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City of Holyoke Escalates Response in Preparation for Coronavirus Impacts

Posted on March 25, 2020


Mayor creates dedicated response teams to address the local economy, social services and shelter needs caused by Covid-19

The City of Holyoke today announced a new Incident Command Structure designed to rapidly respond to the needs of Holyoke citizens during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Anticipating the volume and complexity of the challenges to come, Mayor Alex Morse has rolled out an inter-agency team of leaders poised to provide crucial support in the coming weeks.

“Over the last three weeks we have moved quickly and successfully to shift a core group of City staff members into new roles that will ensure the continuity of vital city functions and to implement a proactive series regulations to slow down the spread of COVID-19 in Holyoke during its early stages,” says Mayor Morse, who has been conducting frequent Facebook Live sessions and community phone conversations in order to connect with residents and collect concerns from the public. “Although I know that these massive efforts will go a long way to protecting our community,” Morse continues, “there is still a lot that needs to be done to mitigate the dangerous challenges presented by business closures, social isolation, and the escalating threat of this virus.”

The newly created Incident Command Structure ads Planning teams made up of experts who will research, seek out resources, and help develop coordinated responses to some of the most pressing issues facing the City. The teams will tackle the major needs identified from community members via email, social media, and stakeholder phone calls: Local Economy, Social Services, and Sheltering. The teams are composed of the following City and Community leaders:

Local Economy

  • Tessa Murphy Romboletti, Director, EforAll Holyoke

  • Andrea Marrion, President, Great Holyoke Chamber of Commerce

  • John Dyjach, Assistant Director for Economic Development, City of Holyoke

  • Ben Murphy, Development Specialist, City of Holyoke

Social Services

  • Aaron Vega, State Representative, 5th Hampden

  • Pat Duffy, Aide to State Rep Aaron Vega

  • Alicia Zoeller, Administrator of Community Development


  • Sarah Meier-Zimbler, Development Director, Holyoke Housing Authority

  • Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council

  • Sean Gonsalves, Director, Holyoke Board of Health

  • Jesus Pereira, Director, Holyoke Veteran’s Services

Marcos Marrero, Director of Planning & Economic Development, who is currently serving as Deputy Manager of the Municipal Emergency Operations Center, will serve as the City’s point person for the Planning teams.

“This pandemic, and the efforts required to slow it down, have the potential to paralyze many of the systems that we rely on every day,” says Marrero. “Our challenge now, before the worst of this crisis hits, is to deploy a coordinated community response structure to make sure that basic needs in our City are being met for all. The systems we set up now will also put us in a better position for a smoother recovery and prepare us for a return to regular operations when the time comes.”

“What we hope to gain from this broad collaboration,” says Morse, “is quick, reliable access to information and resources for every single person. We are not letting the pandemic get ahead of us; we are working across these sectors to make sure that no one in Holyoke falls through the cracks. We will do everything in our power to save lives, keep our residents safe, and make sure we are prepared for the difficult recovery that waits ahead for all of us.”

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