No Confirmed Cases in Methuen
METHUEN — The City of Methuen wishes to provide residents with the latest information regarding the 2019 new coronavirus (COVID-19) as federal and state officials continue to monitor the virus domestically and internationally.
The Governor has declared a State of Emergency in Massachusetts due to COVID-19. On Tuesday, DPH announced the number of total cases of COVID-19, the illness associated with the novel coronavirus, rose to 92 in Massachusetts. There are no confirmed or presumptive cases of the virus in Methuen at this time.
The State of Emergency declaration includes remote working accommodations for executive branch employees of the state government. The City of Methuen is continuing reviewing the governor’s recommendations. The city government remains open and operational and fully able to serve the citizens and business community in Methuen.
Public health officials are urging seniors and those with preexisting health conditions to avoid large gatherings, including sporting events, concerts and conferences.
In late February, the CDC reported the first case of community spread of the virus in the United States in California, and 25 people in the United States have since died from the virus. New cases of the virus nationwide have come to light this week as well, and currently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting over 600 cases of the virus in the United States, including those who contracted the virus from person-to-person spread, travel and those who are under observation. There are additionally 49 people with the virus who were repatriated to the United States from the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship and Wuhan, China.
Members of the Board of Health and Methuen Public Schools are in contact with DPH in order to stay up to date on information about coronavirus. City and school officials have been working together as well, and are ready to respond as needed.
Methuen Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Brandi Kwong has shared updates with parents and community members as information becomes available and will be posted on the district’s website. Each school building and school bus undergoes rigorous cleaning daily to ensure that commonly touched surfaces are disinfected and to minimize the risk germs spreading.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has determined that it will not count absenteeism from early March onward, and that school districts will not have to extend the school year beyond its planned end dates as a result of the coronavirus.
“The risk of COVID-19 remains low and we are continuing to monitor and will share updates as they become available,” said Mayor Neil Perry. “Just as we do every flu season, we are asking residents to practice healthy habits in order to prevent the spread of communicable diseases throughout the community.”
The COVID-19 situation is very fluid, and new information and guidelines are being posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on a regular basis. The CDC offers the following guidance for how COVID-19 spreads. The virus is believed to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It may also be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
According to the CDC, symptoms of the virus appear within 2-14 days of exposure. The DPH reports that symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath and pneumonia in severe cases. If you suspect that you are ill with a respiratory disease, or have been informed that you have been exposed to COVID-19, contact your primary care provider immediately.
In an effort to prevent the spread of flu, colds and other respiratory illnesses, residents are encouraged to take the following measures from DPH:
- Wash hands frequently, with soap and hot water, for a minimum of 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol content) can be used when soap and water are not available.
- Keep your hands away from your face.
- When sick yourself, stay home to protect others.
- Always cover your cough or sneeze.
“We encourage residents to take the precautions outlined above,” Ewing said. “The flu remains far more prevalent a concern, and the same steps we recommend for preventing the flu, such as frequent hand washing and covering your mouth when you cough, will also help prevent the spread of viruses like COVID-19.”
At this time, the DPH is not recommending people wear masks in public as the risk to the public remains low and there is no substantial evidence suggesting wearing a mask protects an individual outside of preventing someone from spreading a respiratory illness to others in a clinic waiting room.
The CDC is urging Americans to avoid nonessential travel to Italy, China, Iran and South Korea, which are designated “Warning Level 3.” The Methuen Board of Health urges residents to continue to monitor the CDC website for any additional restricted areas of travel. Additionally, the CDC and Governor Charlie Baker have stated that those who return to the U.S. after visiting any Level 3 country should stay home and monitor their health during travel and for 14 days after returning to the United States.
Locally, residents with questions may contact the Methuen Board of Health at 978-983-8661 during business hours.