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Chief Walker updates Peterborough Selectmen: ‘Everything was normal until it wasn’t’

  • Peterborough Fire Chief Ed Walker updates the Peterborough Select Board on the town’s coronavirus response in an emergency meeting at the Town House Monday evening. Behind him is Town Administrator Rodney Bartlett and then Police Chief Scott Guinard. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce

  • Peterborough Fire Chief Ed Walker updates the Peterborough Select Board on the town's coronavirus response in an emergency meeting at the Town House Monday evening. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Peterborough Fire Chief Ed Walker updates the Peterborough Select Board on the town's coronavirus response in an emergency meeting at the Town House Monday evening. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Peterborough Fire Chief Ed Walker updates the Peterborough Select Board on the town's coronavirus response in an emergency meeting at the Town House Monday evening. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/17/2020 7:56:29 PM

Peterborough Select Board held an emergency meeting Monday evening to hear from Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director Edmund Walker on the town’s ongoing response to the COVID-19.

Last week President Donald Trump declared national emergency and Gov. Chris Sununu declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus outbreak, Walker said, which primarily has to do with funding for a response. Any town expenses incurred after March 12 are considered to be covered under the declarations and the town finance depart is tracking these expenses.

Walker said he and other town employees are readying to open an emergency operations center if need be.

“In terms of town services, everything was normal until it wasn’t,” Walker said.

Walker said the situation is changing rapidly, including the town library that at first announced it was limiting its services, but after a recommendation from the New Hampshire Library Association to close library buildings to the public, it was closed as of Tuesday, he said.

“They are really promoting their e-library their electronic library stock,” Walker said.

The library is also holding virtual programs online, he said, and the library’s WiFi is still available from the parking lot.

The Recreation Department has postponed or canceled all indoor programming, including Senior Lunch, Walker said. And all organized sports seasons managed in coordination with Peterborough Recreation Department have been postponed. Pickleball has been moved outdoors, weather permitting. On Tuesday, the Recreation Department announced on Facebook that all public playgrounds are closed to the public.

Laura Gingras, vice president of philanthropy and community relations at Monadnock Community Hospital, who was also in attendance said access to the hospital is being limited.

“Our number one priority, of course, is taking care of our patients, and keeping our workforce safe, so that we have people who are able to care for our patients and any future patient we might get,” Gingras said.

This means limiting the number of visitors, and closing the conference room to outside groups.

“We’re allowing one healthy birthing partner,” Gingras said in the hospital birth center. “And for patients who are comfort measure or hospice we are allowing one healthy visitors at a time.”

She said the Bond Wellness Center is closed for fitness, but open for physical therapy services for now, which might change as all services are being evaluated for need.

Gingras also said the hospitals is testing people for COVID-19, but only at the recommendation of physicians, so people who are experiencing symptoms are encouraged to contact their doctor who will then determine if a test should be recommended.

Town offices remain open, but residents are encouraged to conduct as much town business as possible via the town website or by phone at (603) 924-8000.

The police department is suspending fingerprinting services for job applicants. The Recycling Center will remain open during its regular hours with some changes.

Town officials are “also recommending that residents practice social distancing (at least six feet away from others) and avoid large crowds and large-scale events,” the town said in a post-meeting press release. “Families are urged not to hold “play dates” and those in need of childcare should limit the number of families involved as much as possible. Public health officials are seeking to slow the spread of COVID-19 to avoid a sudden over-burdening of the region’s healthcare system.”

Walker added most cases in New Hampshire involve people who had recently traveled and said there are no known cases in the Monadnock Region.

“Wash your hands, avoid vulnerable people and social distancing,” Walker said.




Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

20 Grove St.
Peterborough, NH 03458
603-924-7172

 

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