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Measures Announced In Springfield To Combat Community Spread Of Coronavirus

City Hall in Springfield, Ma

       In response to the mounting public health crisis, public access is being denied to more and more government buildings. 

     In the largest city in western Massachusetts, all municipal buildings, including City Hall, will be closed to the public until April 5th.

    "These are extraordinary times and that makes for decisive actions that have to be taken," said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.

    He said city workers will still be on the job, and there will be no layoffs.  But face-to-face contact with the general public will be greatly reduced.  There may be some staggered shifts or work done remotely all in an effort to combat community spread of the novel coronavirus that poses a deadly threat to the elderly and people with underlying health conditions and could overwhelm local hospitals.

   " We are threading the needle right now to tamp down hysteria, but if we follow these guidelines we will be able to contain and mitigate this situation," said Sarno.

     At a City Hall news conference announcing the changes Monday, Sarno said essential city services will remain available uninterrupted including police, fire, sanitation, trash pickup, and recycling.

   "I really deeply appreciate the residents and business communities understanding in this very challenging situation," said Sarno.

     To reduce the chances of police officers becoming ill, Springfield Police Department operations will be spread out among four locations: the headquarters on Pearl Street, the Metro Division Substation on Dwight Street, the police academy on East Street, and the city’s municipal operations building on Tapley Street.  

    Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood said she is not canceling days off or vacations.

   "I do not have a sickness problem," said Clapprood. "Some of the officers are cancelling vacations. They recognize the urgency and are stepping up as they always have."

    Springfield Fire Commissioner Bernard Calvi said to lessen the risk of spreading the virus among firefighters, work schedules are being adjusted and the apparatus bay doors at fire houses will be kept closed to discourage civilians from walking in.

    While public schools in Springfield remain closed for at least the next three weeks, breakfast and lunch meals are being prepared for pickup at 14 schools between 11 a.m.-1 p.m. each weekday, according School Superintendent Dan Warwick.

    " As many of you know, we feed 30,000 students everyday, so that is an important piece for us," said Warwick.

    Warwick said officials are in discussions with daycare providers over helping families where parents must work and have no one to watch their children when school is not in session.  He said the district is also looking into remote learning.

     Gov. Charlie Baker’s order that bans eating-in at restaurants and bars will be strictly enforced in Springfield by health inspectors, according to the city’s Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris.

      "It is important that we take this very seriously and understand we are trying to limit community spread," Caulton-Harris said.

      Also Monday, Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi announced all jail inmate visits have been suspended for the next 60 days except for attorneys and clergy members, who will be provided with face masks.

     " We have a very safe and very healthy environment inside those fences and we want to keep it that way," Cocchi said.

      He said that one inmate was placed in quarantine after showing symptoms of potentially being infected with Covid-19. Last Friday, it was determined the person was not ill and the quarantine was ended.

      As of Monday, Bay State Hospital in Springfield had tested 100 people for Covid-19 and received 40 results with one positive for the disease.  That person is now recovering at home, according to the hospital.



The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.
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