Somerville’s Senior Buildings Ordered to Share COVID-19 Safety Plans

Plans must include provisions for cleaning, ending non-essential visits, and stopping gatherings within the building.

Today Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and the Somerville Board of Health issued an order requiring senior housing facilities to share existing COVID-19 safety plans or formally create plans and policies aimed at increasing the safety of and maximizing the protection of their residents, who may be at higher risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms, as well as building staff. Building management must submit these plans within 48 hours of receiving the order.

Each building’s plan must comply, at a minimum, with CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines regarding screening of residents, staff, and visitors for signs of COVID-19 or other illness. The COVID-19 Plan must also address other applicable COVID-19-related guidance, including steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission by authorized visitors (such as thorough hand washing, wearing face coverings, and maintaining at least six feet distance from other people). All plans will be promptly reviewed and approved by the Somerville Board of Health.

“We have seen how quickly COVID-19 can overtake senior living facilities and the tragic loss of life that can occur,” said Mayor Curtatone. “I know that some of these measures, especially restricting visitors, will be hard on residents. But through these temporary sacrifices we hope to save lives.”

Buildings can implement additional measures, but at a minimum, each plan must:

  • Restrict visitors, to Essential medical providers;
  • Cancel all group events and activities indefinitely;
  • Close community and activity rooms indefinitely;
  • Remove chairs from common areas and other areas that encourage congregating activities;
  • Provide for frequent, adequate sanitization of high touch areas and common areas, including but not limited to each door knob, handrail, flat surfaces, common areas, and laundry facilities;
  • Provide 24-hour staffing or monitoring of front door;
  • No longer allow interior/unit door delivery by non-staff;
  • All food delivery shall be delivered to residential doors by facility staff;
  • Require COVID-19 health screening for essential staff;
  • Provide appropriate requirements for PPE to be worn by residents in common areas and essential staff;
  • Require that any employee or other staff member who is sick or does not pass the required screening must be immediately sent home and not return to work until feeling better or authorized to return by a physician.

For more information and regular COVID-19 updates, visit www.somervillema.gov/Coronavirus and sign up for City alerts at www.somervillema.gov/Alerts. We urge you to sign up for every alert method you are able to receive: phone call, text, email. Also, follow FB.com/SomervilleCity and @SomervilleCity.