Emergency Center may restart if needed

Massena’s Emergency Operations Center, which closed at the end of June, could reopen if necessary in light of an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases in the community. It had been activated in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bob Beckstead/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — Massena’s Emergency Operations Center, which closed at the end of June, could reopen if necessary in light of an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases in the community.

As the novel coronavirus crisis began to grow earlier this year, the Emergency Operations Center was established at 11 a.m. March 23 in the Massena Town Hall “to facilitate and coordinate the community’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.”

Retired Police Chief Adam J. Love served as the Emergency Operations Center manager, working with a management team that included representatives from the town and village, Massena Rescue Squad, Massena Volunteer Fire Department, Massena Recreation Department, Department of Public Works and Police Activities League of Massena.

The group worked with federal, state and regional authorities to ensure an effective and coordinated response to the crisis.

Now, there’s a chance that the Emergency Operations Center could be reactivated.

An investigation by the New York State Department of Health and St. Lawrence County Public Health Department, which is in its early stages, had determined that a cluster of 22 individuals had tested positive in Massena. Reports indicated potential COVID-19 exposures occurring between Aug. 25 and Sept. 7.

The Department of Health and St. Lawrence County Public Health Department had successfully reached more than 150 people who might be at risk, and are actively working to identify additional individuals who may be impacted.

As a result, they set up a testing site Thursday at the Massena Community Center. The site was developed to test individuals who believe they may have been in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 14 days. Anyone who’s tested will need to self-quarantine until the results come back.

“We have some information on what caused this, and as you can expect, state and county officials protect privacy so we respect that fully,” Mayor Timmy J. Currier said. “The cluster of positive COVID-19 cases here in Massena, along with the number of people who are quarantined resulting from it, should serve as a strong reminder that this pandemic is far from over.”

He said that, although the Emergency Operations Center has closed, it could be reactivated if necessary to continue working on the community’s response to the pandemic.

“Our village EOC management team met via Zoom (Tuesday) afternoon and we are working closely with the county and should the need arise I’m prepared to order our EOC open. Currently we feel we can manage this uptick in cases as is, but again we are ready to do what’s necessary,” he said.

He said he was thankful to St. Lawrence County Director of Public Health Dana McGuire, County Administrator Ruth Doyle and Director of Emergency Services Matt Denner “for being on top of the cluster in Massena and immediately communicating with me and my team here in Massena.”

Mr. Currier, as well as public health officials, encouraged individuals to take steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including washing hands often, coughing into an elbow, not touching a face, staying more than 6 feet apart, wearing a mask, and staying home if feeling sick.

“By resuming your normal activities and increased social interactions, without taking these steps, you could be putting yourself and others at risk,” he said. “I know it has been a long six months, and at a minimum, we will be dealing with COVID-19 for many months longer. Many of us, including myself, have let our guard down or have failed to practice proper safety measures at times. It’s time we all remind ourselves and those around us to be smart and safe.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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