STONEHAM — Health Agent John Fralick and Emergency Management Director Matthew Grafton wish to provide residents with updated information on the ongoing nationwide novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.
The Governor has declared a State of Emergency in Massachusetts due to COVID-19. On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced the number of total cases of COVID-19, the illness associated with the novel coronavirus, rose to 92 in Massachusetts.
There are currently no confirmed or presumptive cases of the virus in Stoneham. According to the DPH, the risk of contracting the virus to the general public in the state remains low.
The Town of Stoneham is closely following the latest guidelines from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This includes CDC guidance for school administrators.
“The best course of action for residents at this time is to continue practicing frequent and thorough hand washing, staying home while sick, covering coughs and sneezes, and, for those who belong to a high risk population, avoiding large crowds,” Fralick said. “The Town of Stoneham is continuously monitoring this situation, and will continue to update residents as new information becomes available.”
The COVID-19 situation is very fluid, and new information and guidelines are being posted by the CDC on a regular basis. The CDC offers the following guidance for how COVID-19 spreads. The virus is believed to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It may also 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 own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
While the CDC believes people are most contagious when they are most symptomatic (sickest), it is now believed that it is possible to spread the virus before showing symptoms, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
The State of Emergency declaration includes remote working accommodations for executive branch employees of the state government. The Town of Stoneham is continuing reviewing the governor’s recommendations. The Town government remains open and operational and fully able to serve the citizens and business community in Stoneham.
Public health officials are urging seniors and those with preexisting health conditions to avoid large gatherings, including sporting events, concerts and conferences.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is providing relief to school districts regarding attendance requirements for the rest of the school year in light of the international novel coronavirus situation, and school districts will not have to extend the school year beyond their scheduled 185th school day as a result of the coronavirus.
If anyone displays symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever, cough or shortness of breath, they should not come to work or school and they are advised to contact their primary care physician. According to the CDC, symptoms of the virus appear 2-14 days of exposure.
The DPH recommends that residents continue with good hygiene practices including:
- Practice good hand hygiene! Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds including under your fingernails. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol content) can be used when soap and water are not available.
- Keep your hands away from your face.
- Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing with a tissue and discard it immediately. Cough into the sleeve over your elbow instead of your hand. Wash your hands often when coughing and sneezing.
- Stay away from people who are sick and stay home when you are sick.