COVID-19 - Your Neighbors Need You (03/17/20)
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Your Neighbors Need You (posted 3/17/20)
Everyone is making preparations for major disruption due to the need to contain and mitigate the Coronavirus. As a rural community, this is the time to take an inventory of your street and your neighbors. People over 70 have a case fatality rate between 12% - 15%. The rate is also very high for people with chronic medical conditions like pulmonary disease, diabetes, or any immune compromise. These are our most vulnerable people. People in this category will need to limit their social contact extensively. That will make them feel like "shut-ins".
This is the right time - today - to leave your telephone number or email at your vulnerable neighbor's house. Tell them you can bring them food or meals and leave them at the door. Young people who can drive can pick up medication and drop it in the mailbox. Oxygen tanks - for those who are dependent on oxygen - should be full. Everyone should request a 90 day supply of medications and hope it gets covered by their insurance. Many pharmacies, including Stop & Shop and Walmart have extensive 90 day drug lists that cost $10.00 for ninety days. https://www.walmart.com/cp/4-dollar-prescriptions/1078664
Older people who have some technology ability should learn to use Facetime or Skype so they can connect to friends and family. Young people, who may show very few symptoms of disease, should not visit older people if we are trying to protect them. If they do visit, they should do excellent hand washing and keep 6 feet of distance.
As of today (3/17/20) there are no confirmed cases in Franklin or Hampshire Counties. There is one confirmed case in Hampden County and 11 confirmed cases in Berkshire County. We may still be able to contain and slow this illness in our region. There are many COVID19 trackers available (Johns Hopkins, New York Times), including this one from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html#2019coronavirus-summary
The United States is running about 2 weeks behind Italy in terms of disease prevalence. That is the current model of how this could unfold in the US. Follow the news out of Italy closely. Get your news from very reliable sources. Do not rely on Facebook, forwarded emails, etc. Before you even respond to this, make an inventory of your neighbors and people who are vulnerable and write them a point of contact note. Your neighbors need you.
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.