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North Adams' Pandemic State of Emergency Expires June 15

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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city's state of emergency comes to an end next Tuesday, June 15, 459 days after it was declared at the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic on March 13, 2020.
 
In a statement announcing its termination, Mayor Thomas Bernard cautioned that it doesn't mean residents should throw caution to the wind. 
 
"This action does not mean that the COVID-19 pandemic is over, but with the expiration of the Governor's emergency declaration, I wanted to align the city with the statewide status," he wrote. "For everyone in our community, this means that I encourage you please to continue to take sensible public health precautions for cleaning and personal hygiene, avoiding gatherings and public spaces when you're not feeling well, and continuing to practice self-care.
 
"People who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear a face covering and practice social distancing in most cases, and to get vaccinated as soon as you can."
 
Gov. Charlie Baker on May 28 signed an order rescinding as of June 15 the public health emergency the state had instituted on March 10, 2020. All capacity, face covering and social distancing limits were lifted on May 29 with exceptions for schools, public transport and people who had not yet been vaccinated. 
 
Bernard, in conjunction with Adams Town Administrator Jay Green and then Williamstown Town Manager Jason Hoch, had proclaimed the emergency on March 13 a week after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in nearby Clarksburg, which had called for a state of emergency hours before.
 
This lead to the closing or limited access to public buildings throughout North County, many of which have only reopened in the past couple weeks. 
 
The termination of the mayor's executive order was done to be consist with the new orders issued by the state and new standards and recommended practices that may be promulgated. The governor's state of emergency declaration is set to expire on June 15 but he has filed legislation to continue certain practices through September and to be prepared to revert to past practice should the virus resurface. 
 
Massachusetts is one of now 13 states that have reached President Biden's goal of 70 percent full adult vaccination by July 4. Six others, including New York State, are closing in on 70 percent.
 
According to Becker's Hospital Review, as of Thursday, Vermont continues to lead with the number of vaccinations, based on total population (not just adults), at 59.46 percent with Massachusetts close behind at 56.81 percent. The four other New England states round out the top six. 
 
The last weekly state update, posted on June 1, showed Berkshire County with 72 percent of residents ages 12 and older having at least one dose of the vaccine and 52 percent fully vaccinated. The three regional collaborative vaccination sites are now only providing second shots and will cease operation in mid-June.
 
The city is already looking forward to resuming outdoor events and celebrations: graduations were held, the SteepleCats are playing, there will be Fourth of July fireworks, the Downtown Celebration will be held, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts is resuming concerts and the Freshgrass Festival, and discussions are being had as to whether it's possible to put on a Fall Foliage Parade this year. 
 
Bernard reminded residents that some people "may still be more comfortable wearing a face covering regardless of their vaccination status." Businesses, too, may continue some precautions.
 
"We will continue to monitor and respond to our local and statewide public health data to ensure we are keeping the community as safe as possible," he wrote. "As I said recently, if we all do our part we can have the kind of summer we've been looking forward to, one where we can celebrate and reconnect safely."
 

AN ORDER ANNOUNCING THE TERMINATION OF THE MARCH 13, 2020,
DECLARATION OF EMERGENCY IN THE CITY OF NORTH ADAMS

June 10, 2021

WHEREAS, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued a Declaration of Emergency on March 10, 2020, and determined that immediate public action was needed to prevent, minimize, or mitigate damage to public health, safety, or general welfare of the people of the Commonwealth and/or property which may otherwise have resulted from the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 and the effects of its extreme risk of person-to-person transmission throughout the United States and the Commonwealth; and

WHEREAS, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts recommended that a State of Emergency be declared in local communities; and

WHEREAS, the Mayor of the City of North Adams, Massachusetts, declared that as of Friday, March 13, 2020, a State of Emergency existed in the City of North Adams, and that said State of Emergency would remain in effect "until notice is given, pursuant to our judgment, that the State of Emergency no longer exists;" and

WHEREAS, in response to sustained improvements in the public health data beginning in February 2021 and attributable most directly to the development and effective distribution to the public of safe, highly effective, and free COVID-19 vaccines, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has successively rescinded or adjusted many of the Orders that imposed special measures to address the risks of COVID-19, and the Commonwealth has steadily advanced to the final stages of its phased Re-Opening Plan; and

WHEREAS, as of May 27, 2021, over 3.5 million residents of the Commonwealth have been fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, and over 4.3 million have received at least a first dose, and over 78 percent of Massachusetts adults overall and over 89 percent of Massachusetts residents 75 years and older have received at least a first dose; and

WHEREAS, the remaining threats to the public health presented by the COVID-19 virus will shortly no longer require the exercise of the extraordinary powers that the Civil Defense Act grants to the Governor in a time of emergency to take executive action, outside the normal processes of government and across the established geographic and political divisions of authority, in order to coordinate State and Local relief efforts and to act without delay as necessary to protect the public health and welfare; and

WHEREAS, on May 28, 2021, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued an Executive Order (ORDER ANNOUNCING THE TERMINATION OF THE MARCH 10, 2020 STATE OF EMERGENCY AND RESCINDING COVID-19 EXECUTIVE ORDERS ISSUED PURSUANT TO THE MASSACHUSETTS CIVIL DEFENSE ACT) that declared, in part, "Effective at 12:01 am on June 15, 2021, the declaration that I issued on March 10, 2020, pursuant to the Civil Defense Act and Section 2A of Chapter 17 of the General Laws is rescinded and the state of emergency initiated by that declaration is terminated with respect to both statutes; and

WHEREAS, on May 28, 2021, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued an Executive Order (GOVERNOR'S DECLARATION PURSUANT TO GENERAL LAWS CHAPTER 17, SECTION 2A) that stated, in part, "pursuant to Section 2A of Chapter 17 of the General Laws, that as of the date indicated below, an emergency exists that is detrimental to the public health in the Commonwealth. The Commissioner, with the approval of the Public Health Council, may rely on this declaration to extend or adopt measures to facilitate COVID-19 testing and vaccination of all populations throughout the Commonwealth, to mandate special measures to protect higher risk populations or to effectuate continued surveillance of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, and to respond as necessary to outbreaks of the virus as they may arise; and

WHEREAS, the Mayor of the City of North Adams intends to align the ongoing local response to the COVID-19 pandemic with the letter and spirit of the March 28, 2021, Order and Declaration issued by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to "to respond as necessary to outbreaks of the virus as they may arise;"

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Thomas W. Bernard, Mayor of the City of North Adams, Massachusetts, declare that effective at 12:01 am on June 15, 2021, the Declaration of Emergency that I issued on March 13, 2020, is terminated.

 


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