GLOUCESTER — Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Public Health Director Karin Carroll and Emergency Management Director and Assistant Fire Chief Joe Aiello urge Gloucester residents and business owners to make use of the state’s newly expanded 2-1-1 system for information and medical questions regarding the coronavirus crisis.
COVID-19, the illness associated with the novel coronavirus, was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization this week and it has moved Governor Charlie Baker to declare a State of Emergency in Massachusetts and President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency.
Governor Baker and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced that Massachusetts 2-1-1 will now provide real-time COVID-19 information, resources and referrals in multiple languages. This expansion is the result of an increased investment in resources directed towards this 24-hour state-supported telephone hotline.
“We are grateful that the state government has stepped up to make this resource available to all residents, at all times, in all languages,” Mayor Romeo Theken said.
Through this partnership with Massachusetts 2-1-1, DPH experts are expanding access to information 24/7, and giving call takers latest information about the status of COVID-19 response efforts in Massachusetts. At peak call times, DPH staff will augment the call team to ensure residents’ questions are answered without delay.
This new service is in addition to a dedicated state website mass.gov/covid19, which is updated daily with information and resources.
“We are committed to providing the most updated and accurate information about COVID-19 response efforts in Massachusetts,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “Mass 2-1-1 is an invaluable partner in helping us to ensure that every resident of the Commonwealth has access to the information they need to keep themselves and their families healthy and safe.”
Beginning today, residents can call 2-1-1 on any landline or cellphone to learn more about:
- COVID-19 prevention, symptoms, and treatment
- Information about testing
- Guidance for people planning or returning from travel
Operators fluent in Spanish are available, and more than 150 other languages are supported through an interpreter services line that is available 24/7.
At this time, there are no confirmed or presumptive cases of the virus in Gloucester.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those at a higher risk for serious health complications from the virus include older adults and those with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.
The City of Gloucester encourages residents to practice social distancing, and the city is urging private organizations to consider cancelling or rescheduling events that would place large numbers of people together or groups of people in close proximity.
The Gloucester Health Department and Mayor’s Office would like to recommend the following for all community members and businesses based on guidelines from the DPH:
- Continue to promote daily practices of preventative actions, such as washing your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, staying home when you are sick, using proper techniques when coughing or sneezing, avoiding touching your face, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects daily.
- Avoid large events or gatherings, especially if you are at higher risk for serious health complications from the virus.
- Postponing large indoor events or gatherings, including school activities, programs and sporting events for the time being.
- Should events be held, providing prevention supplies at events, such as sinks with soaps, hand sanitizers and tissues.
- Make telecommuting options available for as many employees as possible and urge employees to stay home when they are sick.
- Be flexible with sick leave benefits for those who are ill or who are recommended to stay home because they are high risk.