Once, again, your mother was right.
Common-sense practices such as washing your hands properly is the best way to prevent the spread of illness, such as the COVID-19 (or 2019 Novel Coronavirus) from spreading.
Across the state, as of March 3, there were 1,083 people subject to quarantine; 638 who have completed monitoring and no longer in quarantine and 445 now undergoing quarantine.
On Tuesday, Gov. Charlie Baker declared a State of Emergency in Massachusetts to support the Commonwealth’s response to the outbreak of Coronavirus
The Baker-Polito Administration also announced new guidance for Executive Branch employees in order to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This includes discontinuing all out-of-state work-related travel, canceling or virtually holding conferences, seminars, and other discretionary gatherings, informing employees not to attend external work-related conferences, seminars, or events, reminding employees feeling sick with fever or flu symptoms to not come into work, and encouraging high risk employees to talk with their supervisors to review possible alternative work assignments.
Health officials in both Whitman and Hanson reported this week that, while there is no alarm being seen in the communities, there have been questions asked in Hanson.
“They call more about a mouse than they do about Coronavirus,” Whitman Health Agent Alexis Andrews said Monday morning. “Basically, it’s just common-sense. Wash your hands, [disinfect] doorknobs, don’t touch your face. It’s basically flu-type things.”
The department has posted how the illness is spread, its symptoms and precautions against catching it.
Councils on aging are taking precautions as handwipes and paper towels are provided, along with hand-washing reminders, according to Whitman Director Barbara Garvey, who indicated the company through which the town purchases hand sanitizer is on backorder with the product.
A maintenance volunteer at the Whitman Senior Center is also keeping doorknobs and light fixtures wiped down, Garvey said, noting that seniors have not expressed much concern over the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States so far.
In Hanson, Director Mary Collins said that, along with the cleaning done by the part-time custodian, center staff have been trained in and are conducting, periodic sanitizing of door handles, knobs and control plates as well as bathrooms.
“We’re sanitizing throughout the day, especially surfaces people touch frequently,” Collins said. “Haven’t seen a lot of change in attendance, and people haven’t been talking much about it.”
Neither town has any reported cases of COVID-19 so far.
“The most important takeaway is washing your hands, staying home if you’re sick and if you are at all concerned — social distancing,” said Hanson Board of Health Chairman Arlene Dias. According to Dias, there have been few people contacting town officials about COVID-19 there, as well.
Former Health Board Chairman Tom Constantine sent a letter to selectmen with a list of questions about the outbreak, Dias said, but she said his questions pertained more to a pandemic.
Hanson has also posted information at Town Hall, the town website, sent information up to the senior center and library.
“I think people are so inundated every day, all day with information about Coronavirus,” Dias said. “They’re not calling us.”
She also said she is not seeing a lot of conversation about the issue on Facebook.
“People are more concerned about why people weren’t washing their hands before,” Dias said. “I think people are putting more energy into buying masks, buying hand sanitizer stuff like that — wiping down everything, maybe not taking trips that they were going to take — because they don’t know if they’re at risk or not.”
WHRSD has also posted information on its website for families of school children.
“We’re all doing the same thing,” Dias said. “The CDC is making the rules, sending it to Mass. Department of Public Health and DPH is telling us what it is we need to do. We’re all on the same page, and that’s how it always is.”
The DPH outlines what Health Boards must do, including for pandemic situations.
“I think they don’t want to create panic,” Dias said. “It’s bad enough people are out buying masks.”
Dias said masks or hand sanitizer are not needed.
“Soap and water is much better than anything you’re going to buy,” she said. “If you’re not sick, you’re going to make people scared if you are wearing a mask.”
According to the DPH, COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus) was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. This viral infection has resulted in thousands of confirmed human infections, with the vast majority of cases in China. Other countries, including the United States, have identified a growing number of cases in people who have traveled to China. More recently, transmission has been noted in some countries that has not been directly linked to cases in China, indicating community-level transmission in some places.
Coronaviruses are respiratory viruses and are generally spread through respiratory secretions (such as droplets from coughs and sneezes) of an infected person to another person. Information about how this novel coronavirus spreads is still limited.
This coronavirus causes a respiratory (lung) infection. Symptoms of this infection include: fever; coughing; shortness of breath; in severe cases, pneumonia (infection in the lungs).
While most people recover from this infection, some infections can lead to severe disease or death. Older people and those with pre-existing medical problems seem to have a greater risk for severe disease.
There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19, other than supportive care and relief of symptoms. Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect people from infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.
Although risk to Massachusetts residents from COVID-19 is low, the same precautions to help prevent colds and the flu can help protect against other respiratory viruses: Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds; Cover your coughs and sneezes; and stay home if you are sick.
Testing for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19is only available through the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Any healthcare provider who suspects a person is infected with 2019 Novel Coronavirus should call the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to discuss testing, at (617) 983-6800.