Dear Suffield Community & Town Employees,
Over the weekend, COVID-19 cases have continued to rise including closer to home. The increase in cases is not unexpected as local health officials believe we are seeing sustained community transmission of the virus at this time. The measures we have taken as a community and across the state and country will prove instrumental in blunting the surge to lessen the demands that will inevitably be placed on our health care system. I am grateful that at the time of this writing, there are still no confirmed cases in the Town of Suffield. Based on the current status, we are continuing with a measured response and will now advance to the next phase of preparedness.
Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, all municipal buildings will be closed to the public.
Non-essential Town employees are encouraged to work from home, but at this point, it is not mandatory. To protect our employees and the public, I refer you to the guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Health and Safety Administration on Social Distancing https://www.osha.gov/Publications/protect-yourself-pandemic.html. Town business will continue utilizing electronic means or via U.S. mail instead of in-person.
The Suffield Senior Center will be closed, but Grab-and-Go lunch will be provided. Grab-and-Go lunches are available by request for $2. Please call 860-668-8830 for meal options and ordering. To limit person-to-person contact, meals will be left on a table outside of the front entrance clearly labeled with your name. No money will change hands; we will track orders to be billed in the future.
At this point, all board and commission meetings are required to be held remotely. Information on how to implement this policy has already been forwarded to commission and board chairmen. I will provide further guidance on the technology we will utilize over the coming days. Tonight the Governor issued another Executive Order addressing statutory issues related to the budget process and other public hearing and notice requirements. Accordingly, we have canceled the Board of Finance budget meeting and regular Planning and Zoning meeting scheduled for Monday, March 16, 2020 and will schedule future meetings per the Governor’s guidance.
The most recent news from the Center for Disease Control indicate that COVID-19 is being readily spread from asymptomatic individuals counter to initial beliefs. With this new information, now is not the time to panic, but it is a time to stay in your home as much as possible, traveling only for essential business and when doing such increase social distancing. Our local health department (North Central District Health Department) advises to:
• Work remotely when practical
• Consider use of phones, email and delivery services to conduct necessary business
I reiterate the importance of these measures as outlined in my March 12, 2020 letter. “The immediate concern is that a rapidly multiplying infection rate could create a surge in patients requiring medical attention – including critical first responders. This surge would affect not only the care delivered to these patients, but also those suffering from non-related life threatening emergencies. As we have seen in Italy, the demands could potentially overwhelm medical providers, services and resources. Given this real and overriding concern, our town’s task is to ramp up preventative measures, while balancing continuity of operations, in a phased approach over the coming days in an effort to stem the tide of the virus and protect those at-risk.”
I will continue to monitor the situation daily in concert with Emergency Management and our State and local health officials and share updates as warranted. As a reminder, now is a good time to sign up to receive emergency notifications through CT Alert and general Town updates via Town News. Refer to the Emergency Alert page for important updates and cancellations.
I ask you all to remember to think and act as a community looking out for each other and particularly our most vulnerable neighbors. I am convinced that our best defense is to work together during this difficult time. Be well.
Melissa M. Mack, First Selectman