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.

Re-Opening Information

Updated DPH COVID-19 Information for Local Boards of Health

******************Verbatim Emails from DPH/DOLS/DESE/EEA Below*******************

EOHED Employer Letter

Click here for a letter to employers from Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. There are no changes to the letter; it reinforces employer responsibilities.

Update #84: Get Back Mass Campaign, Prioritizing Case Investigations and Contact Tracing for COVID-19, Protocols for Responding to COVID-19 Scenarios

Pediatric Clinical Testing Advisory  11/25/20

  • Click to see an attached DPH Clinical Advisory which reminds providers that COVID-19 testing is strongly recommended for all patients who present with any symptom consistent with COVID-19, regardless of age.
  • The advisory has been distributed to clinicians via the Massachusetts Medical Society and was developed in response to concerns and conflicts in situations where physicians were not providing COVID testing for symptomatic school children.
  • We are sharing with our local public health partners because we have heard from local boards of health and school partners that physicians have either refused or haven’t thought that testing of children was necessary, even if symptoms were consistent with COVID.

Funds to Support Food Security, Indoor Testing Guidance, Get Back Mass Materials

Baker-Polito Administration Awards Over $4.7 Million to Support Food Security in Massachusetts: https://www.mass.gov/news/baker-polito-administration-awards-over-47-million-to-support-food-security-in-massachusetts

Update #83: Mass.gov/holidays, Higher Education Holiday Travel, BinaxNOW in Schools, DLS Outdoor Activity Online Form

Please see the following items of interest:

Department of Labor Standards – Online Form. Proposals to plan for an outdoor activity not provided for in sector-specific guidance: www.mass.gov/forms/proposals-to-plan-for-an-outdoor-activity-not-provided-for-in-sector-specific-guidance

Everbridge Alert Today, Test Results Flyers, Thanksgiving During COVID-19, Friday LBOH Webinar Details

Message from DPH Commissioner Bharel via Everbridge: A message from the DPH Commissioner Monica Bharel will be sent to 4.5 million phone lines across Massachusetts today via the Everbridge Resident Connection Alerts System. The message will

  • Remind residents of the new measures that are in effect as of November 6th, limiting private gatherings to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
  • Update residents on quarantine orders for visitors from high risk states.

This alert is also part of a larger campaign to high risk communities that includes paid advertising and other communications to remind residents that the pandemic is not over, and these best practices will help protect their family, friends and neighbors.

The alert will also update residents on quarantine orders for visitors from high risk states. At this time, the only states that are not considered high risk are Hawaii, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. Weekly state travel data is released on Fridays. Please note that we review 2 weeks of data posted on www.covidexitstrategy.org to determine high risk states. Maine and New Hampshire will be high risk effective 12:01 a.m. on November 21st.  For more information, please visit www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-travel-order#lower-risk-states-

This is the second message from Commissioner Bharel utilizing the Everbridge alert system. Residents can choose to receive future messages by text, email, or phone in their preferred language by opting in at www.mass.gov/covidalerts.

‘While You Wait for Your COVID-19 Test Results’ Flyer  A new flyer with information and directions on steps people need to take while they await COVID-19 test results is available to view/download online in multiple languages at www.mass.gov/lists/while-you-wait-for-your-covid-19-test-results  The new flyer is part of a set of public messaging resources that can be used by all communities www.mass.gov/info-details/resources-for-high-risk-covid-19-communities

Thanksgiving During COVID-19 www.mass.gov/news/thanksgiving-during-covid-19

Updated COVID-19 Quarantine Guidance

DPH has issued updated quarantine guidance that takes effect today:

While the initial guidance to quarantine for 14 days after exposure still stands, this additional guidance will allow those who have been exposed to COVID to test out of quarantine after 10 days if they meet ALL of the following parameters:

  • They have not had, and do not have, any symptoms of COVID;
  • If they are tested on day 8 of their quarantine period or later using a molecular diagnostic test, a PCR test, and receive a negative test result; and
  • They must monitor themselves for symptoms for the full 14 days. Any individual that develops symptoms should contact their local health care provider and be re-tested.

Update #82: BOH Webinar Follow-Up -Lower-risk States, Emergency Orders, MAHB Templates, Support for BOH, Mailboxes and Portals

Travel Order – Lower-risk States: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-travel-order#lower-risk-states-

COVID-19 State of Emergency Orders: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-state-of-emergency

Massachusetts Association of Health Boards

 CMG Associates is available to support local health department staff and members of boards of health in addressing challenges associated with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please contact Bruce Cedar, EdD at bcedar@cmgassociates.com for more information and to access services.

Contact Information – Mailboxes and Portals

 COVID Safe Practices Concern Form

 DPH-Office of Local and Regional Health Email: localregionalpublichealth@massmail.state.ma.us

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Department of Labor Standards Workplace Complaintssafepublicworkplacemailbox@mass.gov

Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Questions Portal (for youth and adult sports)  https://www.mass.gov/forms/submit-questions-and-comments-about-youth-and-adult-amateur-sports-guidance

Department of Early Education and Care – Child Care Reopening Portal https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfnFFW5k9l1dYKEzmLpjfe2XNjeKxoPsaJd-aKG_s5fqHSd1w/viewform

COVID-19 Order No. 56 – Order Revising Provisions for Phase III Re-openings in Municipalities with Reduced Incidence of COVID-19 Infection

COVID-10 Order No. 56 – Order Revising Provisions for Phase III Re-openings in Municipalities with Reduced Incidence of COVID-19 Infection – has been posted here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-state-of-emergency#reopening-protocols-&-business-restrictions- and can be downloaded here https://www.mass.gov/doc/covid-19-order-56/download   The order is effective on November 9, 2020. Effective November 9, 2020, COVID-19 Order No. 51 is rescinded.

Unnumbered Update: ABCC Updated Advisory, Metrics and School Guidance Press Release, California Removed from Lower Risk State List

Here are a few updates since Update #81 was distributed on Friday, November 6th:

Update #81: BOH Webinar, Press Release for Substance Use Intervention in Schools, Metrics Charts, Interpreting DPH COVID-19 Health Metrics, etc.

Updated Metrics for Cities and Towns

Updated metrics for cities and towns (attached) were announced today during Governor Baker’s press conference. They will be used in the Weekly Public Health Report that will be released later today – https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-response-reporting#covid-19-weekly-public-health-report-

 Resources for municipalities – https://www.mass.gov/info-details/state-guidance-for-municipalities#covid-19-reporting-data-and-press-releases-

Flyers for new COVID-19 orders are available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese (more languages coming)

https://www.mass.gov/info-details/stop-covid-19-public-messaging-graphics

Social Media posts on Thanksgiving Tips

Department of Labor Standards:  DLS recognizes that the volume of Home Depot complaints has presented a problem to many local health departments and health agents. In an effort to relieve municipalities of managing the burden of these complaints, DLS will handle them. Home Depot complaints should be referred to:

Sector-specific safety standards affected by the new orders are posted here: https://www.mass.gov/resource/reopening-sector-specific-protocols-and-best-practices

Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs  Updated documents were released today for specific areas: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/executive-office-of-energy-and-environmental-affairs-eea-covid-19-guidance-documents

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education  Updates to Guidance on Interpreting DPH COVID-19 Health Metrics: https://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/on-desktop/interpreting-dph-metrics.html

Baker-Polito Administration Awards $3.4 Million for Targeted Substance Use Intervention in Schools (press release)

https://www.mass.gov/news/baker-polito-administration-awards-34-million-for-targeted-substance-use-intervention-in

Unnumbered Update: Follow-up to LBOH Webinar on COVID-19 Orders 53, 54, and 55; Thanksgiving Tips Flyer

Slides Inter-agency LBOH Webinar 11.2.20 Final

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Targeted Measures To Curb Rising COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations: Press release and Press conference video

Thanksgiving Tips Flyer: English and Spanish versions of a Thanksgiving tips flyer (attached) have been posted online here and are now available for download. Additional languages will be posted as we receive the translations. Please feel free to share widely.

Update #80: Revised Face Coverings Order No. 55, Early Closing and Alcohol Order No. 53, Further Revised Gatherings Order No. 54

Attached are the following COVID-19 orders released today:

Early Closing and Alcohol Order No. 53

Further Revised Gatherings Order No. 54

Revised Face Coverings Order No. 55

Update #79: Changes to Sector Specific Standards, Emergency Absentee Ballot, School Guidance.

Emergency Absentee Ballot. The Secretary of State’s office has a process for requesting an absentee ballot in the event of being required to quarantine or admission to a healthcare facility. The link for that process is here:  www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleabsentee/absidx.htm

Department of Labor Standards Correction: Movie theaters are allowed to serve alcohol so long as food is ordered along with the drink.

The following sector-specific safety standards have been updated or changed.

  • Museum:   Clarify occupancy calculation should include customers and workers, Reiterate social distancing and face covering requirement, Differentiate between boat, bus and walking tours.

Click here to review the all sector-specific safety standards.

Academic Public Health Volunteers Corps:  Click here to learn more about APHVC and here to view some examples developed by the volunteers.

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: Guidance that includes afterschool programs: Supplemental Guidance for Student Groups and School Events for the School Year 2020-2021

Update #78: Communities in Step 1 of Phase III

As a follow-up to the local public health conference call this morning, please find the following links of interest and registration information for the webinar on October 27th:

COVID-19: Communities In Step 1 of Phase III, Not Designated Lower-Risk    Click here for the business sector guidance for Phase III, Steps 1 & 2 (chart)

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Update #77: October 16th BOH Call, Stop the Spread, Agency Contact Infor, ABCC Info

Stop the Spread Program, which launched a strategic testing program in communities across Massachusetts that have continued to see a higher number of residents testing positive for COVID-19, will continue through end of December.

Baker-Polito Administration Recent Press Releases: 

 Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission: ABCC Advisory Regarding Indoor Events Held by Hotels and Other On-Premises Licenses

 Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: 

Department of Labor Standards – Proposed COVID Workplace Safety Regulations

Reminder: written testimony on the proposed regulations are due by Thursday, October 15, 2019 at 5:00pm. Please visit the Notice of Public Hearing web page for additional information including a link to the proposed regulations and options for submitting written testimony.

Agency Contacts for Inter-Agency Local Boards of Health-COVID-19 Calls

In response of a request on a recent conference call with local boards of health, here are the names and general, agency email addresses for the speakers who participate on the Local Boards of Health-COVID-19 calls (Tuesdays and Fridays).

Un-Numbered Update: Carpooling posters in many languages

Carpooling Safely during COVID-19 –  Flyers and Videos (available in several languages)

Update #76: October 13th BOH Call, MAVEN Helpdesk Information, Polling Place Information

MAVEN Helpdesk phone number and email address:  617 983-6801 and isishelp@mass.gov

Resources for High-Risk COVID-19 Communities webpage includes resources for all communities, including those categorized as higher risk.

 UMass Donahue Institute Populations Estimate Program – Massachusetts Populations Projections: Massachusetts Populations Projections includes the population estimates for all Massachusetts communities that are used to calculate the average case rate used in identifying high-risk communities.

Reminder Information about Polling Places: (The following message regarding polling places was sent to town clerks by the Elections Division, Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth (SOC) in August.)

 

“We have been receiving several phone calls and emails regarding the changing polling places for the upcoming elections.  Accordingly, we wanted to reach out with some clarification, and hopefully some assistance to ensure all of our polling places in Massachusetts are not only fully accessible, but during this pandemic, they are safe for all, voters and election workers, on Election Day.

So, what does this mean for you?

We need to take a look at all of our polling places and validate that they are fully accessible for all voters, but that they can accommodate proper social distancing.  We have always set up our polling places keeping in mind we need at least 36 inches clear path of travel or distance around any object in the location, but now we need to increase that distance to a minimum of 6 feet.  Similar to what we see when we enter shops or markets these days, we also have to clearly denote 6 foot markers (ie- X taped the ground) for voters entering, voters in line at the check in table, space between marking booths and voters in line to insert their ballot into the tabulator or ballot box.

You will need to limit the number of voters in a polling place at any given time, keeping in mind how many election workers you will have working throughout the day.

We also have to ensure that the voters have a clean and private surface to review and mark their ballot.  As we experienced in recent special elections and municipal elections, local election officials used fewer marking stations (booths etc.) and some opted to set up 6 foot folding tables which not only accommodated the number of voters allowed in at a time, it also provided 6 feet of social distancing, privacy from other voters, and was easy to clean and wipe down after every voter.

In light of these new concerns, we all need to take a critical look at all of our polling places.  For cities and towns that have 2 or more precincts in one location, we need to take a harder look and determine spacing concerns, and also determine if the public health of voters and election workers better served in by separating precincts into different polling places. Although having multiple precincts in one location might be most convenient for voters and local election officials, in this time of pandemic, it will more than likely, depending on the physical space of the location and the number of precincts, prevent adequate social distancing.

We have all witnessed the long lines of voters in other states, and we do not want that to happen to any voter here in Massachusetts.

We are currently reviewing all polling places here in Massachusetts and focusing on polling places that house two or more precincts.  We will be contacting local election officials that this affects to evaluate there is adequate social distancing in the current set-up and location.

Also, under section 11 of Chapter 115 of the Acts of 2020, there are new procedures required when moving precincts or polling locations which affects any polling place changes on or after July 6, 2020.

That section states:

SECTiON 11.  Notwithstanding section 24 of chapter 54 of the General Laws or any other general or special law to the contrary, the select board, board of selectmen, town council or city council may, by recorded and public vote, change any polling place to be used at the primary election or the general election at least 20 days prior to the date of the primary election or general election if it is determined that the public convenience or public health would be better served.

If the select board, board of selectmen or town council determines that the public convenience or public health would be better served, they may house all polling places in a single building within the municipality, if such building is suitably equipped; provided, however, that alcoholic beverages shall not be served or consumed in that portion of a building used as a polling place, during voting hours or while ballots are being counted therein.

In cities, the city council may designate polling places in non-adjacent precincts if they determine the public convenience or public health would be better served.

In making a decision to change a polling place, the select board, board of selectmen, town council or city council shall evaluate and report on whether such change would have a disparate adverse impact on access to the polls on the basis of race, national origin, disability, income or age, and not later than 3 days prior to changing a polling place, shall make publicly available on its website and at the office of the town or city clerk a report on its evaluation.

When the polling places have been designated pursuant to this section, the board of registrars shall post on the municipal website and at other such places as it may determine, a description of the polling places and shall notify voters by using an electronic means, to the extent available, such as via email or reverse 911 call.

Please note, if your city or town has made any changes since July 6th, these changes are not valid unless you have completed the necessary steps outlined in the above legislation.

And, as we have always required with polling place accessibility surveys when completed locally (without a SOC in person survey), we also require that you send us a copy of this new report. Photos can be helpful, so feel free to send photos as well.

You will also need to further certify to us that the change is necessary to better serve the public convenience or public health of the voters, and that you have evaluated whether the change would have a disparate adverse impact on access to the polls on the basis of race, national origin, disability, or income.

All reports should be emailed to bridget.murphy@sec.state.ma.us.”

 

Update #75: October 9th BOH Call: Halloween, MAVEN, Flu Campaign, Sports Guidance from EEA

MDPH Halloween Safety Tips

 Weekly City/Town Data Reports on Data Dashboard (updated on Wednesdays by 6pm)

 MAVEN: Register for MAVEN Friday Office Hours on Friday, October 9th, from 11-12 p.m. MAVEN conducts weekly webinars on Tuesdays from 11am-12:15pm.  Click hereto view Tuesday, October 6th, MAVEN webinars slides. Click here to access MAVEN COVID-19 documents, resources and trainings.

MDPH Influenza Campaign – Flu Resources: The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has launched a new awareness campaign to promote flu vaccinations for all Massachusetts residents this season. The campaign will run this fall and winter.

 Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs: Workplace Safety and Reopening Standards for Businesses and other Entities Providing Youth and Adult Amateur Sports Activities – Phase III, Step 1 Expansion of Activity Number 2 (effective on October 5th)

Un-Numbered Email: October 6th BOH Call | Phase III Step 2 Updates

Please see the following updates from the local public health conference call on Friday, October 2nd:

Communities Not Designated Lower-Risk – List of communities that are not designated as “lower-risk” communities, which will remain in Step 1 of Phase III of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan.

 Sector-specific Workplace Safety Standards | Phase III, Step 2: The following web pages for sector-specific workplace safety standards have been updated to include “preview” documents that go into effect on Monday, October 5thPlease scroll through the sector-specific web pages to view the  “preview” documents.

Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

Workplace Safety and Reopening Standards for Businesses and other Entities Providing Youth and Adult Amateur Sports Activities – Phase III, Step 1 Expansion of Activity Number 2 (amended on October 2nd; effective on October 5th)

The amendment modifies the spectator capacity limits for outdoor venues:

  • In Phase 3 Step 1 Communities, the guidance still only allows no more than 50 spectators
  • In Phase 3 Step 2 Communities, the guidance now allows no more than 100
  • Indoor venues are still limited to 1 spectator per player under 21 but we have increased the maximum occupancy cap for the indoor facility to 50% (it was previously 40%).

Update #74 October 2nd BOH Call, Phase III, Step 2 Information

Reopening Massachusetts: Phase III, Step 2

Weekly City/Town Data Reports on Data Dashboard (updated on September 30th)

Massachusetts Health Officers Association (MHOA) CARES Act Funding, Round 2, Informational Session for Local Public Health: Municipal Reimbursement for COVID Expenses: A webinar for Local Public Health Departments

  • MHOA invites you to a session with Heath Fahle, Special Director for Federal Funds in the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, and Sean Cronin, Senior Deputy Commissioner for Local Services at the Department of Revenue on Thursday, October 8, 2020 from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Click the registration link for more information. If you have any questions, please contact Dawn Sibor at dsibor@mhoa.com.

Early Education and Care

Reminder – CMG Associates is available to support local health department staff and members of boards of health (BOH) in addressing challenges associated with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please contact Bruce Cedar, EdD at bcedar@cmgassociates.com for more information and to access services, as well as to register for their upcoming trainings.

  • “Defusing Tense Situations: Part 1”   October 7, 2020 at 9:30am
  • “Anxiety in Uncertain Times” October 15, 2020 at 2:00pm
  • “Defusing Tense Situations: Part 2”   October 29, 2020 at 9:30am

Update #73: September 29 BOH Call, Halloween Guidance, PrepMod Survey, MMA CARES Act Briefing, COVID-19 Specimen Collection Update

Reminder – Halloween Guidance During COVID-19 has been posted. It includes a link to CDC guidance.

PrepMod is implementing immunization clinic accounts for all providers that complete the implementation survey. Click on the link to access the survey: https://umassmed.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1TE9brhJvxkAONf

Massachusetts Municipal Association: CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund – Municipal Program Round 2 Briefing

Thursday, October 1, 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Register Here

 Department of Public HealthUpdated Anterior Nares (Nasal Swab) Specimen Collection by Unlicensed Healthcare Personnel. The attached memorandum provides guidance for specimen collection for COVID-19 testing. This memo is updated to clarify that unlicensed personnel may perform specimen collection if they are trained, demonstrate competency and have supervision.

 Revisions to COVID-19 Landing Page for Local Public Health: Recently we revised the COVID-19 Information for Local Boards of Health web pages. We welcome your comments and suggestions on the changes and ways we can improve the pages to meet your needs. Please send feedback to Lisa McCarthy-Licorish at lisa.n.mccarthy-licorish@mass.gov.

Update #72: September 25th Call, Updated Safety Standards

Dear Local Public Health Colleagues: As a follow-up to the September 22nd local public health conference call, we have provided links to web pages and documents related to the updated sector-specific restaurant, retail, and indoor and outdoor workplace safety standards. Please note that these standards are effective on Monday, September 28th. We welcome your questions and comments in advance of our Friday, September 25th conference call. Please send your questions to Michael Coughlin. DPH Office of Local and Regional Health, at michael.j.coughlin@mass.gov or reply to this message.

Updated Sector-Specific Workplace Safety Standards

 Restaurants Safety Standards and Checklist web page for current standards and other information

Download Restaurant Safety Standards (effective Monday, September 28th)

Retail Safety Standards and Checklist web page for current standards and other information

Download Retail Safety Standards (effective Monday, September 28th)

Indoor and Outdoor Events Standards and Checklist web page for current standards and other information

Download Indoor and Outdoor Events Safety Standards (effective Monday, September 28th)

If you have questions about the updated safety standards for consideration on the Friday, September 25th local public health conference call, please send them to Michael Coughlin at michael.j.coughlin@mass.gov or reply to this message.

Revisions to COVID-19 Landing Page for Local Public Health

Update #71 Webinars for Local Health

Local Health Training and Support Sep_Oct Webinar Flier_091720

Update #70: September 18th Call, Revised Indoor and Outdoor Gaming and Recreation Standards, Care Options for Remote and Hybrid Learning, Contact Info

Please see the following updates as a follow-up to the Tuesday, September 15th local public health conference call:

Weekly City/Town Data Reports on Data Dashboard  (New: includes higher education testing data starting on page 37)

 Department of Labor Standards – Revised Indoor and Outdoor Gaming and Recreation Standards

The Arcade Standard has been posted with information about opening billiards halls.

 Department of Early Education and Care

Update #69: Sept. 15th BOH Call & Protocol for Requesting Mobile Rapid Response Units

Mobile Testing Unit Protocol FINAL

Update #68: September 11th Call, EEC Remote Learning Policies and Processes; DESE Commissioner Weekly Update; DLS Hearing; StopCOVID19; MAVEN New Documents; NACHO Funding Opportunity

Department of Early Education and Care (EEC)

  1. Remote Learning Policies and Processes
  2. Reminder Care Options for Hybrid and Remote Learning Models– Joint Guidance from EEC and DESE
  3. EEC has set up a mailbox for questions about remote learning programs: EECExemptions@mass.gov

EEC Licensed Providers Resources:

  1. Expedited Group and School Age Capacity Increase
  2. Expedited Family Child Care Capacity Increase

Remote Learning Enrichment Programs Exemption Resources:

  1. Remote Learning Enrichment Policy
  2. Remote Learning Enrichment Program – Attestation Form for Municipalities
  3. Remote Learning Enrichment Program – Minimum Health and Safety Requirements Attestation Form

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)

Commissioner’s Weekly Update (September 8th) includes additional guidance for school nurses, enrolling new students that have moved to Massachusetts and who may be considered homeless, and back to school resources.

 Department of Labor Standards

  1. Guidance to Municipalities on Enforcing COVID-19 Workplace Safety Rules: COVID19 Order Enforcement FINAL (09-09-20)
  2. Notice of Hearing– October 14th at 10:00am

Reminder – Intervention Initiatives for Communities with Highest Risk for COVID-19

  1. gov/StopCOVID19
  2. Spanish: Gov/DetenCOVID19)
  3. Portuguese: Gov/PareCOVID19)
  4. Press Release

 National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) – Funding Opportunity

Addressing Needs of People with Disabilities in COVID-19 Local Preparedness Planning, Mitigation and Recovery Efforts

Update #67: September 8th Conference Call, Additional Information for School Health Offices, Smoking Bar Letter, Air Quality in Schools

Update #66: September 4th BOH Call, StopCOVID19, DLS Proposed Regulation, Community Impact Survey, Weekly City/Town Data, MAVEN Webinar, Food Protection-Remote Proctoring

Baker-Polito Administration Launches Additional Intervention Initiatives for Communities with Highest Risk for COVID-19

Press Release  A new online resource at Mass.gov/StopCOVID19  Spanish: Mass.Gov/DetenCOVID19  Portuguese: Mass.Gov/PareCOVID19

(Additional multilingual online resources will be available soon)

Department of Labor Standards: Proposed Regulation

A proposed uniform set of COVID-19 Workplace Safety Rules (454 CMR 31) will incorporate all of the COVID-19 Sector-Specific Standards while keeping the enforcement structure jointly shared by LBOH and DLS.  A public hearing is being held by Webex on September 9 at 10am. Written testimony can be submitted until September 11. Draft regulation:  https://www.mass.gov/doc/454-cmr-31-covid-19-workplace-safety-regulations/download

COVID-19 Community Impact Survey:  The Massachusetts Department of Public Health needs your help supporting communities impacted by the COVID-19 emergency. Questions can be directed to Covid19survey@mass.gov​​.

 Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Supplemental Remote Learning Information and Resources 

Weekly City/Town Data Reports on Data Dashboard (updated September 2nd)

MAVEN Webinar

Please register for the MAVEN Webinar on clusters, including clusters at higher education and boarding school facilities

Friday, September 4th | 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7364546884377030411

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.  In the interim if you have specific questions please contact our on-call epidemiologist at 617-983-6800.

Food Protection Manager – Remote Proctoring provides a chart of the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB)-accredited organizations that are approved to use remote proctoring for administration of their food protection manager exams.​

Reminder: CMG Associates is available to support local health department staff and members of boards of health (BOH) in addressing challenges associated with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please contact Bruce Cedar, EdD at bcedar@cmgassociates.com for more information and to access services. Local Health Flier

Update #65: Remote Learning Information, DESE Back-to-school, Worker Health & Safety Webinar, Mailboxes and Portals

Department of Early Education and Care/Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Health and Safety and the Coalition for Local Public Health

COVID-19 Worker Health and Safety for Local Public Health Officials (webinar): Tuesday, September 8th | 9:30-11:00am | Register Here: https://macovid.eventbrite.com    COVID-19 has created a worker health and safety crisis.  Since the beginning of the pandemic, workers on the frontlines – healthcare workers, first-responders, grocery store workers, public transit workers – have been getting sick and dying from workplace exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.  See registration page for more information and CEUs

Mailboxes and Portals

COVID Safe Practices Concern Form

 Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Department of Labor Standards

Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

  • Questions Portal (for youth and adult sports)

https://www.mass.gov/forms/submit-questions-and-comments-about-youth-and-adult-amateur-sports-guidance

Department of Early Education and Care

Update #64: September 1 Conference Call, EEC/DESE Remote Learning Guidance, DESE Facilities Guidance, Pick-Your-Own Fruit, Ecotourism, and My Local MA Campaign

Update #63: August 28 Call , Weekly City-Town Data Reports, CMG Associates, Safe Practices Concern Form, Social Media Toolkit, Municipal Agreement Template, DESE Updates

 Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: Guidance on regional calculations for districts that serve students from multiple municipalities. Click here to learn more.    Frequently Asked Questions(updated on August 26th)

 Department of Labor Standards developed this template sign for bars about current restrictions, based on one created by Dracut. Please add your city/town name and seal.

 

Update #62 | August 21 Call, K-12 Schools Testing Initiatives, Data Systen Upgrade, Vaccine Requirements, DESE Updates, Weekly City-Town Data Reports

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Testing Initiatives to Support K-12 Schools (Press Release, August 20)

State Public Health Lab to Upgrade Data System August 22-23 to Expand Testing Collection Capacity (Press Release, August 20)

Flu Vaccine Now Required for all Massachusetts School Students Enrolled in Child Care, Pre-School, K-12, and Post-Secondary Institutions (Press Release, August 19)

Weekly City/Town Data Reports on Data Dashboard (updated on August 19)

Update #61 | Administration of Penalties, DLS E-mail Address, Interactive Data Map, Stop the Spread Expansion, Food Security Grants, Polling Places: 

“We have been receiving several phone calls and emails regarding the changing polling places for the upcoming elections.  Accordingly, we wanted to reach out with some clarification, and hopefully some assistance to ensure all of our polling places in Massachusetts are not only fully accessible, but during this pandemic, they are safe for all, voters and election workers, on Election Day.

So, what does this mean for you?

We need to take a look at all of our polling places and validate that they are fully accessible for all voters, but that they can accommodate proper social distancing.  We have always set up our polling places keeping in mind we need at least 36 inches clear path of travel or distance around any object in the location, but now we need to increase that distance to a minimum of 6 feet.  Similar to what we see when we enter shops or markets these days, we also have to clearly denote 6 foot markers (ie- X taped the ground) for voters entering, voters in line at the check in table, space between marking booths and voters in line to insert their ballot into the tabulator or ballot box.

You will need to limit the number of voters in a polling place at any given time, keeping in mind how many election workers you will have working throughout the day.

We also have to ensure that the voters have a clean and private surface to review and mark their ballot.  As we experienced in recent special elections and municipal elections, local election officials used fewer marking stations (booths etc.) and some opted to set up 6 foot folding tables which not only accommodated the number of voters allowed in at a time, it also provided 6 feet of social distancing, privacy from other voters, and was easy to clean and wipe down after every voter.

In light of these new concerns, we all need to take a critical look at all of our polling places.  For cities and towns that have 2 or more precincts in one location, we need to take a harder look and determine spacing concerns, and also determine if the public health of voters and election workers better served in by separating precincts into different polling places. Although having multiple precincts in one location might be most convenient for voters and local election officials, in this time of pandemic, it will more than likely, depending on the physical space of the location and the number of precincts, prevent adequate social distancing.

We have all witnessed the long lines of voters in other states, and we do not want that to happen to any voter here in Massachusetts.

We are currently reviewing all polling places here in Massachusetts and focusing on polling places that house two or more precincts.  We will be contacting local election officials that this affects to evaluate there is adequate social distancing in the current set-up and location.

Also, under section 11 of Chapter 115 of the Acts of 2020, there are new procedures required when moving precincts or polling locations which affects any polling place changes on or after July 6, 2020.

That section states:

SECTION 11.  Notwithstanding section 24 of chapter 54 of the General Laws or any other general or special law to the contrary, the select board, board of selectmen, town council or city council may, by recorded and public vote, change any polling place to be used at the primary election or the general election at least 20 days prior to the date of the primary election or general election if it is determined that the public convenience or public health would be better served.

If the select board, board of selectmen or town council determines that the public convenience or public health would be better served, they may house all polling places in a single building within the municipality, if such building is suitably equipped; provided, however, that alcoholic beverages shall not be served or consumed in that portion of a building used as a polling place, during voting hours or while ballots are being counted therein.

In cities, the city council may designate polling places in non-adjacent precincts if they determine the public convenience or public health would be better served.

In making a decision to change a polling place, the select board, board of selectmen, town council or city council shall evaluate and report on whether such change would have a disparate adverse impact on access to the polls on the basis of race, national origin, disability, income or age, and not later than 3 days prior to changing a polling place, shall make publicly available on its website and at the office of the town or city clerk a report on its evaluation.

When the polling places have been designated pursuant to this section, the board of registrars shall post on the municipal website and at other such places as it may determine, a description of the polling places and shall notify voters by using an electronic means, to the extent available, such as via email or reverse 911 call.

Please note, if your city or town has made any changes since July 6th, these changes are not valid unless you have completed the necessary steps outlined in the above legislation.

And, as we have always required with polling place accessibility surveys when completed locally (without a SOC in person survey), we also require that you send us a copy of this new report. Photos can be helpful, so feel free to send photos as well.

You will also need to further certify to us that the change is necessary to better serve the public convenience or public health of the voters, and that you have evaluated whether the change would have a disparate adverse impact on access to the polls on the basis of race, national origin, disability, or income.

All reports should be emailed to bridget.murphy@sec.state.ma.us.”

Update #60 | August 18th Conference Call, Cumberland Farms Corrective Actions, Portable Dental Programs, MassDEP Drinking Water Guidance

Department of Labor Standards (DLS): Cumberland Farms Corrective Actions: Please see the attached statement of corrective actions by Cumberland Farms to cease all self-service beverage stations by August 21. They will continue to sell coffee and beverages but they will be provided via a staffed ordering and pick-up counter.

Portable Dental Programs:  The DPH Office of Oral Health recommends portable dental programs continue their work in schools and other public health settings if they are able to meet the most up-to-date CDC Interim Infection Prevention and Control Guidance for Dental Settings During the COVID-19 Response. Portable dental programs should work with the hosts of these programs on timing and other logistics of resuming services.

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP)

Update #59:  Updated Traveler FAQs | EEA Updated Guidance | Flu Clinics | DESE Metrics Guidance | Support for Staff and BOH Members

Travel Order Updates: Commissioner-designated Exceptions  
Travel Order FAQ (new questions and answers with #18)

Executive of Energy and Environmental Affairs: 

Flu Clinics:  The MDPH Immunization Division, in conjunction with Commonwealth Medicine, is excited to announce that we will be providing all Local Health Departments (LHDs) and other public immunization providers in Massachusetts access to PrepMod.  It is an online, paperless system that Local Health Departments can use at their immunization clinics to schedule, screen, bill and report to the Massachusetts Immunization Information System (MIIS).  PrepMod, which also includes Clinic Wizard and ReadiConsent, are HIPAA-compliant, companion technologies that automate registration, planning, implementation, evaluation, recording, and reporting for mass vaccination and preparedness efforts.   ​Paper-based billing will also be available this year through Commonwealth Medicine for those Local Health Departments that choose not to use PrepMod.  There will be more information forthcoming on Massachusetts’ use of PrepMod, how it will be rolled out to Local Health, and training that will be provided, but we wanted to let you know ASAP that it is in the works.   You can find out more information on PrepMod,  Clinic Wizard and ReadiConsent at: https://multistatep4p.com, however please direct questions about how it will be implemented in Massachusetts to  vaccine@umassmed.edu .

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education— Guidance on COVID-19 Metrics

Support for Local Health Department Staff and Board of Health Members:  The Department of Public Health (DPH) has contracted with CMG Associates (a psychological consulting firm in Newton) to support local health department staff and members of boards of health (BOH) in addressing challenges associated with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As documented in experiences reported in Massachusetts and in national media stories, staff and BOH members are often confronted by residents and/or business owners with angry rhetoric and threats associated with enforcement of COVID-19 reopening orders and standards. CMG Associates will provide one-to-one support as requested and professional development opportunities on stress and change management. This free and confidential support will be particularly valuable in cities and towns in which employee assistance programs and similar supports are not available. Please contact Bruce Cedar, EdD at bcedar@cmgassociates.com for more information and to access services.

Webinar: Safer Cleaning and Disinfection for Schools:  UMass Lowell is hosting a school cleaning webinar on Friday, August 14 at 10am.  Registration is free.   Some of the presenters were involved in the K-12 reopening committee.  Click here to register

Un-Numbered Update: DOLS/DPH Statement forbidding Dining Tables in Grocery Stores:

Click here for email

Update #58 | Community Level Data, DLS Quick Guides, CARES Act, Air Quaity in Schools, Testing Basics

Please see the following items from the August 11th local public health conference call/webinar:

Baker-Polito Administration Releases Enhanced Community Level Data on Spread of COVID-19

Department of Labor Standards

 Executive Office of Administration and Finance

Air Quality in Schools (DPH is working on additional guidance)

Update #57: DESE Updated School Reopening FAQ and Video | Contact Tracing and Quarantine Documents

Update #56: MaskUp MA! | Travel Order | Complaints | DESE Vocational Reopening Guidance

Update #55:  Civil Citation/Penalty Templates | COVID-19 Clusters | PCR and Antibody Testing Chart | Guidance for Unsolicited Seeds

Update #54:  Travel Order | Stop the Spread | Mass211 Reminder

  • COVID-19 Travel Order (effective August 1)  www.mass.gov/matraveler   Order        Guidance
  • Stop the Spread testing sites have been added in Agawam, Brockton, Methuen, Randolph, Revere, Springfield, Taunton, and Worcester     Stop the Spread web page
  • Non-Emergency Questions Helpline: ​​Reminder for Massachusetts residents to call Mass211 or live chat for questions and help.

Update #53 |Face Coverings Regulation, Testing Sites, APHVC, Flu Information

Un-Numbered Update 7-23-20: School Transportation & Facilities Guidance

Fall Reopening K-12 Transportation Guidance vF
On the Desktop 7 22 20 Transportation and Facilities Guidance
Fall Reopening Facilities and Operations Guidance vF

Update #52 | Return to School, Hand Santizer, MAVEN Survey Deadline Extended, Councils on Aging/Senior Centers

Here are some updates from the July 14th local public health conference call

The Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging and Senior Center Directors (MCOA) COVID-19 web pages contain information and recommendations for senior centers.

Update #51 | Phase III, Step 1 (Outdoor Recreation Presentation, Enterrtainment/Live Performances), Stop the Spread, MAVEN Survey, City/Town Data

  • Musical and other performances must follow the latest Theater and Performance Venue guidance, including distance between performers and between performers and attendees. Performances at indoor venues may not include singing or the playing of wind or brass instruments.
  • For outdoor live performances, singing and the playing of brass and wind instruments is discouraged. For performances involving singing or brass or wind instruments, special distancing should be followed:
    • At least 10 feet between performers
    • At least 25 feet between performers and first row of the audience
  • There are extensive additional requirements that organizations should review to ensure they can be in compliance before attempting to have entertainment of live performances at their restaurant. For the specific standards, click here.

Update #50 | Youth and Adult Amateur Sports and Other Phase III Standards and Guidance

Here are links to additional Phase III information, standards, and guidance

Phase III Step 1 Outdoor Recreation (EEA)

 

Un-Numbered Update 6/30/20: Travel Guidance

Governor Baker announced updated guidance this afternoon for those traveling to Massachusetts:  All travelers arriving to Massachusetts – including Massachusetts residents returning home – are instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days, except that, beginning July 1, 2020, travelers from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, and New Jersey arriving in Massachusetts are exempt from this directive and need not self-quarantine for 14 days.  In addition, workers designated by the federal government as essential critical infrastructure workers are exempt from the directive to self-quarantine for 14 days if traveling to Massachusetts for work purposes. All persons are instructed not to travel to Massachusetts if they are displaying symptoms of COVID-19.​  For Massachusetts travel information, please visit the Department of Public Health’s (DPH) website here: Travel Information Related to COVID-19. For national travel information, please visit www.travel.state.gov

Update #49 | Initial Fall School Reopening Guidance and Support for Local Public Health Staff and BOH Members

DESE Initial Fall School Reopening Guidance: The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has released Initial Fall School Reopening Guidance. Please see the DESE COVID-19 web page and download the guidance using this link.

Support for Local Health Department Staff and Board of Health Members: The Department of Public Health (DPH) has contracted with CMG Associates (a psychological consulting firm in Newton) to support local health department staff and members of boards of health (BOH) in addressing challenges associated with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As documented in experiences reported in Massachusetts and in national media stories, staff and BOH members are often confronted by residents and/or business owners with angry rhetoric and threats associated with enforcement of COVID-19 reopening orders and standards. CMG Associates will provide one-to-one support as requested and professional development opportunities on stress and change management. This free and confidential support will be particularly valuable in cities and towns in which employee assistance programs and similar supports are not available. Please contact Bruce Cedar, EdD at bcedar@cmgassociates.com for more information and to access services.

Update #48 | COVID-19 Health Equity Advisory Group, Phase II Step 2 of Reopening Massachusetts, Get tested MA!, Telephonic Interpreter Services

This page replicates information sent out from the Command Center to Local Boards of Health, but is of wide interest to others. It is organized in the order it was sent out by the Commonwealth. Note that much useful information can be found at the state’s Re-Opening Sector-Specific Guidance page by clicking here. 

COVID-19 Health Equity Advisory Group published its recommendations on June 19, 2020

Phase II Step 2 of Reopening Massachusetts began on Monday, June 22.

Please click the following links for current guidance and other information:

 Get tested MA! Website  and ​​Press Release

Continuation of Telephonic Interpreter Services: MDPH will continue to provide funding for the use of interpreter services for COVID-19 follow-up for another year. See this document.

RE: Update #47 | Educational Materials for Test Sites

 

Update #46 | Town Hall Offices, Restaurants, Cooling Centers, PPE for Camps, Emotional PPE

Town Hall Office Space

  • Municipalities should limit occupancy of municipal office spaces to 25 percent of (a) the maximum occupancy level specified in any certificate of occupancy or similar permit or as provided for under the state building code; or (b) the business organization’s typical occupancy as of March 1, 2020.
  • However, if a municipality designates a municipal office as a “COVID-19 Essential Service”, which it is has the discretion to do, then that Office has until July 1, 2020, to comply with the 25% occupancy limitations.
  • Further, a municipality may determine that a municipal office can exceed the maximum occupancy level if the municipality determines that it is in the interest of public health or safety considerations or where strict compliance may interfere with the continued delivery of a critical service, as determined by the municipality.

Improved Restaurant Guidance and Standards

The following information has been added to all of the restaurant guidance and standards:

  • “Outdoor table service” shall mean service that is provided outside the restaurant building envelope, whether on a sidewalk, patio, deck, lawn, parking area, or other outdoor space. Outdoor table service may be provided under awnings or table umbrellas or other coverings from the elements, provided, however, that at least 50 percent of the perimeter of any covered dining space must remain open and unobstructed by any form of siding or barriers at all times (note that sides which have only a screen in place have been deemed to be considered open).

Useful Links as a Follow-up to the Conference Call

Update #45 | Town Meetings, Data and Disparities, Senior Housing Testing, and Youth Sports

Here are updates related to town meetings, COVID-19 data collection and disparities, and guidance for senior housing testing and youth sports.

·         COVID-19 Information for Local Boards of Health

Update #44 | Test Pass:

  • Template For Public Health Nurses to Issue to  Close Contacts

Update #43 | Reopening Phase II, Breweries and Food Trucks

Over the weekend, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the transition to Phase II of Reopening Massachusetts. Your tireless work at the local level —enforcement, contact tracing, public education, and more—made critical contributions to the Commonwealth’s success in achieving positive trends in the COVID-19 data metrics. Those trends have allowed us to move to Phase II . We greatly appreciate  your ongoing partnership with us as we continue to take steps to keep people safe and save lives while reopening the economy. The press release at the following link contains important information about Phase II:

Breweries and Food Trucks: Licensees for on-premises consumption of alcohol may commence outdoor seated food service, provided food is prepared on-site under a retail food permit issued by a municipal authority pursuant to 105 CMR 590.000.  Indoor service will remain prohibited until further order from the Governor.  Please note that establishments that do not offer seated table service of food that is prepared on-site under a retail food permit are not allowed to open in Phase II. Whether or not a food truck can be used to obtain a retail food permit is a matter for the local licensing authority to review.

Update #42 | Breweries and Wineries, Face Covering Decision Guide, ABCC Advisories,  Yard Sales

Breweries and Wineries

  • Breweries and wineries are allowed to continue to operate take-out services.
  • Breweries, wineries and bars are not eligible to open until Phase 4.
  • Breweries and wineries are eligible to be open in Phase 2 if they provide seated food and beverage service.
  • Seated service – the intent is that patrons stay seated at same table for duration (occasional walk to restroom) and do not mingle in the venue.
  • Breweries and wineries may establish new seated service (may need permission from town in licensing).   A food truck can be used to prepare food for seated table service. However, all food and beverage must be served to the patrons. There cannot be any self-service or mingling by patrons.
  • Compliance with MA COVID Standard for Restaurants is required.
  • Places serving food must meet other applicable state and local regulations.

Department of Labor Standards COVID Face Covering Decision Guide 6-4-2020

Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission Advisories

 Yard Sales Guidance and Resources: Department of Labor Standards provided the following response to questions regarding yard sales:

  • A yard sale, by definition, is private activity of personal household goods on private property —- so DLS will not take any action.
  • A town can continue to regulate Yard Sales according to local ordinance.  The town could elect to deny permit until Phase 2 when retail can open in state.
  • ​The 10-person gathering rule in public would apply.
  • Yard sale guidance developed by Greenfield. Springfield yard sales ordinance. 

Update #41 | Additonal EEA Guidance, Farm Worker Testing, Bottle and Can Redemption

Note that Parks, Open Space and Outdoor Education is overall the same as Phase I except that it has been updated to be consistent with the youth & adult sports guidance. Coastal and Inland Beaches guidance has not changed – there is only some minor clean-up.

Update #40 | EEA Pools, Playgrounds, Spray Decks, and Outdoor Fitness Guidance

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) has posted guidance on pools and playgrounds:

Update #39 | Adult/Youth Sports Guidance

Update #38 | Phase 2 Reopening Preparations, Long-Term Care Visitation, CARES Act Resources, Data Dashboard

Phase II Reopening Preparations

Guidance Issued for Long-Term Care Outdoor Visitations
New Metrics Added to Daily Dashboard
COVID-19 Resources and Guidance for Municipal Officials

Update #37 | Tennis Lessons, Outdoor Classes, and Driving Schools in Reopening Phase 1

Tennis Lessons: There are no differences in Phase 1 between tennis lessons on private courts vs public courts

Outdoor Classes: 5-18-20-parks-open-space-and-outdoor-education-best-practices — standards and guidance on outdoor classes (such as gym, yoga, dance, personal fitness, etc) is attached. The classes can be done with strict rules:

  • 6 feet of separation between participants
  • 12 feet of separation between activity stations
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times
  • No shared equipment, tools or materials
  • Gathering must be less than 10 people, including staff/instructors
  • Class must have pre-registration process
  • Temporary signage needs to be in place
  • All equipment must be disinfected after use

Driving Schools: from page 3 of the May 18th Guidance for industries on the reopening plan 20200518: Driving Schools currently allowed to offer classroom instruction on-line. Phase 2 will be the Behind-the-Wheel Training or the observation of student driver. Registry of Motor Vehicles is developing comprehensive guidance for permit testing, road tests and driving schools

Update #36 | Farms, Golf Courses, Safe Water Supplies

COVID-19 Resources for Agriculture

 Golf Courses

  • Golf course restaurants should now be treated like any other with takeout and delivery available. Takeout has to be consumed off the premises of the restaurant, including any restaurant outdoor spaces. Takeout may be picked up and taken in a golf cart out on the course.
  • Walking is encouraged, but golf carts may be used only if each cart is used by and contains only a single rider, or a group of family members living in the same house.  Any carts used must be cleaned and sanitized after each use.

Reopening: Safe Water Supplies: Mold and legionella reopening guidance