Holyoke has returned to the Yellow, Moderate Risk category that we previously occupied before last week. The following is a statement from Sean Gonsalves, Director of the Board of Health:
“As I have stated in some communications and to multiple news organizations, I do not feel like concern levels about COVID should fluctuate week to week based on very specific metrics. The COVID pandemic is serious and continues to affect our community. My recommendations to minimize the risk for transmission of COVID-19 are to follow the guidance that has already been issued. Less risk will translate into lower case counts.
1.) Wash your hands frequently, or use hand sanitizer.
2.) Wear your mask, even around family members and friends. I’m not advocating wearing a mask at home with your typical household. Instead, I am suggesting not to let your guard down at gatherings with family and friends who are not members of your household. There seems to be a serious misconception that if you know someone, the risk of them exposing you is lower or eliminated. This is not the case. You are just as likely to get COVID from someone you know.
3.) Avoid gatherings. This cannot be understated. This is not a good time for parties, reunions, weddings, bridal/baby showers, etc. So many COVID clusters have arisen from people having parties, not distancing and not wearing masks. This continues to happen in Holyoke.
Try and reduce the amount of time that you are in busy stores and businesses. Make a list, plan out a path to minimize your shopping time, choose self checkout to avoid unnecessary in-person interactions. Consider Amazon, Peapod and the many other delivery services to reduce your need to be inside large facilities full of people.
4.) Consider getting the flu vaccine. Flu season will be here soon. Flu symptoms and COVID symptoms will be difficult to differentiate. Becoming sick with the flu can lower your immune system and increase your risk of contracting COVID.
The Board of Health is hosting a flu vaccine clinic in September for City Employees. If you have insurance through the City, there will be no cost. We will also be providing $5 gift cards to Dunkin and Subway as an incentive to participate. Please see the attached flyer for details.
5.) Get tested. If you think you’ve been exposed or if you feel symptomatic, please consider getting tested. Free testing will be available in the City in coming weeks. “
Rapid-response COVID-19 testing program available to Massachusetts schools, Baker says
A rapid-response coronavirus testing program will be available for Massachusetts districts in case of an outbreak during the school year, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Thursday.
He said the mobile program will be available for K-12 schools across the state. Read the full story here: https://www.wcvb.com/article/gov-charlie-baker-to-give-update-on-coronavirus-in-massachusetts/33655996
State mandates flu vaccinations for Massachusetts students
Flu vaccinations will be required for all students 6 months or older who attend child care, pre-school, school and college in Massachusetts to reduce the possibility of a double whammy of respiratory illnesses during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, state health officials announced Wednesday. Read the full story here: https://www.boston.com/news/health/2020/08/19/state-mandates-flu-vaccinations-for-massachusetts-students
Massachusetts to apply for more federal unemployment assistance after weekly $600 aid expires, Gov. Charlie Baker says
The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which provided an additional $600 check to Americans out of work because of the virus, expired July 27.
Baker said he’s sent a letter to FEMA signaling the state’s intent to formally apply, but expressed reservations about the plan.
“I don’t think this is the right way to do this,” he said. “I worry a lot that we’re taking money from federal reimbursements for emergency services provided associated with the first four months of COVID under FEMA to fund this program.” Read the full story here: https://www.masslive.com/coronavirus/2020/08/massachusetts-to-apply-for-more-federal-unemployment-assistance-after-weekly-600-aid-expires-gov-charlie-baker-says.html
Free COVID Testing Available in Springfield and Agawam Has Been Extended Until September 12.
The Commonwealth is launching a strategic testing program in communities across Massachusetts that have continued to see a higher number of residents testing positive for COVID-19. Springfield and Agawam are two of those communities. Get the full information here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/stop-the-spread
Currently there are 1050 positive COVID cases in Holyoke -no change from yesterday
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/
Massachusetts has now experienced a total of 8,657 deaths among the 115,310 confirmed Covid-19 cases. *Massachusetts is now reporting “probable” Coronavirus deaths in addition to confirmed cases.