With COVID-19 now recognized as a global pandemic, and with the City of Pittsfield and parts of Berkshire County now impacted, Mayor Linda Tyer announced Thursday morning during a press conference that a local Emergency Declaration was in immediate effect for Pittsfield. Additionally, the mayor issued specific guidelines for city employees and city operations during a 30-day timeframe.
“The health and well-being of every Pittsfielder and our Berkshire neighbors is my greatest concern. We have made a number of decisions that we are sharing with our community today. This action plan is based current conditions. As we all know, the situation is fluid and our actions will be adjusted as the circumstances dictate,” the mayor said.
“Our goals are twofold: implementing appropriate municipal actions and issuing recommendations to the community in order to contain the spread of COVID-19. For as long as possible, we will maintain essential services while protecting public health. This action plan will remain in effect for the next 30 days unless otherwise amended or extended,” she said.
The Emergency Declaration is an administrative tool that allows municipal government to access state and federal resources to better serve the community as COVID-19 evolves.
“I want to emphasize that this is an administrative tool that will allow us to more quickly and efficiently utilize and coordinate municipal services, equipment, supplies, and facilities,” she said. “It allows us to be nimble and responsive as circumstances require. Furthermore, the declaration also triggers the establishment of a unified command that will be comprised of senior level city officials for the purposes of tracking, monitoring, planning, and executing our actions.”
Earlier this month, Mayor Tyer established the city’s COVID-19 Preparedness Planning Team to effectively organize and plan the city’s response to this public health emergency. As part of its work, members of the group has participated in several discussions with local, state, and federal public health officials on recommended protocols and protective measures.
In addition to the declaration, recommendations and guidance pertaining to city employees and city operations reflect this collaborative input. The mayor encouraged businesses and community organizations to implement similar measures, as appropriate.
The following are in effect immediately for all City of Pittsfield employees. The mayor encourages businesses and community organizations to implement similar measures:
1. No travel outside of the Berkshires, and preferably Pittsfield, for any work-related purposes.
2. Conduct meetings virtually or by conference call. For the time being this does not apply to the City Council, School Committee, or Boards and Commissions. However, limited agendas or postponements are encouraged.
3. Stay home when sick with flu-like or respiratory symptoms.
4. Using sick time will be waived for employees if it is determined by public health officials that the employee has been identified as COVID-19 positive or requires quarantine based upon public health guidelines.
5. Maintain personal hygiene practices and begin social distancing.
a. Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
b. Avoid touching your face.
c. Clean things that are frequently touched like doorknobs, countertops, and light switches, with disinfectant cleaning spray or wipes.
d. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
6. City employees are asked to implement more stringent cleaning practices in their workspaces. Supplies will be made available through the building maintenance department.
7. Reconsider personal travel outside of the United States.
8. Reconsider personal attendance at large scale events.
9. For the next 30 days, the City of Pittsfield will not issue any special event permits. Organizers of currently approved events should consider postponing or cancelling.
At this time, the city is not closing public buildings such as the senior center, library, city hall, and schools. However, these decisions are all subject to change based, the mayor said.
For reliable information, the public is encouraged to use sources such as the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
Additionally, a COVID-19 link is available on the home page of the city’s website, cityofpittsfield.org, and will feature continuous updates from the city. The public is also encouraged to use the subscription service to receive a notification when a new update from the city is available and also sign up for CodeRED. Pittsfield Public Schools also has a COVID-19 page on its website, pittsfield.net, for updated school schedules and information.
For more information, please contact Roberta McCulloch-Dews, Director of Administrative Services, Office of the Mayor, 413-499-9322.