pamela Johnson
NOTE: The latest updates are shown in bold, italic type.

THE LATEST:  As of Wednesday, April 22, Bellingham has 59 confirmed cases of coronavirus. The number of casualties remains at two. The Board of Health is in the process of implementing mandatory mask-wearing in public, and the Governor has ordered schools to remain closed through the end of the school year. School Superintendent Peter Marano has Zoom meetings scheduled, and parents are being notified.

"THERE IS NO SUCH THING A FLUSHABLE WIPE!" says Chris Lanoue of ADC Septic.
The Bellingham Department of Public Works agrees and has cautioned residents against flushing disinfecting wipes. Not only will they cause havoc with septic systems, they will also clog town pumps. Please dispose of them in the trash.

Out of 16,000 residents, only a little over 1% of the town's population has been tested, so social distancing continues to be imperative. Because there is a lack of visible symptoms in the early days of contamination and with so few tests having been done, anyone could have it and you would not be able to tell, so it's best to assume that everyone you come in contact with may have it or be a carrier. Please wear a mask and gloves when shopping and observe the six-foot distancing guidelines so that, if you are a carrier, you won't spread it to others.  

Bellingham’s municipal operations have been scaled back in response to Governor Baker’s State of Emergency declaration on March 11 and, after consultation with town emergency management officials, will remain that way until further notice. Schools will remain closed through the end of this school year.

In accordance with Governor Baker’s Legislative Act, the Board of Selectmen have voted to reschedule the Annual Town Election to Tuesday June 9th,  and the Annual Town Meeting to Monday, June 22nd.  The Town Clerk has noted that the last day to register to vote is now FRIDAY, MAY 29.

See separate article on tax extension deadlines.

Municipal Center

Business with the town requiring an in-person transaction may be conducted only by appointment through each department. Residents are encouraged to use the online services and the drop-box outside of the Municipal Center for bill payment. Town offices will continue to be staffed, but one-on-one contact will be limited throughout all town buildings.
All non-essential meetings have been postponed (and at Bulletin deadline, the very real possibility of postponing the Annual Town Meeting and town election until June were actively being discussed). Please check the town calendar at www.BellinghamMA.org or visit www.BellinghamBulletin.com for up-to-date information. Residents should visit the town website for tax payment information as well.

Police Department

From Bellingham Police Chief Gerard L. Daigle:

It is impossible for police officers to eliminate all contact with the public. Our role as peace officers is essential to the community and we will continue to respond to emergency calls for service as we always have. Please review the following enacted changes that will affect the community.

Police Station Accessibility—Until further notice, we are asking the public to avoid coming into the lobby of the police station for non-emergency business. If you have business with us that can be resolved over the phone, please call 508-966-1212 or -1515. If you need a copy of a report, please call and we will mail or email a copy to you. Please continue to use 911 for all emergencies and medical calls.
Tours of Station and Food Donations—All tours of the station and food donations to the police department are suspended until further notice.
Firearms Licensing/Citizen Fingerprinting Requests—The processing for renewals of firearms licenses will continue but we request you call before dropping off the application. The picture needed to complete the renewal will occur on a later date to be determined. All new license applications and citizen fingerprinting requests are suspended until further notice.
Solicitor Permits—No new permits will be issued until further notice.
Traffic Safety—We urge the public to obey all speed limits and be extra careful of people walking and biking around town.
For more information, call 508-966-1515.

Fire Department

ALL PERMITTING AND INSPECTIONS CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, per order of the Governor. The Fire Department will no longer offer smoke and carbon monoxide inspections.

If you need to have the fire department at your home, please wear a covering over your nose and mouth.

The Fire Department is also suspending all public visits to the station such as station tours. If you need to apply for a permit, please call the station and we will make every effort to accommodate your needs. Again, checks only; no cash. Open burning fees will be waived for this year. Please call the station for your permit and a number will be given to you over the phone. The station will remain open for emergency walk-in calls, and as a Baby Safe Haven site.
For more information, call 508-966-1112.

Council on Aging/Senior Center

UPDATE: The Senior Center/GATRA is no longer providing transportation until further notice.

IMPORTANT: Please do not post requests for help on social media! If you need help with grocery shopping, medications, meals, etc., call the senior center at 508-966-0398. Posting on social media is an invitation to scammers; don't make yourself vulnerable to possible abuse of any kind.
 
The Senior Center has also been closed until further notice in order to prevent the spread of this virus and protect our most vulnerable population—senior citizens. The following services are still being provided:

TRANSPORTATION: We will continue to provide our transportation services for medical appointments, employment and grocery shopping (Tuesdays & Fridays); 24-hour notice is needed for all rides. Please call the transportation line at 508-657-2709, not the main number for the senior center.

SHINE (Serving the Health Information Needs of Everyone): We will continue to book appointments that will take place via phone with SHINE volunteer Jean Roy.

OUTREACH and SOCIAL SERVICES: Our outreach staff are available by phone for consultation, or in person for urgent issues (must call ahead). The outreach team can assist you with fuel assistance, and food-stamp applications. Please call 508-966-0398 for assistance with any of these services; other limited services may be provided by appointment only. Call for more information.

The senior center has a list of community members who have volunteered to provide seniors with assistance if needed.

“In these uncertain times, the only thing that I am certain of is that we will be there for you in your time of need,” said Senior Center Director Josie Dutil.

Bellingham Public Library

While the library is closed, its staff will continue to offer services by email and telephone voicemail. Please call 508-657-2776 and leave a voicemail message. We will respond to emails and phone calls within 48 hours, Monday through Friday.
   
Library patrons should know that statewide delivery of books and library materials has been cancelled; any items on your account that are in transit or on the hold shelf will remain there until the library reopens and statewide delivery resumes.
   
The book dropoff is closed, so please enjoy items you have out until the library reopens. Please do not return items to the library; keep them until it reopens. There will be no fines on library materials; all fines will be waived. Also, the library will be expanding its Overdrive eBook Collection.  And keep an eye out for Mr. Steve on Facebook!
   
Contact us to get a temporary library card if don’t already have one. This will give you access to eBooks and eMagazines, downloadable audio and other electronic resources.
If you have any issues accessing your account, or if you need help accessing Overdrive, our eBook service, or any other electronic resources, please call 508-657-2776.
Bellingham Parks and Recreation
   
All fields and playgrounds will be closed until further notice. Silver Lake and Arcand Park will be closed until at least April 15th. (Conditions will be evaluated at that time to determine if/when reopening will happen or be postponed).

Bellingham Recycle Center

The recycling center, located on Maple Street, will be will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., FOR YARD WASTE ONLY.
(Check the town website or www.BellinghamBulletin.com for notice of full reopening date.)
DPW. Please visit the Department of Public Works Facebooks page for specific information on the department’s activities.

NOTE: Effective April 8th, the collection of bulky items and white goods at the curbside will be temporarily discontinued due to safety concerns for our drivers. The collection of trash and recycling will not be affected.

Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC)

Bellingham’s emergency management officials are in constant contact with federal, state, and local agencies to receive the latest information and recommendations. The town website (www.BellinghamMA.org) will continually be updated and Reverse-911 announcements issued as conditions warrant. (Note: we will also post up-to-date information at www.BellinghamBulletin.com.)   

According to the Health Agent Bruce Wilson, supermarkets in Bellingham have instituted one-way aisles in order to better facilitate social distancing among shoppers. Please pay attention to the direction of the arrows and help keep everyone safe.

Additional Resources

If you are seeking additional information, please use the links below.
• Massachusetts Department of Public Health:
https://www.mass.gov/orgs/department-of-public-health   
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/    Bellingham Public Schools, click here
• Bellingham Board of Health:
https://www.bellinghamma.org/board-health
   
To reach a member of the town’s virus response team, please email [email protected].
   
For more information and helpful links to COVID-19-related sites, visit our state rep's website at [email protected].

To subscribe to Bellingham’s Emergency Alert Notification system (for telephone notifications) visit: https://public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/F72A5BC83595.

 

 

 

 

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