Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino couldn’t stress enough Wednesday morning how precarious things have become in Chelsea with the COVID-19 outbreak, as the city has become a hot spot for infections, and Ambrosino advised everyone to stay inside 24 hours a day if at all possible.
There were 356 reported cases as of Tuesday night in Chelsea, but many – including Ambrosino – said it’s likely many multiples of that number. Chelsea, along with Revere and East Boston have been noted as hot spots outbreak.spots in the state for the outbreak.
“That number is only the number of people tested and those tested in our community is just a small percentage of the population,” he said. “We’ve tried to keep the message simple, the message about staying home unless it is essential to get out of the house because you are an essential worker, need to go to the grocery or to get medicine. The Boston mayor set a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. We’re going to say there is a curfew all day long – 24 hours a day. That’s our advice. It’s not an order, but our advice right now is to stay home. It’s voluntary compliance. We’re just saying there is no magic number with 9 to 6. People right now should stay home at all times if they can.”
There were no official rates posted for Chelsea, as so many are sick but haven’t been tested or sought treatment. Some estimates in the media were that the rate was 71 per 10,000, which is staggering when compared to Boston’s overall rate 18.1 per 10,000 rate on April 2.
“From what we can determine, Chelsea has by far the highest rate of infection per 10,000 residents in the Commonwealth,” said Ambrosino.
The City has logged eight deaths attributed to COVID-19, with five of them being at the Soldiers’ Home, and 36 people have recovered from the virus.
In Everett, an order issued on Tuesday included giving the police the ability to fine those that defied the curfew $300 per day. Ambrosino said the police will not be empowered in Chelsea to practice enforcement of those in defiance, but he said large groups of people would be moved along.
“The Chief and I feel that voluntary compliance is what we’re looking for,” he said. “We have engaged gatherings and had them disperse. It’s not practical to write citations when people have no obligation to give police their name or information. We’re not going to be locking people up. We’re trying to get the information to people and get them to comply voluntarily for everyone’s safety.”
•Construction has been mostly shut down
Ambrosino said construction has not been completely shut down, but they are mostly following the governor’s edict about limiting construction as much as possible.
One of the few projects that will continue is the hotel project on 2nd Street, and that’s only because Ambrosino said he wants it to be ready in case it should need to be used for COVID-19 overflow.
“We want to get life-safety systems in there in case we need to use the hotel for the COVID-19 response,” he said. “I’d rather have it ready than not ready. There are some continued life-safety items that need to be put in there, including an elevator.”
•CPS Meal Distribution will continue
While Everett Public Schools shut down its meals distribution sites this week, Ambrosino said it is too crucial a service for Chelsea families to shut down.
“It’s a balancing act on everything,” he said. “We feel in Chelsea that food distribution is too critical to the survival of our families to stop it. I recognize there is risk in running the programs, but the distribution of this food is essential we feel.”