Coping with COVID-19

Update from Councillor Nolan: With the rapidly developing coronavirus crisis, I thought it would be important to send an update today on what we know and some resources.

Thanks to Katie Porter and other leaders like her taking action
on behalf of the American people to keep us safe

Thanks to Katie Porter and other leaders 
like her taking action on behalf of 
the American people to keep us safe

Now that three cases have been confirmed in Cambridge, and we are starting to know people who have been close to someone exposed to COVID-19, we need to continue taking any and all preventative actions in the face of this emergency.  I am grateful that in the absence of sound policy from the federal government, state and local governments are following sound scientific advice. And many Cambridge folks have stepped up and offered their advice and are clear in their sense that we need to be doing all we can to contain this virus – by flattening the curve. The crisis is real, and we can get through it with preparation and clear headed actions. 

Know that the city is working hard in a challenging situation, which is evolving at warp speed. I share the frustration of people who felt that the communication from the city to date was sub-optimal. I, along with the Mayor and other Councillors, have been pushing for more immediate, comprehensive, and timely communication. It was unacceptable to me that it has taken so long for the city to disseminate information. You can follow all Cambridge updates on and resources about the virus and sign up for phone and email alerts from the city as well. The City Manager’s response to our policy order (I joined Councillors Simmons and Toomey in sponsoring) is helpful. In addition, for a more general roundup of city news, you can sign up for the city’s weekly e-newsletter.

During this disconcerting time, when our routines are disrupted, fear and anxiety are widespread and uncertainty reigns, please take care of yourself. Whether it is going for a jog or practicing a yoga pose, or experimenting with a chocolate dessert, now is the time to use some time for your emotional health. And, if you can, check in on neighbors, especially older neighbors who may need your help. Experts recommend minimizing direct contact with those over 70 and/or with underlying health conditions. However, you can still call, leave a note, offer to deliver groceries, pick up food orders or prescriptions.

And while we are in a type of quarantine and limiting contact and urging social distancing, we can still go outside. That is true for kids of all ages. Walk around the neighborhood – run up and down a park path. Get fresh air. Try not to touch your face while outside, and then wash your hands when you come home.

The economic impact on all of us may be severe. It will be especially difficult for local businesses. Many simply will NOT survive if business stops and people do not shop and patronize them. I recently met a small business owner in Harvard Square who said more than half her business was students – they are worried about surviving now that Harvard has essentially shut down the college and sent 6000 undergrads home. PLEASE consider spending your dollars locally as much as you possibly can, even if it is ordering take out. If you need something, don’t order on Amazon – get it from a local store. We say we love our local small neighborhood hubs. Now is the time to show them some love. Harvard Square Business Association has an important plea applicable to all our squares. And check out Cambridge Local First and Central Sq Business District as well.

There have been many offers of folks wanting to help. The mayor, the Council, the city administration and many community partners are all working to ensure that those in need get the support and help they need. There are numerous groups coordinating efforts – look for ways to help in the various communications and check out your neighborhood listservs also.