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I wanted to take a moment as the Emergency Management Director for the City of Westfield to provide some information to everyone who reads this. I am leading an effort with our Public Health Director daily to meet with key personnel to ensure we are leveraging all our right resources to protect the health of the Citizens of Westfield. We also meet with a larger audience to ensure the safety and health of our City Employees. For all of us, just like each of you, this has something we have never experienced to this magnitude.
One thing which people should please remember is that in addition to our City Employees having to deal with COVID-19 just as you do with your families, many of them have jobs that still must be performed to keep our city going, keep it safe, and keep it clean. We still have Police responding to normal calls with a bit of screening, Fire still has to respond to fires, EMS still has normal calls and responses to accidents, our DPW still has to maintain our water, sewer and roads, and our Gas and Electric still has to maintain our gas lines, electrical lines and our fiber internet service for those who have it. Our dispatchers are receiving a high volume of calls, and fielding many questions. To help alleviate some of the questions being asked, if they relate to COVID-19 and is not an emergency, please call your normal doctor, or call 211. There are people standing by with Massachusetts Emergency Management who are answering most questions related to the virus.
We also understand many of you also have to keep things going in this time of crisis, there are nurses who need to go to work, the people in our grocery stores and gas stations, the restaurants and many others. These are difficult times economically, emotionally and health wise for many families and individuals. Please show your kindness to these people for they are leaving their families each day to provide a service for the Community and the citizens of Westfield and the Commonwealth. I field a lot of questions about Sheltering In Place. Currently if you think about it, that is already what has been asked. Stay at home and only go out if it is necessary. We won’t have to take drastic action if people do not congregate and follow any and all guidelines. Stores are putting tape on the floor in some cases and limiting the number of people entering to assist with social distancing. Follow these guidelines, wash your hands regularly, wipe things down, sneeze into your sleeve, and ensure you rest.
I ask all of you to please try and reduce your interaction with others outside your immediate circle, to reduce the spread of this virus, and follow the guidelines of social distancing as much as possible. It is proven that if people do such, the likelihood of spreading it is greatly reduced. I heard talk yesterday of people saying as I was waiting for food, “I don’t know anyone that has it, do you?” The question wasn’t to me, but my answer would have been “No, I don’t, but I also would rather not know anyone that has it, for it is serious and if I know the person, I most likely care about them and I don’t want anyone I know sick.” With that said, I think if you are better off not knowing someone with this virus, for it isn’t something they wanted, it is painful, they are worried as so much is still is unknown and if the person has underlying health condition and/or is elderly, there is a higher probability they may not recover. So be thankful that you do not know anyone with it, and if you do, send your positive thoughts, ask what you can do to help, and do your part that others do not get it.
Also, as I mentioned we have a City to still operate. There are things by law that we have to move forward with, such as the voting (which has now been delayed to May 19th), paying of bills, reporting information, etc. I understand that things are not perfect, and people pay a lot in taxes, but rather than sit back and complain about things, take some time to think about how you can be part of the solution to some of the challenges we have, versus voicing negativity and adding to the problem. The best way people can help, is to help our elderly and continue to social distance as much as possible. If you have someone in the local assisted living/long term care facilities, ask the staff if they need anything. Sometimes a simple delay of supplies to these centers can cause them to be tight on supplies, so a little donation can go a long way such as hand sanitizer, soap, etc if you have it. Just as Mayor Humason said while campaigning “there are some things with Westfield we need to fix, but there are a lot more things right with Westfield”. Americans and the City of Westfield is a better place when we work together. Don’t let the people in Washington divide you from your neighbor, regardless of political party. At the end of the day, regardless of race, religion, sex, age or political affiliation, COVID-19 does not discriminate so help your family, neighbor, and friends by doing your part to help you ensure you don’t know someone with this virus, or if you do, you help ensure others you know and care about do not get infected. Thanks to everyone for their cooperation and support. We can and we will get through this.
Jim Wiggs, Westfield Emergency Management, Director