Joint Statement by Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui and City Manager Louis A. DePasquale on COVID-19 Emergency Measures

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The City of Cambridge has been deeply immersed in dealing with the containment of the Coronavirus crisis. We have closed schools, libraries, Department of Human Services Programs’ preschool and afterschool programs, youth and senior centers, and a number of other public facilities, and we have cancelled all permitted events. We will be closing City municipal buildings to the general public at 5 p.m., Monday, March 16, 2020, until further notice. City Hall will remain open for the City Council meeting, but all City departments at City Hall will be closed to the public starting at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 16, 2020. 

Our workforce is incredibly committed and responsive to ensuring the City can safely meet the needs of our community. We are particularly appreciative of our Public Health Department, City leadership team, and Public Safety officials in dealing with overall emergency preparedness.  There have been many excellent questions raised over the last week and we wanted to address action steps we will undertake over the next week:

  • Scaling the capacity of the City’s workforce and public bodies to conduct many non -public safety operations in virtual or remote environments;
    Creating and disseminating clear messaging for social distancing best practices for various populations, including out of school youth and young adults, and senior and other vulnerable populations;
  • Collaborating with the non- profit ecosystem on creating a systematic approach to coordinating donations and volunteerism to assist our various community needs;
    Integrating and monitoring state and federal resources as they are committed to ensure the City is maximizing the use of all available resources to assist our residents, particularly traditionally underserved populations such as our homeless and elderly communities;
  • Discussing the creation of a reserve fund for the Cambridge Health Alliance;
  • Communicating regularly with supermarkets and food stores to discuss operations and supply chain challenges. Governor Baker’s statewide restrictions issued on March 15 do not apply to grocery stores or pharmacies;
  • Enforcing and notifying businesses of Governor Baker’s statewide declaration that all bars and restaurants in Massachusetts will be shut down for on-premise consumption starting Tuesday, March 17 through Monday, April 6, although these establishments can continue to offer food for takeout or delivery. Retail stores can stay open as long as 25 people or fewer are present in them;
  • Educating the public of the Commonwealth’s ban on gatherings of 25 people or more including all community, civic, public, leisure, and faith-based events. This ban also includes sports games with spectators, concerts, conventions, fitness centers, gyms, private clubs, and cinemas and theaters;
  • Communicating with the small business and artist communities on potential resources and relief;
    Coordinating with our university and business community partners to enlist their support and cooperation and ensure coordination of response efforts; and
  • Establishing an ad hoc advisory working group to assist with the City’s planning and response efforts. This advisory working group, which will report to the Public Health Commissioner, will be comprised of subject matter experts, residents, healthcare providers and City staff to support the ongoing work of the Cambridge Public Health Department. The call for volunteers will be issued the week of March 16.

Aggressive social distancing is a proven public health strategy. It is the key to saving lives and resuming our lives in the future. The City has enlisted and will continue enlisting experts in matters of infectious disease, communication and emergency response and preparedness. We will communicate regularly and strongly encourage the public to regularly visit www.cambridgema.gov/covid19 for updates and resources. 

We need our entire community, in collaboration with state and federal agencies, to be involved in mitigating and slowing this pandemic. We know that the current situation will worsen before it improves. We want to ensure the public that the City’s team, your elected officials, and our community partners are thoughtfully approaching this rapidly evolving pandemic. We are committed to addressing the challenges and needs of the community today and into the future. Because of careful strong City management and sound fiscal policies set by the City Council, the City is in a financial position to strategically use our free cash reserves to support our COVID-19 pandemic response. We are here for you today and we are confident the Cambridge community will, as always, rise to the occasion to respond this challenge.

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Page was posted on 3/15/2020 9:49 PM
Page was last modified on 3/24/2020 3:06 PM
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