Coronavirus comes to the SouthCoast: One Case Confirmed, Two Others Possible | WCAI

Coronavirus comes to the SouthCoast: One Case Confirmed, Two Others Possible

Mar 18, 2020

A man reads signs on the main doors of New Bedford City Hall directing residents to use remote services because offices are closed to the public due to the coronavirus.
Credit Jennette Barnes / WCAI

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell says a Freetown resident has tested positive for coronavirus, the first confirmed case in Greater New Bedford. In addition, two New Bedford residents are under self-quarantine.

At a press conference on the steps of City Hall Wednesday, he urged the public to take precautions.

“These numbers are going to change very rapidly — first, because tests have become more available,” he said. “And we’ll see more positive hits, more confirmed cases, as a result of that. And we’ll see more positive tests because there will be more people who get it.”

He said New Bedford’s many playgrounds are closed and will be marked with yellow tape.

 

“Which really stinks,” he said, acknowledging the loss for children who are out of school.

 

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell announced that two city residents are under self-quarantine and that neighboring Freetown has a confirmed case of coronavirus.
Credit Jennette Barnes / WCAI

“But the reality is that the virus can live on surfaces for some period of time,” he said. “And we don't want kids, students who are out of class for the time being, to be using them in earnest. It's not safe for them.”

Thomas Anderson, superintendent of the New Bedford Public Schools, said the district has begun giving out packets of schoolwork to families who pick up school breakfast and lunch. He said more educational plans will be rolled out in the coming days, and he’s keeping equity in mind.

“Students that may not have online access, we’re working with some of the other community organizations to be able to provide that,” he said. “But the majority of the assignments, if not all, will be paper, pencil.”

To help families affected by lost work, the United Way of Greater New Bedford has established a COVID-19 response fund.

The New Bedford Free Public Library was offering free materials on a cart outdoors because the library is closed to promote social distancing.
Credit Jennette Barnes / WCAI

CEO Michelle Hantman said the fund will focus on service-industry workers who aren’t getting their pay because of social distancing measures. An application process will be announced later in the week, and the United Way is working to raise the money, she said.