GLOUCESTER — Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Public Health Director Karin Carroll and Emergency Management Director and Assistant Fire Chief Joe Aiello wish to provide prevention tips for residents at a high risk for serious illness from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those at a higher risk for serious health complications from the virus include older adults and those with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.
At this time, there are no confirmed or presumptive cases of the virus in Gloucester.
The Governor declared a State of Emergency in Massachusetts due to COVID-19 today, formally activating the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. As of Tuesday at 4 p.m., the total number of confirmed or presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, the illness associated with the novel coronavirus, has risen to 92 in Massachusetts according to the Department of Public Health.
“The state is advising older adults, those with preexisting medical conditions and pregnant women to avoid large crowds, and we want to ensure those populations in Gloucester are taking the necessary steps to prevent COVID-19,” Carroll said. “We also want to encourage all of our residents to do what they can to assist these groups if necessary, especially if a case or potential case of the virus arises on Cape Ann.”
Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken has organized a prevention, preparation and response team for the city, which includes various departments in Gloucester such as police, fire, public health and public works as well as local schools. The team is meeting regularly and following guidance from the CDC and Massachusetts Department of Health (DPH) for COVID-19 prevention in communities.
The City of Gloucester has reached out to community partners and businesses working with older residents to share prevention tips and information, including long term care facilities, nursing homes and senior serving facilities. Hand sanitation supplies have also been provided to high risk populations in the City, such as the homeless shelter.
Mayor Romeo Theken, Carroll and Assistant Fire Chief Aiello wish to share the following guidance for high risk populations from the CDC:
- Stock up on supplies you would need if there is a COVID-19 outbreak locally and you need to stay home for a period of time. This includes contacting your healthcare provider to inquire about obtaining supplies of medications and purchasing over-the-counter medications and supplies, such as tissues, necessary to treat fever and respiratory illness,. High risk populations are also encouraged to prepare a supply of household items and groceries to facilitate a prolonged stay at home if necessary.
- Avoid close contact with those who are ill.
- Wash your hands frequently, for 20 seconds, with soap and water. Wash your hands especially after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing or being in a public place.
- Use a hand sanitizer containing a minimum of 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available.
- Avoid touching elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, shaking hands, and coming into contact with areas that are touched frequently in public spaces. Use a tissue to cover your hand or your sleeve, or use a finger if you must touch one of these areas.
- Avoid touching your face, particularly your nose, eyes and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect your home, and practice regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs and light switches.
- Avoid crowds, and especially avoid crowded, poorly ventilated areas.
- Avoid non-essential travel. This includes traveling by plane or going on a cruise ship.
- In the event COVID-19 is spreading in your community stay home as much as is possible and look into ways food can be brought to your house by family and friends or through a commercial service.
- Prepare a plan if you get sick:
- Stay in touch with others by phone or email so that, should you need assistance, you can ask a family member, friend, neighbor or community health worker for help.
- Determine who can assist you if your caregiver becomes ill.
- Monitor your health for COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. Contact your healthcare provider if you develop symptoms.
- Watch for emergency warning signs of COVID-19 and get medical attention immediately if you do develop such symptoms or a loved one develops such symptoms. Emergency warning signs include:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest.
- New confusion or inability to arouse.
- Bluish lips or face.
- Consult your medical provider if developing severe or concerning symptoms, as the above list is not all inclusive.
- If you do become ill, stay home and contact your healthcare provider. Inform your healthcare provider if you are concerned you may have COVID-19.
The City of Gloucester also wishes to share the following tips from the CDC for community members looking to assist and support older adults:
- For those with a loved one who is an older adult who takes medications, know what medications your family member or friend needs and see if you can help them have an extra supply on hand.
- Know what food and other medical supplies, like oxygen, incontinence, dialysis wound care, and so on, your loved one needs and create a plan to ensure they’ll have access to those supplies.
- Stock up on non-perishable foods to reduce the number of trips to stores.
- If your loved one is living in a care facility, monitor the situation, ask about the health of other residents in the facility and familiarize yourself with the protocol should there be an outbreak.
Residents are also encouraged to call to check on their elderly and high-risk loved ones or neighbors.