Slow the Spread of COVID-19
Get a Test
The Baker-Polito Administration has expanded the free COVID-19 testing sites offered as part of the Stop the Spread Initiative to include sites in Western MA.Testing will soon be available in Springfield and Agawam for free to asymptomatic individuals. Learn more .
Wash Your Hands
Hand-washing may seem basic, but it is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs.You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and take care to scrub all parts of your hand (between fingers, under nails, backs of hands, etc.).   

If you are unable to wash your hands, hand sanitizer is the next best thing. Like hand-washing, you should rub your hands together for about 20 seconds, making sure to rub it over all parts of your hands. Look for hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Do NOT use hand sanitizer that contains methanol as it is toxic.  The FDA has issued a warning about several hand sanitizers . Keep hand sanitizer out of reach of young children and supervise their use.
Quarantine When you Return to MA
Effective Aug. 1, 2020, all visitors and returning residents entering Massachusetts must follow new travel orders .The state has made great progress to slow the spread of COVID-19 and gradually re-open the economy, and all visitors have a responsibility to help us keep transmission levels as low as possible.

All visitors entering Massachusetts, including returning residents, who do not meet an exemption, are required to:
  • Complete the Massachusetts Travel Form prior to arrival, unless you are visiting from a lower-risk state designated by the Department of Public Health.
  • Quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72-hours prior to your arrival in Massachusetts.


Funding to Address COVID Impacts
Go Fresh Emergency Food Distribution Awarded Grant
The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts announced new grants totaling $725,000 to 26 local nonprofits through the COVID-19 Response Fund for the Pioneer Valley, targeting employment assistance, food insecurity, homelessness and foreclosure prevention, and other immediate needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Go Fresh Emergency Food Distribution program received a $50,000 grant to continue its Emergency Food Distribution Program which is delivering free fresh produce boxes to older adults and families at housing, senior center, daycare and healthcare sites in Springfield. The program has been delivering boxes of fresh produce twice a month to 130 older adults and families in Springfield with 1,442 boxes of fresh produce delivered to date. Additional funders for the program are Trinity Health Transforming Communities Initiative, Tufts Health Plan Foundation, Beveridge Family Foundation, Health New England, Beacon Communities, Baystate Health and BMCHealthnet. 
 
The program is a collaboration with Wellspring Cooperative which enabled us to quickly and safely get this program up and running by providing a location to store and sort the produce.  Additional community partners include Mass Senior Action Springfield Chapter, Baystate Geriatrics House Calls Program, City of Springfield Department of Elder Affairs, the Springfield Healthy Homes Asthma program, Springfield Housing Authority, Beacon Communities, Caring Health Center, and Square One. We are recruiting other healthcare and agency partners to assist in deliveries.  For more information on partnerships with the program, please contact Samantha Hamilton , Live Well Springfield Manager
Grants Awarded to Address Food Insecurity
Baker-Polito Administration has given out 26 grants , amounting to 3 million dollars, across the state to address food insecurity during the pandemic. As part of this effort, Springfield Public Schools was awarded $400,000. 
Advocacy and Education
What Will Happen When The Moratorium Ends?
Housing Court staff estimate 20,000 eviction cases will be filed immediately after the moratorium on evictions and foreclosure ends.  Although the moratorium was extended into October, we need a longer-term solution to protect renters and homeowners who are hardest hit by COVID-19-- low-income residents, older adults, immigrants, front-line workers, and people of color. The Task Force on Coronavirus and Equity voted to endorse An Act to Guarantee Housing Stability during COVID-19 . This bill would provide a range of measures to protect renters and homeowners from eviction and foreclosure for 12 months following the end of the State of Emergency. The bill was recently referred to the Housing Committee, which accepted testimony until Tuesday July 28th. Check out this Fact sheet to learn more. 
Data Update
As of July 26, 2020, there were 9,412 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases and 917 COVID-19 confirmed or suspected deaths in Western Massachusetts.
The number of new COVID-19 cases each week in Western Massachusetts has remained fairly steady since the beginning of June, with less than 200 new cases each week. The graph below shows the number of new COVID-19 cases each week in Western MA as well as milestones for the reopening MA .
As stated in previous newsletters, caution should be exercised when interpreting COVID-19 data. For example, the rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases is dependent upon who is tested and not necessarily reflective of the distribution of COVID-19 in the general population. Testing has been limited thus far. Because many people who have the disease are asymptomatic and have not been tested, prevalence of people testing positive is unlikely to reflect the prevalence in communities. As testing and contact tracing increase, we will have a better understanding of impacts on communities and populations, and more targeted actions can take place to mitigate spread and support those who are disproportionately impacted.
To see rates for MA overall, visit Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Data Dashboard . To see data specific to Western MA, check out our data archive .
Upcoming Events & Virtual Learning
Learn and engage from the comfort of your home.
  • COVID-19 and Mental Health: Spatial Distancing, not Social Distancing, August 12th at 3:00pm: The American Lung Association is hosting a Town Hall about COVID-19 and mental health. The limiting of face-to-face contact with others has helped reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Yet the physical distancing required to keep the virus at bay may invite unwanted emotions such as loneliness, anxiety and feelings of helplessness. Join us as top experts review coping strategies and techniques to manage your mental health while maintaining your physical health. Learn more and register here
Resources
The Baker-Polito Administration launched a food assistance decision tree to help residents in need determine which programs they might be eligible for. This tool can be accessed at mass.gov/findfoodhelp .  
Find local food pantries or assistance in your area on 413Cares.