Hi. This is Mayor Mike Cahill with a COVID-19 update this Monday evening. I am sending this call out a bit later in the evening, as parents with young children may prefer not to have them listen to this message directly.
Positive COVID-19 cases are on the rise – both throughout our state and country, and here in Beverly. Please keep our Beverly neighbors who have already succumbed to the virus and their families in your thoughts and prayers. If you have tested positive for the virus and are trying to recover at home or in the hospital, I am keeping you in my prayers and I wish you a complete and speedy recovery. For those of you self-quarantining due to contact with someone who has tested positive, I wish you continued good health or, if you become positive, a complete recovery.
Friends, I need to share some basics with you now. As of today, we have 48 Beverly residents who have tested positive for COVID-19. Since testing has been available now for two weeks, it is natural that our confirmed cases will rise. However, at the same time, we have many more people who are or have been positive than the diagnosed caseload will show – today or going forward. This is why we have lots of work to do – and most of that work involves social distancing.
Please remember, even though most people who contract the virus never get symptomatic and others experience mild to moderate symptoms, the greatest threat we face as a community is that the smaller percentage of people who will get seriously ill could overwhelm our health care system. There are simply not enough ventilators – not enough on the North Shore, not enough in Massachusetts, not enough in this country. We have to slow the spread of this virus so more ventilators can be built and shipped to our hospitals; so more personal protective equipment for our health care workers and first responders can be manufactured and delivered. Our job is to buy ourselves more time! If we don’t, if more seriously ill patients arrive at our hospital than there are ICU beds and ventilators for – and if more arrive than we have healthy doctors and nurses available to care for them, then even more Beverly residents are going to die. We have to make sacrifices now to save ourselves, our family members, and our neighbors – to save our courageous police, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, caregivers, and everyone else who make our health care system and social safety net work.
We should only be leaving our homes for a very few purposes – to get the food we need, to go to the doctor, to go to work only if you are working in a truly essential job, and to get outdoors safely for your physical and mental health. When we do leave our homes, we need to stay away from other people. It is not enough to social distance some of the time or even most of the time. This virus is very contagious – both in the air and on surfaces. And people who are not symptomatic can spread the virus. We need to social distance all the time. This is how we will slow the spread of this virus and buy the time needed to save lives.
So, stay at least six feet away from anyone who is not immediate family. Going walking with one of your close friends and chatting while two feet apart on the sidewalk is not social distancing. Playing pickup games – or any group sport or activity – is not social distancing. Hanging out and talking in a close group in a parking lot or at the beach is not social distancing. Having friends over to your house is not social distancing. This is the way it has to be now. If you need to be more thoughtful about your own movements and actions, and we all do, please start right now. We are all depending on each other.
Friends, I know this is a lot. If you need someone to talk with, or help with anything at this time, our friends at North Shore Community Action Programs have set up a hotline to answer all your questions about COVID-19. You can call them at 978 548-5784. Again, that number is 978 548-5784.
We as a community are engaged in a fight with a whole new set of rules. In the past, when our parents and grandparents faced huge challenges to our way of life, they and their neighbors right here in Beverly, and beyond, responded. We have it in us to do the same. Our challenge is here with us today. Let us dedicate ourselves: we will stay away from each other physically, while we draw closer in spirit and shared effort and experience, and let’s keep this virus from spreading unchecked. Lives depend on it – and we will succeed exactly because we have to succeed. Thank you for listening and for joining this fight. Stay strong and be well.