STOP THE SPREAD TESTING SITES EXTENDED TESTING THROUGH March 31ST
Beginning this week, staffing at both test sites will be increased. The staff at the drive-through site has been doubled in order 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 don’t reach the testing area by the set end of the session at 11am or 7pm.
WALK UP COVID-19 Testing Site in Holyoke
A walk-up COVID testing site opened in Holyoke at 323 Appleton St. 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 schools see spike in COVID cases, with 503 students and 420 staffers positive in last week
State education officials have announced 923 coronavirus cases reported among school students and staff members between Dec. 3 and Dec. 9, a large increase compared to previous weeks.
Those cases are among 503 students and 420 staffers and do not include cases among students who are remote learning. Additionally, cases are only included if the infected person has been in a school building within the seven days before testing positive. Read the full story here: https://www.masslive.com/coronavirus/2020/12/massachusetts-schools-see-spike-in-covid-cases-with-503-students-and-420-staffers-positive-in-last-week.html
Mass. Vaccine Rollout Plan Will Be In 3 Phases. Here’s When You Could Get Yours
Updated December 09, 2020
Most Massachusetts residents will not receive a coronavirus vaccine until at least April, after two doses are given to health care workers and residents who face a greater risk of infection. But in all cases, the vaccine will be free for everyone, meaning no co-pays or fees, according to Gov. Charlie Baker.
Speaking during a press conference Wednesday, Baker unveiled these and more details from the state’s plan to distribute more than two million doses by the end of March. The timing and the number of doses will depend on federal authorizations for the vaccines, the first of which could come as early as this week. That would be a welcome development as the state and the country see record numbers of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Read the full story here: https://www.wbur.org/commonhealth/2020/12/09/massachusetts-vaccine-rollout-plan
Massachusetts Reimposes Coronavirus Restrictions
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is reimposing statewide coronavirus restrictions following an increase in infections and hospitalizations. Starting Sunday, residents will revert to Step 1 of Phase 3 of the reopening plan, a news release from Baker’s office said.
The rollback will require indoor performance venues and certain “high-contact indoor recreational businesses” to shut down. Most others will operate at 40% capacity. This includes retail shops, arcades, museums, offices and places of worship.
Outdoor gatherings are getting the chop as well, from 100 to 50 people. Anyone planning to host a gathering of 25 people or more outside will be required to notify their local health board in advance.
Residents hoping to dine out will face additional restrictions. Restaurant goers will be required to wear a mask whenever they aren’t eating or drinking. Tables will be capped at six people and restricted to 90 minutes of service. Food court seating in malls will be shut down entirely.
Gyms will remain open, but guests will be required to wear a mask at all times. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the state has recorded over 250,000 cases and nearly 11,000 people have died. Over 58,000 cases are active. Read the story as published here: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/12/08/944305532/massachusetts-reimposes-coronavirus-restrictions
New Quarantine Guidance Went into Effect Yesterday , December 7, 2020
Information and Guidance for Persons in Quarantine due to COVID-19
You are required to quarantine (separate yourself) from other people because you have been exposed to the 2019 Novel (New) Coronavirus (SARS-CoV2) the virus that causes COVID-19. If you have COVID-19, you could spread it to people around you and make them sick.
The virus is spread through respiratory secretions (mucous and droplets from coughing, sneezing and breathing) from an infected person. Many people can have the virus without ever showing any symptoms, however, it can cause serious illness such as pneumonia (lung infection), and in some rare cases, death. If you are infected, it is possible to spread the virus to others even if you don’t have any symptoms.
This information sheet provides you with information about what to do and not to do while you are in quarantine. If you have questions after reading this, you can call your local Board of Health, or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health which is available 24/7 at 617-983-6800.
During your quarantine period, you must not have visitors in your home. The other people who live in your home can continue to do their normal activities as long as they are not in contact with you, as described further below, and have not been identified as a close contact and put into quarantine. If you test positive for COVID-19 and someone has come into contact with you, that person will likely need to be quarantined.
How long must you Quarantine?
The possible incubation period for COVID-19 is still 14 days although the majority of cases have incubation periods of fewer than 10 days. You will need to remain quarantined consistent with one of the quarantine options below:
|OPTIONS||CRITERIA||ACTIVE MONITORING||RESIDUAL RISK|
|7 days of strict quarantine|
Release on Day 8 IF:
· A test (either PCR or antigen) taken on Day 5 or later is negative; AND
· The individual has not experienced any symptoms up to that point; AND
· The individual conducts active monitoring through Day 14
|Individual must actively monitor symptoms and take temperature once daily. IF even mild symptoms develop or the individual has a temperature of 100.0 F, they must immediately self-isolate, contact the public health authority overseeing their quarantine and get tested.||Approximately 5% residual risk of disease development|
|10 days of strict quarantine|
Release on Day 11 IF:
· The individual has not experienced any symptoms up to that point; AND
· The individual conducts active monitoring through Day 14.
· No test is necessary under this option
|Approximately 1% residual risk of disease development|
|14 days of strict quarantine|
Release on Day 15 IF:
· The individual has experienced ANY symptoms during the quarantine period EVEN if they have a negative COVID-19 test; OR
· The individual indicates they are unwilling or unable to conduct active monitoring.
|No additional active monitoring required||Maximal risk reduction|
While you are in quarantine you should follow these instructions:
- Do not leave your home except for urgent medical care. If you must leave your home for urgent medical care, wear a mask, such as a cloth mask, or a surgical mask if one is available. Call the healthcare provider before you go and tell them that you are quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure. For the protection of others, you should not take public transportation, ride shares (e.g. Uber or Lyft), or taxis to get to your healthcare provider.
- Wear a mask, such as a cloth mask, or a surgical mask if one is available, if you must be in contact with other people. Maintain a distance of six feet from others; when this is not possible, limit your time being closer to people to five minutes or less.
- Do not have any visitors in your home.
- Maintain six feet of distance from other people in your home. If absolutely necessary, have one person help you and do not have contact with other people in your home. Wear a mask, such as a cloth mask, or a surgical mask if one is available, when in the same room as that person. In addition, try to maintain a distance of six feet from others; when this is not possible, limit your time being closer to people to five minutes or less.
- If at all possible, use a separate bedroom and bathroom. Do not share towels or bed sheets/blankets with other people in your home. If you have to use a bathroom that other people use, make sure to wipe down all touched surfaces with a disinfectant after every use.
- Do not share eating or drinking utensils. Wash utensils normally in a dishwasher or by hand with warm water and soap.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throw tissues away in a lined waste container. Then wash your hands.
- Wash your hands frequently using soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time you wash. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Anyone you have to come in contact with (including anyone in your home) should:
- Wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds often. If soap and water are not available, they should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Wear a mask, such as a cloth mask, or a surgical mask if one is available. They should be careful to only touch the parts of the mask that go around the ears or behind the head. Do not touch the front of the mask. They should wash their hands immediately after taking the mask off. In addition, they should try to maintain a distance of six feet from you; when this is not possible, limit their time being closer to you to five minutes or less.
- Wear disposable gloves if they have to have direct contact with your body fluids (saliva/spit, mucous, urine, feces, vomit) or handle your dirty laundry. Remove the gloves carefully without touching the outside of the gloves, throw the gloves away, and wash their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
Anyone you have to come in contact with (including anyone in your home) should remain aware of their health and watch themselves for:
- a fever (temperature over 100.0 degrees). They should take their temperature in the morning and at night.
- other symptoms such as a cough, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, chills, muscle or body aches, fatigue, sore throat, headache, congestion or runny nose, new onset loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.
If anyone you came into contact with has any of these symptoms, they should go get tested and then stay home while they wait for results. If they need to seek medical care, they should call their healthcare provider before they go and tell them that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
Other advice to keep your germs from spreading:
- Your disposable gloves, tissues, masks and other trash should be put in a bag, tied closed, and put with other household trash.
- Your laundry may be done in a standard washing machine using warm water and detergent. Bleach may be used but is not needed. Do not shake out the dirty laundry.
- Surfaces in the home that you touch or that become dirty with your body fluids (saliva/spit, mucous, urine, feces, vomit) should be cleaned and disinfected with a household disinfectant according to the label directions. Wear gloves while cleaning.
- Your bathroom should be cleaned every day using a household disinfectant according to the directions on the label. Wear gloves while cleaning.
New MIT COVID Model Shows How Long People May Really Be Safe Indoors
The general social distancing guideline of six feet apart may not be enough for indoor settings, according to the study
By Patrick Donnelly • Published December 1, 2020
The researchers, Kasim Khan, John W. M. Bush and Martin Z. Bazant, say that evidence suggests staying at least six feet apart in social settings may not be completely effective in protecting against airborne transmission of coronavirus, especially as time goes by.
Their model calculates “safe exposure times and occupancy levels for indoor spaces” based on a series of other factors, like time, room size, humidity and the behavior of those inside it.
For example, in a restaurant, the model projects that 50 occupants would be safe for two hours, while 100 people would be safe for only 64 minutes. Current general social distancing guidelines suggest 138 people would be safe in the same size of space for an indefinite amount of time, the research notes.
Similarly, the model suggests that two people would be safe for eight days in a church, 25 occupants would be protected for four hours, and 100 people would be safe for only two hours. However, guidelines for merely staying six feet apart indicate 52 people would be safe in that setting for an unlimited period of time.
Medical experts across the country and here in Massachusetts are increasingly concerned we may soon see a post-Thanksgiving spike in COVID case numbers, creating a surge within a surge.
The model cites a July article in the journal Nature that governments’ advice for the coronavirus hadn’t adapted to new understanding that the virus is airborne.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have since confirmed that the virus can be spread through aerosols, which “can linger in the air for minutes to hours” and travel farther than six feet.
CDC guidance now notes that the virus can “spread through exposure to those virus-containing respiratory droplets comprised of smaller droplets and particles that can remain suspended in the air over long distances (usually greater than 6 feet) and time (typically hours). This article was published at: https://www.nbcboston.com/news/coronavirus/new-mit-covid-model-shows-how-long-people-may-really-be-safe-indoors/2245381/
Due to technical difficulties with the Massachusetts state data base we do not have the number of positive COVID cases in MA for today 12/10/20. As of yesterday there were 2361 positive COVID cases in Holyoke ~3% 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/
The Massachusetts Daily Dashboard is now updated to provide a more granular look into the daily positivity rates. As of today, there were 63,362 active cases in MA with 5,130 new cases. There were 41 new deaths today with an average age of 82 years old. The average age of cases that were hospitalized is 69 years old. The age range with the highest number of current positive cases is 20-29 year olds, followed by 0-19 year olds, followed by 30-39 year olds. All together the state has a 7-day average positivity rate of 5.67%.