PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Mayor Linda Tyer is cautioning residents that the anticipated "reopening" report expected Monday from the state will likely not mean everything will immediately open.
"Not surprisingly there is much anticipation around Monday's announcement however it is important to keep in mind that this date will serve only as a guidepost for what is to come," Tyer said during her weekly COVID-19 update on Pittsfield Community Television.
Gov. Charlie Baker appointed an advisory board to develop a four-phase plan for gradually reopening the state — dependent on public health data. Much of the commercial activity statewide has been closed or greatly reduced because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"As we go forward, we're going to be balancing the trade-offs that are pretty obvious that are associated with public health and people's ability to work," the governor said on Friday. "And I think what these folks have done, what we'll report on Monday, is a very thoughtful and substantive approach to dealing with this ... some people are gonna say it's too slow and some people are gonna say it's too fast and I understand and I respect that.
"But this is our idea of the best shot we have a continuing to make progress and not giving the virus a chance to get back out of the barn."
Tyer said each stage of the governor's four-stage reopening plan pertains to different organizations and business. She said with each stage there will be new operations and safety standards, and protocols.
"My team and I will undergo an immediate review to assess how Pittsfield can begin to implement our reopening," she said. "Adherence to the state's plan will be vital for monitoring shifts in public health and guiding our response to emerging needs as more businesses and organizations reopen."
At the moment, all public buildings will remain closed until June 1.
The mayor said it has been 70 days since the city's COVID-19 team had been implemented and that the good work its done responding to COVID-19 countywide has not gone unnoticed.
Last week representatives from the state's Emergency Management Agency and the governor's office visited communities throughout the county to see how they were coping.
"The team was especially impressed by the seamless and effective distribution of [personal protective equipment] to 32 municipalities throughout the county and they noted that Pittsfield and the Berkshires serve as a model of excellent collaboration for the state," she said. "I am thrilled to know that this feedback will be shared with the governor and his team."
Tyer said there is still work to be done and that just that day, four more cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the city bringing the number in total to 151.
She said an expansion of testing criteria will now allow the city to test people who have been in contact with an infected person. She said this contact testing could increase recorded case numbers but will provide important information for the reopening process.
This week was National Police Week, which Pittsfield was unfortunately unable to publicly acknowledge because of the pandemic. The annual memorial recognizes officers who worked or lived in the city, including William Craig, the first Secret Service officer to die in the line of duty. Craig was killed when President Theodore Roosevelt's carriage was struck by a trolley in Pittsfield in 1902.
"We would normally hold a memorial service to acknowledge the Pittsfield fallen officers," Tyer said. "That of course did not happen this year but that does not diminish the great respect and appreciation that we have for those we have made that ultimate sacrifice."
Tyer said it is also National EMS week and extended this appreciation to the city's emergency medical services personnel.
"They are working tirelessly on the front lines of this pandemic. We truly appreciate all that you do throughout the year to support the health and well being of our friends, family, and neighbors," she said.
Tyer signed off by wishing residents a nice weekend. With nice weather expected she invited residents to responsibly enjoy the outdoors.
"I hope that you and your loved ones will enjoy the outdoors safely," she said. "We have an abundance of wide open natural resources ready to be explored plus they make social distancing really easy."
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Biz Briefs: SABIC Donating to Local United Way to Support COVID-19 Response Efforts
SABIC, a global leader in diversified chemicals, is donating $25,000 to the Berkshire United Way to help serve the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aside from $1 million in monetary donations to food banks and community-based agencies in the communities where the company operates, SABIC, whose head office is based in Houston, also is donating approximately $500,000 of its products. SABIC products are used to manufacture personal protection equipment for healthcare workers and medical equipment such as ventilators, patient monitoring devices, face shields, respiratory therapy machines and diagnostic equipment.
The company, which operates the Polymer Processing Development Center in Pittsfield, Mass., also is donating face shields made with SABIC’s LEXAN polycarbonate sheet product to local police and fire departments. SABIC employees, too, are joining together to raise funds that will go to charitable organizations of their choice and the company is matching the employee contributions dollar-for-dollar.
SABIC currently operates 60 manufacturing and compounding plants in more than 50 countries worldwide.
Small business survey
The Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire has released a small business survey to assess the greatest needs of small businesses during this COVID-19 crisis. This Small Business Technical Assistance Needs Survey will help CDCSB focus professional technical assistance to businesses where they most need it for them to weather the devastating economic impact of the endemic. All businesses based in the southern Berkshires are encouraged to complete the survey by clicking here.
CDCSB is joining other western Massachusetts CDCs – Hilltown CDC, Franklin County CDC and Valley CDC (Northampton) – in seeking funding to provide free professional business assistance that can include legal and financial advice, strategic planning, access to capital, marketing, pivoting sales to a digital platform, or creating new product lines. This will significantly expand the capacity for small business assistance throughout western Mass., a central part of CDCSB’s economic development mission.
The CDCSB is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating job opportunities, promoting economic development, and building low-moderate income housing in the southern Berkshires. In collaboration with other local organizations, CDCSB has helped build over 60 affordable housing units, leveraged over $30 million in private and public funding for south Berkshire County and has a current development pipeline of 120 new affordable housing units.
"I never intended to stay involved this long, but after you see the love and respect the staff have for the people they serve, it's impossible to leave," he said. "And while it has been hard for me to resign, it's time for me to step down, allow for new leadership, and enjoy my retirement." click for more