Editor’s note: InDepthNH.org will publish inspirational and even fun-to-read columns to help fill your at-home time. As the experts say: please, please stay home and stay safe. Happy Birthday March 19 Mayor Grenier.
By Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier
I first want to start off by saying this has been quite a trying week.
Governor Chris Sununu has made what I think are critically important decisions to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, a highly contagious respiratory virus.
From closing the Berlin School System to closing restaurants and taverns for on-premise consumption and limiting public gatherings to less than 50 people, decisions of this type are not made in a vacuum.
We know this will be financially devastating to our excellent restaurants, pubs, social and veterans’ clubs. They all need our help, and now. For those that can and are used to enjoying our establishments, please, order take out.
And do it often! Inevitably some of these businesses may need to downsize to survive, but we really are all in this together.
On Thursday, Senator Jeanne Shaheen held a conference call with all of New Hamphire’s mayors to update all of us on the latest developments in Washington. She started by saying officials in Congress and President Trump have increasingly recognized the urgency of the situation and the partisanship, except for a couple fringe members of both parties, has subsided.
They are working together on three fronts. First and foremost, they are going to inject as much as five hundred billion dollars to individuals as cash payments.
This will probably be means tested, those that are over a certain income will get less or none at all.
Secondly, there will be relief for small businesses, of which in Berlin comprises the vast majority of activity here.
Thirdly, hospitals and community health care centers will need financial help to weather this pandemic. I have asked and have been assured that once this trillion dollar plus bill passes (no one thinks there will be huge changes), we will organize a presentation by Senator Shaheen’s staff of the available programs and timelines.
One huge item mentioned by Mayor Hilliard of Somersworth was keeping paperwork simple. The business community shouldn’t have to fill out a 36-page document to keep their doors open or their employees compensated in this unprecedented event.
When I know, we will schedule something right away. City Manager James Wheeler previously worked in the healthcare industry in senior administration. He has experience in healthcare activities, preparedness and mobilization.
AVH is an extremely well recognized critical access hospital. In the event of a pandemic, AVH, like other hospitals across the country, could be overwhelmed with patient care. This is why Governor Sununu has taken his actions.
We need to follow all the precautions being advertised in the national, state and local press. Please, take this seriously!!!
From all indications and conversations that I’ve had with Concord, Berlin and Coos County, we are just entering the most critical phase. If we’re careful, practice social distancing, and immediately contact your doctor’s office at first sign of a cold or flu, we can hopefully minimize the impact of this health emergency.
Berlin Fire Chief Jay Watkins, Berlin’s Emergency Management Director (EMD) is leading emergency response functions. Chief Watkins’ extensive knowledge in emergency planning Page 2 March 20, 2020 City Hall, 168 Main Street Berlin, NH 03570 Tel: 603-752-7532 www.berlinnh.gov and operations and his preparedness capabilities are a huge benefit and comfort to all of us.
There is coordination and planning between AVH, Coos County Family Health, Berlin City Government, Gorham Town Government, St. Vincent de Paul and Coos County Nursing Home facilities as well as the New Hampshire State Prison and Bureau of Prisons-Berlin. All organizations are working together for the common goal of minimizing disruption and keeping people safe.
Finally, I have strongly urge that the City Manager and Community Development Director Pam Laflamme be the only spokespeople for city government and Superintendent of Schools Julie King be the spokesperson for the Berlin Public Schools.
You can find information as it is made available on the City’s website, www.berlinnh.gov It is important that we speak from one voice so as not to needlessly alarm our citizens. And please, follow the advice!! Wash your hands multiple times daily and practice safe distancing when around people. REMEMBER, WE’RE FROM BERLIN…WE CAN DO IT!! God Bless
Paul Grenier, Mayor