City officials have scrapped the June 1 date for re-opening City Hall as they have had tremendous success with operating online, and in constructing alternative methods of doing business at the Hall without going inside.
Crews from the Facilities Maintenance Department have been busy re-constructing barriers and safely distanced workspaces in the Hall for the past several weeks, and the City said many clerks and workers in the various departments reported to work this week.
“While the physical building of City Hall is not currently open to the public, the Administration and City employees remain working full time to ensure that the needs of our City and community are met,” said Mayor Carlo DeMaria. “All City services can be done electronically via our website or by calling 311 with any questions residents may have. Additionally, we are in the process of building walk-up windows for the convenience of our residents who are not able to access City services remotely.”
Elsewhere, the City of Chelsea opened its City Hall on Monday with limited operations and with mostly appointments required for various departments. That opening seemed to go well, but it was also stated they had a high number of folks that paid in cash and haven’t had a robust online experience during the COVID-19 restrictions.
Everett has had the opposite experience on line and so it is holding back on the June 1 opening that had been hoped for, noting that the risk was unnecessary.
Public Health Nurse Sabrina Firicano said the City doesn’t want to take a step backward in rushing to open.
“Because we can do virtually everything online, we don’t have a date set yet for re-opening City Hall,” she said. “Most all functions can still be done online. We’re just not there yet. We don’t want to go backward on this.”
What has happened is the City is constructing a walk-up window in the back parking lot so people who need assistance from a person can request it. Having that service outside and keeping people outside – particularly in warmer weather – is a better configuration, Firicano said, than being inside.
“If we could do things outside, it’s a greater advantage because you don’t have people in enclosed spaces,” she said. “On the nicer days, it can be done virtually or staying outside. One thing that is good is we have the warmer weather on our side now.”
•TESTING NUMBERS CONTINUE IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Firicano said the numbers reported on positive cases, hospitalizations, and positive case percentages are all going in the right direction at the moment.
There were a total of 1,634 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Everett since the beginning of the pandemic, though 653 have fully recovered and are no longer in quarantine.
Case numbers continue to decline day-over-day as well. Firicano said from Sunday to Monday they had only two new confirmed cases, which is far below the high of around 55 a day.
The numbers of positive tests is also on the decline with about 6-7 percent of those tested being positive, again far down from the high of about 35 percent.
One point of concern is the large gatherings that have taken place in the last week, particularly the protests that have happened in Boston and surrounding areas. She said there is a concern that those interactions could lead to another outbreak, which will be closely monitored.
“We have to be cautious,” she said. “It’s going to be closely watched and we will collect data and the state will too.”
She said numbers will be closely watched between now and in the next two weeks.