Letting Down Your COVID Guard could Let Down Your Health!

Selective updates from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Massachusetts Travel Order: Quarantining, testing and tracing.

All individuals arriving in Massachusetts, including Massachusetts residents who have left the state for anything more than transitory travel, are covered by the Massachusetts Travel Order.
You may obtain a test at your own expense after your arrival in Massachusetts, but you MUST quarantine until you obtain a negative result. Individuals who fail to quarantine are subject to a $500 fine per day.
Detailed information about the quarantine requirement and a list of exceptions can be found here.
If you need to be tested for COVID-19, there are locations across Massachusetts able to provide a test.
If you tested positive for COVID-19 or were in close contact with someone who was, then you may be contacted by your health department or the Community Tracing Collaborative.

How community tracing works:

First, if you test positive, the CTC or your local health department will connect you with the support and resources you may need through isolation. Then with your collaboration, we will identify and reach out via phone and text to anyone you’ve been in close contact with to encourage them to get tested and self-quarantine. It is important to note that we will not release your name to anyone. Your information is strictly confidential and will be treated as the private medical record it is.

How can I verify MA COVID Team or my local health department is calling?

Calls from the MA COVID Team will use the prefix 833 and 857 and your phone will say the call is from “MA COVID Team.” Calls will be made daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Your local health department will use their local phone numbers to contact you.

What happens during the call?

When we call, a MA COVID team member or representative from your local health department will ask you for a list of all of the people you were within six feet of during the two days before you had symptoms. If you don’t have symptoms, we’ll ask about your activity during the two days before your diagnosis. We will also ask for the phone numbers of anyone you tell us about, so they can be called and cared for.
We will encourage you to let your contacts know about your illness, but we will not be sharing your information with them. We’ll call your contacts and let them know they have been exposed so they can get tested, but not tell them your name. If you are staying at home during the isolation period, the MA COVID team member or local health department representative will also discuss any needs you may have and may connect you with a care resource coordinator who will help you get the support you need. Throughout your illness, a MA COVID team member or your local health department will check in to monitor your symptoms and needs.

Why community tracing matters

Although social distancing has been proven effective in slowing the spread of the virus, there is more that we can do to take care of each other. With contact tracing in place, we can track the spread and reduce additional exposure to others by encouraging testing, supporting quarantine and social distancing. Many people who have COVID-19 don’t show any symptoms and don’t realize that they may be spreading the virus. So, if you get a call keep your family and friends safe by answering the call. We are all in this together and by sharing information and listening to the direction of the Community Tracing Collaborative and your local health department, we can spread the word to stop the virus.

About your privacy

The confidentiality of your private information is protected by Massachusetts law. It will only be used to help the Commonwealth respond to and prevent cases of an infectious disease. We will not release your name to anyone with whom you’ve been in contact.

Community Tracing Collaborative SMS policy

The Community Tracing Collaborative’s use of SMS in all forms, including with Short Codes.
Acting on behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health (“DPH”), the Community Tracing Collaborative (“CTC”) uses Short Message Service (“SMS”) text messaging via cellphone for multiple purposes related to the dissemination of public health information about COVID-19, including reaching out to individuals recently diagnosed with the virus, their contacts, and individuals traveling to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from out of state who have filled out the Commonwealth’s Travel Form. In some instances the CTC will use “short codes” for SMS, short five to six digit codes that may appear on the cellphones of recipients of the CTC’s COVID-19 SMS messages instead of the longer 9 to 10 digit phone numbers.

Message and data rates may apply. Message frequency varies. For help, reply HELP. To opt out, reply STOP. Carriers are not liable for delayed or undelivered messages.

Using SMS, the CTC provides COVID-19 positive individuals, their contacts, and travelers to the Commonwealth with advice and support regarding infection, isolation and quarantine, how to protect their own health and that of others, and assistance in meeting basic needs for food, shelter and medical assistance while quarantined.

The CTC also collects personal information from such individuals when they in turn use SMS to provide information to the CTC about, among other things, their COVID-19 symptoms, test status, health, isolation and quarantine plans, and basic needs.

All personal information collected by the CTC is protected in accordance with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Fair Information Practices Act, MGL ch. 66A, using an array of administrative, technical and physical security measures. Information collected by DPH through the CTC via SMS may be shared as provided for by state and federal law, including with one or more local Boards of Health for purposes of facilitating contact tracing and the support of COVID-positive individuals and their contacts and travelers.

COVID-19 isolation and quarantine information

Isolating and quarantining are related but distinct approaches to limiting COVID-19’s spread. In
short: Isolate if you’re sick, quarantine if you have been exposed. You must isolate if you are symptomatic or have tested positive for COVID-19. This means you must be alone, without direct contact with anyone else, until you can no longer spread the virus. This typically lasts about 10 days. You must quarantine if you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 but haven’t shown symptoms or had a positive COVID-19 test. It’s best if you can quarantine for 14 days. However, if 10 days after your exposure you have no symptoms, you can end quarantine. You can end your quarantine after 7 days if you get tested and are negative for the virus.

Resources are available to support you if you’re required to isolate or quarantine, and need
medical, housing, food, or other assistance. Isolating and quarantining go far beyond the Commonwealth’s Stay at Home Advisory.

Learn about isolating!

If you are sick and a healthcare provider tests you for COVID-19, or you are told by a healthcare provider that you have COVID-19, you must remain in isolation until a public health authority (the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, your local Board of Health, or the Community Tracing Collaborative) says that you can leave your home.

A public health authority will be in contact with you to discuss your isolation period and any questions you may have and will conduct another assessment about 10 days after the date your infection is confirmed. A public health authority will confirm that you may leave your home once the risk of infecting others is determined to be low.

Take these steps when self-isolating:
• Stay at home and use a separate bedroom and bathroom if possible.
• Stay at least 6 feet away from other people in the house.
• Do not leave your house to go to school, work or run errands.
• Do not have any visitors to your house during this time.
• Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Do not share eating or drinking utensils with anybody.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
• Clean surfaces that you touch every day with a household disinfectant.
• Make a list of everyone you have been close to (within 6 feet of for at least 15 minutes), since you first got sick. Those people have been exposed to COVID-19 and should be asked to self-quarantine.
• Monitor your health closely while you isolate at home. If your symptoms worsen (such as shortness of breath or respiratory distress), contact your medical provider immediately.
• If you need to see your healthcare provider, do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares to get to your appointment.

Information regarding child exposed to Covid-19

Wondering what to do if your child was in contact with someone who is COVID-positive or is exhibiting symptoms of the virus? Here are the answers to some of your frequently asked questions about exposure to COVID.

I was informed my child was in contact with a COVID-19 positive person. What should I do?

First, determine if your child was in close contact. The CDC defines close contact as any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes within a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset. This definition applies whether the contact was wearing a mask or not. If your child was in close contact with someone with COVID-19, the CDC recommends a COVID-19 PCR test, unless your child already had been confirmed as having COVID-19 in the prior 90 days.

Should I bring my child in for an appointment if I suspect they have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, but has no symptoms?

Please follow the CDC’s advice and quarantine for 14 days since the last close contact with the COVID-19 positive person. Call your pediatrician’s office for a telehealth appointment to see if your child may need testing for an exposure. Getting tested does not shorten the time your child must stay at home.

What if my child may have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 infection and is now showing signs of illness?

If your child had close contact with someone with COVID-19 within the last 14 days, your child should be tested for COVID-19. Call 911 or take your child to the emergency room if your child has any severe symptoms which include shortness of breath, confusion, chest pain, a fever of 105 or higher or other concerning symptoms. It is particularly important to call your pediatrician if your child has had a fever for more than 3 days and has vomiting, diarrhea, rash or seems ill. There is a rare illness associated with COVID-19 called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).

Should I go to the emergency room if I’m worried my child has COVID-19?

Please visit the Emergency Department only if you are experiencing an emergency. This will help limit the potential spread of the virus in our community and will help ensure that the Emergency Department is able to care for patients with the most critical needs first.

My child’s COVID-19 test result is negative or not detected. What do we do now?

• If another cause for your child’s symptoms was identified and your child’s COVID-19 test was either not detected or was a negative result by the COVID-19 PCR test, please follow isolation and treatment guidance for your child’s diagnosed illness. In general, your child should be fever-free without fever-reducing medicines for 24 hours and symptoms should have improved before being around others.

• If COVID-19 virus was NOT detected by your child’s COVID-19 PCR test, but no other cause was identified for your child’s symptoms, you should discuss with your provider if your child should remain in isolation for 10 days (depending on exposure and symptoms) or if your child can stop home isolation sooner.

When can my child return to sports participation after being diagnosed with COVID-19?

Due to possible effects of COVID-19 on the heart, there are new recommendations for sports clearance. Your child will need an office visit after at least 14 days of being asymptomatic after their COVID-19 diagnosis for an exam to be cleared for return to sports, even if your child has been previously cleared.

CDC Information from website

Separate yourself from other people. As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets in your home. If possible, you should use a separate bathroom. If you need to be around other people or animals in or outside of the home, wear a mask. Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive. By letting your close contacts know they may have been exposed to COVID-19, you are helping to protect everyone.