Friday March 27th, 2020
As of today, Friday March 27th, all travelers arriving in Massachusetts are instructed to self quarantine for 14 days. Instructions will be posted at transit hubs, etc. Designated service workers will be exempted from this requirement.Know anybody coming back from somewhere else…snowbirds perhaps?
Buoy Health has launched an online symptom checker in Massachusetts. Find it at: www.buoy.com/mass
Earlier today Massachusetts announced that the date for filing state personal income taxes has been pushed ahead to july 15th. This makes it consistent with the Feds…
Berkshire Food Project is open for grab and go meals and emergency groceries on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11:30 -1:00. www.berkshirefoodproject.org for information.
The Friendship Food Pantry in North Adams will be open on Wednesday April 1st from 10:00 to 2:00 and from 3:30 to 5:30. They’re now being operated from the St. Elizabeth Friendship Food Pantry, www.friendshipfoodpantry.org for more information.
The Salvation Army Food Pantry is operating on Tuesdays from 12:00-3:00 PM. Meet at the front door. COVID emergency food supplies are available as well, contact Major Corno at 663.7987.
In Williamstown, the St.Patrick/St Raphael Food Pantry will begin weekly operations until further notice. 9:30 Am-noon.The same plan will be effective for the duration, cars utilize Mission Park Drive to circle around the church, stay in your cars and someone will attend to you. Walkers come to the front of the line and they’ll try to serve you first. Absolutely nobody will be allowed in the building.
The First Baptist Church in North Adams will be providing a HOT grab and go meal this Saturday, March 28, from 11:00 to 12:00 PM. There are also some groceries available.
Masshealth has also expanded eligibility and coverage in response to this pandemic. You can find out more at www.mass.gov/topics/masshealth
Helpful phone numbers for COVID-19 info and support;
Berkshire Health Systems Helpline, 855.262.5465
Mass 211 has established a COVID support line. Massachusetts residents can call 2-1-1 for real time COVID-19 information and referrals in multiple languages.
Shopping update, March 26th;
The Massachusetts Commissioner of Public Health has issued new shopping guidelines which will include marked social distancing lines. I know that Cumberland Farms have marked intervals with an X on the floor, I assume that others will follow suit.
They are also indicating that “customers at grocery stores and pharmacies shall not use reusable checkout bags until further notice”. They’re saying that the ban on single use plastic bags is lifted for now and stores will use paper, compostable plastic or single use bags.
Grocers and pharmacies will not be allowed to charge for paper, compostable plastic or single use bags.
If you go shopping, leave your bags at home, you can’t use them for now. And if we are shopping for you, we’re not taking them along for use.
Grocery stores and pharmacies now must provide at least one hour daily for “adults 60 years and older” to limit exposure to the COVID virus..
They should also be providing access to hand washing facilities, alcohol based sanitizers if available and disinfecting wipes as available at the point of entrance.
No salad bars, self serve open food stations or open free samples or tastings either.
A reminder; Social Distancing applies to van rides to shop as well.The number of individuals who can ride at once is restricted to 3 at the most per trip. We’ll provide information to individuals requesting the service about their trip when we’re called.
Finally, after some initial shopping, we’ve discovered that in addition to a check and store card, a phone number would be helpful as a call back with questions during the actual shopping expedition about orders might be needed. Not everyone has a number on their check.
Wednesday March 25th, 2020
I imagine that there are numbers of people looking for information about the COVID-19 pandemic we’re in and of course THEY are out there trying to get to you too. By they I mean the unscrupulous creeps who will try to take advantage of the situation.
Anyway here’s a few suggestions.
Don’t click on any links or attachments you might receive in your email or from a messaging service wanting to give you COVID-19 information.
Don’t fall for legitimate looking messages, they could very well be fakes and cyberthieves are pretty good at making something look real. Or important to read. Or urgent. Just because it says that it’s from a reputable source does not mean that it is.
If you want COVID news and you don’t want to watch the competing talking heads on TV, navigate directly to the WHO and CDC websites. Here are their addresses;
The US Center for Disease Control; www.cdc.goc
The World Health Organization is : www.who.int
By the way, as I was looking them up, the WHO has a scammer alert on their website. People are trying to say that they are from the WHO. Cold people for sure!
Anyway, here in Williamstown, we have a few more people interested in being volunteer shoppers and today we have had some serious interest from several people who would like us to shop for them. We’re picking up groceries for folks tomorrow. Colleagues from across North Berkshire tell me that there is an uptick in the number of interested people. I’m not surprised. It’s sinking in right?
Anyway, if your health is compromised or you know someone who’s homebound, has difficulty shopping or should not go out at the moment, tell them to call us. There are options out there. We’re at 423.458.8250 and if you can’t reach us, leave a message with a call back number and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
The Foodbank of Western Massachusetts is now telling us that the mobile pantry will NOT resume in April. There is information out there indicating that they would be back in action but as of today, COVID-19 has shut them down. We received an email about this just this afternoon. We’ll keep you posted.
We’re also taking a different approach to van ridership too. Going forward, we’ll not be transporting any more than 2 or 3 people at the same time. We can space people out on the vehicle, so-no more setting together until, well, whenever. Social distancing. For those of you who travel together, we’re sorry. We’ll do what we can but right now it’s ugly out there. As usual, call us and the driver will get back to you with a time the vehicle is available. We’re still providing rides and we’re still focused on life support-medical and food shopping. Well, at this moment there isn’t anything else!
If you use the Williamstown landfill and you missed the news, the requirement to use town sanctioned trash bags has been lifted for now. Limit your exposure in stores…
Finally, while we’re all practicing social distancing, you can be socially distant and still go outside. If you can, go for a walk. While I was looking at the CDC website earlier there was a new study report talking about how a higher daily step count is linked with lower cause mortality from all causes. It’s a new report. You’ve been hearing us preaching the benefits of walking for a long time. Now here’s an official report. Check it out. And get out of the house, stop watching the news and go for a walk!
We’ll talk again soon!
March 24, 2020
Dear Northern Berkshire County Families,
In partnership with our pediatricians, Town Managers, Town Administrators, and Town Health Inspectors, Mount Greylock Regional School District implores students, families and our wider community to combat the spread of the Coronavirus 2019 Disease (“COVID-19”) by practicing “social distancing” most effectively by STAYING HOME.
COVID-19 presents an unprecedented health crisis and public health emergency. The virus is easily transmitted, and it has the demonstrated ability to infect substantial sections of the community. While the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are at greatest risk, all people, young and old, can contract, carry and transmit this virus. By interacting and socializing with others, we put people at risk for infection. Regardless of whether we feel ill or well, we have the potential to spread the virus by interacting. There is a single response. STAY HOME.
Other countries already grappling with the spread of the virus have seen their health care systems overwhelmed by ill patients. Without the capacity to care for such large numbers, these health care systems have watched thousands of patients die. And now the rampant spread of this virus threatens to overwhelm our community’s health care system if we, as a community, do not act proactively and responsibly by distancing ourselves from each other and STAYING HOME.
The letter shared below from County Boards of Health, Berkshire Health Systems and the our largest Berkshire County cities articulates succinctly the threat COVID-19 presents to our community, its health services and health care workers fighting this virus and caring for the ill. This is our critical health problem, and it is our responsibility to act to eliminate it.
Superintendent Kimberley Grady and The Mount Greylock Regional School District Administrative Team
Town Managers Jason Hoch and Kelli Robbins
AN OPEN LETTER FROM THE BOARDS OF HEALTH OF BERKSHIRE COUNTY, THE CITIES OF PITTSFIELD AND NORTH ADAMS, THE TOWNS OF ADAMS, CHESHIRE, LANESBOROUGH AND WILLIAMSTOWN AND BERKSHIRE HEALTH SYSTEMS (March 23, 2020)
The Coronavirus 2019 Disease (“COVID-19”) presents our community with a public health emergency of unprecedented severity. This virus is easily transmitted, especially in group settings. In other parts of the world it has already demonstrated the ability to infect large segments of a population and overwhelm the capacity of health care systems to care for ill patients. It has resulted in the deaths of thousands of individuals. It now threatens the health of our community, particularly those most vulnerable to the virus and our health care workers.
The most effective tool we have available to combat the spread of this disease is to rigorously follow a straight forward strategy. That strategy is to STAY HOME. Experience in other parts of the world has already demonstrated that effective “social distancing” is an effective way to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Since the first cases of COVID-19 were recognized in Berkshire two weeks ago, we have witnessed an alarming increase in patients requiring hospital care by our health care system. If as a community we fail to implement an effective STAY HOME strategy, the increasing number of ill patients will overwhelm our ability to provide the care necessary for many of them to survive this infection.
Given the presence of the COVID-19 virus in the Berkshires, even with effective social distancing, the number of cases of COVID-19 in Berkshire County will continue to rise for some weeks as we STAY HOME. Among the steps to protect the health of the public and prevent the further spread of COVID-19, as cases of COVID-19 are diagnosed, public health nurses and other health care professionals will be determining the need for some of us to be placed under “Quarantine” and in some circumstances ”Isolation.”
Again, full participation by the citizens of Berkshire County is vital to our success in combating COVID-19. Ultimately, it will not be the acute care resources of the health system but our ability to prevent the spread of this disease that will turn the tide in this battle. We all have the responsibility to do what we can to reduce the risk to ourselves, to our families and to our communities. We will only be successful if all of us, not just some of us, adhere to the requirements for social distancing as well as Quarantine and Isolation when indicated.
If we all do our part, together we will save lives and beat this virus.
Mayor Linda Tyer, City of Pittsfield
Mayor Tom Bernard, City of North Adams
Town Manager Jason Hoch, Town of Williamstown
Town Manager Kelli Robbins, Town of Lanesborough
Town Administrator Edmund R. St. John, IV, Town of Cheshire
Town Administrator Jay R. Green, Town of Adams
James Lederer, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Berkshire Health Systems
Laura Kittross, Director, Berkshire County Boards of Health Association, on behalf of the 32 Boards of Health in Berkshire County
Updates for March 23rd, 2020.
We’re now being told that the Foodbank of Western Massachusetts will be doing the Brown Bag delivery for March after all. They’ll come to us pre-packaged. We’ll deliver to your door this time…we really don’t want people in the building if we can avoid it.
CVS Pharmacy in North Adams will also deliver medications via mail. It’s a program called Rx Delivery. The number there is 413.664.8712. They need pertinent information to set up an account with you including credit or debit cards.
The Williamstown Food Pantry at St.Patrick/Raphael Church will be open again this week, Wednesday March 25th, 9:30 to noon. If you’re driving over, use Mission Drive and circle around behind the church, stay in line, do not exit your car. Volunteers will ask for your list, completed packages will be left on the table for drive by pick up.
Walkers should go to the front of the line and they’ll try to serve you quickly.
At no time will anyone be allowed into the building!
And while they’re thankful that they are thinking of them, they’re not able to accept any new volunteers at the moment!
Big Y has indicated that they will be open from 8AM-8PM and reserved times at 7:00AM-8:00 AM for seniors and people with compromised immunity daily.
Ocean State Job Lot is keeping regular hours but are limiting purchase of essential items, such as cleaning and personal care supplies.