NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and other officials announced Friday that a state of emergency now exists in the city due to the novel coronavirus.
“I want to begin by saying that the virus is coming, if it’s not already here. While there has yet to be a confirmed case in Greater New Bedford, we should not be fooled,” Mitchell said. “We know, based on the recent outbreaks in China, Italy and other places, the virus has the potential to spread faster than our healthcare system can address.”
Mitchell said the declaration allows him to take steps to ensure public safety and expedite the procurement of goods and services. He also noted that the city is in contact with health experts and their decisions are based upon their recommendations.
“Our work here is about serious preparation, not panic,” he said. “Each of us has a role to play to ensure the health and safety of our fellow New Bedfordites. I thank you in advance for your understanding, but more importantly, for the role you play in this collective effort.”
Mitchell offered the following guidelines for residents, city employees and events:
- All non-essential public community events involving 100 people or more should be postponed or canceled, including Mitchell’s State of the City address.
- All special event permits will be reviewed starting on Monday. All permits for indoor activities greater than 100 people will be revoked. Events of that size that don’t require a permit are strongly discouraged from being held.
- Superintendent Thomas Anderson announced similar actions for school events.
City Facilities and Board/Commission Meetings:
- Starting Monday, all senior centers will be closed until further notice. The adult day facility in Brooklawn Park will also be closed but plans to provide the families of the facility’s patrons a reasonable opportunity to find alternate care during the day.
- All indoor events at the Buttonwood Park Zoo will be postponed or canceled.
- The city will take every step consistent with the law to minimize the attendance at board and commission meetings, including the deferring of items for which board action is not urgent.
- The city’s custodial staff is strenuously cleaning buildings.
- All out-of-state employee travel through the end of April will be postponed or canceled, as well as any non-essential employee travel of greater than 20 miles. The superintendent announced a similar curtailment of school field trips.
- The city is advising department heads that employees whose duties and responsibilities allow them to work at home, should make arrangements to do so.
- The city strongly encourages all employers to employ similar protections and accommodations for their employees.
Paying bills online or by mail:
To decrease person-to-person contact in public buildings, and help protect the health of employees and residents, Mitchell encouraged residents to pay bills remotely, either online or by mail.
Payments can be made on the city’s website by selecting “Pay Bills” directly on the home page.
To mail payments, residents can use the mailing address printed on their bills or mail their bills directly to the City Treasurer at City Hall – Treasurer’s Office, 133 William Street, Room 103, New Bedford, MA 02740.