In response to COVID-19, FRCOG offices are closed. Staff are working remotely. Email is likely the most efficient way to reach us. You can find our contact information on the Staff page under the About link below.

Building, plumbing and wiring inspectors are available for meetings by appointment only.

All meetings, workshops and forums are cancelled or have been changed to a call-in or video format.  Please look for emails from FRCOG staff about specific meetings or on our calendar at the Meetings and Events link below.

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COVID Testing Options: November

Testing for asymptomatic people (people who are not currently sick):

  • Community Health Center of Franklin County:  www.chcfc.org/testing — Tuesdays in Greenfield, Fridays in Orange at the new location at 119 New Athol Rd in Orange on Fridays as of November 6.  Note: Per state mandate, testing solely for travel reasons is available, but Mass Health is the only insurance covering that cost. Others will not be covered by insurance and the cost will be billed to the patient. Note: week of November 23rd the testing is Greenfield, Monday only. Not in Orange on Friday.
  • Stop The Spread sites: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/stop-the-spread — Free drive-through for anyone — closest to us are weekdays in Holyoke and Springfield. Check the website for specific times.
  • Valley Medical Group offers testing for their patients for any reason (Mondays and Fridays 8-4 in Greenfield with an appointment).
  • Baystate Franklin Medical Center: https://www.baystatehealth.org/covid19/testing  Daily testing in Greenfield at a new location across the street: 157 High St.  You must schedule an appointment to be tested by calling 413-795-TEST and you will need a physician referral.

Testing for people with symptoms:

  • All of the above sites will also test those with symptoms.
  • Medical Providers with onsite testing for their patients include CHFCFC, Baystate Medical Practices (at drive-through across the street from BFMC), Valley Medical Group (Mondays and Fridays 8-4 in Greenfield with an appointment).

**COVID-19 Data and Updates**

For an archive of all the emails sent by the state on re-opening, click here
For a Franklin County data dashboard from the Public Health Institute of Western MA, click here.
For the state’s COVID data page, click here.
For the latest situation reports from the MA COVID Command Center, click here.
For the COG’s COVID Municipal Resources Page click here.
For the COG’s Board of Health COVID Resources Page click here.
For the Region 1 Health and Medical Coordinating Coalition, click here.
For resources and guidance for businesses, organizations, entrepreneurs, and job seekers, click here.

Click here for testing resources

 

 

To read the FRCOG’s Municipal Leader COVID-19 updates:

New Face Covering Signs Available

These are available as posters for the front door of businesses, schools, houses of worship, town halls, etc.

We are ordering these to be large outdoor signs in mid November.

These are available as post-card size signs.

It’s getting colder and mask standards have changed, so we have updated our face covering signs. Call 413-774-3167 x 1 if you would like any of these signs for your town/business.  Our thanks to Kat Woods Design for the donation of graphic design of the “Help Keep Our Town Safe” signs, to the Brookline Health Department for the “Thank you for Wearing A Mask” sign, and to Katie’s Doodles for the “It goes over your nose” signs.

These are available as election style signs for outdoor use

These are available for the inside of offices/workplaces

These are large election-style outdoor signs

Halloween During COVID: Spooky and Safe!

In response to requests from town administrators and board of health members in a number of towns, the FRCOG has pulled together a Halloween COVID safety poster with tips for both trick-or-treaters and those they visit.

Communities can request hard copies (11×17) by calling 413-774-3167 extension 1 and leaving a message or download it here: FRCOG halloween safety tips poster

Helpful links:

https://www.mass.gov/news/halloween-during-covid-19

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html#halloween

How to make a candy chute for safe dispensing of candy.

 

tips for safe trick or treating and celebrating

Remote Learning Options and the Municipal Role in Approving Them

  • Gov. Baker’s COVID-19 Order #49 established expanded care options for the supervision of remote learning for school age children. The order allowed for the creation of “Remote Learning Enrichment Programs” (RLEPs) – and stipulated that these programs must be approved and monitored by municipalities in order for the MA Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) to grant a waiver allowing these programs to operate. We have received numerous questions about the responsibilities of the municipalities with regards to approving and monitoring RLEPs, and have compiled the following guidance from EEC:
    • A brief summary of the 3 ways communities can support remote learning (expanded access to existing EEC licensed programs; new Remote Learning Enrichment Programs Exemption; and Remote Learning Parent Cooperatives) can be found by clicking here.
    • The Commonwealth is allowing many of the programs already licensed to care for children (e.g. daycares and after school programs) to provide expanded care during the school day, to assist with supervising remote learning. A brief summary of guidance for currently licensed EEC providers can be found by clicking here.
    • For municipalities which are themselves organizing RLEPs, or have community groups doing so, an overview of the Remote Learning Enrichment Programs Exemption, with links to the various processes in setting up an RLEP and the municipal paperwork involved can be found by clicking here (and scrolling down to the RLEP section).
      • The most extensive and detailed information from EEC about the role of a Municipal Approving Authority, outlining the steps a city or town must take to grant approval to a RLEP can be found here at this link.
    • Detailed health and safety guidance from EEC for child care providers can be found here.
    • Once a municipality has approved a RLEP, that program can then apply to EEC for a waiver. We have heard that turnaround time is fairly quick once municipal approval has been granted.
    • Finally, specific questions can be directed to EEC by emailing: EECExemptions@mass.gov

West Nile Virus and EEE are back! Prevent Mosquito Bites!

Mosquitoes can spread diseases that make you sick. In Massachusetts, mosquitoes can give you eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus or West Nile virus (WNV). EEE can cause severe illness and possibly lead to death in any age group. EEE does not occur every year, but based on mosquito sampling, a high risk of occurrence of human cases currently exists.

Outbreaks of EEE usually occur in Massachusetts every 10-20 years. These outbreaks will typically last two to three years. The most recent outbreak of EEE in Massachusetts began in 2019 and included twelve cases with six fatalities. The first EEE positive mosquito sample within the State this season was detected in Orange on 7/2/20 and Wendell 7/6/20. Risk levels remain elevated through to frost.

The best way to avoid both of these illnesses is to prevent mosquito bites.

You can be bitten at any time. Most mosquitoes are active from just before dusk, through the night until dawn.

There are steps that you can take to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites, and the illnesses they can cause.

Protect yourself from illness by doing simple things:

  • Use insect repellents any time you are outdoors
  • Wear long-sleeved clothing
  • Schedule outdoor activities to avoid the hours from dusk to dawn during peak mosquito season
  • Repair damaged window and door screens
  • Remove standing water from the areas around your home

See a video from DPH on EEE here: https://youtu.be/VekccoVW6aQ

For more information, including current maps of risk levels and findings of EEE and WNV in Massachusetts see https://www.mass.gov/mosquitoes-and-ticks or contact Regional Public Health Nurse Lisa White for more information at 413-665-1400 x 114.

 

FRCOG Racial Justice Work

The murder of George Floyd and resulting international protests highlight again the dire consequences of systemic racism and inequity in our society. We all must proactively work to right centuries of wrong.

At the FRCOG, we are already involved in projects to improve racial equity. The Communities that Care Coalition, staffed by our Partnership for Youth, has a 5-year grant to address racial justice in our county’s school districts. Welcoming and Belonging Franklin County, in which we participate with the Franklin County Community Development Corporation and Greenfield Community College, among others, has received a grant to address racial equity and inclusion in our workplaces and community. The FRCOG’s research conducted to produce last year’s Community Health Needs Assessment identified troubling health disparities for people of color in our county. These inequities must be considered in all local and regional planning efforts moving forward. The Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Pan Flu Planning Subcommittee has acknowledged systemic racism as a public health issue, and has recognized that domestic terrorism inflicted upon black and brown people is a Homeland Security issue. The FRCOG also works closely with our county’s first responders, and we will collaborate with them to ensure greater racial equity in our region.

Wipes Clog Pipes: Water Protection During COVID-19 Pandemic

The Cooperative Public Health Service Health District of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments reminds people to consider what is going into their household drains.  People served by public sewer systems or private septic systems should be aware of what happens with items that are not biological and therefore not intended for the wastewater system.

While the Coronavirus requires an increase in the need to sanitize, even within our own homes, we need to limit the amount of sanitizers that go into our sanitary sewer systems.  These sanitizers kills viruses and bacteria, both harmful and the useful bacteria that breaks down your family’s waste. The district’s recommendations:

DON’T FLUSH WIPES, paper towels, cotton swabs, sanitary products, toilet cleaning pop-off wands…

If your home has its own septic system: Even flushable wipes can clog your plumbing and create problems for your septic system. Wipes don’t break down quickly and entirely like toilet paper.  Flushing wipes and items other than toilet paper can plug the building sewer line and build up at the inlet of the septic tank causing sewage to back up into your house. Wipes in your septic tank will reduce its ability to remove solids from the water, contributing to system failure.  Flushing wipes can also clog up much-needed pumps within your septic system.

If your home is on public sewer, leading to a wastewater treatment plant: Flushing wipes and items other than toilet paper can plug the building sewer line, causing sewage to back up into your house. They can also clog up the pumps in your local wastewater treatment plant.

USE BLEACH SPARINGLY

Combating the Coronavirus requires an increase in the need to sanitize, even within our own homes. However, bleach, and other disinfectants kill the beneficial bacteria and may lead to premature system failure.  Choose non-bleach cleaning alternatives whenever possible or use sparingly and well diluted.  Hot water and soap are effective against Coronavirus.

WHERE TO LEARN MORE

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/protect-home.html

Wipes Clog Pipes Flyer