COVID-19 Update 7/3/20

July 3, 2020

Municipal Leader COVID-19 Update #8

Board of Health Edition

Updates on the public health crisis for Boards of Health and Health Departments

in Franklin County

There's so much information out there! Here are some helpful links for Boards of Health and Health Departments:

  • For the COG's Board of Health COVID Resources Page, click here
  • For copies of all the Re-Opening Guidance Emails from DPH, click here
  • For the latest COVID Command Center situation reports click here
  • For the COG’s COVID Municipal Resources Page click here.
  • For the state's Board of Health COVID information site, click here
  • For the Franklin Cty Board of Health Information Exchange, click here.

PHASE 3 OF REOPENING

The Baker-Polito Administration today announced that on July 6th, Phase III of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan will begin and updates on gatherings will be in effect. The Department of Public Health (DPH) also issued updated guidance to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

What can open in Step One of Phase 3: The following businesses will be eligible to reopen subject to industry-specific rules concerning capacity and operations:

  • Movie theaters and outdoor performance venues;
  • Museums, cultural and historical sites;
  • Fitness centers and health clubs;
  • Certain indoor recreational activities with low potential for contact;
  • Professional sports teams may hold games without spectators

Full guidance and list of businesses eligible to reopen can be found at www.mass.gov/reopening. Businesses and sectors set to begin opening are subject to compliance with all mandatory safety standards.

Revised Gatherings Order: Under the updated gatherings order, indoor gatherings are limited to eight people per 1,000 square feet, but should not exceed 25 people in a single enclosed, indoor space. Outdoor gatherings in enclosed spaces are limited to 25 percent of the facility’s maximum permitted occupancy, with a maximum of 100 people in a single enclosed outdoor space. This includes community events, civic events, sporting events, concerts, conventions and more. This order does not apply to outdoor, unenclosed gatherings if proper social distancing measures are possible. This revised order does not supersede previously issued sector guidance, and is effective beginning Monday, July 6.

Health Care and Human Service Guidance: In Phase 3, health care providers may continue to provide in-person procedures and services as allowed in Phase 2, with the addition of certain group treatment programs and day programs. These programs include adult day health, day habilitation programs, and substance abuse services day treatment and outpatient services. Certain human services programs can reopen including community based day services for adults with intellectual and cognitive disabilities and psychosocial rehabilitation clubhouses. In Phase 3, visitation guidelines have been updated for 24/7 congregate care facilities and programs like group homes. Offsite visits, including overnight visits, will be allowed, under specific guidelines. Other updated guidelines, including visitation for long term care facilities, will be released soon. Read the full guidance for health care and human services here.

TESTING FOR COVID-19

Franklin County residents can be tested in a number of different locations:

  1. Baystate Franklin Medical Center Drive-Through in Greenfield. Requires an order from your primary care practice (PCP). Call 413-795-8378 for more information.
  2. Community Health Center of Franklin County Drive-Through on Fridays in Orange. Available to anyone, including those who are not patients and do not have an order from their PCP. Register at www.chcfc.org.
  3. Coming soon (July 14) Walk-up testing at the Community Health Center of Franklin County site in Greenfield. You will need to pre-register at www.chcfc.org.
  4. Most primary care practices can also schedule a test for their patients.

COVID IN FRANKLIN COUNTY

COVID cases in Franklin County continue to drop, with only a few new cases in the last week, for a sum total thus far of 366 cases and 54 deaths. Franklin County residents are being very careful. Local testing of those who had attended large gatherings identified only 1% positive for COVID, assuaging fears that racial justice rallies might increase spread of the disease. The state puts out an information-rich weekly dashboard here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-response-reporting

To see FRCOG’s Multi-Agency Coordination Center (MACC)'s COVID-19 Data Dashboard , click here. Please note that testing numbers are by the mailing address of the resident, not town of residence.

Message from the MAPHCO Joint Information System

The Mohawk Area Public Health Coalition continues to build and disseminate messaging for the general public regarding risk reduction regarding COVID-19. Here is this week's message for the public:

Managing Risk in Your Summer Activities: As we move forward with the Massachusetts phased re-opening, we have to make decisions about how we go to work, socialize, exercise, and care for our loved ones, while managing the risk of contracting or unknowingly passing the virus that causes COVID-19. As we approach a summer holiday weekend, here’s a few things to remember to lower your risk level:

  • STAY OUTSIDE. Studies have found that people are much less likely to get COVID-19 when they’re outdoors. That makes parks and backyards better choices than indoor spaces.
  • KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. Stay at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with. Two friends meeting up at the park are better off sitting several feet apart in the grass than rubbing elbows on a park bench.
  • KEEP IT QUICK. Researchers think that the longer you’re around someone who has COVID-19, the higher your risk of getting infected.
  • KEEP IT SMALL. Spending time in a crowd makes it hard to keep your distance from others, and more people means a higher risk that one of those people could have the virus. Keeping gatherings very small can help.
  • WEAR A MASK — AND STAY AWAY FROM PEOPLE WHO AREN’T WEARING THEM. Evidence shows that wearing a cloth mask helps stop people from spreading COVID-19 to others. Since people without symptoms can still be contagious, everyone needs to wear masks whenever they can’t keep their distance.
  • WASH YOUR HANDS. A lot. Use hand sanitizer if there’s no soap and water available. And don’t touch your face.

Looking for information to share with the public? All prior messaging is available on the FRCOG’s Local Board of Health COVID-19 Resources page.

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NEW TRAVEL GUIDANCE

Governor Baker announced updated guidance on Monday for those traveling to Massachusetts: All travelers arriving to Massachusetts – including Massachusetts residents returning home – are instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days, except that, beginning July 1, 2020, travelers from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, and New Jersey arriving in Massachusetts are exempt from this directive and need not self-quarantine for 14 days. In addition, workers designated by the federal government as essential critical infrastructure workers are exempt from the directive to self-quarantine for 14 days if traveling to Massachusetts for work purposes. All persons are instructed not to travel to Massachusetts if they are displaying symptoms of COVID-19.?

For Massachusetts travel information, please visit the Department of Public Health’s (DPH) website here: Travel Information Related to COVID-19. For national travel information, please visit www.travel.state.gov

INVESTMENT IN LOCAL PUBLIC HEALTH SYSTEM

COVID-19 has shown that the Commonwealth's decentralized, under-funded and understaffed local public health infrastructure needs modernizing. The Coalition for Local Public Health (CLPH) has been advocating for new, sustained investment in local public health. FRCOG’s Phoebe Walker sits on the Steering Committee of the Coalition, as one of the two Western MA Public Health Association representatives. Other Coalition members include MA Public Health Assn, MA Health Officers Association, MA Environmental Health Assn, MA Assn of Health Boards and MA Association of Public Health Nurses. Recent Coalition activities include:

HELP FOR FAMILIES

This is a particularly difficult time for many people in our region, with the stressors of unemployment, school cancellation, and social distancing piling up. Some important resources you can share with residents include:

  • The Greenfield Safe Schools Safe Streets Coalition (4SC) and Gill-Montague Community School Partnership have shared resources for families, including a new weekly newsletter for parents.

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