Welcome to the Watertown Health Department COVID-19 Resource and Guidance Page!
Coronavirus (COVID-19) A Brief Summary: This novel coronavirus, which started as a localized novel zoonotic disease outbreak in China, has now been declared a pandemic (global disease outbreak) by the World Health Organization (WHO) after having rapidly spread to most countries around the world. The disease, known as COVID-19, is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 beta coronavirus virus. Symptoms develop 2-14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The majority of infections have been mild; however, severe life-threatening disease has developed in approximately 16% of cases according to initial reports.
Emergency warning signs for severe infection include: Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, Persistent chest pain or pressure, Sudden onset of confusion, Bluish tint of lips or face. *Immediately seek medical attention if experiencing any of these severe symptoms.*
While the current risk of infection for most people in the U.S. is low, some regions are currently experiencing large outbreaks, and as these and other current outbreaks continue to expand, and the number of cases increases, so will the risk of contracting the disease. As a result, it is critical to implement personal protective hygiene and other preventive health behaviors such as frequent hand washing with soap and water, social distancing, and using proper cough and sneeze etiquette.
GROCERY STORE OCCUPANCY: As of April 7, All grocery stores in MA must limit their occupancy to 40 percent of its maximum permitted occupancy level, this order will remain in effect until May 18.
GARDEN CENTERS/NURSERIES/GREENHOUSES/SUPPLY CENTERS: On March 31, Governor Baker deemed these businesses essential under the following conditions; that they sell food/food producing plants for human consumption & deploy strategies to limit potential COVID-19 exposure to employees and customers.
NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESS CLOSURE: On March 31, Governor Baker issued an order extending the closure of non-essential businesses and organizations for in-person operations until MAY 18, 2020.
K-12 SCHOOLS: All Private and Public elementary and secondary (K-12) Schools in the state of Massachusetts are currently closed, and must remain closed until the end of the school year - 2020.
STAY-AT-HOME ADVISORY: On March 31, the Department of Public Health announced that the Stay-At-Home Advisory issued on March 24 remains in effect until MAY 18, 2020.
GATHERINGS; 10 OR MORE PEOPLE PROHIBITED: Gatherings of 10 people or more (non-essential) in the state of Massachusetts are PROHIBITED until May 18, 2020. This is an evolving situation and social gathering orders may be extended.
CHILDCARE: To slow the spread of the coronavirus, all families should keep children out of group care settings. Emergency Child Care Programs are for when all other non-group-care settings have been exhausted and families have no other options. The following daycares that have been authorized as an Emergency Child Care Program
FACE COVERS / MASKS 101
Emergency Order Mandating Face Coverings: Effective at 12:01 a.m., May 4, 2020 any individual who is age five (5) years or older, and not otherwise exempt per CDC guidelines, shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a clean mask or face covering (e.g. disposable mask, cloth mask, face shield, bandana, scarf) when in or at any location open to the general public including all indoor locations open to the public, outdoor premises of private locations open to the public, and all public outdoor locations (e.g., parks, playgrounds, athletic facilities, sidewalks, streets, public squares, paths, all Town property).
Why do we need to wear face masks? In light of new data about how COVID-19 spreads, along with evidence of widespread COVID-19 illness in communities across the country, CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community setting. This is to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms.
When do you need to wear a face covering/mask? A cloth face covering should be worn whenever people are in a community setting, especially in situations where you may be near people. These settings include grocery stores and pharmacies. These face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing. Cloth face coverings are especially important to wear in public in areas of widespread COVID-19 illness.
Do I still need to stay 6 feet apart from other if I am wearing a face covering/mask? YES.
What type of face cover/mask should be worn? Cloth face coverings can be made from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost.
Who should not wear face coverings/masks? Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children younger than 2 years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.
Additional Guidance and References
Massachusetts Re-Opening Information and Guidelines
Self Care & Isolation Guidance:
Workplace, School, and Home Guidance
- Keeping your Workplace Safe; Have Your Employees...(CDC)
- Get Your Household Ready (CDC)
- Keeping Your Home Healthy During the COVID-19 Pandemic (NYS CEHC)
- Example Schedule for Cleaning and Disinfecting of Facilities and Childcare
- Guidance for Employers (OSHA)
- Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility (CDC)
- Disinfectants for use Against Coronavirus (EPA)
- COVID-19 Disinfection Poster (Water Quality and Health Council)
Grocery Shopping & Pharmacy Trips Guidance:
In-Home Caregiving Guidance
- Guidance and recommendations for NON-AGENCY BASED in-home Caregivers (PCA’s, Independent Nurses, etc.) during the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Older Adults Guidance:
Food Safety & Guidance for Restaurants