Plainville officials respond to COVID-19 threat

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As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, institutions across the state are deciding to close their doors to the public in the hopes of reducing the spread. Beginning this week, Town Manager Robert Lee announced that institutions, such as the Senior Center at 200 East Street and the public library at 56 E Main Street, were closed to the public for at least two weeks.

“At the end of two weeks, the COVID-19 situation will be evaluated and a decision will be made whether or not to re-open these buildings,” said Lee.

Gov. Ned Lamont held a news briefing on Sunday, March 15, where he shared updates regarding the state’s response to COVID-19.  As of his briefing that evening, additional cases of Connecticut residents had tested positive, bringing the total number of positive cases reported to 26, which were broken down by county and were as follows: 16 positive cases in Fairfield County, 3 in Hartford County, 4 in Litchfield County, and 3 in New Haven County.

Lamont signed an executive order which took several actions, firstly cancelling classes at all public schools statewide beginning on Tuesday, March 17, through at least Tuesday, March 31; announced last week, and still in effect under this order, students who receive meals under the school lunch and breakfast program “can continue receiving meals during this period and have the ability to consume them at home.”

Superintendent of Schools, Steven LePage, announced last week that Plainville Community Schools were closed as on Monday, March 16. As of Monday morning, the superintendent’s office said that schools were slated to reopen on Wednesday, April 1, and that the superintendent was still in contact with the Governor’s office.

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Lamont’s order will also provide flexibility for municipal budget deadlines; will authorize the Department of Motor Vehicles commissioner to close branches to the public, to conduct business remotely, and to extend deadlines; and will allow restrictions on visitor access to psychiatric facilities in order to protect vulnerable residents, patients and staff.

Wheeler Clinic updated the community via their social media, sharing four tips on the basics of infection control—“wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitizer; avoid touching your face; maintain as much social distance as you realistically can from others; and, stay home and call the clinic if you are ill,” with symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, or flu-like symptoms.

“We are adjusting our procedures in our in-home and community-based programs, community health centers, outpatient locations, and Navigation Center to screen for illness, and we will maintain services by phone and in person in the timeliest, most appropriate means possible,” Wheeler Clinic officials shared. “We are in close and regular contact with local, state, and federal officials. The health, safety, and well-being of our patients and staff is always our priority.”

The Wheeler Clinic Navigation Center can be contacted by calling (888) 793-3500.

The governor also requested the Small Business Administration to issue a declaration which would enable small business owners to receive disaster assistance. The Department of Revenue Services is extending the filing deadline for certain annual state business tax returns. And in response to the national shortage of hand sanitizer, the State of Connecticut issued a set of rules to pharmacies so they can begin producing and selling their own hand sanitizer while “ensuring its effectiveness and safety.”

For continued updates from the State of Connecticut regarding COVID-19, residents are encouraged to visit CT.gov/Coronavirus.

Lee and officials urge residents to look to the Plainville-Southington Heath District for updated information, which can be found by visiting PSHD.org. Health district director, Shane Lockwood, can also be reached by calling (860) 793-3419.

In the chance that Gov. Ned Lamont announces a state of emergency Lee said the town will “do what is necessary to comply with any orders,” and that specific actions will depend “on what is required” to determine “how fast we will be able to act.”

It was reported On Monday, March 16, that Gov. Lamont met with Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, and announced a regional approach to combating COVID-19 through the tri-state area. All three governors moved jointly to “shutter bars and restaurants in all three states to limit the community spread of Coronavirus disease.”

On Monday morning, they “were all issuing executive orders limiting food service to take out and delivery only in their states,” which went into effect as of 8 p.m. Monday night.  The order, which will be in effect indefinitely, will also close gyms and movie theaters. The three governors have also barred public gatherings of 50 or more people.

“We must do everything we can as a community to slow the spread of this virus so that we don’t overwhelm our healthcare system and we protect the most vulnerable,” said Lamont in a release. “Viruses do not know borders, which is why taking a regional approach on this issue is the best plan forward. A national approach to these measures would be the best option to slow and mitigate the spread of this virus.”

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at News@PlainvilleObserver.com.