Protect Yourself and Slow the Spread of COVID-19

Massachusetts has adopted a 4-phased approach to reopening the state—one that will be driven by public health data.  Although the “stay at home” advisory has been modified to a “safer at home” advisory, residents must continue to practice social (physical) distancing, wear face coverings in public, practice good hygiene, be vigilant for symptoms, and stay home if you feel sick. For more information about the reopening, click here.

Know the symptoms

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 but contact your medical provider. 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.

To access testing, you need approval from a clinician.  If your clinician deems it necessary, they will provide testing or give you a referral that allows you to make an appointment at a testing site near you.  For more information, visit the MDPH's webpage on testing.  To find a testing site near you, visit MDPH's interactive COVID-19 Test Site Locator map.

Everyone has a right to access health care regardless of  immigration statusClick 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.  All the multilingual versions can be found here.

Practice good hygiene

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.
  • 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.

Physically distance yourself from others

  • Stay home and avoid social gatherings.
  • If you must go out for essential errands-
    • Maintain at least 6 foot distance from others.
    • Do not shake hands or hug.
    • Wear a face covering (see section below for more information).
  • Keep in touch with family and friends virtually.  Call, videochat, online chat to stay in touch.

Check out the CDC's guidance for staying safe while running essential errands like grocery shopping, take-out, banking, getting gas, and going to the doctor.

Wear a face covering in public

Governor Baker issued an Order, effective May 6, 2020, requiring face masks or cloth face coverings be worn in indoor and outdoor public places where social distancing is not possible. You should not use a face mask meant for healthcare workers as they are in short supply.

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. 

Face covering resources:

Be Kind

Kindness is also contagious.

  • 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.
  • Express your gratitude for healthcare workers, mail carriers, truckers, grocery store employees, farm workers, caretakers, and other essential workers and service providers.  There are many ways to do this. Post something on social media, join the #BlinkYourLight campaign, hang thank you signs in your windows, etc.

Dispel myths

Be sure to forward messages with correct information to friends and family.  Check the source of your information to ensure it is credible.  We cannot allow misinformation to go viral.

Visit the World Health Organization's mythbusters page.

Advocate and Donate

Participating in advocacy and donating where resources are needed will help your morale and those most in need. 

The PHIWM is 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.

Donate or sell personal protective equipment to support Massachusetts' COVID-19 response efforts.  Click here to learn more.

COVID-19 Resources

413Cares.org, our online community resource database,  provides an up-to-date listing of COVID-19 resources.  Use the search bar below to find resources in your area.

Other Resources
  • For up-to-date alerts about the coronavirus in Massachusetts, text COVIDMA to 888-777. For Spanish-language text alerts, Envíe COVIDMAESP al 888-777.