We have created this COVID-19 resources page with links to useful information about the coronavirus. This resource will be updated as more information becomes available from our state and federal agency partners, like the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19 (formerly referred to as the 2019 novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV) is a new respiratory virus that was first identified in Wuhan, China in December of 2019.

How is the COVID-19 Spread?

It is spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land on people who are nearby (within 6 feet). It may also be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface or object and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.

What are the symptoms and possible complications

Symptoms of COVID-19 may be similar to the flu. Preliminary information suggests that older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe complications from this virus.

When will symptoms appear?

Symptoms may appear between two and 14 days. People are mostly infectious when they present (flu-like) symptoms and are coughing, sneezing and producing droplets.

How is COVID-19 treated?

Treatment is supportive care and relief of symptoms There is currently no vaccine to protect people from this novel coronavirus. There is also no specific anti-viral treatment.

How can I help protect myself?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. BPHC recommends standard precautions to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, like those that cause the flu or a cold:

  • Wash your hands often 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.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • 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 using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Avoid spitting in public. Get a flu shot.

Should I wear a mask to prevent COVID-19?

The CDC does not recommend that healthy individuals wear a facemask. There is no evidence that using a mask will provide any benefit to people who are not sick.

A facemask should be worn by anyone with suspected or confirmed respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 or other respiratory viruses because it will help protect others from getting infected. A facemask should also be worn by health care workers and people who are taking care of someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

Did you recently travel?

If you traveled to a geographic area with widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a health care provider’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wear a surgical type face mask if you have one or as soon as you get to a healthcare facility that can supply one.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • For medical emergencies (shortness of breath, chest pain): call 911.

Visit the CDC’s website for the latest information for travelers, including the affected geographic areas with widespread or sustained community transmission of COVID-19.

Do I need to be tested for COVID-19?

Only those who are experiencing flu-like symptoms and have recently traveled to China or have had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 should be tested. As of February 28, 2020, the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory received approval tobegin testing patients for COVID-19, in accordance with guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What can travelers do to protect themselves and others?

Treatment is supportive care and relief of symptoms. There is currently no vaccine to protect people from COVID-19. There is also no specific anti-viral treatment.

The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory recommending Americans not to travel to areas with widespread transmission of COVID-19.

Visit the CDC’s website to see which countries are on this list.

If you must travel:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss travel destinations with their health care provider.

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