April 28, 2020
Dear Beacon Hill Village Members,
This is the latest update of current social distancing guidelines and advisories including the most recent announcements from the Governor, Mayor Walsh and CDC. The most recent changes relating to the extension of the stay-at-home advisory, mask use, added symptoms of COVID-19 and pets are in purple.
The COVID-19 Response Team – Doug Fitzsimmons, President; Karen Garvin, Vice-President and Chair of the Coordinating and Program Committees; Betsy Peterson, Board Member and Secretary; Joanne Cooper, Chair of the Services Committee; Stephen Roop, Board Member; Barbara Roop, Chair of LWEW Committee; Charley Davidson, Board Member, and Gina Morrison, Executive Director.
SOME COVID-19 SOCIAL DISTANCING FUNDAMENTALS
March 22, 2020 UPDATED APRIL 6, APRIL 9, and APRIL 28, 2020
Let’s start with a sound generalization from a local physician to a BHV member: “The whole idea is to keep out of situations where you might meet up with the virus. So, anything out of your control (e.g., not your own home, car, etc.) puts you at risk.” BHV offers below some fundamentals based on reliable sources.
· Keep COVID-19 symptoms in mind. Originally, CDC said the main symptoms were three: fever, cough and shortness of breath. Now CDC has added to the list chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and loss of taste or smell.
· Cover coughs and sneezes. (COVID-19 is especially transmitted by droplets from sneezing.)
· Handwash frequently – 20 seconds with hot soapy water.
· Don’t touch your face with unwashed hands.
· Use wipes when available to clean your hands and surfaces others may have touched – handrails, grocery carts, elevator buttons, doorknobs, etc.
· Keep a 6’ diameter around you except with intimates you know have not been exposed to COVID-19 and, realistically, who knows?
· Keep watch over household pets: two cats have recently been diagnosed with COVID-19. There is no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus in the United States and, therefore, no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare. Pending further study, CDC recommends: keeping cats indoors where possible; restricting pets outdoors, e.g. with a leash, and maintain the suggested 6’ diameter between others, on one hand, and you and your pet on the other. Avoid dog parks or other areas where large numbers of people and dogs gather.
· If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed by a test), restrict your contact with your pets and other animals, just as you would around other people; if you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.
2. At home
· Stay at home as much as possible. That is the current CDC guidance for all Massachusetts residents 65 and over, and those of any age with complicating health conditions.
· Clean frequently touched surfaces often. If you wish to disinfect, follow CDC guidelines. This means either using an EPA-approved surface disinfectant (following directions for contact time) or a solution made from bleach whose expiration date has not passed and with a contact time of one (1) minute. CDC finds acceptable the alternative use of alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol to disinfect small electronic devices, their screens, etc., but does not appear to be recommending such wipes otherwise for disinfection.
· Physical intimacy is OK with your regular partner so long as you are both sure about COVID-19 exposure. A new partner may not be a good idea right now.[i]
· Be sure visitors or delivery people have followed precautions to avoid exposure or, for deliveries, have them ring the bell and leave it at the door.
· Limit groups to 10. But the 6’ diameter guidance still applies. (Most downtown Boston residents do not have nearly this much space!)
· Have a “household plan of action” as recommended by CDC for elderly and at-risk Massachusetts residents,” viz.
o Have at least a 2-week supply of usual prescription and over-the-counter medications, food and other essentials. BHV continues its shopping services and provides information about food shopping and delivery, and ordering and delivery of prepared foods, at [link here to Karen’s piece].
o Keep a current list of important phone and e-mail contacts, including BHV (617-723-9713 and firstname.lastname@example.org), your doctor, your pharmacist, family and friends.
o Keep up with important developments via trustworthy sites.
3. Away from home
· CDC, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the City of Boston all now strongly urge a mask once outside your house (including inside any place allowed to be open). This is in addition to all other precautions below.
· Boston: between April 6 and May 4, 2020, a curfew, 9 pm-6 am, has been imposed on all non-essential persons and activities (i.e. no pizza pickup after 9 pm)
· Boston: between April 6 and May 4, 2020, no outdoor group activities, including group exercise. Until April 20-21, for those 65+ and/or with underlying health conditions, only absolutely necessary trips outdoors are recommended.
· Observe the 6’ rule wherever you are.
o You can shop for groceries and go to the drug store only as needed. Choose shopping hours wisely. Statewide, stores with an authorized capacity exceeding 25 persons are now limited to 40% of their authorized occupancy, which includes both shoppers and personnel. The stores must keep count to ensure compliance. Where practicable, there must be appropriately signed one-way aisles in to maintain 6’ separations. Any lines that form outside the store must be managed to maintain the required 6’ separation. Stores with authorized capacity of 25 or under must work with the Boston Public Health Commission to put in place controls that likewise ensure the required 6’ separation inside and near the store. Any grocery store offerings online delivery or curbside pickup should encourage customers to utilize these when possible in place of coming to the store. Note that many communities in Massachusetts now require masks in various” essential business” places, e.g. grocery stores. Check with any place you may planning to be in.
o You can pick up takeout orders until 9 pm as long as restaurants are open for business. It is a way we can support our local businesses.
· Ensure that any premises you visit have clear and clearly observed additional cleaning routines,
offer hand sanitizers, etc. If they don’t or you can’t confirm, think twice.
4. What you can’t do
· Sit down in a restaurant or bar. All restaurants and bars are closed to on-premises services until at least
April 6 May 4 May 18. Many remain open for takeout and delivery.
· Visit most hospitals, nursing homes, rest homes or assisted living facilities. Check with any particular facility before trying to visit.
· Go to any gathering of more than
25 10 in confined indoor or outdoor spaces through April 5 May 4 May 18. This includes gyms and health clubs, religious services.
· Go to the mall.
· Most schools, colleges and many facilities like libraries (including all BPL branches) and museums are closed until
May 4 May 18. Almost all Massachusetts schools K-12 are now closed for the remainder of the academic year.
· non-essential businesses and organizations are ordered closed until
May 4 May18.
5. What you should think at least twice about.
· Discretionary travel foreign or domestic by whatever means. US citizens returning from certain locales abroad are urged to self-quarantine for 14 days, others to follow CDC guidance. The entry of any US citizen into the US may be restricted to return via certain airports equipped with enhanced screening procedures and equipment. Subject to flight availability, Logan Airport is one of these airports.
· Public transportation including cabs, Uber and Lyft. Bring your wipes and keep the 6’ rule.
· Basically, leaving home if you are over 65 or otherwise at risk.
· Driving within MA is presently unrestricted and most rest areas are open except food service areas.
· Driving into states bordering Massachusetts seems increasingly restricted; the US-Canada border has been closed by joint consent.
· those driving into Massachusetts are being urged to self-quarantine for 14 days.
6. What you may postpone for now
· Federal income tax payments due to be filed and paid April 15, 2020 are postponed until July 15, 2020. See the detailed Q & A from the IRS at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/filing-and-payment-deadlines-questions-and-answers.
· Massachusetts tax payments due to be filed and paid April 15, 2020 are also postponed until July 15, 2020. See https://www.mass.gov/info-details/2020-dor-tax-due-dates-and-extensions.
· City of Boston property tax or auto excise due dates have not, to BHV’s knowledge, been change have been extended to June 1. See https://www.boston.gov/news/covid-19-collecting-division-guide-transactions (dated April 1, 2020) https://www.boston.gov/news/property-tax-bill-due-date-extended-until-june-1-due-public-health-crisis (dated April 6, 2020).
[i] See https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/18/can-i-have-sex-a-guide-to-intimacy-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.
Barbara and Steve Roop wrote this piece and updated it April 6, April 9 and April 28, 2020. They are responsible for any errors that have crept in. They appreciate comments on drafts from other members of BHV’s COVID-19 Response Team.