WOBURN - As government leaders and hospital staffs across the state brace for a brutal surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths, Mayor Scott Galvin over the weekend predicted the city would rise to meet the challenging times ahead.
In a direct message to local citizens posted on Woburn's website late last week, the mayor joined with Fire Chief Stephen Adgate to personally praise the community for its resiliency. Both city officials also boasted about the various demonstrations of kindness they've witnessed around Woburn since the emergence of the novel coronavirus crisis.
While Galvin reflected on school system's laptop donation program and the district's recent decision to deliver free breakfast and lunch to any Woburnite in need, Adgate mentioned scenes at local firehouses where citizens have dropped off boxes of gloves and other protective equipment for the city's first responders.
"The City of Woburn is always like that. When things are down, we come together. This is one of those situations that shows the best in people," said the mayor.
"When times get tough, the community comes together," chimed in Adgate, who also recalled driving by one local firehouse, where a local girl is using chalk to scribble encouraging and hopeful messages on the sidewalk.
The recent public service announcement was released as Mass. Governor Charles Baker and officials from the state's Department of Public Health (DPH) are predicting the next few weeks will bring a dramatic and tragic surge in new COVID-19 cases and deaths.
The expectation is based upon the premise that a critical mass of patients, exposed to the coronavirus before a series of unprecedented public health directives were enacted over the last few weeks, will be admitted to hospitals and medical facilities.
The anticipated delay between the imposition of emergency measures and the height of the COVID-19 crisis is due to the combination of the contagion's long two-to-14 day incubation period and another days-long lag before patients' symptoms become severe enough to warrant hospitalization.
Both city and state officials, worried the coming peak in coming hospitalizations will overwhelm the state's health care network, have urged citizens to engage in uncompromising social-distancing behaviors in order to prevent unnecessary deaths.
Last Friday, in the latest effort to prevent new COVID-19 cases in Woburn, Galvin ordered the closure of all public parking lots around Horn Pond to discourage citizens from clustering around one another. The measure comes as Baker, who has recommended everyone stay-at-home and isolate from non-household members, similarly shuttered parking areas around state parks and beaches.
According to the mayor, with city residents already facing unprecedented financial and social stressors as a result of the pandemic, he and other public safety managers believe it's important Woburnites get outdoors and exercise.
However, according to city leaders, those taking advantage of Woburn's various recreational assets still have an obligation to engage in social distancing practices.
"There are plenty of places to spread out and get some exercise—whether it’s around your own neighborhood, one of the Conservation Areas in your neighborhood such as the Cranberry Bog and Bike Trail in East Woburn, or the Middlesex Canal Trail in North Woburn, or Whispering Hill and the Battle March Way Trail in West Woburn, or the Horn Pond area in the South End of Woburn," Galvin stated on Friday, when his office announced the newest safety measure.
"It is critical that wherever you choose to exercise to please practice strict physical distancing to limit the spread of Coronavirus, especially over the next few weeks," the mayor continued. "With that in mind, and in light of what has been extremely high use of Horn Pond, resulting in parking lots too crowded with cars and people to be safe at this time, we will be closing [those areas]."
Friday's order will extend to use of the Cove Street parking lot and bathrooms, as well as the Clapp Park and Sturgis Street parking lots, until further notice.
As the city rolled out its newest emergency directives this weekend, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Woburn climbed to 73 cases. According to the local Board of Health, of those who have tested positive for the virus, 45 people remain in a mandatory isolation period.
Though Woburn's total COVID-19 caseload is growing, so too are the number of citizens who have recovered from the infection. As of Sunday afternoon, some 26 people who had tested positive for the novel coronavirus have since been deemed by the Board of Health as symptom free and thus freed from home confinement orders.
Tragically, a total of two Woburn residents have died from COVID-19, which across the state, had claimed the lives of 231 people as of sunday afternoon. According to the latest DPH figures, some 12,500 people in Massachusetts have tested positive for the virus.
According to the mayor, though the city is likely to face some of the most trying times in history, he has little doubt of Woburn's ability to weather the coming storm.
"It's a terrible situation. We will get through it. We've got great people in the city. We've got great workers in the city. I can't stress how proud I am of the police, the firefighters, the DPW, and al the city workers stepping forward to keep things going," he remarked last week.