WHITMAN — Town Administrator Frank Lynam, asked by Selectmen Chairman Carl Kowalski to collect and review information available on the global COVID-19 outbreak, held conference calls Tuesday, March 11 with public safety and schools on the town’s approach to the situation.
The schools, police and fire chiefs and Board of Health have all posted information on the illness on their respective web pages, but Lynam said the town will be re-posting it to make access to simple recommendations on keeping healthy easier to access.
Information sheets will also be placed at the Whitman Public Library and Council on Aging and other public locations for residents without computer acesss.
“It occurred to me that we’ve got to make it as simple as possible for our citizens to be up-to-date on both prevention and treatment protocols,” Kowalski said during the March 11 Selectmen’s meeting. “It made sense to me that the Board of Health would be the place where the citizens of the town know to go for information on the Coronavirus.”
Lynam said his research has shown that there is so much information out there that is “sort of right, but nobody agrees.” He read reports on COVID-19 on the websites of Johns Hopkins, the Center for Systems Sciences and the Centers of Disease Control.
“Presumably, the CDC would be the ultimate authority for information,” Lynam said. “Everyone has different counts, different numbers, different trends. The bottom line is people have to exercise common sense,”
Town Hall is cleaning all surfaces people come in contact with in the morning and afternoon — hand railings, doorknobs, bathrooms.
“But the best thing people can do is avoid being in crowds and wash their hands 20 seconds at a time, as frequently as necessary when they come in contact with people,” Lynam said. “That’s our only line of defense. This is a flu, like any other one. It just seems to be moving more quickly than anything we’ve seen in the past.”
Selectman Justin Evans said he was asked how would town employees’ sick days be affected if they were exposed and had to self-quarantine for two weeks.
Lynam said that, while they would likely burn through their sick time, he does not necessarily think the town would automatically cut them off if they needed if for other illness.
“I don’t think we’d leave anyone hanging out there, and that’s something we have to address as a board in subsequent meetings,” he said. “It’s really important that, if people suspect they’re coming down with a virus, flu or otherwise, they stay home, because it’s not going to help anyone else if they’re here.”
The virus is unique in that there is no runny nose, as is typical of a cold. COVID-19 is manifested by a dry, hacking cough and no runny nose.
The board voted to appoint Lynam, Evans, Finance Committee Chairman Richard Anderson and resident Christopher George, as a citizen at-large, to a WHRSD Regional Agreement Review Committee,
In other business, interviews for a new Recreation Director will be scheduled with people not yet interviewed for the position, as some voting members were not present during a meeting at which interviews for candidates were scheduled.