A week after releasing its original coronavirus action plan, the town of Oakland has ramped up its efforts to help slow the spread of the potentially fatal virus.

At a council meeting Wednesday night, an official emergency task force committee was authorized. This comes after the town formed an original committee last week that was set to meet every two weeks to compile information for residents.

The new committee will now meet every day at 9 a.m. and has been asked to develop emergency protocols and implement communication strategies between town officials and residents.

The committee includes Fire Chief Dave Coughlin, Police Chief Michael Tracy, Town Manager Gary Bowman, Deputy Town Manager Janice Porter, Health Officer Anthony Thibodeau and David Groder, a Town Council member in Oakland and deputy fire chief in Augusta.

The committee’s other responsibilities include preparing to adequately staff emergency services, establishing communications with grocery stores and food banks and making recommendations regarding public admittance to the town’s public facilities.

The Town Council also authorized spending up to $10,000 in emergency funds to buy cleaning supplies for public buildings or compensate town employees if they come down with the virus.

Last week, Bowman announced a set of guidelines the Town Office would be following to protect its employees and the public. The guidelines include not shaking hands, not sharing writing utensils and maintaining a social distance of 6 feet, all of which are recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Beginning Thursday, the Town Office, fire station, library and town garage were closed to the public.

Town Office employees will be available during normal business hours to answer telephone calls and emails.

At the library, customers may still arrange by telephone to pick up or drop off books.

The transfer station will be open for regular garbage disposal, but the recycling building and the scale house will be closed until further notice.

Anyone in need of general assistance should call the Town Office.

As of Thursday evening, there were 52 positive cases of coronavirus in seven Maine counties, including three in Kennebec County.


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