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-19 Data and Updates**

For the latest re-opening information for local governments, click here
For a Franklin County data dashboard from the Public Health Institute of Western MA, click here.
For the state’s map showing local testing numbers and color-coded risk levels, 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 Region 1 Health and Medical Coordinating Coalition, click here.
For resources and guidance for businesses, organizations, entrepreneurs, and job seekers, click here.

Testing resources:

 

 

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

COVID Testing Options: October/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. Note that Orange site is moving.  No testing on 10/30, testing will be available at the new 119 New Athol Rd, Orange 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.
  • Stop The Spread sites: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/stop-the-spread — Free drive-through for anyone, 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 
    •  In an effort to expand support for COVID-19 testing to residents of the northern regions served by Baystate Health, testing will be provided for the next two weeks on Wednesdays, Oct. 21 and 28 and Thursdays Oct. 22 and 29.
    • Testing will be held in Greenfield at 164 High St. from 1-4 p.m.
    • You must schedule an appointment to be tested by calling 413-794-0012 only between 5-8 p.m. from Monday through Friday.  Up to 150 appointments will be scheduled each Wednesday and Thursday.
    • No physician referral is needed to be tested and insurance will be billed. Those without insurance are welcome to make an appointment and will not be billed.  Results will be available within 48 hours.

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 at BFMC), Valley Medical Group (Mondays and Fridays 8-4 in Greenfield with an appointment).

New Face Covering Signs Available

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

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

Flu Clinics

The flu season is beginning! Everyone six months of age or older needs a flu vaccine. When most of us are vaccinated, we build community immunity that protects the elderly, children, and those with compromised immune systems from the terrible effects of influenza.  During the current coronavirus pandemic, flu vaccination is all the more important for staying healthy and conserving needed health care services.  For information on prevention, symptoms, and treatment of influenza, visit www.flu.gov

The Cooperative Public Health Service (CPHS) is offering influenza vaccines (with no insurance co-pay) to area residents at regularly scheduled wellness clinics throughout the region. For a schedule of all 2020 CPHS Flu Clinics, click here.

To offer to volunteer at a flu clinic, click here.

Flyers  and links for each clinic:

 

What to expect:  

A COVID Self-Screen is required of everyone attending.  Face masks and physical distancing as possible are required.  Local public health, public safety, fire and EMS, along with other community leaders and volunteers including members of the Franklin County/Western Massachusetts Medical Reserve Corps are staffing these clinics to provide annual flu vaccine and practice Emergency Dispensing Site protocols in anticipation of COVID vaccine.

What kind of vaccine is available?

Both injectable and flu mist formulas for kids will be available this year.  Senior High-Dose formulas will be available at most clinics for those over age 65 — please check the calendar links above for the specific clinic to check.  Visit this page regularly for updates and any changes and contact Lisa White, RN, Regional Public Health Nurse of FRCOG, at 413-774-3167 x 156 for any special needs.

  What you should bring or prepare:

  • Bring your insurance cards or a good paper copy of them – most forms of insurance are accepted – or, if you do not have a billable insurance,bring $20 for the fee for adults and $10 for kids

    We have a long history of providing flu clinics to the region. Here is the team for a 2018 flu vaccination clinic held at Deerfield Elementary including CPHS staff, Medical Reserve Corps, Greenfield Community College nursing students, public health leaders, public safety, EMS and community volunteers

  • Prepare forms and review information sheets ahead of time. Print the forms below, or contact the Board of Health in your participating town for a paper copy.
  • Bring a pen and something to write on. We’ll have some on hand, too.

Contact Lisa White, RN, Regional Public Health Nurse of FRCOG, at 413-774-3167 x 156 for updated schedule and more information or visit this page regularly.

Other Town Clinics will be posted here as we get information on them. 

For more information on the CPHS, click here.

 

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