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COVID-19 Report 2-5-21

Posted on February 5, 2021


STOP THE SPREAD TESTING SITES EXTENDED TESTING THROUGH March 31ST

 Staffing at both test sites has been increased. The staff at the drive-through site has been doubled to lower wait times and increase the volume of vehicles that can be accepted.

 

Changes have been made in operations at the drive-through site to clearly establish an end point in testing availability each day. We hope to eliminate the possibility of visitors to the site waiting in long lines, only to be turned away at the end of the testing session at 11am or 7pm.

 

Under the new procedures, the last eligible vehicle for testing (for that day’s testing session) will be established as soon as can be reasonably determined. That vehicle, and any vehicle in line before it, will be tested even if they do not reach the testing area by the set end of the session at 11am or 7pm.

 

WALK UP COVID-19 Testing Site in Holyoke

As of Wednesday, January 6th, 2021 the Stop the Spread walk-up testing site will be moving across Appleton Street to the War Memorial.

 

The War Memorial is located at 310 Appleton Street. The lot at 323 Appleton Street may still be used as parking for the test site. Hours of operation will not change at this time.

 

Testing will take place at the front doors to the War Memorial.

 

Members of the public seeking a test will not be allowed to enter the building during testing hours.

 

The line should start at the front door and wrap around on the Maple Street side of the building, if necessary.

 

Testing hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 2pm to 6pm. Testing will run until 3/31/21.

DRIVE UP COVID-19 Testing Site in Holyoke

A Stop the Spread test has opened at Holyoke Community College. Testing will run until 3/31/21.

The location of testing at Holyoke Community College has changed.

 

A map with the new traffic pattern and testing site location is posted on the Holyoke Board of Health website.

 

The testing will remain at HCC, but now take place at Lot H.

 

The test site will still be drive-through.

 

Hours and days of operation will not change.

 

 

– The site will operate Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday 7am – 11am. Tuesday and Thursday 2pm -7pm.
– Turnaround time for results is typically 4 days or fewer.

 

– This test site is first come, first serve. There are no appointments. Please do not call the Health Department or Holyoke Community College to make an appointment.

– The test site at Holyoke Community College is a drive-through only test site. Please do not get out of your vehicle. Signage and Campus Police will be readily apparent to help you access the site easily.

– To help speed up the process, please have your information ready. They will ask for your full name, address (you must be a Massachusetts resident), phone number and email address.

– There is no cost for the testing. You do not need a referral, nor do you need to be symptomatic.

– The test style will be the less invasive swab in the lower nostril. The older style that required further insertion of the swab will not be used.

– If you have previously tested positive, DPH and CDC guidelines do not recommend getting retested at this time.

– If you are acutely symptomatic, particularly if you have a high fever, consider scheduling a test with your Primary Care Physician.

– Information on all of the Stop the Spread test sites across the State can be found at: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/stop-the-spread

Massachusetts launches COVID vaccine call center amid complaints about online access

By Steph Solis | ssolis@masslive.com

After complaints about the state’s vaccine website, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced the launch of a call center to help residents book appointments to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The call center will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Baker said. People ages 75 or older, who are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, can reach the call center by calling 211.

“We recognize that the call center will be a better option for many older adults who may not have someone to help them book an appointment online,” Baker said in a Friday press conference held at the Massachusetts State House.

The call center will take calls in English and Spanish. Baker said translators will be available to work with callers in other languages, but he did not specify which languages.

While announcing the call center late Friday morning, the Republican governor noted the state currently has roughly 20,000 slots available for vaccine appointments at Gillette Stadium, Fenway Park and Springfield’s Eastfield Mall.

If the state is booked, the line can call back people waiting for appointments, Baker said.

State Sen. Eric Lesser who proposed a 24/7 multilingual hotline and online portal, said the Baker administration’s call center marks a limited step forward.

“While I am encouraged to see the governor taking some limited steps to achieve the goals outlined in our legislation, the state’s online scheduling system remains far too complex, and the jury is still out on the quality and accessibility of the phone system announced today,” the Longmeadow Democrat said in a statement. “The governor has his work cut out for him, Massachusetts vaccination rates remain far below our neighboring states, so there is much more work to do, especially regarding racial and geographic disparities in vaccine access.”

When asked why the call center isn’t staffed around the clock, Baker said he believed most calls are made during the day.

“We want to make sure that it’s staffed appropriately and has the number of people we need to have on it to answer calls as they come in and most calls are making calls for this type of thing during the day,” Baker said. “Better to have a ton of people on during the day when the vast majority of people are reaching out then to spread that volume during the evening when call volume would be significantly less.”

State officials have also announced a public awareness campaign to dispel myths about the vaccine and encourage people to get their shots. The campaign includes TV ads in English and Spanish. Online ads will be appear in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Cape Verdean, Haitian Creole, Vietnamese, Russian, Arabic, Bosnian and both traditional and simplified Chinese, Baker said. Read the full story here: https://www.masslive.com/coronavirus/2021/02/massachusetts-launches-covid-vaccine-call-center-amid-complaints-about-online-access.html

 

Arcades, gyms, restaurants can increase capacity to 40% next week, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker says

By Steph Solis | ssolis@masslive.com

Starting Monday, Massachusetts restaurants, gyms and other businesses will be able to allow more customers through their doors.

Gov. Charlie Baker confirmed Thursday afternoon plans to raise capacity limits for certain businesses from 25% to 40% next week, citing a decline in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations since the holidays.

“People’s work is paying off on this one,” Baker said. “We just need to keep it up for a few more months.”

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, restaurants will be able to increase the number of customers they can serve at a time. The adjustment in capacity limits also applies to arcades, driving and flight schools, gyms, libraries, museums, retailers, offices, places of worship, hotel common areas and indoor golf, according to an email to local boards of health obtained by MassLive. Movie theaters can also allow more customers in, but they are capped at 50 people.

The changes take effect 5 a.m. on Monday.

The 40% limit does not include employees for restaurants, hair salons and other personal services, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said. Other industries such as gyms and retailers must factor employees in their capacity limits. Read the full story here: https://www.masslive.com/coronavirus/2021/02/arcades-gyms-restaurants-can-increase-capacity-to-40-next-week-massachusetts-gov-charlie-baker-says.html

 

As of today there were a total of 4230 confirmed cases in Holyoke ~1% increase.

 

Weekly Public Health Report (Updated Wednesday) Contains town-by-town numbers, long-term care facility information, and more: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-response-reporting#covid-19-weekly-public-health-report-

Massachusetts comprehensive daily “dashboard” illustrating the spread of this virus across regions and demographics: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-response-reporting#covid-19-daily-dashboard-

Testing has a turnaround time of 1-5 days and many cases are being clinically diagnosed (no testing or reporting involved). All are advised to behave as though they are carriers of Covid-19.

The curve we need to flatten: County numbers graphed over time can be found here: https://www.wmasscovid.com/

As of today there are 59,934 estimated active cases in MA with 2,982 new cases.  There were 74 new deaths. The average age of cases that were hospitalized is 68 years old.  The age range trends have changed and now the age range with the highest number of current positive cases is 0-19 year olds, followed by 20-29 year olds, followed by 30-39 year olds.  All together the state has a 7-day average positivity rate of 3.16%.

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