Protect Yourself and families: Slow the Spread of COVID-19
Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is one of our best tools to stop the pandemic.
Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines, including where you can get vaccinated, frequently asked questions, and guidance for fully vaccinated individuals.
The CDC has released a new framework - COVID-19 Community Levels - to monitor risk and inform prevention protocols. It considers three measures: new hospitalizations, hospital capacity, and cases. To learn more about the COVID-19 Community Levels framework, check the Community Level for your county, and to see their full list of recommendations, visit the CDC’s website.
The CDC recommends following the Community Level measure of risk for your own community to follow masking guidance for each level. If you are at high risk of severe disease, you may want to wear a mask in public indoor settings.
Along with getting vaccinated and boosted, wearing a well-fitting mask over your mouth and nose in indoor public settings or crowds is crucial to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Experts recommend you upgrade your mask to a high filtration respirator (N95, KN95, or KF94) if you want optimal protection. Starting in early February 2022, the Biden Administration is sending N95 masks to pharmacies and health centers for Americans to access, free of charge.
A face covering can be anything that covers your nose and mouth, including scarves and bandanas. When you wear a cloth mask, it should:
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face,
- Be secured with ties or ear loops,
- Include multiple layers of fabric,
- Allow for breathing without restriction, and
- Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.
Cloth masks should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
When putting on and taking off a mask, do not touch the front of it and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching it. Make sure you wash it regularly.
Local municipalities, public transportation operators, school districts, businesses may set their own mask policies, even though there is no federal or state mask mandate currently. The CDC still recommends wearing a mask on public transportation (buses, trains, planes, rideshares, etc).
Face covering resources:
- Learn more about cloth face coverings from the CDC, including how to make your own.
- Face covering Do's and Don'ts are available on the CDC website.
- COVID-19 Mask Requirements in Massachusetts and guidance in Spanish
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, use hand sanitizer.
- Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and dispose of the used tissue immediately. Do not cough or sneeze into your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Clean surfaces that are frequently touched (e.g. doorknobs).
- Stay home if you feel sick and call your doctor (see section above). Learn more about dealing with sickness at home and other safety tips.
People can spread COVID19 up to 48 hours before they have symptoms. The closer you are to someone infected with COVID, the more at risk you are of breathing in viral particles. Avoiding crowded areas and maintaining a distance from others are strategies that can reduce a person's risk of getting COVID.
Symptoms of COVID-19 vary widely, ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and loss of taste or smell. Symptoms appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Older adults and people who have severe underlying conditions like heart or lung disease seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19.
Check your symptoms online:
If you have symptoms, stay home and get tested. Contact your medical provider, especially if you are at higher risk of severe illness. If you do not have a primary care provider, you can contact an urgent care facility or your local health department. Check out guidance from Mercy Medical Center, Springfield Health and Human Services, and Baystate Health about COVID-19 and when to stay home and when to go to the emergency room.
If you test positive, you should follow the Department of Public Health's isolation and quarantine guidance. Stay home and quarantine for a minimum of 5 days and until symptoms resolve. After quarantine, you should wear a mask in public for 5 more days regardless of vaccination status.
You may also want to pursue new therapeutic treatments which can prevent you from getting severely ill. Talk with your doctor. They're safe, effective, and free - no insurance needed.
To access testing, you can search for free testing sites near you. You can also find some basic information about testing, local testing sites, at-home options, and what to do if you test positive. Some sites may require pre-screening, a referral and/or appointment, for the person to be symptomatic, health insurance, or charge for the cost of the test. Other sites are completely free and may not require anything. Contact the site to ask about details and requirements. You can also contact your primary care provider for any referral needed. For more information, visit the MDPH's webpage on testing.
Everyone has a right to access health care regardless of immigration status. Click here for information on COVID-19 resources available to immigrants and refugees. The Attorney General's office has produced informational posters in multiple languages regarding access to health care and other rights community members have during the time of COVID-19.
If you are immunocompromised or at high risk of severe disease, talk with your doctor about a preventive medication, called Evusheld. It is used before someone at higher risk gets COVID-19. Evusheld is not for the treatment of COVID-19 symptoms. It is given to someone before they have been exposed to COVID-19.
Not all children are eligible for vaccination yet. It's important to keep children safe and prevent them from getting COVID-19, especially if getting vaccinated is not yet an option for them. For important tips and information on how to protect children, read the CDC's guidelines for families and these safe travel tips for families with unvaccinated children.
- Take good care of your own mental health. Practice self care and be patient with yourself as you navigate the stresses of the pandemic.
- Be a good neighbor. Check in on neighbors, especially older adults or people who live alone, to make sure they have want they need.
- Be generous. Don't hoard groceries and supplies. If you buy extra, consider donating them.
- Kindness is also contagious. Express your gratitude for healthcare workers, mail carriers, truckers, grocery store employees, farm workers, caretakers, and other essential workers and service providers.
Be sure to forward messages with correct information to friends and family. Check the source of your information to ensure it is credible. Misinformation can cause harm to others by not providing factual and safe information.
Participating in advocacy and donating where resources are needed will help your morale and those most in need.
We are part of the Emergency Task Force on Coronavirus and Equity, convened by the Massachusetts Public Health Association to rapidly develop policy recommendations. Learn more about the Task Force's recommendations as well as other COVID-19 related policy efforts.