Haverhill city councilors have been busy checking out how other communities are responding to the coronavirus and shared their findings this week.
Councilor Mary Ellen Daly-O’Brien presented an idea for improving COVID-19 tracing after relating her Cape Cod vacation experience. The councilor said she was in Provincetown recently where all of the restaurants asked for a name and telephone number when seating guests. The idea was to be able to quickly contact those in the event of exposure to someone with the virus.
“It was easy-peasy. It wasn’t a stressful situation. So, I looked into the rules we have and, although it does say restaurants should retain a phone number for possible contact tracing, what I’m looking for is for Haverhill to adopt that to a shall,” Daly-O’Brien said.
The councilor said she presented the idea to members of the Board of Health and the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce and both were very supportive.
Not everyone agreed. Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua said the added step poses an extra burden on already struggling restaurants. In the end, however, the Council voted 8-1 to ask the Board of Health to endorse the idea.
Council Vice President Colin F. LePage presented the benefits of possibly using ultraviolet lighting in schools and businesses to battle COVID-19. The councilor read from a recently published Boston Globe article, explaining how a combination of upward airflow and overhead UV-C lights could eliminate the airborne transmission of the virus.
The Council agreed the idea had merit and voted unanimously to send it to a committee for further investigation.
Councilor John A. Michitson likewise has been doing homework. He endorsed the idea of an online dashboard to keep citizens updated on the latest COVID-19 information. He cited Revere as a city with a program he would like to have Haverhill adopt.
“They have a dashboard that clearly identifies very important data and they do it in a way where you can actually visualize it and get a feel for it,” he explained.
Mayor James J. Fiorentini gave a thumbs up to the idea but noted the city’s IT department consists of only one person. He did promise to look into finding someone that could help with such a project and said he would try to add more data to the already existing city website.