BEMA Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information Blog

Belmont Emergency Management Agency Coronavirus (COVID – 19) Information Page

 Check this page for future updates. 

The Town of Belmont is actively monitoring the novel coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19. This is an emerging and rapidly evolving situation. The risk to Massachusetts residents remains low at this time. The Belmont Health Department is following guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Town’s Emergency Planning Group is actively working on preparedness efforts and reviewing the Town’s emergency contingency plans. Representatives from Emergency Management, Police, Fire, Public Health, Belmont Public Schools, Facilities, and Town Management officials will continue to plan, prepare and respond as necessary during this emerging public health situation.

As the Coronavirus situation continues to evolve, we will continuously monitor and follow all guidance from the CDC, as well as State and local agencies. The Town of Belmont Emergency Planning Group is committed to the continued safety and well-being of all residents, employees and visitors.


UPDATE POSTED: 3/11/2020 10:00pm 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

Office of Public Affairs

Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf’s 

Statement on Presidential Proclamation To Protect the Homeland from Travel-Related Coronavirus Spread  Web-Link  

(WASHINGTON) Today President Donald J. Trump signed a Presidential Proclamation, which suspends the entry of most foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States. These countries, known as the Schengen Area, include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. This does not apply to legal permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation.  

Statement from DHS Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf:

“Protecting the American people from threats to their safety is the most important job of the President of the United States. The actions President Trump is taking to deny entry to foreign nationals who have been in affected areas will keep Americans safe and save American lives. I applaud the president for making this tough but necessary decision. While these new travel restrictions will be disruptive to some travelers, this decisive action is needed to protect the American public from further exposure to the potentially deadly coronavirus.

“In January and February, the Administration issued similar travel restrictions on individuals who had been in China and Iran. That action proved to be effective in slowing the spread of the virus to the U.S., while public health officials prepared. In the next 48 hours, in the interest of public health, I intend to issue a supplemental Notice of Arrivals Restriction requiring U.S. passengers that have been in the Schengen Area to travel through select airports where the U.S. Government has implemented enhanced screening procedures.”


UPDATE POSTED: 3/11/2020 5:00pm 

COVID-19 Updated Case Count 3-11-2020

UPDATE POSTED: 3/11/2020 2:15pm

Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDHP) Anounces First Presumptive Positive COVID-19 Case in Belmont    

Town of Belmont Press Release PDF

Department of Health Press Release 03-11-202

Press Release Part 2 03-11-2020

 


UPDATE POSTED: 3/11/2020 2:00pm 

All Belmont Public School Large Group Events Cancelled Effective - Thursday March 12, 2020 thru April 3, 2020  

A Message from the Superintendent John Phalen Regarding COVID-19; School Department Update #6

Belmont District News Health Department Information

Dear Families and Staff:

After considerable discussions with the Belmont Board of Health, and to be consistent with Governor Baker’s recommendations in his declaration of a State of Emergency on Tuesday, March 10, we are canceling all large-group events in our schools beginning Thursday, March 12. These events would be school field trips, concerts, plays, performances, large-group events such as speakers and night events at schools, parent and guardian visits to classrooms and school conferences.

We are advising our principals and directors to use their discretion, in accordance with the guidance from the state and the board of health, to cancel events at their specific schools. For now, this will cover the period of time between Thursday, March 12 to Friday, April 3. We will review the latest state and local board of  health guidance during that time to decide if April cancellations warrant the same attention.

While it is disappointing to cancel events people have worked so hard for, we are first and foremost concerned with providing a safe environment at our schools for students, parents, guardians, and staff. These cancellations are inconvenient but represent our commitment to adhere to the best recommendations during this ever-changing health climate.

Your principals and directors will be contacting you with more specifics and guidelines. During this challenging time, we appreciate the continued patience and understanding from the Belmont community.

Respectfully,

John P. Phelan
Superintendent of Schools
Belmont, Massachusetts

Belmont School Department Website Link 


UPDATE POSTED: 3/10/2020

Belmont Department of Health releases an updated PDF document - "COVID-19 / Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) March 10, 2020" 


UPDATE POSTED: 3/10/2020

Ma COVID-19 Case Count 03-10-2020


UPDATE POSTED: 3/10/2020

STATE OF EMERGENCY declared in Commonwealth of Massachusetts 

Executive Order No. 591: Declaration of a State of Emergency to Respond to COVID-19

DATE:03/10/2020

ISSUER:Governor Charlie Baker

MASS REGISTER:No. 591

WHEREAS, on January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization designated the 2019 novel Coronavirus outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern;

WHEREAS, on January 31, 2020, United States Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II declared a public health emergency for the entire United States to aid the nation’s healthcare community in responding to the 2019 novel Coronavirus (“COVID-19”);

WHEREAS, the disease caused by the 2019 novel Coronavirus is a contagious, and at times fatal, respiratory disease;

WHEREAS, symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, and the disease can spread from person to person via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes;

WHEREAS, as of March 10, 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), there are more than 114,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, and over 4,000 of those cases have resulted in death;

WHEREAS, as of March 10, 2020, according to the CDC, there are more than 600 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, and 25 of those cases have resulted in death;

WHEREAS, as of March 10, 2020, there are 91 presumed positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth;

WHEREAS, both travel-related cases and community contact transmission of COVID-19 have been detected in the Commonwealth and such transmission is expected to continue;

WHEREAS, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has instituted a Public Health Incident Management Team to manage the public health aspects of the incident;

WHEREAS, the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 and the effects of its extreme risk of person-to-person transmission throughout the United States and the Commonwealth significantly affect the life and health of our people, as well as the economy, and is a disaster that impacts the health, security, and safety of the public;

WHEREAS, it is critical to take additional steps to prepare for, respond to, and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 to protect the health and welfare of the people of the Commonwealth; and

WHEREAS, declaring a state of emergency will facilitate and expedite the use of Commonwealth resources and deployment of federal and interstate resources to protect persons from the impacts of the spread of COVID-19;

NOW THEREFORE, I, Charles D. Baker, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, pursuant to the powers provided by Chapter 639 of the Acts of 1950 and Section 2A of Chapter 17 of the General Laws, do hereby issue this proclamation that there now exists in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts a STATE OF EMERGENCY.

Pursuant to the powers granted to the Governor in Sections 5, 6, 7, 8, and 8A of Chapter 639 of the Acts of 1950, as amended, and other provisions of law, I shall from time to time issue recommendations, directives, and orders as circumstances may require.

This proclamation of a STATE OF EMERGENCY is effective immediately and shall remain in effect until notice is given, pursuant to my judgment, that the STATE OF EMERGENCY no longer exists.

Given in Boston on 3:20 PM this 10th day of March two thousand and twenty.

Link to Massachusetts Executive Order 591


UPDATE POSTED: 3/9/2020

Mass DPH March 9, 2020


UPDATE POSTED: 3/9/2020

A Message from the Belmont Public Schools Superintendent Regarding COVID-19 

Belmont District News Health Department Information

March 9, 2020

Dear Families and Staff:

As you know, news of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is constantly changing and emerging, which is worrisome to our all communities including our own. The Belmont School Department recently emailed you to inform you of plans to disinfect and sanitize high-touch surfaces in all of our schools with hospital-grade equipment.  This is done in an abundance of caution as an extension of our deep cleaning efforts and flu season disinfection plan to help reduce the spread of a number of problematic pathogens in hard to reach places.

The District purchased two disinfecting and sanitizing machines to treat all the high-touch points within the schools.  The equipment and solutions are commonly used in hospitals where there are both medically compromised patients and pathogens. This speaks to the product safety and effectiveness (99.9 percent of bacteria will be eradicated) given the areas and population served.

We want to address your concerns and questions. Please read the FAQs below:

How quickly does the equipment work to sanitize and disinfect?

The manufacturer states 99.9 percent of bacteria will be eradicated in seconds. Common cold and flu viruses, MRSA, norovirus and similar pathogens will be eradicated in minutes.

What machines are being used?

The hospital-grade equipment used are: The Clorox T360, and the Geneon mister.

These machines will create a very limited area fog as directed by the operator.  The Clorox machine will be used in the classrooms and the Geneon in the stairwells.  We will have two consistent operators who have been trained and know best practices.

When will the schools be done?

The schools will be done at night on a rotating basis beginning Monday, March 9.

What is the impact on plants and fish or other animals that may be in the classrooms?

Plants will not be directly fogged so there is no impact to them. Fish tanks will be temporarily covered, animals that can be moved will be taken out of the room while being fogged and returned in approximately 30 minutes.

What about contact with food?

Food in classrooms should be put away.

Will there be a lingering odor?

There will be a mild smell for a few minutes until the disinfectant dries, there will be no residual odor once it dries. There will be no lingering effect for the start of school the next day.

The Belmont Health Department, Town departments, and the School Department will remain in close communication with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health/School Health Unit, and other city agencies involved in emergency preparedness.

Please contact your healthcare provider for all medical emergencies and health related concerns. 

All other questions may be directed to the Belmont Health Department at (617) 993-2720.

Respectfully,

Belmont Health Department, Wesley Chin Director

Belmont Facilities Department, Steve Dorrance Director

Belmont School Department, John P. Phelan Superintendent

Belmont Public Schools News Webpage  

 


 

UPDATE POSTED: 3/8/2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Massachusetts Department of Public Health

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced 15 new presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed or presumptive positive cases in Massachusetts to 28. All 15 cases had a direct connection to the Biogen employee conference in late February. The presumptive positive cases include five from Suffolk County ranging in age from 30s to 60s; five from Middlesex County ranging in age from 40s to 60s; four cases from Norfolk County ranging in age from 40s to 60s; and a female whose age and county of residence are unknown at the time of this release. Among today’s presumptive positive cases were eight men and seven women. With today’s release, 23 of the presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 identified in Massachusetts are associated with the Biogen employee meeting held in late February. All of today’s presumptive positive cases are isolating at home.

Yesterday, DPH announced five new presumptive positive cases, three of which had a direct connection to Biogen’s employee conference, one with recent international travel, and a fifth case for whom there is no current known linkage to the Biogen conference or foreign travel.

  • The risk of COVID-19 to the general public in Massachusetts remains low at this time.

The State Public Health Lab’s result is considered “presumptive positive” and the specimens will now be sent to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmation. 

The Department of Public Health is providing daily updates on the number of confirmed and presumptive positive cases at mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-cases-quarantine-and-monitoring. Case-specific information will be updated on the site Monday, March 9.

As of Wednesday, March 4, 719 people have been subject to self-quarantine in Massachusetts because of COVID-19. Of those, 470 people have completed monitoring and are no longer quarantined, while 249 are currently quarantined.  This information is updated online each Wednesday.

For more information on COVID-19 visit mass.gov/2019coronavirus.


    

UPDATE POSTED: 3/6/2020

Belmont Public School News

A Message from the Superintendent Regarding COVID-19; Update #4

 Dear Belmont Faculty, Staff and Families,

I am writing to provide you with information regarding the self-quarantine status of a member of the high school staff who had travelled to Italy over February break.

As you may know, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued updated guidance on March 4, asking people to self-quarantine if they have travelled to China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea (people who have travelled to Japan are also asked to limit contact with others and self-monitor symptoms). Previously, the CDC had only asked that people who had travelled to China self-quarantine.  Please see the link to the CDC advisory: Travel Information Rrelated to Covid-19

Once the CDC guidance was updated Wednesday, the staff member who had travelled to Italy self-quarantined, despite the fact there are no symptoms of illness showing. Given this staff member’s return from Italy was on Sunday, February 23, the staff member will return to work on Monday, March 9, as this will represent the expiration of the two week quarantine period.

As the coronavirus situation continues to change and evolve, we will keep abreast of and follow all guidance from the CDC, as well as state and local agencies. Please know that we are working closely with the Belmont Health Department and other Town departments, and we are committed to the safety and well-being of all our students and staff.

Respectfully,

John P. Phelan
Superintendent of Schools
Town of Belmont

 


         

UPDATE POSTED: March 4, 2020

Belmont Public Schools News

A Message from the Superintendent Regarding COVID-19; Update #3

Dear Belmont Families, Students, Faculty and Staff:

We understand that many staff, students and families have questions regarding the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and how it may impact the BPS Community. Massachusetts-specific information about Coronavirus can be found on the Massachusetts Department of Public Health website.

We will continue to share public health information, such as letters from the Belmont Public Health Department, that are also added to the BPS website.  This letter is intended to address some questions you may have:

What are current health risks associated with Coronavirus?

Public health officials continue to state that the risk of being exposed to this virus within Massachusetts continues to be low at this time. As these experts remind us, we are much more likely to become sick with a cold or the flu than to be exposed to Coronavirus.

Please remember that one reason this virus has been so wide-spread is that it is a new virus, and there is, therefore, no vaccine to help prevent dissemination. Like the flu, COVID-19 can make people very sick, but most people fully recover. 

If the disease were to begin spreading within Massachusetts, public health and education agencies are already working together to be prepared for this scenario. The Belmont Public Health Department, in partnership with the state health department, is following CDC guidance to track and monitor people who have recently traveled to high-risk areas outside of the U.S. 

We are not taking news of this illness lightly. In an abundance of caution, schools are shoring up sanitization practices and following guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on reducing the spread of illnesses.  

How can schools, staff, students and families help prevent risks associated with COVID-19?

  • Key points to remember:
  • We can all avoid spreading germs through basic hygiene practices listed below:
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 
  • Cover your coughs or sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve (not with your hands), and wash your hands immediately after. Teach young children to cough into their elbow and to wash hands immediately after.
  • Avoid sharing drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, dishes, towels or other items. Wash these items thoroughly with soap and water after use.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. 
  • Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.  
  • Stay home when you are sick, and do not send children to school if they are sick.

In an effort to be proactive, the Belmont Public Schools will be disinfecting and sanitizing high-touch surfaces in all of our schools with hospital grade equipment. As you know this is the season for the common flu and our efforts will help reduce the spread of a number of problematic pathogens.

Belmont Public Schools will continue to monitor the medical risks of this virus. This is an evolving situation that must be followed closely from a public health standpoint. We will continue to monitor student and staff health concerns. We will also remain in close communication with the Belmont Health Department, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health/School Health Unit, and other city agencies involved in emergency preparedness. 

Please contact your healthcare provider for all medical emergencies and health related concerns.  All other questions may be directed to the Belmont Health Department at (617) 993-2720.

In addition, a number of media stories have reported fears the public has regarding the virus, which are fueling anti-immigrant and anti-Asian bias. I want to encourage our community to come together around our shared values and help our children understand the impact of stereotyping and bias. If you or someone you know experiences any form of bias, discrimination, or bullying, I encourage you to reach out to your Principal. 

As always, I remain grateful that our community is a place where critical thinking, preparation, and kindness are equally valued. We are here to help one another, and we will get through this time together.

Respectfully,

John P. Phelan
Superintendent of Schools
Belmont, Massachusett


 

 UPDATE POSTED: February 27, 2020

Belmont Health Department Health Advisory for Coronavirus (COVID-19)

PDF LINK HERE

The Belmont Health Department is sharing updated information with the Belmont Public Schools to help keep it informed about the emerging global health concern, the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). This is a new strain of Coronavirus that may cause respiratory illness in some people. 

The Belmont Health Department continues to monitor the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH). Belmont Health Department staff is in regular contact with MDPH and has been informed that the risk for COVID-19 in continues to remain LOW with one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Massachusetts.

At this time the Belmont Health Department is following public health guidance provided by the CDC and MDPH, which may include the monitoring of individuals who may be quarantined at home as needed. Town officials will continue to monitor the situation and implement CDC and MDPH guidance at the local level. As this situation continues to evolve, if any special instructions are provided, the Belmont Health Department will communicate them to the community.

Here are some things you can do:

Keep yourself and others healthy

  • Wash your hands with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash

Know the facts (and help prevent the spread of rumors)

  • Be sure you are using a reliable source for your information
  • CDC updates its website frequently with information and guidance about COVID-19: CDC nCoV
  • CDC continues to provide updates for travelers at: CDC Coronavirus Information for Tavelers
  • MDPH provides regular updates for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: MDHS 2019 Coronavirus
  • The Belmont Health Department will post community wide advisories on the Town of Belmont’s home page if there is a change in risk level: www.belmont-ma.gov
  • Face masks are not recommended for the general public at this time
  • Face masks can be useful in some settings, such as a clinic waiting room, to prevent someone who has a respiratory illness from spreading it to others.
  • Cancelling public events is not currently recommended as the risk for COVID-19 remains LOW in Massachusetts.

Please continue to remain calm and open-minded

History has seen many instances of societies excluding, blaming, or devaluing those feared to have an unfamiliar disease. Recent examples include Ebola, HIV, and past influenza pandemics where fear led to stigma and discrimination. In many instances, the discriminatory actions caused the health problems to worsen as those who felt alienated avoided seeking out health care and information they needed. We encourage you to continue to remain calm.

Questions?

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. When calling 911, please remember to notify dispatch of any possible COVID-19 symptoms or exposures. You should contact your healthcare provider for all medical and health related concerns. All other questions may be directed to the Belmont Health Department at (617) 993-2720.


UPDATE POSTED: January 31, 2019

Belmont Health Department Health Advisory for Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Belmont Health Department is sharing information with the Belmont Public Schools to help keep it informed about a respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus – named “2019 nCov” – that was first detected in Wuhan, China and continues to spread.

The Belmont Health Department is monitoring the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH).  There are NO confirmed cases of “2019 nCov” in Massachusetts.  At this time, NO special measures are recommended for local public health departments or schools.  As this situation is evolving, if any special instructions are provided, the Belmont Health Department will communicate them to the community.

The Belmont Health Department, along with Belmont Public School nurses, track illnesses in schools and participates regularly in CDC and MDPH conference calls to monitor emerging information.  

The latest nationwide updates on this evolving situation can be found from the CDC at: CDC on 2019 Novel Coronavirus

Local information from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health can be found at:

Information on the Outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus 2019 (updated January 30, 2020)

The Belmont Health Department will post important local advisories to the Town of Belmont’s website at: Town of Belmont

Respiratory Illness Prevention

Because it is cold and flu season, it is important to remind people of the possible risk of exposure to respiratory illnesses including influenza.  Residents are encouraged to obtain a flu shot for their healthcare providers if they have not yet received one.  Flu severity in Massachusetts has increased from moderate to high, according to the MDPH flu activity report: 2019-2020 Season - Weekly Flu Reports

The following precautionary actions will help prevent respiratory viruses, including seasonal influenza and Coronavirus:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Travelers’ Health

CDC is providing updates for travelers at: Novel Coronavirus Information for Travelers

As of January 28, 2020, the CDC advises individuals who have traveled to China in the last 14 days and experience a fever, cough or have difficulty breathing to:

  • Seek medical care immediately
  • Call ahead before going to see a doctor or to an emergency room
  • Tell them your symptoms and that you were in China

Questions?

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. When calling 911, please remember to notify dispatch of any possible COVID-19 symptoms or exposures. You should contact your healthcare provider for all medical and health related concerns. All other questions may be directed to the Belmont Health Department at (617) 993-2720.