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
Massachusetts finalizes COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan
Massachusetts should see its first COVID-19 vaccines by the middle of this month, with 300,000 units expected by the end of the year.
Those most at risk will be prioritized, but crafting a system to distribute those doses will be daunting.
Dr. Paul Biddinger, who leads the Massachusetts vaccine advisory board, says a big challenge is finding health care workers to administer doses when they’re already busy with COVID-19 patients.
“That puts a real strain on our staff, already strained with staff in the first place,” Biddinger said. “Mobilizing additional staff is necessary and will happen, but it’s extremely hard to do.”
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health says in its draft plan it anticipates prioritizing the following populations:
- Healthcare personnel likely to be exposed to or treat people, with COVID-19
- People at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including those with underlying medical conditions and people 65 years of age and older
- Other essential workers
The plan is to stagger doses in case side effects sideline providers. Read the full story here: https://www.wcvb.com/article/massachusetts-finalizes-covid-19-vaccine-distribution-plans/34878587
As of today there are 2182 positive COVID 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/
The Massachusetts Daily Dashboard is now updated to provide a more granular look into the daily positivity rates. As of today, there were 51,371 active cases in MA with 5,192 new cases. There were 37 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 5.44%.