ESSEX — Emergency Management Director and Fire Chief Daniel Doucette, Police Chief Paul Francis and Town Administrator Brendhan Zubricki seek to provide regular updates to the citizens of Essex on the evolving worldwide COVID-19 crisis and its effects locally.
There are two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Essex.
Essex public health officials were notified by DPH of the positive test results and have been in contact with both residents. The people with COVID-19 are in isolation and are recovering at home, per DPH guidelines. Public health officials are conducting contact tracing to identify and give guidelines to anyone who has been in close contact with the cases.
In order to protect the residents’ medical privacy rights, no additional information will be disclosed about the people with COVID-19.
Social Distancing and Hygiene
The Town of Essex encourages residents to practice social distancing, and the town is urging private organizations to consider cancelling or rescheduling events that would gather large numbers of people or result in groups of people being in close proximity.
Social distancing means remaining at least six feet away from others, and Governor Baker has temporarily banned gatherings of more than 10 people.
Stress and Anxiety
The COVID-19 outbreak and fear of becoming ill can cause stress and panic for people. The stress of losing work and having to constantly provide attention to likely confused children who do not understand the concept of social distancing can add serious stress for parents and children alike.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are many ways to manage anxiety and stress about the situation:
- Share the facts about COVID-19 to understand the actual risk to yourself and other individuals. When you share accurate information about COVID-19 you can help make people feel less stressed and allow you to connect with them.
- Avoid posting or re-posting unverified information, claims, bogus medical information or conspiracy theories, as it only works to heighten emotions
- Take breaks from listening, watching and reading the news.
- Tend to your body. Stretch, mediate and take deep breaths. Try to eat well-balanced meals, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Try to do other activities that are enjoyable.
- Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
- Reassure children and teens that they are safe and that it is okay if they feel upset or stressed.
- Be a role model to children and teens. Connect with friends and families while abiding to social distancing standards, including the use of video calling services like FaceTime.
Local Behavioral Health Resources
Children’s Friend and Family Services, a division of the Justice Resource Initiative (JRI) is fully operational and is accepting referrals and continuing to see patients via telehealth resources. They accept MassHealth. They can be reached at 978-283-7198.
Beth Israel Lahey Health Behavioral Services is also offering all services using telehealth Community Service Agency, In Home Therapy, and Outpatient.
Police, Fire and EMS Services
The Essex Police and Fire Departments are fully staffed and prepared to respond to any emergencies. Officers, firefighters and medics may appear different and may be wearing additional personal protective equipment (PPE) when responding to calls and their interactions with the public will be different, out of an abundance of caution and for the safety of first responders.
If emergency fire or medical services are needed, residents should inform the 911 dispatcher if they or anyone they have been in contact with is experiencing signs and symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 virus. The dispatcher should also be alerted if individuals or anyone they live with or have come in contact with have been required to self-quarantine.
When requesting police, fire or emergency medical services, when possible, safe and feasible, residents may also be asked to meet first responders outside their homes.
All facilities, public buildings, parks and playgrounds in Essex are closed to the public, including Town Hall, Library, as well as all school and town playgrounds.
Essential staff continue to work in the Town of Essex. Residents should plan to conduct their business with the town either by email or over the phone. Visit the Town’s website at essexma.org.
As always, if anyone displays symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever, cough or shortness of breath, they should not come to work or school and they are advised to contact their primary care physician.
The DPH recommends that residents continue with good hygiene practices including:
- Practice good hand hygiene. 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.
- Avoid social gatherings with large groups, particularly if you are over the age of 60, have underlying health conditions, a weakened immune system or are pregnant.
COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, has been declared a Global Pandemic by the World Health Organization and has moved Governor Baker to declare a State of Emergency and President Donald Trump to declare a National Emergency.
Residents are asked NOT to dial 911 for questions or concerns about coronavirus/COVID-19. The state has also set up the phone number 211 to answer questions that residents may have concerning COVID-19. If someone feels sick, they are asked to call their primary care provider as a first point of contact. The Essex Board of Health is reachable at 978-768-7614.