Good afternoon Fitchburg,
The echo, rumbling, and sounds of unity were heard across the Commonwealth on Wednesday, when four F-15 jets from the 104th Fighter Wing, based at the Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield flew over major hospitals and field hospitals across the state. These F-15 jets saluted, celebrated, and honored our first responders and health care workers who have been working the front lines of this national pandemic. Fittingly, we also celebrated the contributions, commitments, and work of our nurses by recognizing National Nurses Day. Once again, thank you to all our essential staff, public safety personnel, and health care workers for the work that you do for the residents of Fitchburg.
Last Friday, Governor Baker issued an Executive Order requiring face coverings in Public places where social distancing is not possible. Effective on Wednesday May 6, 2020, any person over the age of two who is in a place open to the public in the Commonwealth, whether indoors or outdoors, and is unable to or does not maintain a distance of approximately six feet from every other person shall cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth covering, unless a person is unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a medical condition. In addition, all persons are required to wear masks or cloth coverings at all times while inside grocery stores, pharmacies, retail stores, or while using transportation services and within transit stops or waiting areas. If a customer refuses to wear a mask or cloth face covering for non-medical reasons, a business may decline entry to the individual.
This afternoon, our Board of Health met during an emergency meeting and accepted the Director of Public Health’s order requiring face coverings in public places where social distancing is not possible pursuant to Governor Baker’s orders. I am very proud of the cooperation and patience of all of our city residents these past two months. I am once again asking for your help. Please, for the health and safety of yourself, the general public, and our first responders, I ask for your cooperation and wear a face covering under these orders. You all have done a terrific job so far these past eight weeks, particularly handling all the drastic changes we have accepted as part of our daily lives. Our efforts, teamwork, and patience will collectively bring us one step closer to gaining normalcy.
As of 1pm today, there are a total of 314 positive COVID-19 cases in Fitchburg, of which 115 are now recovered. The City is continuing to work with the Commonwealth’s Mobile Testing Program to provide access to testing for nursing homes, rest homes, and assisted living facilities. Our Health Director and Public Nurses have continued to interview and work with each nursing home facility in Fitchburg to help understand their operating procedures and identify facility operations. Nursing homes will be in-person audited by the Department of Public Health to determine any needs regarding staffing levels, infection control, and other performance control measures. Furthermore, I would like to encourage residents to utilize the Nursing Home Family Resource Line. This resource line will connect family members of nursing home and rest home residents with information and resources they need during the COVID-19 outbreak, please dial 617-660-5399. For all other COVID-19 related questions, our Montachusett Public Health Network Hotline is still available and can be reached at 1-844-968-3323. I would like to once again recognize and thank all the public health nurses and volunteers who are manning the phones, conducting interviews, and providing overall support to our Health Department. Their important work has been a crucial resource to our residents.
Yesterday, I joined signing a letter with Salem Mayor, Kim Driscoll, asking the Governor and his Reopening Advisory Board to consider allowing marijuana retailers to open on May 18 for sales to take place in a similar manner to restaurants, liquor stores, and other retail establishments. With cities and towns across the Commonwealth facing budget hurdles from loss of revenues, this consideration and early return to adult use marijuana sales will help alleviate much needed revenue without any negative impacts on public health and safety, as related to COVID-19.
Late last week, Heather Takle, CEO and President of the City’s energy buying consortium, Power Options, presented the City with a small grant and PPE supplies for our public safety personnel. A special thank you to Power Options as this funding and supplies will go great lengths in protecting our municipal departments as we continue to fight the spread of COVID-19.
With every day that passes, I am amazed by the generosity of our residents and businesses who are willing to offer their time, money, and expertise for the benefit of the residents of Fitchburg. An “all in this together” attitude helping each other, each and every day.
Fitchburg Emergency Management in coordination with Mayor Dean Mazzarella and Leominster CERT, and most importantly a generous anonymous donor, Fitchburg will have face masks available for our residents. Next week, Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm at our Municipal Offices, at 166 Boulder Drive, there will be a tent set up for distribution in our parking lot. Residents will not have to leave their vehicles for pick-up, masks will be available as supplies last.
I would like to thank JR Glass, for stepping up and donating much of their time and resources to install Plexiglas at service counters in our municipal buildings. Also, this week Great Wolf Lodge announced in recognition of National Nurses Month, they are launching our Nights for Nurses promotion. For every room booked, they will donate a room night to a registered nurse, up to 10,000 total room nights, so nurses can enjoy some much-deserved time with their families. Even Fitchburg’s nine-year-old, Meghan Seney, has sewn 624 cloth masks, and have been donating them to medical professionals in her family’s church. I am inspired by this generosity and commitment to our community, and on behalf of the City of Fitchburg, I thank you all.
I would also like to continue to thank our city personnel, who have been continuing to provide much needed services to our city, so that we can all enjoy the necessities of everyday life.
This coming weekend, many of us will not be able to embrace and celebrate our mothers as we traditionally would on Mother’s Day. However, mothers everywhere are still doing incredible work, particularly now, being full time parents, employees, and now helping educate their children as they study from home. To mothers everywhere, biological or otherwise, thank you and Happy Mother’s Day.
Mayor Stephen L. DiNatale