Provincetown Officials Preparing for Possible Virus Arrival

PROVINCETOWN – Officials in Provincetown are getting ready in case the global coronavirus outbreak spreads to Cape Cod.

Tens of thousands of cases of the virus, which originated in China, have been reported around the world resulting in more than 2,800 deaths.

During a recent Select Board meeting, Town Manager Robin Craver said conversations are ongoing with the town’s public safety and health department regarding the virus.

“The staff has been training for many years with state and regional partners on procedures to effectively contain a pandemic,” Craver said.

The health department has a public health emergency plan, which is updated annually and based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

The plan is updated with guidance from the public health nurse planner from Barnstable County’s Department of Health and Environment.

“Staff have been trained in specific pandemic guidelines pertaining to the current coronavirus outbreak,” Craver said.

Town staff are also looking at the emergency management plan that was presented to the Select Board in 2018, but has not been finalized.

“We are picking that up and we are going to make sure that’s complete and we will make sure the pandemic is certainly part of that,” Craver said. “We’ll have protocols for that.”

Craver said the town’s emergency planner is also posting updates and the latest information for residents on Facebook.

The posts have been shared on the town, library, Provincetown Community Television Facebook pages and other town social media pages.

“The town will continue to distribute information as it becomes available on appropriate topics such as personal resilience,” Craver said.

Select Board Member Lise King said it seems like the town manager and staff are on top of things.

“I have complete confidence in our health department and our emergency response that we’ll have a readiness, especially because we are a tourist town and we have so many visitors coming from all over the world – it’s really important that we are prepared,” King said.

King said the town does have large cruise ships that come into the harbor.

“It’s better to be prepared and not get caught up short,” she said.

During public comment, resident Randy Jensen urged town officials to set up a planning meeting with emergency and medical personnel to prepare for a possible arrival of the virus to the community.

“At this point it is not a pandemic yet,” Jensen said. “The CDC and the World Health Organization say the coronavirus will become a pandemic.”

Jensen said that communities that plan for the virus will be able to handle the situation without chaos.

“If you notice around the world how different communities and cities are dealing with this, the ones who are not prepared are running around and it becomes chaos and the infections spread,” Jensen said.

Jensen said there needs to be a plan in place for quarantining possible infected patients.

“If we quarantine them, do we quarantine them in their own homes or in a central place?” he asked. “If we do it in a central place, who would man it, who would guard it to make sure that they don’t get out into the regular population?

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant grew up in Central Massachusetts and now lives in South Dennis on the Cape. He has been part of the news team in the NewsCenter since the spring of 2014. He studied radio broadcasting at the University of Tennessee.
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