BROOKLINE — The Brookline Select Board, Town Administrator Mel Kleckner and Director of Health and Human Services Dr. Swannie Jett wish to provide the community with several important updates about the town’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency.
There are now 13 positive cases of COVID-19 in Brookline, according to the Department of Brookline Public Health.
The Town of Brookline’s COVID-19 website, BrooklineCOVID19.com, is updated regularly with a variety of information about the emergency’s impact on services and the community.
Public Forum Hosted by Brookline’s Health Advisors
The Advisory Council of Public Health will host a Virtual Town Hall live via Brookline Interactive Group’s Youtube and Facebook pages, which can be accessed by visiting brooklineinteractive.org/live.
The meeting will take place Tuesday, March 24, beginning at 4 p.m. Residents can ask questions ahead of time by using the hashtag #AskBrooklineCOVID19 on Twitter, or by commenting on the live videos on YouTube and Facebook.
State Government Urges Residents to Stay Home
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, at the direction of Gov. Charlie Baker, has issued a stay at home advisory for all Massachusetts residents through at least April 7.
Individuals are strongly urged to remain home whenever possible, and to keep their distance from others if they do go out for items like groceries or other essentials.
Non-Essential Businesses Ordered Closed
Gov. Baker also announced Monday that all non-essential businesses statewide are ordered to cease in-person operations by noon Tuesday, March 24 until noon Tuesday, April 7.
Certain businesses are exempt from the order to close brick-and-mortar locations, including grocery stores, package stores, pharmacies and restaurants — which can continue to operate on a takeout and delivery basis. However, any business not deemed essential by the administration must not open its doors to workers or customers and is encouraged to continue operating remotely if possible.
Click here for a full list of services the administration has deemed essential.
Schools Introducing Remote Learning
Brookline educators will introduce remote learning this week for their students. In keeping with Department of Elementary and Secondary Education guidance, remote learning will not serve as a substitute for school or replicate classroom instruction. However, the programming will build upon previously covered material and serve to keep students engaged with their school community.
School principals and educators will reach out to their respective school communities with more details about each school’s approach to learning in the coming days.
Remember: No Age Group is Immune to COVID-19
The Massachsuetts Department of Public Health confirmed over the weekend that the majority of confirmed COVID-19 cases are in individuals under the age of 50.
While older people and those with underlying health conditions are most at risk, the Department of Brookline Public Health emphasizes that nobody is immune from COVID-19, and that even those who carry the virus but do not get sick can harm others — perhaps irreversibly — if they fail to adhere to the social distancing protocols recommended by health officials.
“The only way for us to effectively combat this virus and slow the spread is by staying home and avoiding close contact with others, putting our community’s well being ahead of our own self interest,” Dr. Jett said. “Those who carry the virus and spread it by failing to realize, or simply failing to care enough about the seriousness of COVID-19, pose just as significant a threat to everyone they come across as the virus itself.”
Subscribe to BrooklineCOVID19.com for Regular Updates
Members of the community are encouraged to subscribe to the town’s dedicated COVID-19 website, BrooklineCOVID19.com, to recieve updates as they are made available. To subscribe, visit brooklineCOVID19.com/subscribe.
Brookline Restaurants are Open
The Brookline Chamber of Commerce has compiled a list of restaurants and eateries that remain open for takeout or delivery in town. To view the list, visit brooklinechamber.com.
Special Shopping Hours for At-Risk Residents
Many Massachusetts grocery chains have set aside times for elderly or otherwise at-risk residents to shop in their stores. You can see those hours listed here.
Additional Updates and Information, In Case You Missed Them
Tax Relief for Businesses
Governor Baker’s office announced tax penalty relief to support businesses affected by COVID-19. The Department of Revenue today announced that it will waive any late-file or late-pay penalties for returns and payment due for meals and room occupancy taxes between March 20 and May 31, 2020.
Information for Those Seeking to Volunteer
The town has received numerous inquiries from members of the public, including retired staff members, who have expressed an interest in volunteering to assist during the COVID-19 emergency.
To help streamline the effort to mobilize volunteers as appropriate, those interested in volunteering are asked to fill out this form online.
Brookline COVID-19 Call Center Remains Open
For general COVID-19 questions not specific to the Town of Brookline, please call the state 211 line.
The Town of Brookline has established a call center in order for residents to ask non-medical questions specific to COVID-19 in Brookline. The call center will be staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The number for the call center is 617-879-5636. The call center will continue to be fully staffed through at least the end of next week.
Residents seeking answers to Brookline-specific medical or public health inquiries should continue to contact the Department of Brookline Public Health at 617-730-2300.
Messages left after hours will be returned as soon as possible. Residents can also email their non-medical inquiries to: [email protected].
Remember, in the case of emergencies, please call 911.
Smoke Alarm Inspections Suspended
Governor Charlie Baker’s office issued an order making a change to the inspection statutes that require a smoke and carbon dioxide alarm inspection prior to a residential real estate transaction. The Order would permit the inspection to be deferred if the buyer contractually assumes responsibility for installing the detectors and the subsequent inspection happens within 90 days of the conclusion of the COVID-19 emergency.
Submit Medical Questions by Email
Residents may submit their medical questions related to COVID-19 via email to [email protected].
Resources for Students
The Public Schools of Brookline have made resources available to help students and parents cope with the interruption to students’ learning and routines.
For more information and to download those resources, click here.
Beginning on Friday, March 20, from noon to 1:30 p.m., families who do not have a working digital device at home can pick up a free school-issued Chromebook to borrow while schools remain closed. Interested families should complete a request form online.
Families that do have a home computer or device that provides students adequate access to online resources are asked not to request a Chromebook.
Additionally, Comcast will be providing two months of free internet service to qualifying families through its Internet Essential program. Click here to learn more and apply.
Emergency Parking Rules in Place
For details about emergency parking rules currently in effect, visit brooklinecovid19.com/emergency-parking-rules/.
Prevention and What to Do if You Feel Sick
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Department of Brookline Public Health have stated that seniors and those with chronic health conditions are the most at-risk for serious illness caused by the coronavirus; they urge that those in this vulnerable population take appropriate precautions to mitigate their risk of becoming sick. As has been widely suggested, any person who believes they may be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their primary care physician immediately.
Federal, state and local health leaders all encourage residents to actively take part in social distancing — avoiding close physical contact with others, especially gatherings of 10 people or more, and working from home — in order to slow the spread of the virus.
Reported symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath and respiratory illness, including pneumonia in severe cases.
If anyone displays symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever, cough or shortness of breath, they should stay home and they are advised to contact their primary care physician. According to the CDC, symptoms of the virus appear within 2-14 days of exposure.
If you feel sick, the CDC recommends:
- Calling your primary care physician before visiting them in person
- Staying home and limiting your contact with others
- Wearing a facemask if you are sick. Masks are not recommended for widespread use by healthy people.
Brookline Public Health recommends that residents continue with good hygiene practices including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds including under your fingernails. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol content) can be used when soap and water are not available.
- Keep your hands away from your face.
- Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing with a tissue and discard it immediately. Cough into the sleeve over your elbow instead of your hand. Wash your hands often when coughing and sneezing.
- Stay away from people who are sick and stay home when you are sick.
Free and Reduced Lunch for Brookline Students
Free and reduced price lunches are available for qualifying families on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the period that schools are closed. For information on school lunches, including when and where to pick up lunch for your student, click here.
To order lunch online, click here.
Brookline Food Pantry Update
For more information about the Brookline Food Pantry’s response to COVID-19, and to sign up for its Brookline Thrives program, visit brooklinefoodpantry.org.
The Brookline Department of Economic Development and Long Term Planning is actively working to engage businesses and ensure their needs are met to the fullest extent possible, and minimize the impact of COVID-related regulations.
For the latest information on resources available to businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, click here.
Active Town Closures/Cancellations
Town offices, including Town Hall, are closed in order to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19. Town departments are continuing to function, with staff working remotely whenever possible.
For updates on active closures and cancellations, visit brooklinecovid19.com/active-closures/.