Updated Metrics to Categorize COVID-19 Risk
Webinar TOMORROW Friday 11/20
On November 6, 2020, the Baker-Polito Administration released updated metrics for communities that adjust for a municipality's population size. The new metrics incorporate cases per 100,000 residents and the test positivity rate when determining a color designation. 

Join us for a webinar Friday November 20, 2020 from 12:30-1:30pm as we go over changes to Massachusetts’ community risk categorization metrics. We’ll be joined by Western Massachusetts legislative and public health leaders as we discuss how the metrics have changed, how they are being used, and questions that have arisen.

This event will be moderated by Joshua Garcia, MPA, who is the Town Administrator of Blandford and serves on our Board of Directors.

Participants include:
  • Dr. Kathleen Szegda Public Health Institute of Western MA
  • State Representative Mindy Domb, 3rd Hampshire District
  • Laura Kittross – Berkshire Regional Planning Council
  • Jasmine Naylor, MBA, MS – Caring Health Center
  • Phoebe Walker – Franklin Regional Council of Governments

Visit our Western MA COVID-19 Data Dashboard for the latest regional COVID-19 data. Our dashboard is updated every Friday.
Virtual Town Hall: Latest on COVID-19 Safety
What You Need to Know for Yourself & Your Family
Town Hall Tuesday 11/24
Join us on Tuesday November 24, 2020 from 4:00-5:00 pm for a Town Hall to hear the latest on COVID-19 and how you can keep yourself and your family safe. We'll share the latest on the best ways to prevent the spread during the holidays. We will respond to your questions about what really works to keep people safe.

Featuring:
  • Dr. Esteban DelPilar-Morales, Infectious Disease, Baystate Health, Caring Health Center; Board of Health City of Holyoke
  • Magdalene Eboso RN, MSN, MBA, CIC Infection Prevention & Control Coordinator, Mercy Medical Center & Providence Behavioral Health, A Member of Trinity Health Of New England​

Bringing Care, Food and Love to Households
Go-Fresh Distributes over 5,000 Boxes of Fresh Produce 
The Live Well Springfield Go-Fresh Emergency Produce distribution program, which began as a response to the pandemic in April, ended in October after distributing over 5,000 boxes of fresh produce in 27 weeks. Our work started with five partner sites in April of this year, growing to engage 15 community partners from senior housing, health care and community-based organizations. By the end of the 27-week project, there were 16 site locations serving older adults and families in Springfield. The program was initially designed to provide fresh produce to older adults, who are at high risk for complications from COVID-19. 

Through the many helping hands of the 15 site coordinators, Mass Senior Action volunteers, and distribution partner Wellspring Harvest, we collectively distributed 300 social isolation care packages, 900 PPE supplies, and 627 holiday pumpkins.

One community resident shared the feeling of gratitude to have the boxes each week, “These boxes are truly a blessing and allow me to get creative with my meal planning.”

Congratulations 2020 Healthcare Heroes!
Congratulations to all of the Healthcare Heroes in our region recognized by BusinessWest for 2020. Each of these institutions and individuals deserve this attention.  Besides the normal day-to-day work of caring for people (not to mention the backdrop of the current pandemic), healthcare institutions have taken on new innovation models through the Medicare and Medicaid ACOs, integrating Behavioral Health, building telemedicine infrastructure and expanding their understanding and ability to link with community services to address factors that influence health within households, neighborhoods and communities at large.

We particularly applaud Dr. Keroack, CEO of Baystate Health, for his leadership in acknowledging "racism as a virus" and calling out the need to address it, together. Racism is linked to our health, and research has long established the connection between ongoing centuries of racism and premature death and morbidity among some groups of people.

Thank you Dr. Keroack for being a steady voice through it all!​
A “Recipe” For a Safer Thanksgiving
A recent MassLive article shares Baystate Health president and CEO Mark A. Keroack’s advice on how to have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving amid the pandemic:

  • Make a plan: Just as you plan your menu, make a plan for keeping everyone safe and healthy
  • Get prepared: You and the attendees should lie low for a week or two before the big event. Partying the Saturday before Thanksgiving puts the big day at risk. Consider testing;
  • Check surroundings: Consider the amount of virus where the event is being held and where the guests are coming from;
  • Location, location, location: Outside is better than inside. Big rooms can be better than small, and better ventilation (windows) lowers risk;
  • Take a count: Think about the people who are attending. Smaller is better;
  • Risk factors: Are any of your invitees at high risk (elderly, obese, diabetes, high blood pressure);
  • Staying away: People with symptoms (cough, fever, sniffles, etc.) should stay away;
  • Details: Shorter is better, avoid close contact, loud talking or singing can spread virus; and
  • Food service: Plated meals are lower risk than buffet with one server who washes hands repeatedly.

Dr. Keroack compared thanksgiving gatherings to driving in a blizzard. You can take steps to minimize the risk, like driving slower and keep a greater distance between cars, but “There’s not a way to drive in a blizzard totally risk free”. So while there are no guarantees, practicing basic prevention tips will help minimize your risk: wear a mask, wash your hands, maintain distance from others, and stay home if you feel sick. 

Events
Learn and engage from the comfort of your home. Check out these upcoming events:
  • November 24 1-2:30, Transforming White Supremacy in the Hampshire County Food System: Moving Toward Shared Power: After hearing an update on the work of the Food Policy Council Governance Circle, learn about how food system leaders in Hampshire County are approaching their work through the lens of transforming white supremacy. Hear from representatives from Northampton's Belly of the Beast and Amherst's Common Share Food Co-op about the frameworks they are using and steps they are taking to lead with race, dismantle white supremacy culture, and work toward redistributing power as they build a more equitable food system. Then, participate in an activity to consider the ways you are also engaging in this work. Spanish interpretation available. Register here.
  • December 9 12-1:00pm, Reproductive Justice: A Paradigm Shift for Women of Color: The UMass School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) and its community partners in the Western Massachusetts Health Equity Network (WMHEN), in collaboration with the New England Public Health Training Center, invite you to join us for the final event in our 2020 Health Equity webinar series. This webinar is the third in a series of virtual conversations related to racism as a public health crisis featuring Loretta Ross, a visiting associate professor in the Program for the Study of Women and Gender at Smith College. Register here.
Watch the recordings from previous webinars:
  • Sexual Violence Against Girls and Young Women: A Call to Action, 11/13/2020: This webinar will explore findings from Hampden County and include a panel discussion of experts. Access the recording.
  • Springfield Teen Health Data, 10/16/2020: This webinar will explore findings from the youth health surveys conducted in Springfield Public Schools. Gándara Center will join us in presenting the data. Access the recording.
  • Using the Western MA COVID-19 Data Dashboard, 9/18/2020: This webinar included a presentation of our Western MA COVID-19 Data Dashboard, as well as a panel discussion of regional experts about how they are using COVID-19 data to inform decisions. Access the recording.