Somerville Announces COVID-19 Social Distancing Measures

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

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