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Mayor declares ‘state of emergency’ in Lynn amid coronavirus concerns

LYNN — Mayor Thomas M. McGee has declared a state of emergency in the city of Lynn a week after Gov. Charlie Baker’s statewide emergency declaration, which gives city officials a “greater ability to respond to new developments,” according to a statement from the mayor’s office. 

The move, which McGee said Monday was meant to “protect the general health, safety and well-being” of the city’s residents, is another step the city is taking to curb the potential spread of the coronavirus. 

Nearby Swampscott announced its first “presumptive positive” case of COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus, on Monday, but Lynn has yet to be impacted. A Callahan Elementary School staff member reported last week she had been exposed to the virus, but school officials said she has not shown symptoms. 

The emergency declaration followed McGee’s announcement late Sunday night that Lynn City Hall, the city’s Department of Public Works and the Lynn Public Library would be closed to the public until further notice. 

The number of coronavirus cases in Massachusetts increased to 197 on Monday, an uptick from the 164 that were reported on Sunday, according to the state’s Department of Public Health. 

“In light of this truly unparalleled situation, the city is taking these precautionary measures in order to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 within our own community,” McGee said in a statement. “We are urging residents of all ages to regularly practice social distancing in groups of any size.” 

Residents are strongly encouraged to conduct any City Hall business by phone or online, but should anticipate delays in response as city offices will be minimally staffed. Consideration should be given to delaying matters that are not time sensitive, according to McGee.  

The mayor’s order to close city buildings, which came on the heels of statewide restrictions announced by the governor Sunday night, does not apply to emergency services, including the Lynn Police and Fire departments.

Following Baker’s announcement, the Lynn Public Schools will be closed until at least April 6. Parents are advised to have child care arrangements in place through April 17. 

“Grab and go” lunches will be available for all youth in the city at four schools: Thurgood Marshall Middle School, Lynn Classical and English High schools, and Lynn Vocational Technical Institute. Students are encouraged to access school resources daily, which will be made available on the Lynn Public Schools website. 

Baker announced Sunday he was closing all Massachusetts schools for at least the next three weeks and banning gatherings of more than 25 people.

The ban, which starts Tuesday, effectively closes the majority of public establishments and applies to churches, gyms, theaters and workplaces. Grocery stores and pharmacies won’t be impacted. 

In addition, the CDC recommends that organizations that serve people who are at higher risk of serious COVID-19 illness, such as older adults and those with chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease, cancel events for groups of 10 people or more, according to the mayor. 

“As we work to mitigate this current public health emergency, we thank you in advance for your patience and understanding during this time,” said McGee. “The city will continue to discuss its approaches to meeting the needs of the public while keeping the health of everyone in mind.” 

Residents are encouraged to take the following precautions to prevent a community spread of the coronavirus: 

Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. 
Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue and dispose of any used material. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. 
Stay home if you are sick and call your doctor. 

All Lynn residents are encouraged to visit the City of Lynn Health Department “Coronavirus Resources” page at http://www.lynnma.org/coronavirus for more information and sign up for the Smart 911 updates at https://smart911.com. 

Residents can call Lynn City Hall at 781-598-4000, Lynn DPW at 781-268-8000, or the Lynn Public Library at 781-595-0567, and follow the city website, www.lynnma.org., for updates.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.