ROCHESTER — City Manager Blaine Cox and Mayor Caroline McCarley wish to provide the community with regular updates about the town’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency.
There are no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Rochester at this time.
Effective today, Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Mark Klose activated Rochester’s Emergency Operations Center, ensuring interoperability and seamless logistics and delivery of vital city services with representatives from multiple city agencies and departments in constant communication. The EOC will be staffed Monday through Friday with typical business hours until such a time where the need dictates otherwise. The EOC will allow staff from multiple city agencies as well as state agencies, utilities and federal agencies to work together with the City of Rochester. The Rochester Public Schools and local healthcare facilities are also in contact with the EOC.
Chief Klose has assumed Emergency Management duties full-time and named Assistant Chief Tim Wilder as the acting Fire Chief in charge of all Rochester Fire Department operations.
The Rochester Police and Fire Departments will continue to respond to all emergencies as normal. However, the departments will be limiting access to the police and fire stations to outside visitors for general, walk-in business until further notice.
The City also convened a meeting of its internal emergency response team led by Chief Klose and staffed by Cox, Health Officer Robert Veno, Deputy Fire Chief Adam Hughes, and clerical support staff. The City also formally named John Guilfoil, head of the city’s longtime communications agency, to the role of Public Information Officer for the COVID-19 crisis and shall be responsible for all media relations and shall oversee the preparation and dissemination of information to the public through the city’s information channels, including social media and RochesterPortal.com.
The city has also limited the public’s access to all public buildings and closed all police and fire station lobbies. The Rochester Police and Fire Departments have taken the following actions:
- Increasing the cleaning and sanitation of common touch points and surfaces
- All Rochester fire stations shall be fully cleaned every four hours until further notice
- Encouraging proper self-care and hygiene including frequently washing hands, ensuring bathrooms are stocked with hand washing materials and making cleaning products and sanitizers available
- Ensuring all personnel are fit-tested for masks
- Reviewing Contagious Diseases and Pandemic Planning and Response policies
- Reviewing the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Modifying medical response protocol
- Ensuring the department has ample supplies of PPE for medical responses
- The City has established an alternative dispatch center at the Gonic Fire Station in case of contamination at primary dispatch center at Police Headquarters.
These temporary measures will be reviewed on a continuous basis. When changes are necessary, they will be communicated to the public.
The city and its public health, human services and public safety officials are well-prepared to respond to the coronavirus situation, and officials prepare and train for public health emergencies regularly.
These precautionary measures are being taken to promote social distancing (at least 6 feet between people).
The situation is fluid and new information is being posted regularly by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New Hampshire Health & Human Services Department (NH-DHHS). The CDC offers the following guidance for how COVID-19 spreads:
- The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Can someone spread the virus without being sick?
- People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
- Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects:
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. As a precaution, it is recommended that residents clean things that are frequently touched (like doorknobs and countertops) with household cleaning spray or wipes.
Additional updates will be provided as information becomes available.