Life as we know it changed dramatically this week, as Vermont and the world try to keep the COVID-19 coronavirus from decimating the population.
The virus is spread mainly from person-to-person contact, and from surfaces contaminated by people with the virus, so the emphasis is on staying home and washing your hands often and thoroughly.
As a result:
• Schools and colleges have closed, with online classes being organized.
• Bars and restaurants are closed, except for takeout and delivery.
• Gathering places — libraries, art galleries, senior centers — are closing.
• Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has banned non-essential gatherings of 50 people or more, which means sporting events, concerts, fundraising galas, theater shows, dances and a long string of other activities are canceled.
• The shutdown of normal activities is having a profound effect on all kinds of businesses. If the shutdown lingers until August, as some speculate, many businesses may never recover.
• Stowe Mountain Resort, Sugarbush Resort and most other Vermont ski areas have closed for the season.
• The Lodge at Spruce Peak, the major hotel at Stowe Mountain Resort, has closed.
• Copley Hospital in Morrisville has begun drive-thru testing for the coronavirus, with a doctor’s orders.
• Many churches have canceled services, or are holding them online.
• Harwood Union High School canceled its Climate Action Film Festival.
• The Vermont Statehouse is closed this week for deep cleaning.
• Local governments are trying to figure out how to function if in-person meetings must be canceled. Many don’t yet have the technology for online meetings.
• The Vermont Supreme Court has canceled all non-essential court hearings at all levels of the court system.
• Some funerals have been postponed.
• For a community weekly newspaper, the pace of a seven-day news cycle may seem downright glacial in the face of this rapidly spreading virus. To ensure that we best inform our communities, the Waterbury Record has added an area on its website dedicated to cancellations and closures due to the coronavirus. Keep up to date by visiting waterburyrecord.com. And, as always, if you have any information you’d like us to know about, send it to email@example.com.
Harwood schools closed Monday and will stay closed until at least April 6.
School Superintendent Brigid Nease said seven students and teachers being monitored for coronavirus. One student exhibited symptoms and was tested, but the results were negative.
The school district will provide free takeout meals for children 18 and under — two breakfast and lunch meals on Mondays and Wednesdays, and one of each on Fridays. Details: huusd.org.
Closed around town
Waterbury municipal offices are closed to walk-in traffic. Vital services will be available by appointment made by email or phone. Clerical services will be available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and zoning and planning services will be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the same time. Payments of bills and other fees can be made via credit card, mail or left in a drop box outside the municipal offices.
The Waterbury Public Library is closed but will still provide ebook and other web-based services.
The Waterbury Area Senior Center is closed until April 15, but will continue to provide Meals on Wheels deliveries. People can sign up for delivery by calling the senior center. Meals on Wheels has added four new drivers and is confident it can handle an increase in demand.