STOP THE SPREAD WALK UP COVID-19 Testing Site in Holyoke
A new walk-up COVID testing site opened today in Holyoke at 323 Appleton St. Testing hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 3pm to 6pm. Testing will run until 9/30/20.
STOP THE SPREAD DRIVE UP COVID-19 Testing Site in Holyoke
A Stop the Spread test has opened at Holyoke Community College. Testing will run until 9/30/20.
– The site will operate Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 7am – 11am. Tuesday and Thursday 2pm -7pm. Testing will be open and available regular hours on Labor Day.
– 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
Three more states are added to the list of low-risk exemptions
Travelers from COVID-19 lower-risk States are not required to fill out the Massachusetts Travel Form and do not need to quarantine. States are included on the list based on meeting two criteria: average daily cases per 100K below 6 AND positive test rate below 5%, both measured as a 7-day rolling average. Data is from covidexitstrategy.org as of September 4, 2020. See all of the low risk states and learn about the travel restrictions here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-travel-order#lower-risk-states-
DESE Launches Public Awareness Campaign as Students Head Back to School
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education(DESE) today announced that next week, it will launch a public awareness campaign to help remind parents, students and teachers that everyone needs to do their part to keep each other healthy and safe as the school year starts. The campaign consists of television and radio ads, social media, billboards and public transit banners, as well as a website created to help families and caregivers find information about going back to school.
The television and radio ads will air Sept. 7 through Oct. 10, while the public transit ads will run from September through November in Boston, Brockton, Lowell, New Bedford, Springfield, and Worcester.
The website, mass.gov/BackToSchool, will provide families with information about:
- Why doctors say most communities in Massachusetts are uniquely positioned to return to school safely;
- What schools are doing to promote safety and mitigate risks;
- Frequently asked questions and answers about returning to school;
- And how to stay connected to accurate information on reopening and COVID-19.
Additionally, DESE has developed a checklist for families to consider when working to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Be aware of the symptoms of COVID-19, and check children every day for them.
- Keep children home if they are sick or have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Have a back-up plan ready in case your child wakes up with symptoms and needs to stay home.
- Remind your child to wear a mask in school and on the bus.
- Arrange for transportation other than the bus whenever possible.
- Districts have plans in place for when a student receives a positive COVID-19 test or is a close contact of
someone who tests positive. Communicate with teachers and school leaders if your child’s health
changes, if they come in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or if you have concerns.
In order to support the safe and healthy return to school, it is critical that individuals throughout the Commonwealth continue to adhere to public health guidance to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, practice proper hygiene and wear a mask or face covering in public places where social distancing is not possible.
Additionally, the Baker-Polito Administration announced new initiatives, including stricter statewide rules for public and private gatherings, targeted community guidance and testing, and statewide enforcement and intervention efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
In June, the Department released initial guidance for school reopening that prioritizes getting students safely back to school in person this fall, if the health metrics in the community allow. The Department also required schools to create hybrid learning plans to teach students in-person and remotely on alternating schedules, and to have robust remote learning plans in place, should those alternate learning models be needed.
Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Weekly Update
- Outdoor visitation between veterans and loved ones continues, following the outdoor visitation plan, which is contingent on the continued stability of infection control and public health metrics. There were 61 outdoor visits last week, and 735 visits have been held to date.
o Video visits between veteran residents and their loved ones are continuing, and the Family Hotline is available for ad hoc updates with support from social work and clinical staff.
o Families can call the Family Hotline at 413-552-4764 Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Families can also request updates via email at CommunicationsMailbox-HLY@Mass.gov. Please note the Soldiers’ Home can only share medical information about a resident with the authorized health care proxy on file.
- The Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke is closely monitoring the health of all veterans and staff and is retesting individuals. The most recent round of testing done resulted in no positive tests. In addition to regular facility-scheduled testing, residents are closely monitored and if there is any sign of COVID-like
- The Soldiers’ Home’s medical team is making all clinical decisions following the latest CDC guidance, which continues to evolve as the medical community learns more about this new virus. The CDC recommends making medical decisions regarding when to end isolation and determine that the patient has recovered based on symptoms and time elapsed.
o Since the start of the pandemic, more than 80 residents had been determined clinically recovered, which means that they at one point tested positive for COVID-19 but are now considered clinically recovered as defined by federal CDC guidance.
o The Home continues to adhere to infection control protocols throughout the Home and continues the cohorting of veterans with the same status.
- The Baker-Polito Administration is using the expedited capital project to reimagine the future of the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke. Payette has been awarded the contract for the first phase of the expedited capital project, the Rapid Planning Phase, which is focused a needs assessment, identifying the clinical options, assessing the facility’s infrastructure, and stakeholder engagement. This week, the team is reaching out to a broad community of stakeholders to being the process of gathering input.
- In June, the Baker-Polito Administration released the independent report ordered by Governor Baker to investigate the COVID-19 outbreak at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, and announced a series of reforms to strengthen its governance and oversight of the Home, improving staffing processes, providing quality care for our Veterans, and planning for significant capital improvements.
- The Soldiers’ Home leadership is committed to ensuring the safety of the Veteran residents and restoring the Home to its rightful place that treats them with dignity, honor, and respect. The Soldiers’ Home leadership is moving into the Transition & Rebuilding Phase that is focused on rebuilding staff leadership and team and positioning the facility to move forward safely.
- Holyoke’s Clinical Command continues to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, monitoring staffing levels, while bringing on additional management staff for nursing, facilities, and administration. The Holyoke Soldiers’ Home has been intently focused on following infection control procedures and maintaining best practices for the safety of veteran residents and staff, and to support the recovery of veterans as the health status of many stabilizes. All veteran residents’ health is being monitored and retesting is being conducted for veterans both on- and off-site as clinically appropriate.
- The status as of September 1 is as follows:
o The status of all residents:
0 positive and not clinically recovered
59 veterans are negative
0 residents have a pending test
79 residents have been determined clinically recovered
1 resident has refused testing
o Resident locations:
115 veterans are onsite
24 veterans are offsite
- 24 veterans are at a dedicated skilled nursing unit at Holyoke Medical Center
- 0 veterans are receiving acute care offsite
o Since March 1, there have been 76 veteran deaths of veterans who tested positive
o All employees had been determined clinically recovered, In the most recent round of testing,
0 tested positive
All who previously tested positive are clinically recovered
The Massachusetts statewide positive rate has fallen to a new low of 0.8%
The state’s coronavirus positive test rate hit a new low of 0.8% as public health officials reported another 416 coronavirus cases and 15 more deaths on Saturday.
The seven-day average positive test rate ticked down to 0.8% from 0.9% the two days prior, continuing a downward trend from August.
The 15 new deaths raise the state’s confirmed COVID-19 toll to 8,907, according to the state Department of Public Health. Another death from a probable case was reported Saturday, for a combined confirmed and probable death toll of 9,116. You can read more about it here: https://www.bostonherald.com/2020/09/05/massachusetts-coronavirus-positive-test-rate-hits-new-low-of-0-8/
As of yesterday there were 1080 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/
Massachusetts has now experienced a total of 8,917 deaths among the 120,824 confirmed Covid-19 cases. Please read the following for the newly defined parameters regarding the reported statistics:
September 3, 2020
An important note: On August 6, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists announced the release of an updated COVID-19 national case definition recently endorsed by CDC. Today’s dashboard includes updated data which utilizes the new case definition.The previous case definition defined probable cases as individuals: with a positive antigen or serology test AND symptoms or likely exposure; with COVID-19 listed as an underlying or contributing cause of death on a death certificate; and with appropriate symptoms and likely exposure. The criteria indicating likely exposure were very broad and included known contact with a case, contact with a likely case, travel to or residence in a location with COVID-19 transmission, or association with a specific outbreak.The new case definition updates the clinical criteria associated with COVID-19; defines probable cases as individuals: with a positive antigen test, with COVID-19 listed as an underlying or contributing cause of death on a death certificate, or with appropriate symptoms and likely exposure. The criteria indicating likely exposure are now restricted to known contact with a case or association with a specific outbreak. Individuals with positive serology (antibody) tests have been placed in a new suspect category which is not reportable to CDC.In order to provide a single set of consistent data for tracking COVID-19 in Massachusetts, today’s data includes only probable cases identified through antigen testing or death certificates. These criteria are the most objective and able to be applied over time. This definition has been used to update all of the data – including previously reported data.Many jurisdictions do not report probable cases at all. Those that do, tend to focus on antigen testing and death certificates. The change to our data improves comparability with other jurisdictions reporting probable cases.This does not change data on probable cases previously reported to CDC; however, the new case definition does apply to probable case reported to CDC from now on