STOP THE SPREAD TESTING SITES EXTENDED TESTING THROUGH DEC. 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 12/31/20.
DRIVE UP COVID-19 Testing Site in Holyoke
A Stop the Spread test has opened at Holyoke Community College. Testing will run until 12/31/20.
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
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/
White House Coronavirus Task Force tells Massachusetts to consider ‘rolling back a step’ in statewide reopening plan
“Restricting certain activities in some areas may encourage movement and potential spread to surrounding ‘non high-risk’ communities.”
December 3, 2020
Gov. Charlie Baker said this week that there are no plans to impose additional restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Massachusetts.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force apparently thinks he should reconsider.
According to a recent briefing document obtained by ABC News, the federal task force told Massachusetts officials to “consider rolling back a step in the state reopening plan as a whole and not just in high-risk areas,” as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise.
Baker has allowed communities deemed as “low risk” due to lower coronavirus rates to move to the second step of Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan, which allows indoor performance venues and certain close-contact recreational attractions to reopen under safety restrictions. Cities and towns in the state’s red “higher-risk” category must remain in the first step of Phase 3. Read the full story here: https://www.boston.com/news/coronavirus/2020/12/03/white-house-coronavirus-task-force-massachusetts-reopening
‘Deeply concerned’ Springfield city councilors urge Gov. Charlie Baker to give more COVID-19 attention to Western Mass.
Ten city councilors have urged Gov. Charlie Baker to ensure that Western Massachusetts gets its fair share of attention regarding COVID-19 testing and vaccines, including representation on a new state coronavirus advisory board.
The councilors, in a letter dated Tuesday, told Baker they are “deeply concerned with several issues that we want to bring to your attention that place Western Massachusetts and Springfield at a disadvantage in fighting the Covid-19 Pandemic.”
The councilors criticized Baker for not including a representative from the region on a new 17-member COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group, although one member, Phoebe Walker, is from the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, based in Greenfield.
The lead councilor, Victor Davila, said he learned of the Franklin County representative Wednesday, but believes there should be someone from the Springfield area, as being the third largest city in the state and being ranked among communities with the highest rate of the virus.
Councilors, in the letter, stressed that Springfield has been among communities in the red category — deemed at highest risk for the spread of COVID-19 for a prolonged period. In addition, the city has two local hospitals to receive hundreds of additional COVID-19 patients.
Baystate Health reported Wednesday that it is caring for 124 hospitalized patients with COVID-19, 10 of whom are in the critical care unit.
“It is imperative that we have a seat at the table to effectively combat this awful Pandemic, which has caused so much death in our state and throughout the world,” the councilors said. “With that said, we insist that you appoint a representative from Western Massachusetts to the Covid-19 Vaccine Advisory Group.”
The councilors called on Baker to do the following:
- Appoint a Western Representative to the Covid-19 Advisory Board.
- Address the increasing demand for testing by increasing testing sites in Western Massachusetts and Springfield.
- Ensure fair and equitable distribution of vaccination to Western Massachusetts and Springfield.
Baker said Tuesday that vaccines could begin arriving in Massachusetts this month, but believes it will be months before the general public has access to immunizations.
The state’s COVID-19 advisory group consists of medical professionals, public health experts, elected officials and community leaders to advise the state administration on communication, distribution and equity issues relating to the COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Governor’s office.
The one representative from Western Mass., is “not nearly enough,” Davila said. Read the full story here: https://www.masslive.com/coronavirus/2020/12/deeply-concerned-springfield-city-councilors-urge-gov-charlie-baker-to-give-more-covid-19-attention-to-western-mass.html
As of today there are 2158 positive COVID cases in Holyoke ~2% 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/
PLEASE NOTE: Today’s case numbers include 680 cases tested by one Massachusettsbased laboratory prior to December 1. The delay in reporting was caused by a technical issue with the software used by that laboratory’s reporting vendor:
The Massachusetts Daily Dashboard is now updated to provide a more granular look into the daily positivity rates. As of today, there were 49,225 active cases in MA with 6,477 new cases. There were 49 new deaths today with an average age of 81 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 5.29%.