BERLIN — Berlin residents answering their telephones Tuesday night may have heard the voice of Berlin City Manager James Wheeler providing information about the coronavirus. The city used the N.H. Emergency Notification System to try and reach citizens who don’t read the newspapers or access local television.
Community Development Director Pamela Laflamme said city officials do not want people to let their guard down because Coos County has not had a confirmed case of the COVID-19 yet.
“We don’t want a curve that takes off like it has in NYC and other places. We are fortunate that we live in a less densely populated area. This give us an advantage that we want to preserve by doing the right things,” Laflamme said.
Wheeler wrote the script and had it reviewed by Laflamme, Fire Chief James Watkins, and Police Chief Peter Morency. Laflamme said the city wanted to be clear that it wants residents to continue staying home and limiting contact to keep the virus from spreading in the area. She said feedback from the call has been good.
The call registered on phones with an 866 number and the caller id read Emergency Comm”. Then there was a chime and an automated message asking the listener to standby for an important message.
In addition to asking people to stay home, the message proposes other actions including regularly washing or sanitizing hands, avoiding touching your face, staying at least six feet away from others at all times, and minimizing close contact with others when you are out.
Wheeler points out that the elderly are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus and said slowing the rate of spreading will avoiding overwhelming the region’s healthcare system. He also asked residents to call elderly residents living alone to check on them.
Laflamme said the city has not used the emergency notification system before and is just learning about its capabilities and limitations. She said the goal is to get information out to as much of the population as possible and the call is another tool.
The city will continue to post information and messages on its website and Facebook page.