WENHAM— The Towns of Wenham and Hamilton met with representatives of Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District recently for a collaborative public health and safety meeting regarding the 2019 new coronavirus, COVID-19.
The Tuesday, March 3 meeting included Wenham Town Administrator Anthony Ansaldi, Wenham Police Chief Thomas Perkins, Wenham Board of Health Chair Dr. Andrew Ting, Wenham Fire Chief Stephen Kavanagh, Hamilton Town Manager Joe Domelowicz, Hamilton Police Chief Russell Stevens, Hamilton Board of Health Chair David Smith, Hamilton-Wenham Regional School Superintendent Julie Kukenberger, and other various district administrators and school health officials.
There is currently one confirmed case and one “presumptive positive” case of coronavirus in Massachusetts, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). There are no confirmed or presumptive cases of the virus in Wenham or Hamilton at this time. Health officials report that the risk of contracting the virus in Massachusetts remains “low.”
Last week, the CDC reported the first case of community spread of the virus in the United States in California, and 10 people in the United States have since died from the virus. New cases of the virus nationwide have come to light this week as well, and currently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting 99 cases of the virus in the United States, including those who contracted the virus from person-to-person spread, travel and those who are under investigation. There are additionally 49 people with the virus who were repatriated to the United States from the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship and Wuhan, China.
The Towns of Wenham and Hamilton, and Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District leadership have been closely following guidance from the DPH and CDC, and town and school officials are working together to coordinate response plans, resources and communication should a case of the virus be suspected or confirmed in either Hamilton or Wenham.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath and respiratory illness including pneumonia in severe cases. Anyone who is experiencing a fever or respiratory illness and is concerned they have either come into contact with the virus or traveled to an affected country within the last 14 days is advised to immediately contact their primary health care provider.
Local, state and federal health officials are encouraging residents to take the following precautions to prevent infectious diseases, such as the flu and COVID-19, from spreading:
- Washing hands with soap and water, scrubbing hands for at least 20 seconds before rinsing or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%-95% alcohol.
- Frequently clean commonly touched surfaces, including phones, tablets, keyboards, doorknobs, light switches, faucet handles, toilet flushes, countertops.
- Avoid sharing personal items such as ChapStick, water bottles, eating utensils, etc.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing and then wash hands.
- Community members should stay home and avoid contact with others when experiencing flu-like symptoms including a fever of 100.4 and should remain home until symptom-free and/or fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
At this time, the DPH is not recommending people wear masks in public as the risk to the public remains low and there is no substantial evidence suggesting wearing a mask protects an individual outside of preventing someone from spreading a respiratory illness to others in a clinic waiting room.
The CDC is urging Americans to avoid nonessential travel to Italy, China, Iran and South Korea, which are designated “Warning Level 3.” Additionally, the CDC and Governor Charlie Baker have stated that those who return to the U.S. after visiting any Level 3 country to “should stay home and monitor their health during travel and for 14 days after returning to the United States.”
The DPH is in regular communication with local Boards of Health, healthcare providers, hospitals, long-term care facilities, schools and local government officials. COVID-19 information is posted on the DPH website and updated regularly. In addition, the DPH has created a Public Health Fact Sheet.
The CDC also provides up-to-date information regarding confirmed cases and travel advisories on its website.
Locally, residents may contact the Wenham Board of Health at 978-468-5520 Ext .4 or the Hamilton Board of Health at 978-468-5579.