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Hempstead Town forms task force amid coronavirus outbreak

Some facilities closed effective March 13

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The Town of Hempstead has formed a task force to institute strategies to limit the spread of novel coronavirus. The announcement came from Supervisor Donald Clavin Wednesday from outside the Merrick Senior Center. 

Since its creation, the task force, led by Hempstead's medical director, Dr. David Neubert, and Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, has held daily meetings "to address precautionary measures aimed at preventing the spread of illnesses among employees and members of the public," Clavin said. Its agenda includes expanding disinfectant and cleaning efforts in town facilities, and enhancing communication and education initiatives to keep the public informed.

The task force's preventive measures include:

• Increasing the number of hand-sanitizing stations in town facilities. 

• Stepped-up cleaning efforts in heavily trafficked areas, such as the Building Department, the town clerk and tax receiver's offices and the lobby of Town Hall.

• Distributing fliers with safety tips.

• Special efforts to protect older adults in the town.

The town has implemented additional steam-cleaning at each of its 14 senior centers, and additional cleaning of senior transport buses. Neubert and his staff have also visited the centers to act as a resource to those who may have questions or concerns.   

"We're making sure that everyone has the proper information that they need to keep themselves safe, their families safe and to continue to go about their lives," Neubert said. 

Other municipalities in Nassau had temporarily closed their senior centers or suspended senior activities in response to the outbreak since people aged 60 and over are at a higher risk of contracting the virus. After County Executive Laura Curran declared a state of emergency last Friday, the town complied. The following facilities were closed “out of an abundance of caution” effective March 13, according to a press release: 

The town has also postponed all physical fitness, youth and cultural arts classes, as well as swimming lessons and lifeguard training at Echo Park. The release noted that the measures would be “re-evaluated” on March 20. 

The “next wave” of Neubert’s presentations, he said, will roll-out to local community centers. Additionally, the town has commissioned a series of Facebook Town Halls to offer residents interactive question-and-answer sessions with Neubert and other task force members. A session will be held on Friday, March 20, at 2 p.m. on the Town of Hempstead’s Facebook page at facebook.com/hempsteadtown.

"Part of the process is educating people," Clavin said. "A lot of people have legitimate concerns, legitimate questions, and our team is out there answering them, and we will continue to do that in the next couple of weeks as things progress."