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 27 positive cases of COVID-19 among residents in Brookline, according to the Department of Brookline Public Health, as well as three cases among non-resident employees of the town.
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.
Emergency Operations Center Update
Brookline’s Emergency Operations Center has now been activated for two weeks as the town streamlines its response effort related to COVID-19. The EOC represents a multi-disciplinary team brought together to provide logistical, planning and operational support. Members from Brookline police, fire, recreation, health, school and many other departments are working together to support public safety and continue essential functions in Brookline. The EOC is also planning for the future needs and logistics of the Town in mitigating the effects of COVID-19.
This week, members of the EOC worked in concert with state and regional partners through DPH and MEMA in order to receive essential supplies. This resulted in the distribution of a number of essential materials to the Police and Fire Departments, including thermometers and personal protective equipment (PPE). Currently, all PPE through normal distribution channels are on a backorder, so these avenues are vital in maintaining current response capabilities.
The EOC staff continues to create and distribute fliers throughout town in an effort to disseminate essential information to residents. These fliers contain crucial information and provide access to Brookline’s most vulnerable citizens, who may otherwise not be able to utilize the Town’s web resources.
EOC liaisons for various outreach organizations continue to reach out to the local service providers to understand and respond to those organizations’ needs. Additionally, Brookline Police Officers assigned to the department’s Walk and Talk Unit are in regular contact with Brookline Housing Authority and Teen Center staff and clients to addresses needs and gaps in services.
The BPD Elder Affairs Officer works daily with the Council on Aging social workers and other providers working with seniors in Brookline. The EOC also communicates regularly with Brookline Community Mental Health, as well as the Brookline Food Pantry in order to aid food insecurity prevention efforts in town.
Brookline’s COVID-19 Response, By the Numbers
Emergency Management Director John F. Sullivan wishes to provide the community with a quantifiable update on the efforts of the Brookline’s Emergency Operations Center:
- Average daily calls to the COVID-19 call center: 35
- Medical Reserve Corps volunteers: 150
- Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers: 250
- Number of new, non-affiliated volunteers: 57
- Residential buildings provided in-depth cleaning guidance: 506
In addition, the Public Schools of Brookline offer the following updates:
- PSB Prepared and distributed more than 500 meals to students in need
- Cleaned, prepped and distributed more than 400 Chromebooks to students who need a device at home for remote learning
- Launched Remote Learning Phase I (March 23-April 03, 2020)
- Organizing and Planning to launch Remote Learning Phase II (April 06-May 04, 2020)
- Thousands of remote connections: teachers with parents, teachers with students, principals and school leaders with their school communities, teachers with each other in grade level or content area planning groups, counselors and special educators with vulnerable students and families, and more
Reminder for Restaurants
The Town of Brookline is monitoring a proposal by Governor Charlie Baker’s administration that would allow restaurants to offer alcohol for takeout or delivery, along with food. However, restaurant owners should remember that alcohol deliveries of this sort are currently prohibited both in Massachusetts and in Brookline.
For the latest information regarding food service in Brookline, please visit brooklinecovid19.com/restaurant-restrictions/.
Don’t Flush Sanitizing Wipes
As residents are taking steps at home to keep surfaces disinfected, they’re reminded to avoid flushing any items down the toilet other than toilet paper, including disinfecting wipes.
Many “flushable” wipes are indeed not flushable and can do damage to sewer infrastructure, so residents are strongly encouraged to discard any disinfecting wipes and other materials in the trash.
Tax Deadline Extended
The Commonwealth and federal government have both extended their tax filing deadlines to July 15, 2020.
Additional Updates and Information, In Case You Missed Them
Learning Resources for Students and Families
The Public Schools of Brookline have launched a new website to help students and parents cope with the interruption to students’ learning and routines. These resources are in addition to the work that teachers and schools are providing directly to their students.
The new website includes resources for learning, for families, and from the PSB school libraries.
Additionally, Comcast will be providing two months of free internet service to qualifying families through its Internet Essential program. Please visit here to learn more and apply.
Brookline Interactive Group Seeking Community Feedback
Brookline Interactive Group (BIG) has developed a community survey in order to better serve Brookline residents by providing timely access to important information. BIG will share the results of the survey with government leaders, which will help guide communication efforts as the COVID-19 emergency continues.
To fill out the survey, please visit here.
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.
Library Expanding Digital Resources and Virtual Access to Staff
Remote library services went live on Thursday, March 26, and include a variety of digital versions of beloved library programs, including virtual storytimes craft-along activities and more. In addition, members will have the opportunity to connect with the library’s reference staff via chat and e-mail.
For a full list of digital resources available on the library’s website, including e-books, movies, music, databases and more, please visit here.
In addition, library staff will be available via email and chat during operating hours from 10:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, beginning tomorrow, March 26, 2020.
For a more on remote services, please visit here.
Libraries will remain closed through the end of April, in conjunction with the extended closure of schools mandated by the state today.
The Town of Brookline’s voluntary construction suspension remains in effect. In addition, the commonwealth has issued guidance for construction workers and projects, which is accessible here.
School Closure Extended
The Public Schools of Brookline are closed, and Governor Baker announced that the statewide mandate for schools to remain closed has been extended through the end of April.
Shopping Bag Update
Plastic bag bans statewide have been suspended, including in Brookline. Additionally, Governor Charlie Baker has banned the use of reusable personal shopping bags until further notice.
Information for Those Seeking to Volunteer
To help streamline the effort to mobilize volunteers as appropriate, those interested in volunteering are asked to fill out this online form here.
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 08:00 a.m. to 05:00 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: COVID19Info@brooklinema.gov.
Remember, in the case of emergencies, please call 911.
Submit Medical Questions by E-mail
Residents may submit their medical questions related to COVID-19 via e-mail to email@example.com.
Smoke Alarm Inspections Suspended
Governor 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.
Emergency Parking Rules in Place
For details about emergency parking rules currently in effect, please visit here.
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.
For more information, visit the DPH website by visiting here and the CDC’s website by visiting here.
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, please visit here.
To order lunch online, please visit 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, please visit here.
For the latest information on resources available to businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, plese visit here.
Active Town Closures/Cancellations
For updates on active closures and cancellations, please visih here.