Published March 18, 2020

By DAN TOMASELLO

LYNNFIELD — Local officials have taken a number of different steps to keep the community safe in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

During a press conference posted on the town of Lynnfield Vimeo page on Monday, Health Director Kristin Esposito McRae said the Board of Health has been working with federal, state, regional and local agencies throughout the outbreak.

“We are in constant communication with the state epidemiologist,” said McRae.

Town Administrator Rob Dolan told the School Committee on March 12 that the town formed an Emergency Management Team a year ago. He noted the team is led by Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director Glenn Davis and consists of the TA, McRae, Superintendent Jane Tremblay, Police Chief David Breen and DPW Director John Tomasz.

“The town was awarded a Community Compact grant from the state that gave us money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency,” said Dolan. “It has allowed us to implement a more formal and diverse Emergency Management Department. That team was created and meets regularly to discuss incidents that are as small as a neighborhood flood to something larger like this pandemic.”

Davis said during Monday’s press conference the town has opened an emergency operations center.

“This is how we share information across the platforms and are able to request resources and support as needed,” said Davis. “If people have questions about what is going on in town, we have created a dedicated email line which is emergencymanagement@town.lynnfield.ma.us. We also have a dedicated phone line at 781-334-8141 for people to call in with any questions related to town services or the COVID-19 issue as it progresses.”

As of Monday, Davis said there are no confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 in town, but six people have been diagnosed in Essex County.

“We would be notified immediately if anyone tests presumptive positive or confirmed positive in town,” said Davis.

As of Monday, Dolan said trash and recycling are running on a normal schedule this week.

Due to the vulnerability of people age 60 and older, Dolan said the Senior Center will be closed to the public until further notice.

“If you are senior citizen who has a question or needs assistance, whether it’s meals or care services, the Lynnfield Senior Center’s phones are manned,” said Dolan. “The Senior Center’s phone number is 781-598-1078.”

Dolan said seniors can contact Greater Lynn Senior Services at 781-599-0110 if they need additional assistance.

“They have teams on hand who can assist you,” said Dolan.

Dolan said the Lynnfield Public Library will be closed until further notice. He said Town Hall is closed to the public as well.

“The Police Department and Fire Department are both fully staffed,” said Dolan. “The DPW has been cut back, but is operating. Town Hall staff has been sent home, but department heads are working. If you have a question, call a department and leave a message about what your need is. Department heads will get back to you, but we ask that you be patient because our priority right now is this virus.”

If residents need to drop off a bill, forms or another type of correspondence, Dolan said townspeople can place them in a drop box at Town Hall that faces the parking lot.

“That is being checked several times a day,” said Dolan. “We ask you to put only checks and no cash in that lockbox.”

Dolan also said the town’s fields and parks are closed to the public.

“We need to close all of our playgrounds at this time,” said Dolan. “We had hundreds of people on our playgrounds this past weekend. The president of the United States has announced there can be crowds of no more than 10. Our governor stated there can be crowds of no more than 20. I am asking you to stay off all of the playing fields. They are closed for the health and well-being of this community at this time. We re-evaluate this consistently and when we are able to open up our parks, we will. We are not being punitive. We are following the lead of health professions and all levels of government to keep people away from crowds.”

Town Moderator Joe Markey stated in a letter to the editor that he is monitoring the COVID-19 situation. He said there is a possibility April Town Meeting could be postponed until a later date.

Davis encouraged residents to visit the CDC, Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Lynnfield Emergency Management websites in order to stay informed about COVID-19. The Emergency Management Team will continue sharing notices via the town website at www.town.lynnfield.ma.us and the town’s Facebook page.

“The Lynnfield Emergency Management website is updated daily with all of the current links,” said Davis during the School Committee’s meeting last week. “Don’t follow social media. Just because it’s on Facebook doesn’t make it true. Go to the source and get the facts.”

During Monday’s press conference, Davis encouraged townspeople to “be nice to one another” and to check on their neighbors, particularly if they are elderly.

“Make sure they are okay,” said Davis. “Practice social distancing. If you are sick, please stay home and don’t go to work.”

During last week’s School Committee meeting, Dolan thanked Assistant Town Administrator Bob Curtin for writing new releases that have been published on the town website and sent to this newspaper in order to update the community about the town’s response to COVID-19.

“I don’t know how to do that and Bob does that really, really well,” said Dolan.

Dolan encouraged residents to “stay safe.”