ROCKLAND — Close the playgrounds? Cancel summer festivals? Keep cruise ships at sea?
As the City of Rockland nears its initial stay-at-home deadline of April 30, the City must consider options for proceeding with the COVID-19 increases statewide.
During the April 13, Rockland City Council meeting, City Manager Tom Luttrell offered the current thoughts regarding the next few months.
“I know there are a lot of concerns out there that people are having about different things that happen within the city,” said Luttrell, “I just wanted to discuss a few of those.”
One of those concerns is regarding cruise ships coming in. In response, Rockland has reached out to CruiseMaine and the American Cruise Line to inform them that Rockland will not be accepting ships during May.
“Most ships of 250 people, which includes passengers and crew members, aren’t welcome to cruise anyway, in state waters or federal waters, I believe, until some time in July because of the 100-day stay that was put on them,” said Luttrell.
Concerns also have arisen regarding festivals coming to town.
The Clam Festival has already cancelled, according to Luttrell, who said he’d been in touch with all three Rockland festivals. Based on the discussions, festival organizers will wait until the first week of June to make their decisions.
“They feel that still is plenty of time for them to cancel with all their vendors, and still meet bait,” said Luttrell. “I told them we’d be reassessing as we go, and see how things are progressing with crowds and the like.”
With the warmer weather coming, Rockland is considering closing off all City playgrounds.
“The weather is starting to break,” he said. “People are getting anxious to get outside. And, with the virus being able to live on steel much longer than people are thinking, that may be something that we’ll be passing on here this week.”
Rockland is waiting to see what the governor decides to do at the state level. If the State extends the order, Rockland Council will extend its order.
“We’re basically waiting to see what the Governor’s going to be doing,” he said. “And if the Governor decides to reopen the Stay, then we will definitely be talking with Council, and we’ll be trying to extend the stay-at-home order.”
“Stay tuned, and we’ll go from there,” said Luttrell. “We don’t want to jump to conclusions at this point in time....I am confident that we probably will be under a stay-at-home order for the month of May, or part of May anyway.”
Flatten the curve
“A way to flatten the curve is not a top-down approach, but a community approach,” said Luttrell. “Which basically means that it’s coming from the bottom-up.”
Luttrell said the flattening of the curve starts with all of the residents practicing social distancing, and adhering to all CDC guidelines.
“I think, as you can see in Knox County, a lot of that is happening,” he said. “And I applaud everybody for doing that.”
As of April 13, Knox County had 12 cases, according to him, and the hospitals of Knox County –Pen Bay Medical Center – have beds, and are ready.
“I just want to commend everybody for what they are doing to help flatten this curve,” he said. “And I want to thank everybody for their patience in dealing with City services while we go through this pandemic.”
It’s here in the community
City Council member Valli Geiger and her husband were “clinically diagnosed” with COVID-19, according to Geiger, during the same meeting. The clinical diagnosis is because tests are only available for those with symptoms who need hospitalization, those with symptoms who are first responders – or a healthcare worker, and those in some kind of congregate housing.
“My own provider tells me that she is dealing with nine people,” said Geiger. “Only one of them has been tested because that person is seriously ill. The other eight have not, and will not be tested. So I think we have to assume it’s in our community, but that we won’t know it. So, it becomes more critical that we follow the guidelines from the governor.”
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