There is a bit of good news this week regarding the numbers of new COVID-19 cases in Chelsea day over day, with the numbers of new cases reported to the City declining significantly over the last four days.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he is encouraged by the numbers – noting that the numbers of new cases last week day over day were in the 20s and this week they were below 10 a day. That is opposed to just a few weeks ago when there were about 70 new cases per day.
“We have to be careful, but the data suggests we are on the downside,” said Ambrosino. “The numbers are looking very, very good for our COVID-19 cases. The last two nights we’ve had eight or nine new cases reported. I’m not sure that will keep up. I think as soon as we open up the economy, we’ll see higher numbers, but hopefully we’ll not get to the situation where we are seeing 70 new cases a night. That’s a lot for a City of this size. We have over 5 percent of our population testing positive. That’s just those that were reported. I expect it’s much higher.”
As of May 12, the City had registered 2,353 confirmed cases, with 957 people having recovered from the virus. Sadly, 132 people have died as a result of COVID-19.
It is a marked slowdown from weeks before.
Chelsea is also probably one of the most mask-compliant cities in the area. While some people can be seen without a mask or face covering in public, the vast majority do wear masks. Those masks are readily available and handed out at food pantries, distribution centers and medical facilities free of charge to everyone.
“I do feel people are very aware here and taking precautions,” said Ambrosino. “I have no doubt when we open to everyone, inevitably there will be a spike in the cases here and elsewhere.”
Ambrosino said they are looking toward the guidance of the state’s task force on opening, and municipal leaders are monitoring that and making sure their voices are heard.
He said he can see a situation where retail establishments could open in the coming weeks.
“I can see retail opening with limited occupancy,” he said. “I don’t see why that would be significantly different from grocery stores with limited occupancy. I think restaurants are different because it will be hard. The majority will have tables six feet apart and most are small already. Whether these restaurants can survive with limited occupancy is unknown…I do think businesses can open with appropriate restrictions. The question is can they survive economically with the restrictions that will be required.”
Some of those requirements for restaurants and all businesses will be staying six fee from one another, supplying employees with PPE, face coverings for employees and customers and other measures.
As for City Hall, Ambrosino has said the last two weeks he has June 1 circled on his calendar as an aspirational date to get things in City Hall rolling.
“I’ve been talking about June 1 as a date that is plausible,” he said. “If we were to open up then, it would be slowly. There will be social distancing in City Hall. People will be spread out and the normal things we understand to happen in City Hall wouldn’t be allowed. People will get used to it. It’s just like people got used to the security and restrictions in the airport after 9/11. They grumble at first, but they get used to it. When we open up, if someone doesn’t have a mask on, it will draw attention.”
He said they still need two good weeks of having the COVID-19 under control – meaning no growth in new cases. That has not yet happened.