For now till crisis is over, a new normal takes root in Rochester

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Rochester Mayor Caroline McCarley urges residents not to forget downtown restaurants during shutdown. (Rochester Voice file photo)

Editor's note: Every day during the COVID-19 crisis The Rochester Voice will have any new local information on the virus or its impact on Rochester either here in the Top Story section or in our Rochester section.

ROCHESTER - Rochester is waking up today beginning a new normal that will reflect vast changes of how were live our lives and interact with one another due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The newest restrictions include closure of dining and drinking establishments except for takeout or pickup, ending nursing home visits to protect the elderly and a stop to being in groups of 10 or more people in public.

While the depth of the pandemic is still unknown and the economic impact unclear, Rochester Mayor Caroline McCarley is urging residents to continue to support local businesses when they can, however, especially those affected by the governor's action on Monday that closes all New Hampshire restaurants and bars till through April 7 except for take-out, delivery, and drive-through.

"These are difficult times and livelihoods are being impacted by these drastic changes to our way of living," Mayor McCarley said. "What's important is that we rally together as a community to get through this. Please consider supporting local restaurants that remain open to take out and delivery so we can work to ensure that our main streets and local businesses survive the economic impact of this pandemic."

Rochester is also implementing the following measures and tips for safety, according to a bulletin sent out Monday by city officials; they include:

Residents are encouraged not to gather in groups of 10 or more

Residents are encouraged to limit any non-essential shopping except necessary trips to the grocery store or pharmacy.

Residents are reminded that the grocery supply chain remains stable and there is no food shortage, so residents should feel comfortable following their regular grocery shopping routines.

As of Wednesday morning, city offices will be closed to the public. Staff will still be required to report to work.

Public meeting schedules will be adjusted based upon necessity so residents should keep checking meeting calendars. Staff are working on interim technology solutions that would allow meetings to be conducted virtually.

All requests for public use of meeting space is canceled.

The Rochester Public Library and recreation facilities are closed, and all associated programming is cancelled or postponed until further notice.

Several organizations have canceled large events including: Free Comic Book Day, Beer in the Barn, the Chamber Annual Meeting, and the Rochester Main Street Annual Meeting.

All schools in Rochester are closed to students through at least April 3 as per a decree by Gov. Sununu. All school employees are required to report to work during the week of March 16 for professional development and organizational preparation for remote learning.

On Friday, March 13, Gov. Sununu issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency for New Hampshire. The order spans 21 days and bans nearly all visitors to the state's nursing homes and residential elder care facilities. Non-essential out-of-state travel for state and municipal employees is also prohibited.

Prevention and What to do if you Feel Sick

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that seniors and those with chronic health conditions are the most at-risk for serious illness caused by the coronavirus; they urge that those in this vulnerable population take appropriate precautions to mitigate their risk of becoming sick.

Practice social distancing (at least six feet away from others) and avoid large crowds and large-scale events.

Families should not hold "play dates" and those in need of childcare should limit the number of families involved as much as possible.

Seniors and those with underlying health conditions are urged not to babysit or attend gatherings with children.

Any person who believes they may be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their primary care physician.

Reported symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath and respiratory illness, including pneumonia in severe cases.

If anyone displays symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever, cough or shortness of breath, they should stay home and they are advised to contact their primary care physician. According to the CDC, symptoms of the virus appear within 2-14 days of exposure.

If you feel sick, the CDC recommends:

Call your primary care physician before visiting them in person

Stay home and limit your contact with others

Wear a facemask if you are sick. Masks are not recommended for widespread use by healthy people.

Practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds including under your fingernails. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol content) can be used when soap and water are not available.

Keep your hands away from your face.

Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing with a tissue and discard it immediately. Cough into the sleeve over your elbow instead of your hand. Wash your hands often when coughing and sneezing.

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