Novel Coronavirus Preparedness and Information

Please check this page regularly. It is updated on an ongoing basis. Last updated 04/06/2020 - 11:35am

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    COVID-19?

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COVID-19 Cases in Somerville

133

Tested Positive

46

Recovered

1

Died

Please note: This chart reflects only cases reported as of 4/5/20 at 11:32 a.m. Due to a testing shortage, this does not reflect the true number of cases in Somerville. We expect the number of confirmed cases to grow as tests become more widely available.

 

Video: Mayor Joe Curtatone Talks About Somerville's First Coronavirus Death

April 3, 2020 – Video: Updates on City Cable Programming, Unemployment Assistance, and Grocery Store Hours

April 3, 2020 – Video: City Secures Old K-Mart Building for Regional Mask Cleaning Facility



 

March 18, 2020 – Gov. Baker Orders All Childcare Centers Closed by Mon., 3/23; Some Exemptions for Approved Emergency Programs

From The Department of Early Education and Care:

Governor Baker has ordered all early childhood education programs across the State of Massachusetts to suspend providing childcare by 11:59 P.M. on Sunday, March 22, 2020. This will remain in effect until April 6, 2020. At the same time, the Department of Early Education and Care (“EEC”) is establishing a process to approve Exempt Emergency Child Care Programs to serve vulnerable children and the children of families who are required to work to maintain the health, safety and welfare of all Commonwealth citizens.This approach prioritizes public health and safety while maintaining critical service for vulnerable children and the children of families who are required to work during this pandemic.

Learn more at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/guidance-related-to-early-childhood-ed...


March 16, 2020 – Cambridge Health Alliance to Provide COVID-19 Testing to Current Patients in Stand-Alone Testing Center at Somerville Location

Effort designed to support expanded testing, maximize healthcare resources and reduce risk of incidental infection

Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) today announced that COVID-19 testing would be available to existing system patients via a stand-alone testing center at its Somerville Hospital location. Due to continued limited availability of tests, patients must meet federal criteria and be existing CHA primary care patients to be eligible for testing at this location.

“Providing a stand-alone testing location supports multiple public health goals: increased ease of testing, limiting risk of incidental infection and preserving hospital resources for the most ill patients; this is a situation that is unprecedented in my nearly 30 years as a physician, and CHA is doing everything possible to prepare for increased need,” said Dr. Assaad Sayah, Cambridge Health Alliance President and CEO and an Emergency Department physician. “We appreciate the support and encouragement of Mayor Curtatone in developing and moving forward with this important option for our community.”

"Social distancing and widespread availability to testing are both key in our ability to slow the spread of COVID-19," said Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. "We're happy to partner with Cambridge Health Alliance in providing their patients with a faster way to get tested, and we will be working in the coming days to expand testing options to the general public."

The following outlines key information about the new resource:

  • Testing will be conducted in a tent located at the Crown Street parking lot adjacent to Somerville Hospital (33 Tower St.)
  • Testing is scheduled to begin on March 18 and will be provided seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • ONLY current CHA primary care patients can currently be tested at this location
  • Patients MUST CALL their primary care provider to be screened; tests will not be provided without prior authorization
  • CHA will be able to test authorized patients who arrive on foot
  • Due to the continued limited supply of tests, only patients who meet federal CDC criteria will be eligible to receive testing

CHA will continue to monitor the situation and make changes as circumstances evolve. Patients and community members wanting more information about testing should visit www.challiance.org for updated information.

The City and Somerville Public Schools will continue to post updates at www.somervillema.gov/coronavirus as more information becomes available. When appropriate, information will also be shared via City alerts. Sign up or check your subscriptions at www.somervillema.gov/Alerts. Sign up for every method you are able to receive: phone call, text, email.

 


March 16, 2020 – Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone Announces Additional Closings

Additional gathering spaces closed as of March 17 to help contain the spread of COVID-19

Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone declared a local state of emergency in Somerville on Sunday, March 15. This formal declaration gives the City the ability to take decisive action to control the spread of the coronavirus and allows the City to request reimbursement from the federal government for its emergency response to this crisis.

Effective at 12 a.m., Tuesday, March 17, all gyms, health clubs, theaters, entertainment venues, social clubs, and houses of worship be closed through at least April 6.

Also, the City of Somerville’s playgrounds will be closed to the public and fields and courts will only be open for passive use – no team games. If possible, parents should keep children home from daycare and avoid playdates.

Residents who are 60 or older, who have respiratory illnesses, or who have weakened immune systems are advised to stay at home, as health experts have warned they are more vulnerable to COVID-19. Taking these measures now could help you avoid serious illness.

“Please, for your own health and the health of our community take these precautions seriously,” said Mayor Curtatone. “Social distancing will save lives. We are living in unprecedented circumstances, and we cannot go on with business as usual. As a community, we must drastically change our way of life in the short-term to prevent even more dire consequences in the long-term, particularly for our most vulnerable.”

Please continue to stay informed on our City website at www.somervillema.gov/Coronavirus, or call 311 at any time with any questions you might have.


March 15, 2020 – Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone Declares a Local State of Emergency

Starting March 17 only takeout and delivery service at restaurants and all schools closed for three weeks statewide

In order to help control the spread of COVID-19, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone has declared a local state of emergency in Somerville. This is in addition to Governor Charlie Baker’s order to close all bars and restaurants in the state to on-site table service through April 7; and all public and private schools through April 7. All of these measures are intended to slow the spread of the disease by limiting interpersonal contact.

The formal declaration of a local state of emergency gives the City the ability to take decisive action to control the spread of coronavirus. It also creates a formal mechanism for the City to be reimbursed by the federal government for emergency response to this crisis.

Residents should be aware that starting Tuesday, March 17, eateries will only be allowed to operate takeout and delivery services with safety and social distancing guidelines to help reduce potential transmission of COVID-19. The City is working to eliminate any red tape that would prevent local eateries that currently do not, from operating takeout and delivery services, allowing them to adapt in these trying times.

“We understand the devastating economic impact this may have on local residents and businesses,” said MayorCurtatone. “We have more than 4,000 people working in the food service and accommodations industry in Somerville, so our community will be hit hard by these changes. We wish we could tell people that some semblance of normalcy could avoid the most dire consequences, but it was crucial for the Governor to take this step today. Unfortunately, the epidemiologists consulting with us are advising that social distancing is our only current defense against a mass contagion.”

The City is working with state and federal legislators to provide economic aid to the workers, families, and small businesses impacted by these coronavirus-related closures.

The City and Somerville Public Schools will continue to post updates at www.somervillema.gov/coronavirus as more information becomes available. When appropriate, information will also be shared via City alerts. Sign up or check your subscriptions at www.somervillema.gov/Alerts. Sign up for every method you are able to receive: phone call, text, email.

 


March 14, 2020 – COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus) Update

State Launches 211 Hotline for COVID-19 Information, Referrals

You can now call 211 from a cellphone or landline for real-time COVID-19 updates and referrals including:

  • COVID-19 prevention, treatment, and symptom information
  • Information about testing
  • Guidance for people returning from travel

The 211 hotline is available 24 hours a day and can provide information in 150 languages. When you call 211 you will hear an automated message and should press 2-6 for COVID-19 information. You can also access 211 resources through the Massachusetts 211 website.

City, Schools, and Partners Organizing Support Services and Food Programs

A number of efforts are underway to address food security, healthcare access, and services for our most vulnerable populations including the many students who rely on the schools for meals and seniors who rely on a range of other services for meals and other needs. Resources will be posted to and continually updated on these pages. The schools have 2,000 meals ready to go for students starting Monday 3/16 with pickup information being sent via the schools directly to families. More to come. For those who wish to donate or help, we will also post information. Again, this is developing rapidly.

Social Distancing Measures in Place in Somerville and Statewide

Public health experts have emphasized the critical importance of social distancing – limiting interpersonal contact and maintaining a distance of at least six feet from others, halting large group activities, reducing overall social contact – to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Gov. Charlie Baker has issued an order prohibiting most gatherings of 250 or more people statewide.

Somerville and Boston recently convened regional leaders for a meeting with epidemiological and medical experts (extreme social distancing at the meeting was practiced including virtual participation). The core message was that the entire region must swiftly enact social distancing measures to avoid repeating the situation in Italy here: overwhelmed hospitals, rationing of care, higher fatality rates, and full lockdown. As a result of this meeting cities and towns across the region began closing schools and municipal buildings. Pressure is building on the State to follow. Starting Monday, March 16, all City and School buildings will be closed to the public for a minimum of two weeks and all City and School events are canceled during this time. Services essential to public health and safety will continue.

The public should be prepared for the closures to continue longer. Please also prepare for potential quarantine or self-isolation by having at least a two-week Emergency Kit with a supply of food, personal products, medicine, and other needed items. More info is available on this under the How to Prepare tab on this page.

Somerville Status Report

In Somerville, a total of 36 people have self-quarantined to date (3/14/20) in Somerville. Three are people with presumptive positive cases, the rest have been asymptomatic. Currently, 27 people are in quarantine.

Date

Total Persons Who Have Completed Quarantine

Total Persons Currently in Quarantine

Total Asymptomatic Persons Currently in Quarantine

Total Symptomatic Persons Currently in Quarantine

Total Persons Previously & Currently in Quarantine

3/14/20

9

27

24

3

36

3/11/20

8

4

4

0

12

3/10/20

8

4

4

0

12

3/6/20

7

1

1

0

8

3/5/20

7

1

1

0

8

3/3/20

6

2

2

0

8

Public health tip:

  • Supporting friends, family members, and neighbors who may need help preparing to practice social distancing or the possibility of quarantine is important, but when doing so you should still exercise caution to keep yourself and the person you are helping safe. If you are delivering food or medical supplies to someone, consider dropping them off on a porch or front steps, especially if the person you are delivering to is sick or a stranger. Make deliveries with a partner whenever possible and use hand sanitizer frequently until you are able to wash your hands with soap and water.

March 13, 2020 – Somerville City and School Buildings to Close for a Minimum of Two Weeks Starting Monday, March 16

Essential functions and services will continue, but municipal buildings will be closed to the public

Today, the City of Somerville and the Somerville Public Schools announced that effective Monday, March 16, all City buildings will be closed to the public and all Somerville Public Schools will be closed for a minimum of two weeks to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. During this time we will reassess if the closure needs to continue beyond two weeks.

Services essential to public health and safety – like police and fire responses, trash collection, and the 311 call center – will continue as normal while City offices are closed. This closure includes the Somerville Public Libraries and Department of Parks and Recreation facilities and activities. If you have questions about a specific service or official meeting schedules such as City Council, Boards, and Commissions, please call 311 or 617-666-3311. All City and School sponsored events are canceled during this period.

“We realize this decision creates inconveniences for residents, businesses, and organizations in our city but the health and safety of our community must come first,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “History has shown us that communities that implement social distancing measures during early fair the best during a public health emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Minimizing contact is the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect residents who are particularly vulnerable to this illness.”

Additional information about actions the City and Schools are taking, along with more information on COVID-19 and prevention measures, can be found at www.somervillema.gov/coronavirus, which is updated frequently. Somerville residents are also reminded to sign up for City alerts in all methods they can receive – phone, text, and email. To sign up for City alerts visit www.somervillema.gov/alerts or call 311 (617-666-3311).

March 11, 2020 – Schools, Libraries, and Related Activities to Close through the Weekend

Given the quickly evolving COVID-19 situation and the need to take every precaution possible to protect community health, the following buildings and programs will be closed Thursday through Sunday:

  • Somerville Public Schools and offices, including SCALE
  • All Somerville Public Library branches
  • All Department of Parks and Recreation activities
  • All activities held in Somerville Public School buildings
  • The Somerville Boxing Club

These closures will allow time for the Somerville Department of Public Works (DPW) to conduct a deep and thorough cleaning of all of these buildings. DPW will be utilizing new equipment that allows them to thoroughly clean and sanitize the buildings. Normal programming is expected to resume Monday, March 16.

Earlier today the Somerville Board of Health was informed of two presumptive positive COVID-19 cases in the city. Later this evening they were informed of a third presumptive positive case:

  • One involves a parent of a West Somerville Neighborhood School student and the spouse of a teacher at the school.
  • A second case involves the parent of an East Somerville Community School parent.
  • The third presumptive positive case is in a male Somerville resident.

All three cases appear to be linked to the Biogen conference held in Boston in February

The Somerville Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) remains in regular contact with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and regional health agencies regarding COVID-19. The City’s interdepartmental Emergency Response staff are closely monitoring reports and information about the virus, continue to follow all public health recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state public health officials, and are closely following updates from the World Health Organization (WHO). Additional information about actions the City and Schools are taking, along with more information on COVID-19 and prevention measures, can be found at www.somervillema.gov/coronavirus, which is updated frequently.


March 11, 2020 – Presumptive Positive Cases of COVID-19 Identified in Somerville

One case has a connection to the West Somerville Neighborhood School, which will close for additional cleaning

 Today, the City of Somerville’s Board of Health was notified by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) that there are two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Somerville residents. Both cases are linked to the Biogen conference held in Boston in February.

One of the persons who tested positive is the spouse of a West Somerville Neighborhood teacher and the parent of a student at the school. As recommended by MDPH all three family members are quarantining at home. As recommended by the Board of Health, the Somerville Department of Public Works (DPW) will be conducting a deep cleaning of the entire school this evening, utilizing new equipment that allows them to thoroughly clean and sanitize the building overnight. As an additional precaution, the West Somerville Neighborhood School will be closed tomorrow for any additional work that may be needed. Classes will resume on Friday.

The second case involves a male Somerville resident. The case is also traceable to the Biogen conference. The person affected is in contact with MDPH for guidance and at this time the Somerville Board of Health is awaiting more information from MDPH about this case.

Also earlier today our Board of Health was informed that two people who have presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 were at an event in Assembly Row last week. Neither person is a Somerville resident, and we are not privy to additional information regarding non-Somerville residents.

The Somerville Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) remains in regular contact with the MDPH and regional health agencies regarding COVID-19. The City’s interdepartmental Emergency Response staff are closely monitoring reports and information about the virus, continue to follow all public health recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state public health officials, and are closely following updates from the World Health Organization (WHO). Additional information about actions the City and Schools are taking, along with more information on COVID-19 and prevention measures, can be found at www.somervillema.gov/coronavirus, which is updated frequently.

The City and School Department have implemented social distancing measures and postponed or suspended large events sponsored or permitted by the City and Schools in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The City would also like to remind community members of the steps they can take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Stay home when you are sick, and especially if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Practice social distancing. Examples of social distancing include not attending large events like concerts or sports games, avoiding shaking hands or hugging, remaining at least six feet away from others and especially anyone who is coughing or sneezing, and allowing employees to work from home or teleconference
  • Wash your hands often, using soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer until soap and water are available.
  • Cough/sneeze into a tissue. Dispose of used tissues immediately into a trash can. If you don’t have a tissue, cough/sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that you touch frequently such as doorknobs, railings, sink handles, phones, and computer keyboards.

Somerville residents are also reminded to sign up for City alerts in all methods they can receive – phone, text, and email. To sign up for City alerts visit www.somervillema.gov/alerts or call 311 (617-666-3311).

 


March 10, 2020 – Somerville Announces COVID-19 Social Distancing Measures

Certain events to be suspended, postponed, or reconfigured through April 30th 

The rapid spread of COVID-19 around the globe and Gov. Baker’s declaration of a state of emergency have understandably prompted concerns within our community. The City’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) has been actively monitoring the situation and the ERT, City, and Schools are taking all necessary steps to protect the health, safety, and well-being of our community members during this evolving situation. To safeguard against the spread of 2019 novel coronavirus, and the impact of COVID-19, the City and School District have modified City- and School- sponsored or permitted events, sports, and meeting activities effective immediately.

Given the uncertainty surrounding this virus, we need to make careful choices to protect the health of our community. Some of these measures, like postponing events, may cause unwanted disruptions to our daily lives and we will seek to minimize those where possible, but our top priority is protecting the health and safety of all who live, work, and visit here. One of the most important things we can do now is to take the necessary precautions to minimize the risk.

This balanced approach led us to consider the City and School event schedules to ensure the safety of all our community members and reduce opportunities for the virus to spread. We have carefully weighed the impact changes in scheduled events will have on our residents of all ages and will continue to make modifications and respond to this evolving situation.

These guidelines represent practical steps we can all take to reduce risk for ourselves and for each other:

  • City- and School-sponsored public events and permitted public events scheduled through April 30, 2020, and which are projected to have 50 or more attendees in one location, will be canceled or postponed until a later date.
  • City- and School-sponsored public events and permitted public cultural events with 49 or fewer attendees will implement social distancing guidelines AND all such private events are strongly advised to comply with the following protocols as well:
    • The event must be held in a space large enough to prevent crowding for the expected attendees. Social distancing for attendees must be possible (six feet apart or more). 
    • If food is served:
      • arrange for prepackaged foods such as boxed lunches or food to be served by staff who are trained in safe food handling;
      • do not serve foods where multiple hands will touch the food (e.g., buffet style) (again, served food by staff trained in food handling could be substituted);
      • ensure hand-washing facilities are accessible and supplied with adequate soap and paper towels;
      • if available, provide hand sanitizer for attendees for in-between handwashing opportunities.
    • All commonly touched surfaces will be cleaned before and after events (doorknobs, railings, sink handles, etc.).
    • All attendees should be reminded not to attend if they are feeling unwell, coughing, or sneezing.
    • All attendees should be reminded to avoid social touching (handshaking and social hugs/kissing should be avoided).
    • Wherever possible, events will be recorded and cablecast by the City’s Somerville City CableTV and Educational Access channels.
       
  • City- and School-sponsored public sports events and City-permitted sports events will follow these social distancing guidelines:
    • All sports events both indoor and outdoor:
      • Only athletes, staff, and coaches will be allowed to attend these events. Spectators will not be allowed.
      • Guidelines have been established for cleaning all commonly touched surfaces and equipment before and after the event (doorknobs, locker knobs, sports equipment, railings, sink handles, etc.)
      • Wherever possible, events will be recorded and cablecast by the City’s Somerville City CableTV and Educational Access channels.
         
  • Somerville Public Schools will suspend permitting of publicly attended events in their facilities by outside entities or persons.
    • Entities currently holding public event permits, school building reservations, etc., will be contacted and informed of these measures.
    • Existing permits for large events through April 30, 2020, will be postponed.
       
  • At this time, the City and School District will continue to regularly schedule City Council and School Committee meetings. Official public hearings of our Council, Boards, and Commissions will also continue. Additional guidance about public hearings and essential meetings will follow. Again, this is an evolving situation and these measures may be subject to change.

We are encouraging our staff and partners to consider alternative meeting options such as webinars, webcasts, phone conferences, or video broadcasts for events during this period when appropriate.

If you have questions regarding a particular event or these general social distancing measures, please contact 311 (617-666-3311).

The City and Somerville Public Schools will continue to post updates at www.somervillema.gov/coronavirus as more information becomes available. When appropriate, information will also be shared via City alerts. Sign up or check your subscriptions at www.somervillema.gov/Alerts. Sign up for every method you are able to receive: phone call, text, email.


March 10, 2020 – COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus) Update

Somerville Status report:

In Somerville, a total of 12 people have self-quarantined to date (3/10/20) in Somerville. All have been asymptomatic but had close contact with someone who had tested positive for novel coronavirus. As of today, four people remain in self-quarantine. Currently, none have developed symptoms.

Date

Total Persons Who Have Completed Quarantine

Total Persons Currently in Quarantine

Total Asymptomatic Persons Currently in Quarantine

Total Symptomatic Persons Currently in Quarantine

Total Persons Previously & Currently in Quarantine

3/10/20

8

4

4

0

12

3/6/20

7

1

1

0

8

3/5/20

7

1

1

0

8

3/3/20

6

2

2

0

8

Additional presumptive cases in Massachusetts:

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced yesterday (3/9/20) 13 new presumptive positive case of COVID-19. This brings the state to a total of 41 presumptive cases. There has been one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Massachusetts. Of the 41 presumptive cases, 32 are associated with a recent Biogen conference in Boston. 

Public health tip:

  • You may have heard public health experts talking about social distancing as a way to help slow or stop the spread of COVID-19, but what is that? Social distancing means avoiding large crowds or social interactions with close contact. Examples of social distancing include not attending large events like concerts or sports games, avoiding shaking hands or hugging, remaining at least 6 feet away from others and especially anyone who is coughing or sneezing, and allowing employees to work from home or teleconference.

 


March 8, 2020 – COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus) Update

Presumptive cases in Massachusetts rose on Saturday:

The MA Department of Public Health announced on Saturday (3/7/20) that the number of presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts rose to 12, and the number of confirmed cases remains at 1. (Presumptive cases have been tested in a state lab. Confirmed cases have been tested by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)). 

The current CDC risk assessment for the nation is as follows: 

  • For most people, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. This virus is not currently widespread in the United States.
  • People in places where ongoing community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated risk of exposure, with increase in risk dependent on the location.
  • Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure, with increase in risk dependent on the location.”

The CDC also notes the following:

“More cases of COVID-19 are likely to be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the United States. It’s also likely that sustained person-to-person spread will continue to occur, including throughout communities in the United States. It’s likely that at some point, widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States will occur."

Preventive steps are strongly advised by the CDC. We encourage you to read through the recommendations and information under the various tabs on this page and to follow links to additional state and federal resources and information. 

The City Emergency Response Team has been activated and is closely following CDC guidance and working in coordination with the MA Dept. of Public Health and regional agencies and officials on a range of efforts and actions as part of a rapidly evolving community, regional, and state response. We will continue to post updates as information becomes available.

 


March 6, 2020 – COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus) Update

Somerville Status report:

According to the MA Dept. of Public Health, the risk to residents in Massachusetts remains low. In Somerville, a total of eight people have self-quarantined to date (3/6/20) in Somerville. All have been asymptomatic but had close contact with someone who had tested positive for novel coronavirus. As of today, one person remains in self-quarantine. The other seven did not develop symptoms and have completed their quarantine periods.

Date

Total Persons Who Have Completed Quarantine

Total Persons Currently in Quarantine

Total Asymptomatic Persons Currently in Quarantine

Total Symptomatic Persons Currently in Quarantine

Total Persons Previously & Currently in Quarantine

3/6/20

7

1

1

0

8

3/5/20

7

1

1

0

8

3/3/20

6

2

2

0

8

Additional presumptive cases in Massachusetts:

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced yesterday (3/5/20) a presumptive positive case of COVID-19. The individual lives in Middlesex County and had recently traveled to Italy. She was symptomatic and is recovering at home. Specimens will be sent to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmation. As of the morning of March 6, a presumptive positive case in Norfolk County has not been confirmed by the CDC. Massachusetts has one confirmed case of COVID-1. Public Health officials report the risk to the public from COVID-19 remains low in Massachusetts. As of midday, the Boston Globe is reporting that DPH and City of Boston announced three new presumptive cases related to a Biogen conference, and DPH announced another presumptive case in Wellesley. This brings the state to a total of seven presumptive cases. There is one confirmed case in Massachusetts.

Public health tip:

  • When you’re building your emergency kit, don’t forget basic cold medicine, drinks like Pedialyte or Gatorade, Tylenol, ibuprofen, a thermometer, and thermometer covers. gov has more information on things to include in an emergency kit. Normally, the recommendation is to have an emergency kit that would last three days, but with COVID-19 it’s recommended to consider a two-week supply.

March 5, 2020 – COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus) Update

Status report:

According to the MA Dept. of Public Health, the risk to residents in Massachusetts remains low. In Somerville, a total of eight people have self-quarantined to date (3/5/20). All have been asymptomatic but had close contact with someone who had tested positive for novel coronavirus. As of today, one person remains in self-quarantine. The other seven did not develop symptoms and have completed their quarantine periods.

Date

Total Persons Who Have Completed Quarantine

Total Persons Currently in Quarantine

Total Asymptomatic Persons Currently in Quarantine

Total Symptomatic Persons Currently in Quarantine

Total Persons Previously & Currently in Quarantine

3/5/20

7

1

1

0

8

3/3/20

6

2

2

0

8

Travel Guidance Revised:

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released revised guidance for travelers returning from countries with COVID-19 warnings:

  • Travelers returning from current Level 3 countries – China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea -- should self-quarantine for 14 days after entry into the United States and self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing).
  • Travelers returning from Level 2 countries – currently just Japan – should limit contact with others and self-monitor for symptoms.
  • All persons are advised to avoid all non-essential travel to Level 3 countries China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea, and people with chronic health conditions should avoid non-essential travel to Japan.
  • If you have recently traveled to China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan and have symptoms of respiratory illness and/or fever please contact your healthcare provider

DPH is sharing information with local health departments about travelers returning from China and Iran, and they are helping monitor and support those travelers with their 14-day self-quarantine.

Public health tip:

  • To help stop the spread of COVID-19 (and other illnesses), you should wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. So how do you know it’s been 20 seconds? One suggestion is to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. But if “Happy Birthday” isn’t your jam, take a look at this list the Los Angeles Times put together of song choruses that take about 20 seconds to sing. Or identify a 20-second section of your favorite song and sing it in your head as you wash your hands.

March 3, 2020 – COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus) Update

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced yesterday (3/2/20) a presumptive positive case of COVID-19. The individual lives in Norfolk County and had recently traveled to Italy. She was symptomatic and is recovering at home.

Specimens will be sent to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and, if confirmed, this would be the second confirmed positive COVID-19 case in Massachusetts since the virus was first detected in the US in January. Public Health officials report the risk to the public from COVID-19 remains low in Massachusetts.

In Somerville, a total of eight people have self-quarantined to date. All have been asymptomatic but had close contact with someone who had tested positive for novel coronavirus. As of today (3/3/20) two people remain in self-quarantine. The other six did not develop symptoms and have completed their quarantine periods.

Public health tip: When leaving a public restroom, first wash your hands thoroughly, then to keep them clean:

  • Either use a clean paper towel to open the door and then throw it out in the nearest garbage can, or
  • If possible, open the door with your elbow or foot to avoid touching the handle with your hand.
     

February 26, 2020 – COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus) Update

The Somerville Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) remains in regular contact with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and regional health agencies regarding COVID-19, the 2019 novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China late last year. The City’s Emergency Response staff are closely monitoring all available information about the virus, continue to follow all public health recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state public health officials, and are closely following updates from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The City and the Somerville Public Schools are actively reviewing and prepping for any and all necessary response protocols. As of this posting (2/26/19), the MA Dept. of Public Health continues to note on their COVID-19 website www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus that the current risk in Massachusetts is low and that no events need to be canceled. They have linked to CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan for and Respond to Coronavirus. Further guidance for community members will be updated on the City website, and shared via additional means, as it becomes available. We also encourage anyone planning to travel to review the latest CDC travel guidance, which is updated frequently.

On February 25th, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued guidance to public school administrators that included the following status update (the full document can be viewed here):

    " At this time, Massachusetts has one confirmed case of COVID-19 and the risk to our residents remains low. At the same time, the risk for the influenza virus is very high.

     The vast majority of reported cases of COVID-19 are in China. Confirmed cases of this respiratory virus associated with travel from Wuhan are also being reported in a growing number of countries, including the United States. Some person-to-person spread of this virus outside China has been detected       but, again, the risk to Massachusetts residents remains low at this time.

     We know that outbreaks of new virus infections are always of public health concern. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), other federal agencies, local boards of health, and our clinical partners to share the      most up to date information available. 

     It is important to note that Massachusetts residents are much more likely to become sick with a cold or the flu than to be exposed to COVID-19. Many of the precautions that help prevent colds and the flu can help protect against other respiratory viruses." 

Today’s report (Feb. 26, 2020) from the CDC states there have been 59 confirmed cases in the U.S. with 42 stemming from persons who returned from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Meanwhile, numerous news outlets reported on a press briefing held on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, by federal health officials that spread of the virus in the U.S. is expected. The New York Times, for example, reported:

 “’It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen,’ Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a news briefing.”

What should my household do to prepare for the possibility of a coronavirus outbreak in Somerville?

While federal health officials have publicly announced that they expect COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus to spread in the United States, they still consider the current threat in the country and Massachusetts to be low. That said, there are still a number of things that community members can do to prepare for the event that the virus spreads.

1. Be sure that you are fully informed of standard flu protocols -- and commit to truly following them. Precautions such as staying home if you have a fever of 100 degrees or higher, washing hands frequently, and covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow are designed to prevent the spread of germs.

2. Prepare an emergency kit and complete an emergency checklist. An emergency kit is a collection of items you may need in an emergency. An emergency checklist helps you gather information you may need in an emergency. At all times, not simply as it relates to COVID-19, every household should have an emergency kit ready and should run through emergency checklists to be prepared for any unexpected emergencies. Kits generally include essentials such as food, water, medicine, power sources, paperwork, and other items to cover a 3-day period. With the COVID-19, it is recommended to consider a 2-week supply. Here are few links for with suggestions for your kit and checklists:

3. Consider and prepare for what you may need if you or your children need to isolate or quarantine at home for an extended period. Current self-isolation and quarantine periods for COVID-19 have generally been 14 days or longer. In the event that you may need to self-isolate or quarantine, it is advisable to consider what you need at home under such circumstances and gather them. Emergency kit checklists, which as noted include items such as food and prescriptions, should be a good help in planning for your needs (see above).

4. If you are planning to travel, check CDC travel updates and guidance. We encourage anyone planning to travel to review the latest CDC travel guidance at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html, which is updated frequently. As of this posting, on Thursday, Feb. 27, there are warnings and alerts of various levels for China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran, and Hong Kong, and information posted regarding Singapore, Thailand, and Taiwan.

5. Do not hoard. While it is advisable to plan and prepare for your general emergency needs and possible quarantine, it is detrimental to overall public health if individuals hoard more resources than they need. For example, if one person hoards hand sanitizer or face masks that they can’t possibly use up alone, there may be another 10-20 people who will not have access and then may be more likely to spread germs to everyone, including the hoarder, making the risk of the virus spreading even greater for all.

5. Share facts, not rumors. Check the CDC, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, or other official government sites for updates. 

6.  Stay compassionate and remain true to our community values of welcoming and inclusion. There have been news reports of persons of Asian backgrounds experiencing incidents of discrimination due to COVID-19 news. No one should face discrimination or mistreatment based on a public health situation. Viruses do not discriminate.

What is the City or State doing to prepare? 

The Somerville Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) remains in regular contact with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and regional health agencies regarding the 2019 novel coronavirus. The City’s interdepartmental Emergency Response staff are closely monitoring reports and information about the virus, continue to follow all public health recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state public health officials, and are closely following updates from the World Health Organization (WHO). The City and the Somerville Public Schools are actively reviewing and prepping for any and all necessary response protocols. Information will be shared with the public as it becomes available.

As of this posting (2/28/20), the MA Dept. of Public Health continues to note on their website www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus that the current risk in Massachusetts is low and that no events need to be canceled. 

The City’s Health and Human Services Department, which includes Somerville’s public school nurses, tracks illness in the schools and participates in regular conference calls to monitor emerging information and is prepared to respond to any updated directives from the CDC and MDPH.

To date, state DPH actions include but are not limited to:

  • Established an Incident Command Structure to facilitate regular dissemination of information from federal and state partners to statewide stakeholders.
  • Launched a new website that provides up-to-date information on the status of novel coronavirus for all residents: https://www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus.
  • Developed and disseminated clinical advisories to all Massachusetts health care providers and issued guidance to hospitals, health systems, and Emergency Medical Services.
  • Scheduled calls with other key health care partners including local boards of health.

To date, City actions include but are not limited to:

  • Actively monitoring emerging information and we are prepared to respond to any updated directives from the CDC and MDPH.
  • Posting updates on the City and school websites as new information becomes available.
  • Reviewing and updating emergency preparedness protocols in the event the City needs to activate emergency dispensing sites or take any other recommended actions.
  • Working closely with MDPH on a communication tool for local boards of health to disseminate updates as they become available.
  • Coordinating an internal emergency response team.

February 5, 2020 Coronavirus Update: Precautions and Preparations You Can Take for Flu Season, Coronavirus Concerns

The Somerville Health and Human Services (HHS) Department is sharing information to help keep the public informed about a respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus -- named “2019-nCoV” -- that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and continues to spread.

This week, the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in Massachusetts; however, the risk to the public within the state of Massachusetts remains low. A Massachusetts man in his 20s received a confirmed diagnosis soon after returning from Wuhan, China. There have been 11 cases of infection with 2019 novel coronavirus reported in the United States. The City of Somerville continues to monitor reports and information regarding the spread of the Coronavirus from the CDC and the MDPH and will share information with the community as it becomes available.

The HHS Department, which includes Somerville’s public school nurses, tracks illness in the schools and participates in regular conference calls to monitor emerging information and we are prepared to respond to any updated directives from the CDC and MDPH.

Reminders and Information for Flu Season

Cold and flu symptoms are typical during this time and it is important to remind people of the elevated risk of exposure to respiratory illnesses including influenza. It is important to emphasize the risk of exposure to seasonal influenza is a primary public health concern in Massachusetts at this time. Respiratory viruses are generally spread through respiratory secretions (droplets from coughs and sneezes) of an infected person to another person. Although the risk of the coronavirus to Massachusetts residents remains low, people are advised to take many of the same steps they do to help prevent colds and the flu.

HHS recommends following the standard flu protocols during this time of year to keep everyone safe and healthy.

If you have persistent symptoms, contact your primary care provider or visit the emergency room. 

Flu Vaccines Still Available in Somerville

As of February 4, 2020 the Somerville Health and Human Services Department still has free flu vaccines available for residents ages 3 and older, with or without insurance. If you or someone you know is still in need of a flu shot it is still strongly encouraged that you receive one as soon as possible. HHS will be offering “Walk-in” clinic hours on Thursday evenings from 5 to 7 p.m. at the City Hall Annex, located at 50 Evergreen Ave, until the supply is exhausted. If this time is not convenient for you, please call and make an appointment with one of our public health nurses.

For more information on the Coronavirus, please see the CDC and MDPH links below. If you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to call the Somerville Health and Human Services Department at 617-625-6600 ext. 4320.

Additional Resources 

  • Respiratory viruses are generally spread through respiratory secretions (droplets from coughs and sneezes) of an infected person to another person. Although the risk of the coronavirus to Massachusetts residents remains low, people are advised to take many of the same steps they do to help prevent colds and the flu.
  • HHS recommends following the standard flu protocols during this time of year to keep everyone safe and healthy:
    • Wash your hands often, using soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
    • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer until soap and water is available.
    • Cough/sneeze into a tissue. Dispose of used tissues immediately into a trash can. If you don’t have a tissue, cough/sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not your hands.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Monitor your temperature. (A fever is 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.) Remain home from work or school if you have a fever or you aren’t feeling well.
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects frequently.
  • Established an Incident Command Structure to facilitate regular dissemination of information from federal and state partners.
  • Launched a new website that provides up-to-date information on the status of novel coronavirus for all residents: www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus
  • Developed and disseminated clinical advisories to all Massachusetts health care providers and issued guidance to hospitals, health systems, and Emergency Medical Services.
  • Scheduled calls with other key health care partners including local boards of health.
  • Actively monitoring emerging information and we are prepared to respond to any updated directives from the CDC and MDPH.
  • Posting updates on the City and School website as new information becomes available.
  • Reviewing and updating emergency preparedness protocols in the event it needs to activate emergency dispensing sites or take any other recommended actions.
  • Working closely with MDPH on a communication tool for local boards of health to disseminate updates as they become available.
  • Coordinating an internal emergency response team.
  • Established an Incident Command Structure to facilitate regular dissemination of information from federal and state partners to statewide stakeholders.
  • Launched a new website that provides up-to-date information on the status of novel coronavirus for all residents: https://www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus.
  • Developed and disseminated clinical advisories to all Massachusetts health care providers and issued guidance to hospitals, health systems, and Emergency Medical Services.
  • Scheduled calls with other key health care partners including local boards of health.
  • Wash your hands often, using soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer until soap and water is available. 
  • Cough/sneeze into a tissue. Dispose of used tissues immediately into a trash can. If you don’t have a tissue, cough/sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Monitor your temperature. (A fever is 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.) Remain home from work or school if you have a fever or you aren’t feeling well. 
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects frequently. 
  • MDPH 2019 Coronavirus updates
  • MDPH 2019 Coronavirus guidance
  • CDC Coronavirus updates
  • CDC Travel Advice
  • CDC MMWR Report
  • CDC Updated Interim Guidance on Travel Exposure

 

Novel coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) is a virus that recently emerged in December 2019 in China. Like the flu, it primarily affects the lungs. While some cases can be mild, some persons may develop more serious complications, and in some cases the virus can be fatal. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) strongly advises that community members prepare and take preventive steps. Please read through these pages for information and guidance. The City Emergency Response Team has been activated and is working in coordination with MA Department of Public Health (DPH) and other State, regional, and community partners on a rapidly evolving response.

  • COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus. There are no treatments for it. Most people will recover on their own, but some people can develop pneumonia or other life-threatening symptoms and require medical care or hospitalization.
  • The MA Department of Public Health updates the number of confirmed cases in the state daily here.
  • As new information emerges from across the globe, please remember that the risk of COVID-19 is not at all connected with race, ethnicity, or nationality. Stigma will not help to fight the illness. Seeking and sharing accurate information during a time of heightened concern is one of the best things we can do to keep rumors and misinformation from spreading.

Symptoms of novel coronavirus can include: 

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Some cases may include vomiting or diarrhea
  • Severe cases may include pneumonia

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Seek medical advice if you have symptoms and think you may have been exposed.

Most people who get the 2019 novel coronavirus have mild to moderate cases, but some might have to go to the hospital, and some cases can be fatal. Most people who get sick from 2019 novel coronavirus start to feel these symptoms between two and 14 days after they catch it.

 

Older people (age 50 and up) and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness. The CDC advises that it is “extra important” that persons with higher risk take action to help prevent exposure to the virus, and that all of us take actions to limit the spread in order to protect ourselves and those most vulnerable to complications.

The underlying conditions identified as increasing risk include but are not limited to:

  • Heart, kidney, or liver disease
  • Lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Immune deficiency, or persons taking medications that suppress immune function
  • High blood pressure

Risk for more severe symptoms increases starting at approximately age 50 and continues to climb with age. According to the Robert Koch Institute, age combined with a risk factor creates higher risk as well. In particular, older persons may have a weaker immune response leading to more serious infection and a delay in some obvious symptoms such as fever. Thus older persons may not go to the doctor as early as a younger person with a stronger early response.

The CDC offers guidance for higher risk populations including:

  • Stock up on supplies
  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others
  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact, and wash your hands often.
  • Avoid crowds as much as possible
  • Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel
  • During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible.

For more specific guidance, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html.

It is important that everyone actively work to protect both their own health and to prevent the spread of the virus to others. There are a number of steps that community members can take to prepare and to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

There is no vaccine for COVID-19. The best way to keep from catching or spreading the virus is to commit to preventing the spread of germs:

  • Wash your hands often using soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer until soap and water are available.
  • Cough/sneeze into a tissue. Dispose of used tissues immediately into a trash can. If you don’t have a tissue, cough/sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Monitor your temperature. (A fever is 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.) Remain home from work or school if you have a fever or you aren’t feeling well.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces and objects often.
  • It’s not too late to get a flu shot. This will not protect you from coronavirus directly, but can help to keep you healthy overall. The City's Health Dept. still has some free flu shots available. Contact 311 (617-666-3311) for information.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth. Stay home when you are sick. Learn more at cdc.gov/COVID19

Prepare a two-week emergency kit and complete an emergency checklist in case you need to quarantine at home. An emergency kit is a collection of items you may need in an emergency. An emergency checklist helps you gather information you may need in an emergency. Kits generally include essentials such as food, water, medicine, power sources, paperwork, and other items to cover a 3-day period. With COVID-19, it is recommended to prepare a 2-week supply. Here are few links with suggestions for your kit and checklists:

  • Somerville Quarantine Shopping List (PDF)
  • Mass.gov Build an Emergency Kit
  • CDC Emergency Kit and Checklist for Families
  • CDC Personal Health Preparedness
  • Mass.gov/KnowPlanPrepare includes interactive family tasks and videos
    Items to keep in a preparedness kit include prescription medications, first aid essentials, toiletries, hand sanitizer, and personal health information.
  • Gather supplies that will be helpful if you or a household member needs to recover from COVID-19 at home. The same kind of supplies you might need if you have the flu will be helpful if you develop flu-like COVID-19 symptoms that are mild or moderate enough for you to recover at home. Items such as cold medicines, Tylenol, tissues, decongestant, a thermometer, and thermometer covers are helpful. Should anyone develop vomiting or diarrhea, an anti-diarrheal medicine and fluids that can quickly rehydrate and restore electrolytes such as Pedialyte, electrolyte water, broth or broth-based soups, or Gatorade (though be careful of the high sugar levels in Gatorade if using for children) are also helpful. To help stop the spread of germs, a disinfectant cleaner or wipes is also advised.

Do not hoard. While it is advisable to plan and prepare for your general emergency needs and possible quarantine, it is detrimental to overall public health if individuals hoard more resources than they need. For example, if one person hoards hand sanitizer or face masks that they can’t possibly use up alone, others may not have access and then may be more likely to spread germs to everyone, including the hoarder, making the risk of the virus spreading greater for all.

The CDC recommends the following to protect yourself from COVID-19:

  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The virus is thought to spread from person-to-person, typically between people in close contact (less than 6 feet apart) through respiratory droplets, which are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. 
  • Clean your hands often. 
    • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
    • If you are unable to wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with others outside of your household. 
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. 
  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Try to isolate yourself as much as possible from other members of your household.

Older people (age 50 and up) and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness. The CDC advises that it is “extra important” that persons with higher risk take action to help prevent exposure to the virus, and that all of us take actions to limit the spread in order to protect ourselves and those most vulnerable to complications.

The underlying conditions identified as increasing risk include but are not limited to:

  • Heart, kidney, or liver disease
  • Lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Immune deficiency, or persons taking medications that suppress immune function
  • High blood pressure

Risk for more severe symptoms increases starting at approximately age 50 and continues to climb with age. According to the Robert Koch Institute, age combined with a risk factor creates higher risk as well. In particular, older persons may have a weaker immune response leading to more serious infection and a delay in some obvious symptoms such as fever. Thus older persons may not go to the doctor as early as a younger person with a stronger early response.

The CDC offers guidance for higher risk populations including:

  • Stock up on supplies.
  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact, and wash your hands often.
  • Avoid crowds as much as possible.
  • Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
  • During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible.

For more specific guidance, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html.

Consider offering to help any elderly neighbors or others who may need assistance in preparing. There have also been news reports of persons of Asian backgrounds experiencing incidents of discrimination due to COVID-19 news. No one should face discrimination or mistreatment based on a public health situation. Viruses do not discriminate.

Bookmark the City’s coronavirus webpage for local updates: somervillema.gov/Coronavirus. Sign up for City alerts or check your subscription to be sure you are signed up to receive alerts via every method you can receive: phone, email, texts. Sign up for alerts at somervillema.gov/Alerts or call 311 for assistance subscribing. 

The City and Somerville Public Schools will continue to update as more information becomes available.
You can sign up for real-time text updates about COVID-19 in Massachusetts: Text the keyword COVIDMA to 888-777. State and public health officials will send short messages and links to information directly to your mobile device.

Check reliable news sources frequently. See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Massachusetts Department of Public Health, or other official government sites for updates. It’s important to get information from official websites to help stop rumors and misinformation from spreading and potentially putting others at risk.

 

Guidance and Resources for...

The Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing has provided a COVID-19 communications cardto help hard of hearing and Deaf individuals and patients communicate with hospital staff, medical personnel, first responders, and service providers.

Older people (age 50 and up) and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness. The CDC advises that it is “extra important” that persons with higher risk take action to help prevent exposure to the virus, and that all of us take actions to limit the spread in order to protect ourselves and those most vulnerable to complications.

The underlying conditions identified as increasing risk include but are not limited to:

  • Heart, kidney, or liver disease
  • Lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Immune deficiency, or persons taking medications that suppress immune function
  • High blood pressure

Risk for more severe symptoms increases starting at approximately age 50 and continues to climb with age. According to the Robert Koch Institute, age combined with a risk factor creates higher risk as well. In particular, older persons may have a weaker immune response leading to more serious infection and a delay in some obvious symptoms such as fever. Thus older persons may not go to the doctor as early as a younger person with a stronger early response. Scientists are still learning about COVID-19, but the current known fatality rate in China for persons with COVID-19 below the age of 50 is below 1%, for ages 50-59 it is approximately 1.3%, for ages 60-69 it is approximately 3.5%, and for persons over 80 it is approximately 14.8%.

The CDC offers guidance for higher risk populations including:

  • Stock up on supplies.
  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
  • Avoid crowds as much as possible.
  • During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible.

For more specific guidance, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html.

Symptoms and Testing

Symptoms of novel coronavirus can include: 

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Some cases may include vomiting or diarrhea
  • Severe cases may include pneumonia

Most people who get the 2019 novel coronavirus have mild to moderate cases, but some might have to go to the hospital, and some cases can be fatal. Most people who get sick from 2019 novel coronavirus start to feel these symptoms between two and 14 days after they catch it.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. If you have been in China within the past 2 weeks and develop symptoms, call your doctor.

  • Those who have recently traveled to any countries of high level transmission and who have symptoms of respiratory illness and/or fever should contact their healthcare provider immediately. Call or email them before going in person. Note that travelers from these countries should undertake a 14-day quarantine upon return. 
  • Individuals who have come into close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 should contact the DPH Epidemiology Line at (617) 983-6800.
  • Other persons experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should practice self-care and germ spread prevention: stay home, cover your cough, and contact your medical provider for guidance. (Call before you go in.)

Apple's COVID-19 screening website on a computer and a smartphone.

This website, created by Apple in partnership with the CDC, allows users to answer a series of questions around risk factors, recent exposure, and symptoms for themselves or a loved one. In turn, they will receive CDC recommendations on next steps, including guidance on social distancing and self-isolating, how to closely monitor symptoms, whether or not a test is recommended at this time, and when to contact a medical provider. This screening tool is designed to be a resource for individuals and does not replace instructions from healthcare providers or guidance from state and local health authorities.

Winter in Massachusetts is a time when lots of respiratory viruses are making people sick. The common cold, the flu, and RSV are some of the things that can also cause people to cough or have a fever. Call your healthcare professional if you develop symptoms, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19.

If you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 or you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, fever, difficulty breathing), call your healthcare provider first. They will advise you on what to do next.

People at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 (including adults over 60 or people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, or compromised immune systems) should contact their healthcare provider early, even if their illness is mild.

If you don’t have a primary care doctor, contact your local urgent care center or emergency room -- again, call ahead before visiting so they can advise you on what to do. People who are mildly ill may be able to isolate and care for themselves at home.

For detailed information, visit the CDC’s webpage: Testing for COVID-19

You can also call 2-1-1 anytime for more advice about COVID-19. 

  • Cambridge Health Alliance primary care patients: Starting March 18, existing Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) system patients can get tested for COVID-19 via a stand-alone testing center at its Somerville Hospital location. Due to continued limited availability of tests, patients must meet federal criteria AND be existing CHA primary care patients to be eligible for testing at this location.
    • Patients MUST CALL their primary care provider to be screened; tests will not be provided without prior authorization. Call 617-665-1977 for more information. 
    • Testing will be conducted in a tent located at the Crown St. parking lot adjacent to Somerville Hospital (33 Tower St.)
    • Testing is scheduled to begin on March 18 and will be provided seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    • ONLY current CHA primary care patients can currently be tested at this location.
    • CHA will be able to test authorized patients who arrive on foot.
    • Due to the continued limited supply of tests, only patients who meet federal CDC criteria will be eligible to receive testing.
  • CareWell Urgent Care (349 Broadway) is also providing COVID-19 testing. Call (617) 996-6987 first for more information. People who have mild symptoms and no underlying conditions will be asked to self-quarantine.

If you have been to an outbreak country or area recently (such as China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, or Japan), or if you have been around someone who might have 2019 novel coronavirus, check yourself for symptoms for 14 days. The symptoms you should look for are:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills, body aches, sore throat, headache, vomiting, diarrhea or runny nose

If you get any of these symptoms within 14 days of being in an outbreak area or being around someone with 2019 novel coronavirus, call your health care provider right away. Tell your provider that you might have had contact with someone with 2019 novel coronavirus and tell them your symptoms.

 

Social Distancing

The goal of “social distancing” is to slow the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the number of people that infected people interact with. Slowing the spread of COVID-19 is necessary for preventing the healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.

  • Social distancing should be practiced by everyone in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. This means limiting the interactions you have with others outside of your household. Avoid gatherings and keep 6 feet between you and others when possible.
  • Quarantines are for people or groups who are thought to have been exposed to the coronavirus. Quarantines during this pandemic last at least 14 days because symptoms of infection typically begin two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
  • Isolation is for people who have been infected by the virus. The goal of isolation is to keep infected people away from healthy people to help slow the spread.
  • Establish a room (and a bathroom if possible) which only the quarantined person can use.
  • The quarantined person should not leave home at all, except for urgent medical care. If urgent care is needed, they should wear a surgical mask at all times while outside of the home. Do not take buses, subways or ride shares like Uber or Lyft. Use a personal vehicle or call an ambulance to get to the provider’s location. And call ahead to your provider so they can be ready.
  • All household members should practice strict personal hygiene. That means washing your hands frequently with soap and warm water. When you cough or sneeze, use a tissue every time. Then wash your hands.
  • Do not share plates, glasses, cups, or utensils. Wash all these items in a dishwasher or with dishwashing liquid and warm water.
  • Wipe down frequently used surfaces with a household disinfecting cleaner – especially if they’ve come in contact with bodily fluids like spit, mucus, urine, feces, or vomit.
  • Do not allow visitors in your home.
  • All household members should monitor their own health and call their healthcare provider if they develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath).
  • The CDC has provided a list of recommendations for how to best care for someone at home which can be found on the CDC website.
     

If you are self-quarantining, the CDC recommends the following:

  • Stay away from others as much as possible. If possible, designate a specific “sick room” in your apartment for the person with symptoms. The person with symptoms should clean high touch surfaces in their “sick room” on a daily basis. 
  • If a separate bathroom is not available for the infected person, surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected after use. The CDC recommends that a caregiver wear a mask and wait as long as possible after the sick person has used the bathroom before cleaning. 
  • Limit contact with pets. 
  • Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with others in your home. 
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw used tissues in a lined trash can. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Learn more from the CDC about what to do if you are sick.

As of April 3, the CDC advises that wearing a simple cloth face covering over your nose and mouth in public can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure. This recommendation is made in light of recent studies that have shown individuals with the virus who lack symptoms can transmit the virus to others. It's critical to emphasize that social distancing remains the most effective way to slow the spread of the virus, so stay home when you can and maintain six feet between you and others if you must go out. 

Cloth face coverings can be made from household items like a scarf, bandana, or t-shirt, or they can be made at home from common materials at low cost. Medical-grade surgical masks or N-95 respirators should continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders.

Going to the grocery store and pharmacies to restock food and medicine will be necessary. Try to go to stores when they are less busy to reduce your exposure to others. Wash your hands before and after. Keep your distance from other shoppers and workers, giving at least 6 feet between you and others. It’s advisable to limit the number of shopping trips, but there is no need to hoard items.

According to the FDA, there is no evidence of food, food containers, or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19.  Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects. For that reason, it is important to wash your hands after handling food packaging, after removing food from the packaging, before you prepare food for eating and before you eat.

When ordering takeout and delivery, remember that it is important to limit person-to-person interactions. If ordering delivery, see if there is an option to pay and tip online and ask the delivery person to leave the food at your door. If ordering takeout, keep at least 6 feet between others and avoid busy establishments. Wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer before and after.

According to the CDC there is currently no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Therefore, prior to preparing or eating food it is important to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and to practice the 4 key steps for food safety: clean, separate, cook, and chill.

According to the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), there is currently no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. 

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

The biggest grocery-related risk is contact with other people and with high-touch areas like shopping carts and basket handles, so it’s important to practice social distancing while in the grocery store, avoid touching your face while shopping, and wash your hands thoroughly when you return home.

Wash your hands again after you unload your groceries, and clean kitchen surfaces like countertops, cabinet handles.

Wash your fruits and vegetables under running water. Do not use cleaning products on your food.

According to guidance from official health agencies, there is no need to disinfect mail or packages, but you should wash your hands thoroughly after handling them.

The WHO currently states the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low, and the risk of contracting COVID-19 from a package that has been moved and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.
 

Similarly, the CDC reports that although the virus can survive for a short period on some surfaces, this coronavirus is thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets, which is why social distancing is so important. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods, and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.

Effective Tuesday, March 17, all gyms and health clubs will be closed until at least May 4. Consider finding ways to get exercise while following social distancing guidelines, such as exercising at home or walking, running, or biking outside while keeping at least 6 feet from others.

Yes, but continue to practice social distancing by staying 6 feet from others and avoiding gathering with people outside of your household. All City of Somerville playgrounds and athletic courts are closed to enforce social distancing.

It is advisable to limit social gatherings with people outside of your household to every extent possible.

The MBTA strongly discourages non-essential travel. If you must take public transportation, practice preventative measures like washing your hands, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding public transportation if you are feeling sick, avoiding touching your face, and follow social distancing guidelines and keep at least 6 feet between you and others.

Please note the MBTA has announced that as of March 17, 2020, trains and buses will run with reduced service to support efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. In addition, the MBTA has also increased cleaning and sanitation at stations and on vehicles. Boarding all MBTA buses and trolleys is restricted to rear doors; front-door boarding still available to customers with accessibility needs. Stay up to date on schedule and service updates at mbta.com/alerts.

Massachusetts has issued a stay-at-home advisory statewide to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Residents should only leave their homes for essential tasks. If you do need to travel, be sure to take steps to help prevent getting and spreading COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases. For the most up-to-date COVID-19 travel information, visit CDC COVID-19 Travel page.

Which activities are required to stop or should cease?

  • Massachusetts Stay At Home Advisory Issued:
    • Governor Baker has directed the Department of Public Health to issue a stay at home advisory.
    • Residents are advised to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel and other unnecessary activities through noon on May 4.
    • All businesses and organizations not providing “COVID-19 Essential Services” have been ordered to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers, and the public until noon on May 4. 
    • Below we've listed out what's open and closed that directly impacts most of our daily lives. 
    • The full list of workers, businesses, and organizations deemed essential and allowed to stay open is here.
  • Guidance on social gatherings:
    • The State has prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people through noon May 4. 
      • Parks and athletic fields are open but team sports that could lead to physical contact may not be played.
    • The State advises that residents over 70 years of age or with underlying health conditions, should limit social interactions with other people as much as possible.
    • In short, everyone is advised to stay home unless to take care of essential needs like grocery shopping, medical needs, providing care or support to others (at a safe distance), or to move about outside but at a safe (6-foot) distance from others.
  • Non-essential nursing homes/assisted living visits:
    • The State ordered all assisted living residences to ban visitors to protect the health of residents and staff.
    • This is in addition to the federal guidance that bans visitors to nursing homes and rest homes.
  • Elective medical procedures:
    • The State ordered that hospitals must cancel non-essential elective procedures.

Which business and services have been required to close by federal, state, or local orders?

  • All City buildings 
  • All public and private schools until May 4
  • All playgrounds
  • All libraries 
  • All gyms and health clubs
  • All theaters, entertainment venues, social clubs
  • All houses of worship 
  • All bars and restaurants are closed for onsite dining but may offer takeout or delivery until May 4
  • All childcare services (except those approved by the State for emergency use)
  • All personal services (that are not medical), including hairdressers and barbers, nail salons, massage services, body art, bodywork, spa services
  • General retail 
    • Note: This does not include stores that sell groceries, pet food, hardware stores, liquor stores, bike repair shops, laundromats, dry cleaners, and stores that sell essential household goods and cleaning products (see below for more information on what’s open)

Businesses allowed to be open and operating include (but are not limited to): 

(Please note, many businesses have closed voluntarily, so it’s helpful to check before you head out.)

  • Animal shelters
  • Auto supplies
  • Auto repair
  • Bakers
  • Banks, Credit Unions, Financial Institutions, Insurance Companies
  • Bike supplies and repair shops (no bike sales)
  • Building supply stores
  • Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes.
  • Butchers
  • Check cashing services
  • Convenience stores
  • Counseling services
  • Dentists 
  • Dry cleaners
  • Food banks and pantries
  • Gas stations
  • General merchandise retailers such as Target (for grocery, pharmacy, essential supplies only)
  • Grocery stores (or any store selling primarily food items)
  • Hardware stores
  • Healthcare providers (hospitals, clinics, urgent care, doctors, home health aides, etc.)
  • Hotels, motels, shared rental units and similar facilities
  • Internet/Cable Service provider retail locations
  • Laundromats
  • Liquor stores
  • Manufacturers of medical or other essential supplies for addressing COVID-19
  • The MBTA is operating but on a reduced schedule
  • Medical cannabis dispensaries
  • Mental Health Providers
  • Mobile phone stores
  • Occupational therapy providers
  • Pet food and supply stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Physical therapy providers
  • Professional services (when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities and critical sector services or where failure to provide such services during the time of the order would result in significant prejudice)
  • Retail stores that sell essential goods such as medical supplies or cleaning products
  • Specialty Food Stores
  • Veterinary care providers

Construction in Somerville Ordered to Cease

  • Mayor Curtatone has also ordered all non-essential construction in Somerville to cease.
  • Worksites have until Friday, March 27 to secure their sites, make them safe, and cease activities.
  • Exceptions will be carefully scrutinized and allowed for sites that need additional time to protect structures from the elements and ensure public safety while using minimal crews and following safety protocols.

Information About City Services During Building Closures

Starting March 16, all Somerville City and School buildings will be closed until May 4 to slow the spread of COVID-19. See below for more information about City operations during the shutdown. For other questions, contact 311.

If you have already applied for a marriage license but don't have it yet:

Yes, but the process will take a week. Please email [email protected] to initiate the process.

If you have not yet applied for a marriage license:

Somerville City Hall is closed, and there's no way you can apply online or remotely. Both of you have got to be physically present, with government-issued IDs, and the ability to pay the fee, when you apply. The good news is that you can shop around to see if another city or town hall is still open. You can apply anywhere in Massachusetts, as long as you're physically getting married in Massachusetts. You can also apply out-of-state, if you can find a city or town hall open there, but that state’s rules will apply. I’m sure you’ll have to get married in that state, and you might even have to get married in the city or town you apply in. Just remember that wherever you apply is the place that will maintain your marriage record forever, so that's the place you'll have to obtain certified copies from. The City Clerk’s Office regrets that it is unable to provide this service during this Covid-19 crisis.

Yes. Please go to https://www.somervillema.gov/payonline and follow the prompts.

 

Libraries

While the Minuteman Library Network is presently working on automating the handling of due dates, etc., under current circumstances, please rest assured that you will not be charged fines on any items that you currently have checked out or items that you have recently returned to the library during this time.

Patrons should feel free to keep items until libraries reopen.

Items that patrons may currently have on hold will be available for three days following the date that the library reopens.

Yes, the library’s collection of databases as well as services like Hoopla, Kanopy, Libby, and Overdrive will all be available online. You do need your library card to access these services. For any issues, please contact [email protected].

If you have further questions about library transactions, please email [email protected].

 

Parking

The start of street sweeping in Somerville has been delayed by two weeks to Wednesday, April 15. Normally, street sweeping takes place from April 1 until December 31. As we continue to monitor the COVID-19 emergency, we will decide if the delay will be extended and share that information as it becomes available. 

Yes.

You can submit an application for a parking permit online during the shutdown, but processing will be delayed. Your current permit will be valid for the time being. If you are a new resident, please be sure your vehicle is registered and insured for Somerville. If you receive a ticket, you may appeal. Providing the vehicle is registered and insured for Somerville and you have proof of residency, the ticket will be revoked if appealed.

Constituents may pay their parking tickets online or via the pay by phone automated system (1-844-807-9069) with a debit or credit card during the shutdown.

Constituents may appeal their parking tickets online up to 21 days from the issue date. An in-person hearing is automatically scheduled after 35 days if the ticket is not paid or appealed during the first 21 days. Hearing officers will review online appeals during the shutdown on a limited basis. However, all scheduled in-person hearings will be postponed. Once the shutdown ends, constituents, whose hearing was postponed, may attend an in-person hearing as a walk-in until the end of May. Walk-in hearings will be allowed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Constituents may also call 311 to request that an in-person hearing be scheduled on a Thursday 6–7 p.m once the shutdown ends.

 

Construction

Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and the Board of Health have ordered that all non-essential construction work cease operation during the statewide closure of non-essential businesses through Tuesday, April 7, announced by Governor Charlie Baker.

“The construction projects happening in Somerville - both public and private - are important to the City’s future, but we must continue to act with public health and safety in mind during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Mayor Curtatone. “We need to do whatever we can to slow the spread of this disease so that our healthcare system does not become overwhelmed.”

The City has ordered all construction projects to cease general operations and secure their sites by Friday, March 27. If needed, the Director of Inspectional Services and Director of Infrastructure and Asset Management can approve extensions on a case by case basis where additional time is needed. Exceptions will be carefully scrutinized and must include safety protocols to protect workers and residents.

Work deemed essential, like making utility repairs, will be allowed to take place during this time. For more information, please visit www.somervillema.gov/COVID19ConstructionUpdate.

All non-essential construction is required to be secured and made safe no later than March 27, 2020.

Construction occurring in/on occupied dwellings and all type of “emergency” work is considered essential.

All new construction and construction of unoccupied buildings is considered non-essential.

Please contact your project inspector (the inspector who issued the permit) to determine project classification.

Any project determined to be essential and allowed to continue will be required to submit a Job Hazard Analysis and Safety Plan (example here) for the activities that are allowed to continue.

The only activity allowed on non-essential construction projects after March 27 will be preapproved closure plans that require additional time to secure for safety purposes. These plans will be approved by the Director of Inspectional Services and the Chief Building Inspector.

If a non-essential construction project continues to have work performed after March 27, all open permits associated with the permit holder will be revoked.

If a permit is revoked a new one will be required to be obtained under any new applicable codes and regulations.

At this time it is uncertain how long the shutdown will continue. Any new information will be posted on the ISD and CitizenServe webpages.

 

Public Works

Yes. Trash, recycling, TV/monitors, and white good items (large appliances) will be collected on its regular schedule during the shutdown. However, in compliance with the MA state advisory issued March 23, Somerville’s textile recycling program (pink bag) has been temporarily suspended until further notice. 

The DPW yard will be closed to the public, so constituents will not be able to bring any waste items like electronic recycling or yard waste to 1 Franey Rd. 

New, missing, and damaged trash and recycling cart reports will be addressed once the shutdown is over in the order they were received.

 

Treasury

Tax, excise, and water bills may be paid online via electronic check or with a debit or credit during shut down. Electronic check payments on tax and water bills are free but there will be a 2.95% fee on debit/credit payments. There is a $0.50 fee on electronic checks and 3.20% fee on debit and credit payment on excise bills. Of course, as in the past, these bills may also be paid by mailing in the payment in the envelope provided. Send checks or money orders only, never cash:

Treasurer/Collector
93 Highland Ave.
Somerville, MA 02143

No. By operation of law, bills are considered paid when received by the Treasurer. Postmark dates on envelopes are not accepted as the date of payment. All payments are to be received by the Treasury office by the due date. Late payments will incur interest/penalties. Real Estate, Personal Property and Water outstanding balances are subject to 14% interest according to Massachusetts General Law Chapter 59, sections 57 and 57C. The Tax Title interest rate is 16% under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 60, section 62. Excise interest rate is 12% under MGL 60A, section 2.

Yes. If there is a special request for an expedited MLC, this office will make every effort to accommodate the request. If there is an MLC emergency, both an e-mail to [email protected] and a voice mail on the treasury line x-3500 is advisable. We will also be processing certificates of good standing. If there is an issue with a cert of GS, e-mail the treasury office.

Yes. Treasury will be sending checks to vendors via the normal weekly process. Vendors must contact the department with which they did business to address any concerns regarding outstanding invoices.

 

Water and Sewer

If you need a final water reading for property sale, please fill out the "Request a Final Water Bill" form in your browser or PDF viewer and email the completed PDF to [email protected]. Due to office closures, final bills will be emailed or mailed to you. Payment will need to be mailed to the Treasurer's Office at City Hall or placed in the lockbox mailbox outside of City Hall.

Treasurer/Collector's Office
City Hall
93 Highland Ave.
Somerville, MA 02143

Visit somervillema.gov/CoronavirusHelp for:

  • Food access resources
  • Business, artist, & employee assistance
  • Resources for parents and caregivers
  • Student loan relief information
  • Ways you can help your neighbors
  • And more

somervilleMA.gov/CoronavirusHelp

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