April 8, 2020
Senior Departmental staff started meeting with City Manager Karen Conard as the Emergency Management Team to provide COVID-19 proactive monitoring and response on March 13. Moving from in-person meetings to conference calls after the Governor declared the Stay At Home order, the Team includes the City Manager, Fire Chief, Police Chief, City Health Officer, Public Information Officer and representatives from the Welfare, Finance, School, Human Resources, Economic Development, Inspections, Legal, Planning, Recreation/Senior Services, Information Technology and Public Works Departments along with the Portsmouth Housing Authority. The Team confers on Portsmouth’s coordinated response to the pandemic and shares the latest updates received in conference calls with the NH Congressional Delegation, Governor Sununu, NH Department of Business and Economic Affairs, NH Department of Health and Human Services, NH Emergency Management and regional health and first responders.
The City staff continues to refine the special COVID-19 messaging developed for the City’s existing communications channels to provide information to residents in a timely and useful manner. In particular, the City:
- Created new “COVID-19” pages on the City website with homepage banner links to each, including:
- Public health information
- Food and restaurant resources
- Business and workforce assistance
- City Hall contacts and online services
- A collection of all the Daily City Advisories
- Increased the frequency of the community e-newsletter from weekly to a Daily Advisory. In addition to providing the most current, accurate information available to the City to Portsmouth residents, the Advisory is now shared by 23 other towns around Portsmouth to keep their residents informed about regional resources. The newsletter is free and welcomes sign-ups (click here).
- Initiated a dedicated email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) where residents can get answers to questions arising from the COVID-19 situation.
- Implemented technological solutions including work-from-home networking for City staff and a Zoom account, to give residents participatory access to City Council, Commission and Board meetings.
- Relays the Daily Advisory across all of its social media channels and to the media and partners including the Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth. The Advisory is also posted daily and archived on the website.
- Posts Bulletins and an informational ‘crawl’ on Channel 22 with information particularly directed to seniors and self-quarantined residents who may not have Internet access.
“The goal is to provide as much useful, current information as we can to as many Portsmouth residents, businesses and organizations as we can,” said City Manager Karen Conard. “In such a rapidly developing situation as this, it is challenging to reach every audience; but we’re getting great feedback, especially on the Daily Advisory. I invite everyone to share all of the resources we offer across as many of their networks of family, friends and colleagues as they can. One of the best solutions to this emergency is an informed and aware community. We welcome your suggestions for additional ways to accomplish that goal.”