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Newport City Council held a workshop on Tuesday afternoon in order to receive their weekly COVID-19 update form Newport City Manager Joe Nicholson.
Present for the meeting; City Manager Joe Nicholson,Newport Fire Chief Brian Dugan, Communications Officer Tom Shevlin, City Solicitor Chris Behan, Jamie Bova, Lynn Ceglie, Kathryn Leonard, Jeanne-Marie Napolitano, Susan Taylor, Justin McLaughlin, and Angela McCalla.
Here’s our (quick) notes from the meeting, we’ll be sure to follow up with further and more details as needed;
- Nicholson reviewed latest public RIDOH data on cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Nicholson says number of cases in Newport stand at 23. Newport still only has one COVID-19 associated death.
- Nicholson said he just got off a call with RIDEM, no news or progress to share. There will be another conversation in a couple of weeks in regards to status of beaches, parks.
- Nicholson shared the criteria the Governor is going to be looking at in order to open the economy – 14 straight days in decreases of cases and the six questions that she rolled out on Monday.
- Nicholson reviewed face mask order from the Governor as well as contact tracing journal.
- Nicholson said transactions at city hall are all way down, but the land evidence requests are way up. Nicholson believes it could be way up because of big property sales.
- Councilor Leonard asked question about unemployment insurance.
- Councilor McLaughlin raised concerns about confusion of mask order. Asked if the City Council could make wearing a mask mandatory on Cliff Walk. Nicholson said that yes the city could do something like that if the Council wanted. Nicholson also brought up mandating that customers must wear masks when visiting a business.
- Councilor Napolitano asked Nicholson about the amount of testing happening. Nicholson shared his worries about Boston being only one hour and fifteen minutes away, warm weekends, weekend visitors.
- Councilor Leonard brought up complaints of people coming from out of town to visit homes and not following 14-day quarantine order.
- Mayor Bova asked Nicholson if it would be possible to shut down all short term rentals in the City. “There’s nothing wrong with having a license plate from New York, even though when you see one we all shrink up a little bit”. Nicholson said it’s incredibly difficult to enforce quarantine orders / limiting short term orders.
- Councilor McCalla asked if Newport was considering setting up their own testing site. Nicholson said that the City doesn’t control testing sites, that’s the state. Nicholson said there is a local testing site out near CCRI in Newport that will be opening in the next 24 hours. Depending on resources, this testing site may be expanded.
- Councilor McCalla asked about food insecurities in the City. Newport Fire Department Chief Brian Dugan said the City is getting their food from Rhode Island Food Bank and that they only have so much food available. “Right now we’re ok, right now we’ve actually had a decrease in food requests,” Dugan said.
- Councilor McCalla asked that the City keep the Hispanic community in mind with communications. Shevlin and Ceglie spoke about how the City of Newport’s website can now be translated into seven language now and is ADA compliant. City is working to send Rave Alerts, texts, emails, and more in English and Spanish.
- Councilor Ceglie brought up concern about basketball court at MLK Center. Still groups of people hanging out there.
- Councilor Taylor asked Nicholson about testing.
- Councilor Taylor asked about evictions.
- Councilor Ceglie brought up what Newport Mental Health and other organizations are doing to support the homelessness.
- Mayor Bova brought up the Governor’s comments regarding Governor provides guidance, advice for how businesses can be prepared for the ‘new normal’
- There was a discussion among all on the call about opening up the Zoom call for resident questions and comments, and also a discussion about streaming the meetings directly to Facebook. Nicholson said he and the City will look into it.
What’s Up Newp will link to the entire video when it is made available from the City of Newport.
Newport City Council will host a Regular Council Meeting via Zoom on Wednesday night at 6:30 pm.