Coronavirus Response

The City of Holyoke is doing everything in its power to protect our City from the most drastic consequences associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. This page contains an ever-growing list of news and resources for our citizens. We strive to keep the public informed as much as possible during this rapidly developing global crisis.

Text COVIDMA to 888-777 to receive official text updates from our state government

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has so far recommended that data on case numbers be reported by county.

As of March 29, there have been 201 confirmed cases in Hampden County, 37 in Hampshire, and 151 in Berkshire county.

On March 23, Governor Baker ordered the closing off all non-essential businesses and issues a Stay -at - Home advisory for all residents.

The complete order can be read HERE.

The Governor's listing of "essential services" can be found HERE.

All Massachusetts schools are closed until May 4.

City Services:

Holyoke Public Schools: Closed until April 6. All school-related activities and events are canceled during the closure. Students will be able to pick up breakfast and lunch at the front doors of Donahue, Holyoke High School North, Kelly, Lawrence, and Sullivan Schools from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Additional information on the school closure is available at  https://www.hps.holyoke.ma.us/faqs-covid-19-coronavirus-response/

Information regarding Holyoke Community College can be found HERE

City Hall & City Annex: Closed to all public walk-in traffic.

Members of the Public seeking City Hall assistance are asked to contact (by phone or email) departments with requests. The City offers many of its services online at www.holyoke.org, and can fulfill many requests petitioned via phone call or email.

Trash and Recycling services will be continued uninterrupted. 

Holyoke Senior Center:  Closed

Holyoke Public Library: Closed 

Wistariahurst: Closed

HG&E: HG&E is closed to the public but has several convenient communication channels that do not require a visit to the office. Please visit www.hged.com for the most up-to-date information related to HG&E

Holyoke Housing Authority: Public visits have been curtailed to administrative offices, please schedule appointments before visiting. 

Parks: All sporting and other events are canceled until further notice. Permits will not be issued. Community Field and all playgrounds are closed. The public is discouraged from visiting park facilities.

City Council: All business suspended indefinitely

For other news and announcements CLICK HERE

 

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On Sunday President Trump extended the voluntary national shutdown through April 30. The federal guidelines recommend against large group gatherings and urge older people and anyone with existing health problems to stay home. People are urged to work at home when possible and avoid restaurants, bars, non-essential travel and shopping trips.
 
Massachusetts has created a website for potential health care volunteers and for the donation and acquisition of PPE: COVID-19 PPE Procurement and Donation Program

Massachusetts has developed an online tool to help residents assess their symptoms and find the right care. Access the free tool at buoy.com/mass

During this Public Health Emergency any and all staff are encouraged to help dissipate information to their partners, constituents, and personal circles regarding CDC recommendation and City suggestions for social distancing. www.holyoke.org/departments/coronavirus-response contains up-to-date information and resources for residents.
 
Testing remains limited with a turnaround time of 4 – 8 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.
 
With that in mind, 20 Holyoke residents have been confirmed positive by testing. There are 201 confirmed cases in Hampden County, 37 in Hampshire, 41 in Franklin, and 151 in Berkshire county There have been 48 deaths in Massachusetts.
 
The Massachusetts State Income Tax filing deadline has been extended to July 15.
 
The Baker-Polito Administration also announced new COVID-19 public health emergency responses issuing new guidelines on travel and transportation.

Beginning March 27, all travelers arriving to Massachusetts are instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days. This guidance will be displayed as posters at service plazas along 1-90 eastbound, distributed as flyers at major transportation hubs and on posted on highway message boards. Visitors are instructed not to travel to Massachusetts if they are displaying symptoms. Health care workers, public health workers, public safety workers, transportation workers and designated essential workers are exempt from this requirement.
 

Massachusetts has developed an online tool to help residents assess their symptoms and find the right care. Access the free tool at buoy.com/mass

Please follow CDC instructions if you suspect you are infected with COVID-19

CLICK HERE TO LEARN WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE SICK

CLICK HERE for most recent news and press releases from the City of Holyoke.

Many City services can be conducted online, including bill payment. CLICK HERE to see the full list. 

Governor Baker has ordered all Massachusetts schools closed until May 4.

All school-related activities and events are canceled during the closure. Students will be able to pick up breakfast and lunch at the front doors of Donahue, Holyoke High School North, Kelly, Lawrence, and Sullivan Schools from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Additional information on the school closure is available at  https://www.hps.holyoke.ma.us/faqs-covid-19-coronavirus-response/

At home learning resources from Holyoke Public Schools can be found here: https://hpsathome.com/

Stay updated with news regarding this crisis with the City of Holyoke’s Emergency Alert System. Information will come in the form of texts, voicemails, and / or e-mails.

To receive updates from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts text COVIDMA to 888-777

Massachusetts has launched a website for volunteers and donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) to support the Covid-19 response.  You can view the opportunities here:

mass.gov/covid-nmbp

PPE Donations can be delivered to the main entrance of Holyoke Medical Center, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. If you call 413.534.2500 when you arrive, a team member will go out to your car to collect the donation from you. Learn more

The Holyoke Chamber of Commerce has developed a resource page in support of local businesses.

Find the Chamber of Commerce Covid-19 Resource page here

What is social distancing?

“Social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. Staying at least six feet away from other people lessens your chances of catching COVID-19.

Other examples of social distancing that allow you to avoid larger crowds or crowded spaces are:

  • Working from home instead of at the office
  • Closing schools or switching to online classes
  • Visiting loved ones by electronic devices instead of in person
  • Cancelling or postponing conferences and large meetings”

From Johns Hopkins Health

What is “Flattening the Curve”?

“The idea is to increase social distancing in order to slow the spread of the virus, so that you don’t get a huge spike in the number of people getting sick all at once. If that were to happen, there wouldn’t be enough hospital beds or mechanical ventilators for everyone who needs them, and the U.S. hospital system would be overwhelmed.” From NPR

Are food pantries open?

Yes. Kate’s Kitchen is providing to-go meals in the parking lot of 56 Cabot Street, Holyoke from 12:00 – 2:00 pm and Margaret’s Pantry is available by appointment by calling Brenda at 413-536-9109 Ext. 119.  Please consider donations to keep them stocked, as many of their restaurant sources are closing down during this crisis.

 

If City Hall is closed, do I still have to pay my taxes?

Yes, we can accept them online or via mail. Late charges and fees will be waived during this time.

How do I request an absentee ballot?

You can download an absentee ballot application here: https://www.holyoke.org/departments/city-clerk/#extra7-tab.  You can either email it to clerks@holyoke.org or mail it in.  If you send it in electronically. Please be sure it has a signature.

Are the parks open?

As of now, the parks are still open. However, we recommend that people remain at least 6 feet apart and avoid touching equipment.

Will trash continue to be picked up?

Yes, trash and recycling pick up will continue uninterrupted. On-site waste disposal sites will be closed.

What is the best way to get updates?

Check back to this page, follow Holyoke City Hall on Facebook, and sign up for our emergency alert system. MassLive,The Daily Hampshire Gazette, and The Boston Globe are free sources for local coronavirus news. The CDC and WHO remain the most reliable sources of national and global information regarding this pandemic.

Should I be worried about my utilities being inconsistent during this crisis?

No, HG&E has developed a comprehensive pandemic plan which will ensure service to all customers throughout this tumultuous time.

HG&E is closed to the public but has several convenient communication channels that do not require a visit to the office. Please visit www.hged.com for the most up-to-date information related to HG&E

Can the Board of Health help me get a Covid-19 test?

No, you will need to contact your primary care physician for instructions. Please call the office ahead if you suspect you are sick.

On March 23, Governor Baker ordered all non-essential businesses to close and issued a Stay-at-Home advisory for residents of Massachusetts.

“Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers and the public as of Tuesday, March 24that noon until Tuesday, April 7that noon. These businesses are encouraged to continue operations remotely. The Baker-Polito Administration issued a list of designated businesses and other organizations that provide essential services and workforces related to COVID-19 that shall continue to operate brick and mortar facilities during this two-week time period. This list is based on federal guidance and amended to reflect the needs of Massachusetts’ unique economy. While these businesses are designated as essential,they are urged to follow social distancing protocols for workers in accordance with guidance from the Department of Public Health. Businesses and organizations not on the list of essential services are encouraged to continue operations through remote means that do not require workers, customers, or the public to enter or appear at the brick-and-mortar premises closed by the order. Restaurants, bars, and other establishments that sell food and beverage products to the public are encouraged to continue to offer food for take-out and by delivery if they follow the social distancing protocols set forth in Department of Public Health guidance continue operations. On-premises consumption of food or drink is prohibited.”

Full text of the ORDER can be found HERE

List of ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES can be found HERE

Essential servies FAQs can be found HERE

March 25 Press Conference summary:

 
-Schools and Non-Emergency Child Care Programs closed until May 4
Full orders: K-12 and Early Childhood
 
-Remote Learning and Education to continue through the month of April
 
-Announced steps to keep vulnerable families in their homes, preserve the health and safety of low-income renters and homeowners, and prevent homelessness due to reduced or lost income. 
 
-Guidelines for Pharmacies and Grocery Stores employees and customers to provide hours for people over 60 and increase social distancing and sanitation practices

Department of Unemployment Assistance has changed policies and restrictions with cases concerning Covid-19. CLICK HERE to learn more.

U.S. Labor Department allows unemployment benefits for Coronavirus

FAQs About Covid-19 Employee Rights and Employer Obligations

 

HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF AND OTHERS?

Optimal protection from COVID-19 is the same as protecting yourself from other respiratory illnesses such as influenza and the common cold:

  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. The virus is most commonly transmitted outside the healthcare setting by someone touching their eyes, nose and/or mouth after touching a surface an infected person has coughed/sneezed on. Face masks are unlikely to help decrease this mode of transmission.
  3. Wash you hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (learn the chorus to your favorite song and sing it while you wash)! Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available or any of the approved Coronavirus disinfectants
  4. Cover your coughs and sneezes, throw tissues immediately into a lined trashcan and wash your hands.
  5. If you think you have COVID-19, contact your health care provider or hospital prior to arrival.
  6. If community-spread occurs, you may be asked to stay at home for up to 14 days from the onset of your illness. Try to think ahead and ensure you have/have ways to get medication and food during this time.
  7. Get the facts. Gather information that will help you accurately determine risk so you can take reasonable precautions. Find a credible source you can trust such as the World Health Organization or a local or state public health agency.

COVID-19 is a new respiratory disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed COVID-19 cases. 

Symptoms of this infection may appear 2-14 days after exposure and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough and shortness of breath, and
  • In severe cases, pneumonia (fluid in the lungs).

 

Call your healthcare professional if you develop symptoms for instructions. If you plan on going to the ER call ahead first to warn and prepare. 

 

 

Infectious disease surveillance, reporting, and control

Holyoke Board of Health: 413-322-5595

Infectious disease emergencies: 617-983-6800

All contact information for surveillance, reporting, and control 

Prevention:

The best way to prevent illness is to keep good hand hygiene habits and avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

These orders have been put into effect to reduce the potential for high-risk transmission locations:

Order #1: Holyoke St. Patricks Parade and Road Race events canceled

Order #2: Notice of Closure of the Holyoke Mall and other Retail Establishments

Order #3: Updated Order on Retail Closures to the Public

Order #4: Closure of Personal Service Establishments

Relief Bill breakdown:
 
Details are still to come on how and when this will be dispersed, but the Relief Bill provides the following (Condensed and edited from information reported by NPR and other news sources):
 
Individuals:
  • Cash Payments:

    • A one-time cash payment of $1,200 for most individuals earning less than $75,000 plus $500 per child. Smaller checks will be sent to individuals earning between $75,000 – $99,000.

    • The cash payments are based on either 2018 or 2019 tax filings.
    • Those who receive Social Security benefits but don’t file tax returns are still eligible – their checks will be based on information provided by the Social Security Administration.
 
  • Unemployment
    • Four months of weekly payments boosted by $600
    • 13 weeks of unemployment insurance added to current length of time (set state by state)
    • New Pandemic Unemployment assistance will support gig and freelance workers who lose work due to the emergency
  • Taxes
    • Tax deadlines are extended until July 15
    • People can expect to receive their returns if they are owed one
  • Student Loans
    • Employers can provide up to $5,250 in tax-free student loan repayment benefits.
  • Insurance Coverage
    • The bill requires all private insurance plans to cover COVID-19 treatments and vaccine and makes all coronavirus tests free.
Education:
  • All federally owned student loan and interest payments will be deferred through Sept. 30 without penalty to the borrower.
  • Schools will be allowed to shift unused work-study funds into supplemental grants and continue paying work-study wages while schools are suspended.
  • Students who drop out of school as a result of the coronavirus won’t have that time away from school deducted from their lifetime limits on subsidized loan and Pell Grant eligibility. Those students would also not be asked to pay back any grants or other aid they’ve already received.
Safety Net:
  • $8.8 billion to give schools more flexibility to provide meals for students.
  • $15.5 billion is going to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
  • American Indian reservations, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa to get additional funds and access to federal nutrition programs.
  • $450 million more for food banks and other community food distribution programs.
State and Local Government:

  • $274 billion toward specific COVID-19 response efforts, including $150 billion in direct aid for those state and local governments running out of cash because of a high number of cases.
  • $5 billion for Community Development Block Grants
  • $13 billion for K-12 schools
  • $14 billion for higher education
  • $5.3 billion for programs for children and families, including immediate assistance to child care centers.
Businesses:

The bill establishes a fully refundable tax credit for businesses of all sizes that are closed or distressed to help them keep workers on the payroll. The goal is to get employees hired back or put on paid furlough to make sure they have jobs to return to.

  • Small Businesses:
    • The bill provides $10 billion for grants of up to $10,000 to provide emergency funds for small businesses to cover immediate operating costs.
    • Small Business Administration will provide loans of up to $10 million per business.
    • Small businesses already using SBA loans are provided 6 months of payment relief on those loans.
  • Large Businesses:
    • Approx. $500 billion in loans and other money for big corporations. These companies will have to pay the government back and will be subject to public disclosures and other requirements.
    • About $58 billion is allocated to help airlines stay open.
    • Any company receiving a loan under the program is barred from making stock buybacks for the term of the loan plus one year.
    • All loans, their terms and any investments or other assistance provided by the government must be publicly disclosed.
    • The bill creates a special inspector general to oversee pandemic recovery.
    • The president, vice president, members of the Cabinet and members of Congress are barred from benefiting from the money carved out for corporations.
Public Health:
  • $100 billion for hospitals responding to the coronavirus.
  • $1.32 billion in immediate additional funding for select community centers that provide health care services.
  • $11 billion for diagnostics, treatments and vaccines.
  • $80 million for the Food and Drug Administration to prioritize and expedite approval of new drugs.
  • $20 billion set aside for veterans.
  • Reauthorizes a telehealth program to extend the reach of virtual doctors appointments.
  • $16 billion to the Strategic National Stockpile to increase the availability of equipment, including ventilators and masks.
Arts & Culture Funding:
 
All emergency grant funds will be dispersed without a match requirement and will be for general operating funds.

  • $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts
  • $75 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities
  • $75 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
  • $50 million for the Institute of Library and Museum Sciences
  • $25 million for the Kennedy Center
  • $7.5 million for the Smithsonian

Office Address

536 Dwight Street Mayor’s Office Map

Office Hours

Monday - Friday
8:30 AM - 4:30 PM

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Posted on March 16, 2020 by