Hallowell City Manager Nate Rudy demonstrates the use of masks Wednesday during a community update video stream. Kennebec Journal image by Sam Shepherd

HALLOWELL — City officials delivered a community update Wednesday, refreshing them on the city’s response to the coronavirus and reminding city residents to wear masks when going out in public.

On Wednesday, the CDC reported that there were 537 cases of the coronavirus and 14 deaths statewide. Hallowell has declared a state of emergency in the city and created an emergency operations plan.

City Manager Nate Rudy said he was not aware of any Hallowell citizen that has contracted the virus.

Hallowell Mayor Mark Walker addresses Hallowell citizens via a Zoom meeting Wednesday during a community update. Kennebec Journal image by Sam Shepherd

The address was given via Zoom by Mayor Mark Walker, who stood at a lectern in the Hallowell City Hall Auditorium, and City Manager Nate Rudy, who was behind the video device.

During the meeting, Walker updated residents on the city’s response to the virus outbreak, which includes closing all city buildings — unless someone has an appointment — and an upcoming update to the city’s emergency operations plan. The emergency plan changes will be discussed at an April 13 meeting of the City Council.

During the meeting, Rudy also demonstrated the use of masks, which have now been recommended to be used by everyone who goes into public.

Rudy shared an Instagram post to the 16 meeting attendees that urged people to act as if the virus was smoke from a cigarette that gets you sick if it touches you and to think of all other people around you were smokers.

“The goal is to take every precaution to keep people healthy,” he said.

Rudy said the Kennebec River Rail Trail and Granite City Park are both open, but emphasized that social distancing should still be practiced at those locations.

Resident Marcia Gallagher asked if there were any “quarantine houses” being designated for people returning to Hallowell without a place to stay. Walker said there is a list of places, prepared by the Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency, for those situations.

Resident Alexandria Patel asked if seasonal residents would be returning to the city as normal. Rudy said the city could not to halt anyone’s plans to return to Hallowell.

Walker reminded the meeting attendees of volunteer opportunities in the community. He mentioned that Rep. Charlotte Warren has formed a group called Hallowell Helps that is calling older citizens who are shut-in and have “some degree of social need.” More information for Warren’s group can be found at hallowellhelps.org.

Another update is scheduled for Thursday at 5 p.m. Rudy said the updates would come “as needed.”

“We just wanted to catch everyone up on what has happened in the past month and answer questions from citizens who don’t otherwise attend city meetings,” he said, “but most of this information is available on the city website and links from our Facebook posts.”

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