With the recent increase in COVID-19 cases across the state and the country, we wanted to express our support to all our patients during what has been an unprecedented year. It remains more important than ever to incorporate consistent masking, hand hygiene, and physical distancing into our daily lives to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our homes and our communities. Below are some key strategies to help protect your health and the health of your family during the holidays and through the winter months.
New scientific data published on the CDC website shows that wearing a mask protects not only others but the wearer of the mask as well. Governor Baker issued an updated order that went into effect November 6 requiring face masks or cloth face coverings in all public places, even when a person is able to maintain 6 feet of physical distance from others. Atrius Health also just enhanced our in-practice masking protocols for the protection of our staff and patients. We are now providing a brand new surgical mask upon entrance to all patients and visitors to wear in place of or on top of their existing mask. Masks make a difference!
As you plan to celebrate the holidays over the coming weeks, consider virtual gatherings and limit the in-person festivities to only people you live with or a small group of individuals with whom you are regularly in contact. Check out some of the additional recommendations from the Massachusetts Department of Health for safely celebrating Thanksgiving During COVID-19. On an ongoing basis, it helps to keep your gatherings small in accordance with the most recent gathering orders for Massachusetts. Indoors that means a maximum of 10 people, and outdoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 25 people. As another way to limit the spread of COVID-19, the Governor recently issued a stay at home advisory that urges Massachusetts residents to be in their homes from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
If out-of-state travel is necessary, try to limit your travel to COVID-19 lower-risk states. The list is updated frequently based on case data and positivity rates and can be found on the Mass.gov website. If you must travel outside these lower-risk states, be sure to research current Massachusetts travel orders for any quarantine and testing requirements that may apply. You can also assess travel risks and follow CDC suggestions for travel during COVID-19.
Atrius Health continues to offer appointments for flu vaccination across our practice locations. You can schedule your flu shot online through the MyHealth website and MyChart mobile app, or call your primary care physician’s office. Getting a flu vaccine helps protect you and the people around you from the flu and will help reduce the strain on our healthcare system during the winter months as COVID-19 illness is expected to increase.
Practicing good hand hygiene means using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for 20 seconds. Frequent hand hygiene is particularly important before preparing or eating food, before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, after using the restroom, after touching shared surfaces, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. We know that washing your hands often and thoroughly is a simple way to prevent infections. Clean hands keep you healthy!
If you develop signs or symptoms of COVID-19, stay home from work or school, and contact your primary care provider’s office. Our COVID-19 Resource Center staff is available to triage your care needs, and we continue to offer COVID-19 testing to patients who meet the criteria. As part of our Commitment to Safe Care, Atrius Health screens all patients for COVID-19 when scheduling an appointment, 48 hours prior to a scheduled appointment, and the same day of an appointment. We are now also offering a way to complete the Same Day COVID-19 Symptom Screener through MyHealth on the same day in advance of your appointment. Completing the symptom screener through MyHealth can speed up the check-in process for you when you arrive and also helps us promote physical distancing at our offices.
We are here to support you and share important prevention tips to keep you and your family healthy during this time. We hope you safely enjoy the holiday season!