April 7, 2020 – COVID-19 Update and Information on How You Can Protect Your Neighbors' Health
- Case Counts: As of 10 a.m. today, April 7, a total of 148 Somerville residents have tested positive for COVID-19, 53 of them have since recovered, and there has been one death.
- Public Events Canceled through June: To help control the spread of COVID-19, all City-sponsored public events and all City-permitted events are canceled through June. Although Gov. Baker has said 10-person gatherings are ok, the City of Somerville strongly advises residents that gatherings of that size are too large and should not be held.
- Property Tax Payment Extension: To help alleviate financial impacts from the pandemic, Mayor Joe Curtatone has ordered that residents and property owners be given extra time to pay their property tax bill. Property tax bills, which would otherwise be due on May 1, may now be paid by June 29 without interest or penalty. For excise tax and water bills, the City’s Treasury Department will not charge any interest or penalties for bills with a due date of March 10 or later, as long as they are paid by June 29. However, because taxes and water and sewer fees fund essential services, residents and homeowners who are able to pay on time are encouraged to do so.
- Statewide COVID-19 Relief Fund Established: Yesterday Gov. and First Lady Baker announced the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund. Donations made to the fund will support frontline and essential workers, households and residents disproportionately affected by COVID-19, immigrant and undocumented residents, addressing food insecurity, people with disabilities, and homeless populations.
Today’s Assistance Tip
Below is a message from Mayor Curtatone about how we can all help each other during the surge of new COVID-19 cases expected to hit our area in the coming weeks:
The State is projecting that on or around April 10th through the 20th, the Commonwealth will see a surge of new COVID-19 cases that threatens to overwhelm our medical system. That increase in cases will be from germ spread that occurred over the past weeks. Whether we flatten the curve and save more lives -- including those of the brave doctors, nurses, EMTs, and firefighters responding to the crisis -- will depend on what we each do now and going forward.
I know that if I asked you if you would give up a dinner date or pickup game to save the life of a 14-year-old boy with diabetes, or a nurse with high blood pressure and two kids, or an older grocery store cashier with a dog who depends on him, you would stay home. So I want to make clear that that’s what I, and your neighbors, are asking of you now. We’re asking you and your family to make small sacrifices to save lives.
The biggest thing we each can do to prevent COVID-19 deaths is to follow social distancing guidelines to always stay at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with and avoid unnecessary trips out of the house. If two people stretch out their arms and their hands can almost touch, you are standing too close. You should not be going out for anything other than buying groceries when you’re out of food, picking up medications, safely exercising, or helping someone with these essential tasks. If you do, you are putting others’ lives at risk. And when you do have to go out, it is recommended that everyone always wear a cloth face mask covering your nose and mouth.
Most community members are doing their part to social distance, and I thank you for that. At the same time, we’re hearing from concerned residents about people congregating in our parks, crowding others in stores, or hosting gatherings. If you are someone who is still doing this, please stop. The sooner we all do this, the sooner we will get back to normal.
I want to note that some of you have made painful sacrifices to social distance: shuttering businesses, losing jobs, and foregoing school. For others, we are just being asked to give up a night out, cancel a playdate, jog or walk on a less busy route, or ensure our teenagers stay home. As a father of four, I know that even these small changes aren’t easy. But these small actions will save lives.
Thank you, Somerville. Together, we will get through this.
Today’s Public Health Tip: How to Access Mental Health Services or Helplines from Home
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis and are contemplating suicide or harming others, call 911 immediately.
For other counseling needs:
- If you have a mental health provider, check with them to see if they are offering online or phone appointments. There are a number of online-based counseling services and some insurance plans cover these services. Check with your insurance provider to find out what your benefits cover.
- Some employers offer an employee assistance program (EAP) that provides counseling services and/or referrals. Check with your employer to find out if one is offered at your workplace.\
- Mental health hotlines, some of which provide text and chat support as well as phone, are also available. They include:
- Samaritans is continuing operations 24/7, as always. During this unprecedented time, it can feel overwhelming to receive constant messages about COVID-19. Call or text their 24/7 helpline any time at 877-870-4673.
- The Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990, or text TalkWithUs to 66746. This is a 24/7, national hotline that offers crisis counseling for emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster, including disease outbreaks like COVID-19. It is toll-free, multilingual, and confidential.
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8225), live online chat at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat, En Español at 1-888-628-9454, and for people who are deaf or hard of hearing at 1-800-799-4889. Trained crisis workers are available 24 hours a day to provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals.
- The Crisis Text Line, which you can reach by texting 741741. The Crisis Text Line is also available by Facebook Messenger by clicking the “send message” button at facebook.com/crisistextline. This 24 hour a day line is staffed by trained crisis counselors.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889. This 24-hour helpline provides referrals to local treatment options, support groups, community-based organizations, and callers can request publications and information. Help is also available in Spanish.
Please help us get the word out by sharing this information with anyone you know who may need it.
Again, thank you, everyone. We know this is a difficult and stressful time. We thank you for supporting this effort as we work to get us all safely to the other side of this.