Photo: Deaths related to COVID-19 in Belmont nears 60 as state considers reopening
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has reported 198 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Belmont as of Friday, May 15, with a total of 58 COVID-19 related deaths in town.
Fifty-three of which are confirmed by filed death certificates with the Town Clerk’s office and 5 are unconfirmed, according to Jon Marshall, Belmont’s assistant town administrator.
The MDPH is providing weekly reports of COVID-19 data by city or town as part of its Dashboard for COVID-19 Cases, Quarantine and Monitoring. MDPH will update this list once a week on Wednesdays.
Governor Baker’s reopening plan begins May 18
On May 11, Gov. Massachusetts Charlie Baker announced a four-phased plan to slowly and carefully begin reopening some parts of the economy in Massachusetts beginning on Monday, May 18. Belmont officials have not received advanced notification of which businesses or services will be allowed to resume next week. However, any businesses or services that reopen will be required to develop and implement plans that meet the State’s new Mandatory Workplace Standards, which focus on social distancing, hygiene, face coverings, and disinfecting to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission to employees and customers.
Please note at this time Town buildings will remain closed to the public, but staff can be reached by phone or email during normal business hours.
The MDPH originally restricted the availability of COVID-19 testing to individuals with symptoms (i.e. cough, sore throat, fever, chills, fatigue, headache, recent loss of sense of taste or smell, shortness of breath) consistent with the virus. As more test kits have been made available to providers, MDPH is now expanding its COVID-19 testing categories to now include those who are close contacts to someone that has recently tested positive and those that work with individuals that have tested positive. Close contacts, with or without symptoms, should be tested as soon as possible after they are notified of their exposure to COVID-19.
Community wide testing
Cambridge and Somerville have recently gained attention for announcing plans for community wide COVID-19 testing, which has been made possible because of their preexisting partnership with the Cambridge Health Alliance, an academic community healthcare system that specifically serves the medical needs of Cambridge, Somerville, Everett, Malden, and Revere. Residents that live within CHA’s service area have access to community testing.
Drive-through testing events have been held in other nearby communities, these events are conducted by for-profit entities. At this time, Belmont does not have the resources to hold a community wide testing event on its own.
Additionally, MDPH is only recommending community wide testing for densely populated municipalities such as the ones listed above.
MDPH has informed local health officials throughout the state that COVID-19 testing is available to anyone, without prior approval from a medical provider, at a number of different Community Health Centers located throughout the state. The Community Health Center closest to Belmont is:
Cambridge Health Alliance – East Cambridge Care Center
163 Gore Street
Cambridge, MA 02141
You must call ahead of time to schedule a time for testing.
A list of testing site located throughout the state can be found here:
Face Coverings: Now required per Order of the Governor
Governor Baker’s COVID-19 Order No. 31 went into effect throughout the Commonwealth on May 6th and requires all individuals over the age of 2 to wear face coverings in public places where physical distancing is not possible. This applies to both indoor and outdoor spaces such as, but not limited to, grocery stores, pharmacies, laundromats, home improvement stores, banks, government buildings, and restaurant pick-up sites. However, it should be noted that there are exceptions to this Order, as it does not apply to children under the age of two (2) and those unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a medical condition*.
On May 11th, the Belmont Board of Health and the Belmont Select Board updated Temporary Emergency Regulation #2 to include language for fines in line with the Governor’s Order.
A violation of this Order and local Regulation may result in a fine of up to $300.
*Please note: There are many disabilities that are invisible and you may not know why someone is not wearing a face covering. The Town asks that you do not confront people about wearing masks. If you are uncomfortable about being near someone who does not have a mask on, please consider walking away or around them from a safe distance.
This is a challenging time for everyone and we appreciate your continued compliance as we all work together to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and look forward to safely reopening businesses.
Please visit the CDC’s website to learn more about its recommendation for face coverings.
The CDC has also posted information on how to make your own face covering.
You may also contact Belmont Helps to request a mask.
Face Coverings for Senior Citizens
The Beech Street Center has a limited supply of face coverings available to provide to senior citizens in Belmont. Senior citizens may contact the Beech Street Center to request either handmade washable cloth masks, or disposable masks.
Please be advised that as of Tuesday, April 28th, the Town has mandated use of masks at essential business; please further be advised that any contactless transitions occurring outside the center, including meals, also require you to wear a mask.
Please note that your call will be answered and Beech Street Center staff will respond to your request within 48 hours. To make your mask requests, please call the main number at 617-993-2970 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Belmont Food Pantry’s hours
The Belmont Food Pantry will be open to distribute food on the following dates: Saturday June 6 and Saturday June 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. The distribution will still be drive-thru with everyone remaining in their car, pulling up to the volunteer to check in and another volunteer will put the bag(s), per family, into the car. Walkers: PLEASE keep a distance from each other and Food Pantry volunteers WILL COME to you. Belmont residents who are coming to receive food, please remember to bring your ID and have it ready before you get to the check in. Click here https://sites.google.com/…/thebelmont…/home/new-client-forms for the application and instructions.
Beech Street Center is here to help
Nava Niv-Vogel, Director of the Council on Aging, wishes to remind the community that staff at the Beech Street Center are available to help residents of all ages to access essential services during the pandemic.
Due to growing national concern that people are waiting too long to seek out medical treatment over fears of catching COVID-19, potentially contributing to poor health outcomes, all residents are reminded to always call their primary care physicians and/or other medical specialists for advice regarding ANY medical issue, even if it is not related to COVID-19.
Staff at the Beech Street Center can be reached at (617) 993-2970.
Emotional Health Resources
During stressful times it is common to have worries about yourself or a loved one. If you have questions about the types of treatment available, please contact Health Department Social Worker Janet Amdur at email@example.com or (617) 993-2983.
Please remember to take care of your emotional health and help others to do the same. If you need emotional help please also consider making use of the following resources:
• Call 2-1-1 and choose the “CALL2TALK” option. (Please note that 2-1-1 call center has recently been operating on approximately a 90-minute delay for responses.)
• The Samaritans helpline operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call or text their helpline any time at 1-877-870-4673.
• The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a national hotline, which also operates 24/7, to provide immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human caused disaster, including disease outbreaks like COVID-19. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories.
• The Beech Street Center is a local resource in Belmont that can help senior citizens address a variety of needs and access to social services.
Belmont Helps: Ways to Help Our Community
Belmont Helps, a Winn Brook Parent Teacher Association Committee, is a 100% volunteer organization founded on March 14, 2020 to connect Belmont area community members in need during the COVID-19 outbreak to resources and volunteers. More information can be found at www.belmonthelps.org. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at (617) 993-0162 for a call back from a team member.
To help reduce the spread of the virus, Belmont is participating in the Massachusetts COVID-19 Community Tracing Collaborative (CTC) program.
Belmont COVID-19 Informational Call Center and Email
For general COVID-19 questions not specific to the Town of Belmont, all Massachusetts residents encouraged to call the state’s 2-1-1 hotline that is staffed by operators 24/7 and with translators available in multiple languages. Residents with questions can dial 2-1-1 from any landline or cellphone or use the live chat option on the on the Mass 2-1-1 website.
The Town of Belmont has also established a call center to allow residents to ask non-medical questions specific to COVID-19 in Belmont. The call center will be staffed Monday through Friday from 8am to 4pm the number for the call center is (617) 993-2222. Questions can also be emailed to: email@example.com .
Please call 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency. Calls should not be made to 9-1-1 to obtain information about COVID-19