Mayor Brian Arrigo and Dr. Nathalee Kong, chair of the Revere Board of Health, held a virtual town hall meeting during which the two officials responded to questions from residents about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bob Marra, chief of staff for Mayor Arrigo’s Office, was the moderator for the April 1 one-hour meeting that also provided an opportunity for the Mayor to directly update residents on the city’s response to the crisis and advise them on safety precautions.
Approximately 70 residents participated in the live broadcast that was titled, “A Conversation With Mayor Arrigo and Dr. Kong.”
Arrigo, who participated from the Mayor’s Office at City Hall, began the forum, stating, “My job as mayor is to protect our residents, our first responders and our healthcare workers. It is to make sure that we continue to have a high level of services to our residents and that we make sure we have the plans in place and we execute the plans to support the individuals that are impacted by this pandemic.”
Arrigo praised Dr. Kong “for being an invaluable resource to the city during this very difficult time,” while noting the importance of her medical expertise. “Her work over the last month has absolutely saved lives,” said Arrigo.
Kong, who works as a primary care doctor at MGH Revere on Ocean Avenue, said that COVID-19 “is the illness caused by a new type of coronavirus that we started to see back in December of 2019 in Wuhan, China, that has since spread globally.”
Kong said the virus “is highly contagious and spreads through respiratory droplets, so coughing, sneezing, and nasal secretions from runny noses all count. It can also be spread by touching infected surfaces and then touching your face. These respiratory droplets need to enter our bodies through a mucous membrane like your eyes, nose, and mouth.”
Kong said that every person is at risk of getting the virus.
“To put this all in perspective, this is a scary virus and a scary time, but it’s also important to know that 80 percent of those who are infected, according to data from Italy and China, do not require hospitalization. They are able to get better on their own at home.”
Kong stated firmly, “To take a page out of the Mayor’s book, ‘Stay at home – at all costs.’’’
Many questions about Satter House
Marra said that several people had questions about the situation at the Jack Satter House.
“One question generally involves, ‘Why is the concern about the Satter House as opposed to other dwellings where multiple elderly residents live?”
Arrigo responded, “My heart goes to everyone that is quarantined, everyone that is fighting this virus, and everyone and their families who has succumbed to COVID-19.”
“We have had five people from the Satter House pass away due to COVID-19, and that is part of the reason why there is so much attention given to that building. A month ago, when we knew that COVID-19 was coming, I had conversations with leadership in all of the nursing homes and independent living facilities, and our Housing Authority to make sure that folks understood that we were preparing and we wanted to hear their plans for preparing. I do have the utmost confidence and respect in the folks at the Jack Satter House who have been able to step up during this incredibly difficult time.”
Arrigo added that the Board of Health ordered that all Satter House residents would have to remain in their individual apartments to prevent further spread of the virus in that building. The order was also put out to other multi-unit buildings, especially those with senior residents.
What is true meaning of ‘Stay At Home’ order?
A man who identified himself as “Dave” asked, “Does ‘Stay At Home’ mean that residents that are not showing symptoms cannot or should not go outside walking or jogging to get exercise?”
Kong responded that the order applies to patients who are not positive from the virus and it applies to patients who do not have symptoms and “means that you should limit your movements outside your home as much as possible.”
“And when you’re outside, practice social distancing – try to be six feet at least away from the next person.”
No basketball playing at local playgrounds
In response to a question from “Mike” about large groups of residents running and jogging in the city, and some playing basketball at local playgrounds, Arrigo announced that the DPW “ziptied all the basketball rims at our playgrounds.”
Marra compiled a question from residents asking why construction sites in the city are still operating.
Mayor Arrigo said, “Yes, construction sites are still operating. We are following the guidelines that have been handed down by the Governor around construction, and it’s been made clear by the Governor legal counsel that during a state of emergency, the orders that he provides cannot be superseded by a municipality. We are following those orders.”
Responding to a question, Arrigo said the city has assembled an outreach team focused on assisting seniors with wellness check calls, food, and other necessities. Seniors can call 3-1-1 if they are in need of assistance.
“Debbie [Peczka] at the Senior Center has done an incredible job and our volunteers have really stepped up.”
Arrigo said prospective volunteers can go to revere.org to fill out a volunteer worksheet.
Notification of COVID-19 cases
“Eliana” asked if residents were going to be notified about the location of new COVID-19 cases in the city and where people infected with the virus have traveled.
“There have been a lot of conversations with the state and other municipalities about information sharing,” said Arrigo, “We are limited in what we can share. From my perspective, I think it’s important for us to share the numbers [of positive cases] per day. We’ve been sharing the numbers and we will continue to share them daily because it really shows what kind of impact this has had in our community.”
Questions about testing for COVID-19
“Testing remains a huge frustration for me and most of the medical community,” said Kong. “Testing has been limited because we just don’t have enough tests.”
Kong said if residents exhibit symptoms of the virus and they are in “a high-risk category”, they could be referred for treatment through their primary care doctor.
“That’s probably the main way any of us can get tested, is through your PCP (primary care physician),” said Kong.
Number of people in supermarkets
Marra compiled the following question from residents, “What is being done to make it as safe and possible for people to shop at supermarkets?”
Arrigo replied, “There were new measures put in today in several place,