While VA Clinics Remain Closed, Rep. Campbell Shares Resources, Provides Holyoke Virus Update

Although area Veterans Administration clinics are closed, Rep. Linda Dean Campbell reminds veterans that services remain available. Campbell, who is the House chair of the legislature’s Committee on Veteran and Federal Affairs, said veterans should call their VA primary care physicians if they need to coordinate routine care, refill medications or receive hospital care or testing, or have concerns about COVID-19 symptoms. Upon verification from primary care physicians, local veterans may be tested locally in the Merrimack Valley. She added, veterans who need emergency care should go to a local hospital emergency room. The representative noted the VA nursing, hospital and psychiatric care facility in Bedford remains open, but is receiving COVID-19 infected patients in a separate unit. Campbell noted family visits are limited and then only to those patients receiving non-COVID-19 palliative care.  Visitors to the Bedford VA should call ahead, 24 hours a day, by dialing 800-838-6331.

After Council Approves, Police Set to Enforce Rule Against 10 or More Gathering in Public

The Haverhill City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday night prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people in any public area. The ordinance, which gives police enforcement authority, mirrors state guidelines issued by Gov. Charlie Baker on March 23. In submitting the proposal, Mayor James J. Fiorentini said although it seems most people are practicing safe social distancing, police have told him they have tried to break up groups of people, but lack enforcement power. The mayor initially proposed the ban apply to groups of five or more unless they were blood related. “I thought about this earlier today and I would recommend that we change this—I spoke to the Council president earlier—from 10 people to five unrelated people.

FCC Chairman Pai Thanks Broadcasters for ‘Tireless Efforts During the Coronavirus Outbreak’

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai thanked radio and television broadcasters Monday for their tireless efforts during the coronavirus outbreak, including running public service announcements on social distancing, airing educational programming to help with distance learning, expanding COVID-19 reporting and holding fundraisers to help those who have faced financial hardship due to the virus. “As always, in times of emergency, broadcasters are stepping up to serve their communities and help keep people informed, healthy, and safe,” said Pai. “From airing PSAs on social distancing to supporting distance learning with educational programming, broadcasters are going above and beyond the call of public service. I want to especially recognize those reporters who are on the front lines, often putting themselves in harm’s way, to obtain vital information on COVID-19 to ensure their viewers and listeners have the most up-to-date and accurate information. We’ve seen time and again that broadcasters’ efforts to keep their communities informed during emergencies help save lives, including when it comes to this pandemic.”

For its part, 97.9 WHAV FM is pleased to have expanded hourly local newscasts to accommodate breaking news, safety information and notices of food programs, cancellations and postponements; increased the number of morning interviews with newsmakers on the front lines of the pandemic; provided special coverage of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce’s Dollar-for-Dollar Gift Card Program; aired public service announcements on COVID-19 protections; restored live broadcasts of Haverhill City Council and School Committee meetings upon City Hall closing; increased the number of podcasts and where they may be heard; and more thanks to the financial support of WHAV sponsors and members.

Haverhill Cancels Formal Earth Day Cleanup; Methuen Marks 120 COVID-19 Cases, Haverhill at 98

Organizers of Haverhill’s annual Earth Day citywide cleanup have decided to cancel the event because of current gathering rules and uncertainty over future dates. Earth Day Committee members say that while the formal event has been cancelled, residents should clean-up their own front yards and be ready to help elsewhere when it is safe. The second in a three-part series of Haverhill River Bards poetry and open mic nights, planned for May 1, has been cancelled. The event was to have featured the Haverhill High School Literary Club. The last scheduled date of Friday, June 5, with Blaine Hebbel.

Andover’s Nurse Mates and Rep. Vargas Distribute 450 Pairs of Shoes, Socks to Health Workers

Area medical professionals on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic were the beneficiaries Monday of 450 pairs of shoes and compression socks donated by the Andover-based designer of Nurse Mates-brand footwear. Haverhill Rep. Andy X. Vargas and staff of Nurse Mates, part of Sofft Shoe Company, distributed the shoes and socks to the Haverhill and Methuen campuses of Holy Family Hospital Haverhill and Lawrence General Hospital. Nurse Mates footwear is designed specifically to support nurses and other healthcare staff on long shifts. “In this unprecedented time, we all owe so much to our frontline workers and healthcare workforce. We continue to find ways to ensure they have what they need and feel appreciated.

Haverhill Gives Residents and Businesses More Time to Pay Taxes, Water and Sewer Bills

Residential and business taxpayers and ratepayers are being given at least an extra month to pay certain bills to the City of Haverhill. In light of the coronavirus public health emergency and authority granted by the state, Mayor James J. Fiorentini said he has extended deadlines for real estate and personal property taxes, auto excise payments and water and sewer bills. “We recognize that these are very tough times for our residents and businesses,” the mayor Fiorentini said, adding, “While we still must have revenue to function as a city, we want to do what we can to assist in this time of need.”

Fourth quarter real estate and personal property tax bills have an extra month—until June 1—to pay without incurring interest or penalties. Motor vehicle excise taxes issued with a due date of March 10 or later now have until April 23 to pay, while bills for water and sewer that were due March 2 are now due May 1. Water and sewer bills going out May 1 and normally due within a month may now be paid by July 1 instead.