Local Event Cancellations, Postponements Mount in Wake of Coronavirus Concerns

Early on, Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini called a meeting of city department heads to consider possible possible pandemic responses. (Courtesy photograph.)

Concerns over the outbreak of coronavirus disease—or Covid-19—have led to remote college learning and a number of public events being cancelled or postponed.

The measures are being instituted as suspected and confirmed disease cases in Massachusetts increased from 92 to 95 by Wednesday afternoon, according to the state Department of Public Health. Six cases have now been confirmed by the federal Centers for Disease Control, and 89 cases are being called “presumptive positive” after testing done by the state. Most of the cases—77—have been traced to a Biogen company conference in Boston in late February.

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini, city department heads and Public Health Nurse Mary Connolly participated in a coronavirus telephone briefing with the White House yesterday afternoon. Following the meeting, the mayor appointed Connolly as “point person for the city’s Coronavirus contingency plans.”

In a statement, Fiorentini said, he has directed all city offices to “develop contingency plans to remain open even if a large number of employees are quarantined or their office or building has to be temporarily closed.” He added, that City Hall began sanitizing offices and hallways last week. Additional cleaning and disinfecting with an anti-germicide device that sprays a chlorine-based sanitizing mist on all surfaces will done in the coming days.

UMass Lowell students begin remote learning next Wednesday after they return from their break. Online learning on all campuses will last through April 3, according to the university, and UMass President Marty Meehan plans to reassess the public health situation by April 1 to decide whether that period should be extended. Other private universities adopting the protocol include Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, Amherst, Smith, Emerson and Boston University.

Sen. Diana DiZoglio’s hearing on her Act to support MassMakers, scheduled for next Wednesday, March 18, has been postponed.

A planned business resource fair, organized by UMass Lowell’s Haverhill iHub, Office of Business Development and the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, originally scheduled for Wednesday, March 25, has been postponed.

Temple Emanu-El of Haverhill has cancelled its community Pesach seder for this year.

Haverhill School Superintendent Margaret Marotta also plans to provide an update on “Coronavirus Precautions and Travel” at tonight’s School Committee meeting. Marotta has already cancelled foreign field trips and taken other steps as WHAV first reported yesterday.

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