Do you want to be part of the COVID-19 solution? Then just answer the call.
We need your help. If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19, the COVID Community Team will be reaching out via phone to you and your close contacts to slow the spread. We’ll make sure that you are getting the medical attention you need and support through quarantine.
Your caller ID will show the call is coming from:
413-834-5729 (local health department) or
413-834-5596 (local health department) or
833-638-1685 (MA COVID Team) or
857-305-2728 (MA COVID Team)
Please answer the call.
What Does a Stay at Home Advisory Mean?
Last week, the Department of Public Health issued a Stay-at-Home Advisory, built in two parts. The first part is directed to those Massachusetts residents who are 70 years and older and those with underlying health conditions to strongly advise them to stay-at-home with the exception of essential trips for food, medicine, and focused time for exercise and fresh air. As this part of our population has significantly higher fatality rates with confirmed cases of this virus, this DPH Advisory in the strongest terms urges you to stay-at-home unless necessary and to limit your exposure to this virus.
The second part is directed to the population as a whole - both to those who are needed to keep our essential services operational, and for all other residents of the Commonwealth. This part of the advisory also advises staying-at-home for all those who are not providing essential services as described in Executive Order #21 (found online at https://www.mass.gov/doc/march-31-2020-essential-services-extension-order/download), and https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-essential-services
In every instance, this DPH Advisory requires the adherence for safe hygiene practices and vigilant physical distancing. Individuals in the Commonwealth should always practice physical distancing, meaning keeping a distance of 6 feet between you and the other person.
Under this advisory, “staying home” means:
Only leave your home to address essential needs, get some fresh air and exercise, and if you do, avoid unnecessary contact with other individuals.
You should still run essential errands such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy but should practice physical distancing when shopping. If you are at high-risk, you should inquire about your local pharmacy/grocery store’s alternative hours for high risk individuals.
When going to the pharmacy you should fill your prescriptions for 90 days if possible; for some medications this is not allowed. If you are at high-risk, you should try to use a mail-order service.
You can still go to the gas station, order and pick up take-out food and receive deliveries (e.g. Amazon, UPS, Fedex).
You can still go outside to get fresh air, however, you must practice physical distancing while outside and avoid touching surfaces frequently touched by others.
You are encouraged to use remote modes of communication such as telephone or video chat (e.g. Facetime, Skype, Facebook Messenger Video Chat) instead of visiting friends or family. This is especially true for a hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or other residential care setting.
Non-essential medical care like eye exams, teeth cleaning, and elective procedures must be rescheduled.
If possible, health care visits should be done remotely.
Parents should not arrange play dates for children during this time.
All individuals must eliminate close contact activities such as pick-up sports games.
Individuals with any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 should remain in their homes, and request assistance with accessing essential services, such as obtaining food or medications.
Self-Reporting Symptoms to Your Local Board of Health
If you have been diagnosed by lab test or have a doctor’s diagnosis with 2019 Novel (new) Coronavirus (COVID-19) and now have symptoms, or if you have had a high-risk exposure to COVID-19 but have no symptoms:
Stay home and have no visitors to your home. Contact your local Board of Health for guidance on isolation and quarantine. You can find a contact list for each Franklin County community public health nurse online at: https://frcog.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Local-Public-Health-Contacts-for-COVID-19-for-Primary-Care-_Updated-April-1.pdf. Reporting to your Board will allow them to communicate with local dispatch to ensure that any first responder who might need to come to your home for any type of emergency can know to take appropriate precautions. ISOLATION is required of persons who have symptoms and have a diagnosis of COVID-19. You will be required to stay home and have no visitors unless medically required and wearing proper levels of protection.
ISOLATION may discontinue after the following conditions:
At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications AND improvement in respiratory symptoms – e.g., cough, shortness of breath) AND
At least seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared (illness onset). Onset date (of symptoms) would be considered “day zero”.
QUARANTINE is for persons who are not symptomatic but are at high risk for having been exposed to the COVID 19 virus. A person at high risk for exposure without symptoms is required to stay home and monitor symptoms for 14 days. If symptoms develop, quarantine may not be exited until the 14 days have passed AND all symptoms have resolved, which may be later.
Update: March 6, 2020
On Thursday, March 5th, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced its second presumptive positive case of COVID-19 since testing started Friday, February 28, at the State Public Health Laboratory. The woman is in her 60s and lives in Middlesex County. Her recent European travel included northern Italy. She was symptomatic, did not require hospitalization, and is recovering at home.
The State Public Health Lab’s result is considered presumptive positive and the specimens will now be sent to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmation. This case brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts to three - one confirmed and two presumptive positive - since the outbreak started in the US in January. The risk to the public from COVID-19 remains low in Massachusetts.
Since January, Massachusetts has tested 25 residents, including the first confirmed case and the first presumptive positive case. Going forward, the Department of Public Health will be updating confirmed and presumptive positive cases on a daily basis at www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus.
Actions Residents Can Take
As we approach school breaks, residents are advised that on March 4, the CDC issued an updated Travel Health Alert for all United States residents, instructing travelers returning from countries with a Level 3 alert (currently China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy) to stay home and monitor their health for 14 days after returning to the US. The guidance advises against any non-essential travel to Level 3 countries.
This guidance also instructs travelers from countries with a Level 2 alert (currently Japan) to monitor their health and limit interactions with others for 14 days after returning to the US.
In response to CDC's Travel Health Alert on March 4, Governor Charlie Baker and Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders urged all Massachusetts schools, including elementary and secondary schools and colleges and universities, to cancel upcoming, organized international trips at this time.
While the risk of COVID-19 is low in Massachusetts, out of an abundance of caution, all schools have been advised to cancel all upcoming organized international travel for the foreseeable future.
Update: February 28, 2020
COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that’s spreading from China throughout the world: You’ve heard about it; you’re concerned about it. Here are some things you need to know.
1. We’re on it.
Your Board of Health is the local end of a chain that starts with the national Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and goes through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Mohawk Area Public Health Coalition (MAPHCO) down to us. At every link in this chain emergency response plans are being updated and supplies and equipment are being marshaled.
In this rapidly evolving situation, an important part of our job is to keep you informed of the risks and the proper precautions you can take. You can also get updates, and more information on the virus itself, on these websites:
We are committed to offering realistic professional guidance. Yes, as of this writing, in late February, 2020, the risk of infection in our area is low. But we can’t count on it staying low. It’s entirely possible we will see cases of COVID-19 in our community. We’re the lucky ones; we have time to get ready.
3. Things you can do to prepare.
There are basic precautions everyone can easily take to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 — or flu. Let’s face it, the world is a germy place, and you pick up those germs on your hands and carry them into your body by touching your eyes, nose, mouth, or food.
Wash your hands with soap and water frequently for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer. Use those sanitary wipes at the door of the supermarket to clean the shopping cart handle; use a paper towel to open the door of the restroom door when you leave.
Keep your hands away from your face.
Be considerate of others! Cover your cough or sneeze, ideally with a tissue, and throw away the tissue. Then wash your hands. If you really have to use your sleeve instead of a tissue, don’t then put your hands on your wet sleeve.