Webster community responds to coronavirus pandemic
Local agencies share public statements, resources
Things are getting serious. The coronavirus pandemic has communities across the nation taking immediate preventative action to keep their municipalities safe. Schools are shutting down or going completely online. Sporting events are being postponed. Organizations are sharing resources about the virus and preventing the spread of germs. Events are being canceled. And local agencies are scrambling to put together public statements about how they plan to address the coronavirus crisis.
The Webster Herald has been doing its best to keep track of what major entities in Webster are doing to take action in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Webster Central School District’s (WCSD) Public Relations Coordinator Krista Grose released the following statement when asked what the schools were doing to take action:
“Webster CSD is closely monitoring the developing situation regarding COVID-19, caused by a novel coronavirus. Our district is following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health, the Monroe County Department of Health, and the New York State Education Department. We are also in constant contact with our district physician and other Monroe County school districts.”
At the time of writing this article, the district announced on its website that Webster schools are now closed until further notice.
“All Webster Schools will be closed on Monday, March 16 until further notice,” Superintendent Carmen Gumina announced on the district website. “The decision to close school was made in conjunction with the Monroe County Department of Health as a precautionary measure to limit the spread of COVID-19, caused by the coronavirus. Please remember that when schools are closed, activities in all school buildings, including our WonderCare before and after school program, the Webster Aquatic Center, and Webster Community Education classes, are cancelled. More information will be sent to families at a later time.”
There is a COVID-19 information page on the Webster CSD website for families and community members to reference as needed:
The Town of Webster released the following formal message on COVID-19 last week:
“To Our Residents:
As your Town Board, our first priority is to protect the health and safety of our residents and employees. Today a joint meeting was held with the Town, County, Village, School District, Chamber of Commerce, Webster Police, and Fire and EMS agencies to discuss the proactive measures we can take to mitigate the impact of the virus. First and foremost, we want to urge our residents to remain calm, and listen to the advice given by Dr. Michael Mendoza, Monroe County Public Health Commissioner, 'Live in a world of factual information and don’t succumb to fear.'
We are currently meeting with our Department Heads to thoroughly evaluate our programs and services and proactively plan for any changes that may be needed as we move forward. Possible suspension of programs, services and events will be made on an ongoing basis and will be done within the best interest for our residents and employees. We will be implementing additional protocols within our departments; to be prepared in the event we experience a wide-spread outbreak.
Our Town Government will continue to utilize the guidance provided by the Monroe County Department of Health when making our decisions over the next days and weeks. Two key guidelines we will be using are to limit public gatherings to less than 50 people, and to maintain social distancing in our facilities.
Within our Town Facilities:
We will continue to maintain cleaning processes and work with cleaning companies to evaluate additional measures if necessary.
Use social distancing of six feet as a safety precaution for both residents and employees.
Public Library: Facility will remain open.
All library programs are temporarily suspended, including the Mobile DMV Office which has suspended service until April 1st.
[EDIT: At a Special Board Meeting held on Monday, March 16, the Webster Town Board confirmed that the Webster Public Library is now CLOSED to the public until further notice. However, other services, such as digital books and drop-offs, will still be offered as possible.]
Recreation Center: [EDIT: Previously, it was announced that the facilities would remain open. However, as of Monday, March 16, the Webster Recreation Center is CLOSED to the public until further notice.]
Senior Center Lunch Club program will be suspended as of Monday and other programs and events are currently under evaluation.
Webster Police and EMS:
Our Officers and Technicians are fully equipped with safety measures, and have continuous operation plans in place to maintain service for residents.
For continued Town updates, as well as, information regarding the status of programs, services and Board Meeting participation, please visit our website: ci.webster.ny.us/561/COVID-19-Updates
We will continue to keep you informed every step of the way and provide you with the facts. We encourage you to be good neighbors, as we work through this process together as a united community. Rest assured, our highest priority is to ensure the health and safety of all our Webster families.”
In addition, the Webster Town Courts are officially closed. At the Monday, March 16 Special Board Meeting, the town confirmed that all courts throughout the state are closed through April 30. Arraignments will be conducted through Monroe County on an emergency basis.
Webster Town Justice Tom DiSalvo told the Webster Town Board that the courts were directed by the state to shut down all operations. This means the court clerks will be unable to perform their regularly demanding duties.
The Hon. DiSalvo told the board that the clerks being unable to perform their regular duties is highly problematic, as there are many administrative duties that will go undone. He isn't sure whether the state even has the authority to mandate that the clerks not attend the courts.
“We had no warning for this whatsoever,” said DiSalvo.
While some work can be done from home, the issue, as Supervisor Flaherty noted, is that so much of the administrative work deals with actual paper, which may contribute to the spread of germs.
The board agreed to allow the clerks to go home for 72 hours, during which time the town attorney will investigate whether or not the Town of Webster can overrule the mandate.
Supervisor Flaherty proposed that the board also consider closing town hall, as many residents typically visit town hall in person on a regular basis. Employees may continue working at the town hall offices, so that there will always be someone to answer the phone to service residents who have questions or concerns.
The Village of Webster is taking action by sharing resources concerning the virus on its website.
“In light of the recent developments with the Novel Coronavirus, we are providing you with some additional resources and links to sites that have more information,” the village announced on the homepage of its website. “It is most important that you take safe steps to keep yourself and others healthy: wash your hands frequently, avoid close contact with others who may be sick, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, cover your cough or sneeze, clean and disinfect objects and surfaces, and most importantly stay home if you are sick.”
The information and resources listed on the village website include the following:
Novel Coronavirus Hotline: Call 1-888-364-3065 for information about coronavirus.
World Health Organization Daily Situation Reports
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
NYS Department of Health
SUNY Health Alerts and Latest News
Monroe County Department of Health Coronavirus Resources
Webster Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Barry Howard shared in a mass email to chamber members that the chamber has not yet decided to change or cancel any of its events.
“While our community and world deal with the COVID-19 virus, the Webster Chamber will continuously review all advice and directives issued by health and government officials, especially with regard to gatherings of people into a single venue,” Howard shared in his email. “As of now, the Chamber has not changed any event on our schedule. In the event that a schedule change is made, we will e-blast all attendees and the Chamber membership and post the change on our website and Facebook page.”
The North East Joint Fire District (NEJFD) issued a press release on Monday, stating the following:
"The North East Joint Fire District (Webster Volunteer Fire Department) has taken several actions to protect the health and safety of our members during the COVID-19 outbreak. These actions are based upon the recommendations of the Monroe County Health Department and the State of New York. During these stressful times, responding to your call for assistance is our top priority.
Effective March 16, 2020, all NEJFD/WFD fire stations will be closed to the public. Our stations are located at 35 South Avenue, 1391 Salt Road at the corner of Plank Road, and 600 Phillips Road.
All public use of the Community Room at Station 2 (Salt Road) is cancelled until further notice. In addition, all fire prevention events and firehouse tours are cancelled at all fire stations.
The Webster Fire Department is committed to protecting the residents, businesses, and visitors of our community. We will continue to provide the services you depend on in the event of an emergency. We have taken steps to protect the health of our members so they can continue to protect you.
Robert Boutillier, Fire Chief, North East Joint Fire District/Webster Volunteer Fire Department
At the time of writing this article, the number of confirmed cases of the virus in Monroe County has increased to 10, so the crisis has become more urgent and very real to citizens throughout the area. People are scrambling to stock up on toiletries, soaps, sanitizers, and other necessities. On Saturday morning, Monroe County Executive Adam Bello declared a state of emergency.