BROOKLINE — The Town of Brookline seeks to continuously update its residents on local preparedness efforts and impacts from the ongoing nationwide novel coronavirus situation.
There are currently 218 positive cases of coronavirus that have been identified among Brookline residents, and six of those people have died after becoming ill.
Select Board Provides Additional Guidance Regarding Face Covering Requirement
The Select Board wishes to provide additionalguidance for residents and visitors related to the Brookline Department of Public Health’s requirement that individuals cover their faces while in public spaces.
For the Select Board’s full guidance on this issue, visit BrooklineCOVID19.com/face-coverings.
An abridged version of the guidance is below:
- COVID-19 Kills: To prevent unnecessary deaths, especially of the elderly and people with serious health conditions, the Brookline Select Board urges all Brookline residents to stay home to save lives; except for occasionally going outside to perform essential tasks. While the town will not seek to name every task that qualifies as essential, it’s incumbent upon residents to use good judgment and wear a face covering at all times when outside of their homes.
- Why We Require Face Coverings Now: Recent studies have shown that a significant portion of individuals with the COVID-19 virus lack symptoms and can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity in many settings. This is primarily to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms. By preventing the transmission of the virus by people who are asymptomatic, we can quickly reduce the transmission rate to below one transmission per infected person, which will result in containment of the virus and a quicker return to normal.
- Types of Appropriate Face Coverings: Surgical masks and N95 respirators are in short supply and should be reserved for healthcare workers or other medical first responders. Other people should use consumer marketed face masks or cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or common materials available at low cost. For further technical guidance on face coverings, click here.
- When to Wear Face Coverings: Face coverings should be worn whenever you are in public or in any setting where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. A face covering should be worn but is not required when you are alone inside or alone outside and far from other people (20-25 feet away or more), riding or driving in an enclosed personal vehicle, or with other members of your household who do not have symptoms of the virus or were not recently exposed to the virus.
- Face Covering Cautions for Children and People with Health Conditions: Cloth face coverings or masks should not be placed on children younger than 2 years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the face covering or mask without assistance.
- Face Covering Hygiene: You should have multiple cloth face coverings or washable consumer marketed face masks. They should be taken off and washed with warm soapy water after each use, which will destroy the lipids (fat cells) on the membrane of the virus much like hand washing washes away dirt and germs.
- Social Distancing Still Required When Wearing a Face Covering: Even when wearing a face covering you should maintain social distancing to protect others and to protect yourself from others. Six feet is the range of most coughs that can spread coronavirus droplets. But recent studies suggest that aerosols sprays of the virus can travel 3 or more times that length. Thus, it is important to keep as much distance as possible between you and others in public, especially from persons not wearing a face covering or not properly wearing one.
- Healthy Outdoor Exercise: Getting out for reasonable periods of exercise for cardiovascular and general health reasons, including mental health, is not prohibited. But when you are out in public walking, running, or biking, this guidance is especially important — as is choosing areas for exercise that are less crowded.
- Enforcement Measures: Brookline’s Police Department should not be seen as the public health police to enforce the Health Department Advisory. Do Not Call 911 or the regular Police Department phone number to report someone not wearing a face covering. The initial enforcement focus of the Police and other Town bodies will be education. The board also expressed a hope that the community would naturally evolve toward a point where wearing a face covering is the norm. Of course, further enforcement actions may be necessary if voluntary compliance is lacking. The Health Department Advisory, however, requires essential businesses to enforce the wearing of face coverings by their employees and customers. Businesses not adhering to these requirements may face fines or, in egregious cases, the Health Department may shut down a business, construction site, or other activity.
- Send a Strong Message to Others by Wearing Your Face Covering in Public: When more people are seen wearing face coverings, the message will get around that a face covering is the norm and everyone should wear one. This cultural shift will play a major role in containing the virus.
- Inconvenience of Wearing Face Coverings: Following the advice in this guidance will entail some inconvenience, but the inconvenience is not unreasonably burdensome and will help keep everyone safe and healthy.
Library Teams Continuing Work of Developing Personal Protective Equipment
Library Director Sara Slymon reports that the library’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Teams –divided into Sewing and 3D Printing — have continued working to create masks and face shields for members of the public, as well as healthcare providers on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.
As of early this week, the Sewing Team has so far completed 50 fabric masks for the Brookline Senior Center and is continuing to sew masks. The team plans to pivot into making crochet ear savers, meant to reduce the discomfort from wearing a mask.
The 3D Printing Team has been using the library’s 3D printers in their homes to print face shield frames and ear savers to donate to Masks for Docs, a non-profit that is working with hospitals and healthcare organizations to help provide the critical equipment to healthcare providers.
Several library staff members have also taken part in an assembly effort being led by The Makery and the Brookline Teen Center, which has resulted in over 17,000 face shields being completed.
Safety Net Fund Update
The Brookline Community Foundation reports that it has raised $291,220 in donations in just over a month since the COVID-19 emergency began to take hold. Last week alone, the fund received $181,508 as it continues its work of supporting those who have find themselves in financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 situation.
These amounts are in addition to $175,000 pledged by the Town of Brookline. The Safety Net Fund is meant to support those who live, work or attend school in Brookline.
To give in support of the Safety Net Fund, click here.
To inquire about accessing the services of the Safety Net Fund, call The Brookline Center at 617-277-8107.
For regular updates on COVID-19 and the Town of Brookline’s response efforts, visit BrooklineCOVID19.com.