There are five confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the city of Gloucester. 

City officials expect this number, announced Sunday, to increase as testing becomes more widely available. 

On Saturday, Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken issued an emergency order for all personal care businesses in the city to close at noon Sunday, March 22. Personal care businesses include, but are not limited to hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, day spas, massage and body work establishments, tattoo piercing and body art establishments, aesthetics establishments, tanning salons, and gyms and fitness centers.

The move came after the three cases were reported to the city on Saturday. On Sunday, two more cases were announced as being confirmed.

"We've seen a spike in cases in Massachusetts and a cross the nation. The Gloucester Board of Health and the City of Gloucester have been preparing for the last several weeks for the arrival of COVID-19 in our community," the city's Public Health Director Karin Carroll said. "The city's been at the forefront on planning for this outbreak and has taken appropriate steps to adapt to the situation."

Once notified of the confirmed cases, the city's Health Department began its investigation which included tracing back these individuals' recent contracts.

The three individuals are recovering at home and following the recommended isolation protocols. 

In the interest of public health and safety and to prevent community transmission of COVID-19, Romeo Theken during the past week has also:

Closed all Gloucester Public Schools before the state mandate.

Closed all municipals buildings to the public.

Declared a state of emergency in the City of Gloucester to implement broad emergency measures to ensure public health and safety.

Ordered the closure of all city playgrounds.

"We are relying on you, our residents, to help us slow the spread of the virus in our community. This is a very fluid situation with many fast moving developments," Romeo Theken said. "Everyone in Gloucester needs to follow all the local and state guidelines and recommendations. Please check in on your family, neighbors and friends -- especially seniors. We all have a responsibility to do our part to keep each other and our city safe." 

The city's COVID-19 Response Team continues to work and meet regularly to discuss the latest guidance and determine the actions needed to keep the city prepared as the situation continues to evolve, she said. 

Romeo Theken is being briefed daily to coordinate efforts across city departments. The mayor and city officials are also joining daily briefings with state and federal officials to coordinate containment strategies regionally while at the same time prioritizing public communication and ensuring critical continuity of city operations. 

"Our city has always pulled together during difficult and trying times," Romeo Theken said. "The thoughts of the entire community are with the affected individuals and their families. Together we will all get through this."

For more information about COVID-19, call 2-1-1 from any landline or cellphone, visit the city's website www.gloucester-ma.gov, the state's website www.mass.gov, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov

Staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or tbradford@gloucestertimes.com

For continuing coverage of the ongoing COVID-19 threat on Cape Ann, follow and use the #CapeAnnCOVID hashtag on social media.

PREVENTING SPREAD

In an effort to prevent infectious diseases from spreading, Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken and the city's Health Department is encouraging all community members to take these precautionary measures: 

Wash your hands frequently, with soap and water, for a minimum of 20 seconds. 

Stay home to protect others if you are sick.

Use proper techniques when coughing or sneezing. 

Avoid touching your face. 

Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily. 

Practice social distancing by maintaining at least 6-foot distance from others.

Restrict all social interactions to essential activities, such as getting food, medicine, and gas. 

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