Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has declared a state of emergency.
The announcement comes as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus has risen to 92 statewide, according to the Department of Public Health website.
The governor has the power to declare a state of emergency in the event of an imminent threat of a natural or manmade disaster.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by a novel coronavirus that has spread rapidly around the globe. Symptoms range from fever and coughing to shortness of breath, and usually appear two to 14 days after exposure, according to the CDC. The virus spreads through respiratory droplets landing on another person in close contact with an infected person who coughs or sneezes. There is currently no vaccine. People who feel symptomatic should call ahead of their arrival at the hospital.
There are no confirmed cases on Martha’s Vineyard, Russ Hartenstine, emergency management director for West Tisbury, told The Times. As of Monday, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital had collected one sample, Katrina Delgadillo, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said.
Hartenstine declined to comment on the number of people who are self-quarantined, though The Times has independently confirmed one doctor, one student, and four teachers who traveled outside the country have self-quarantined.
Monica Bharel, commissioner of the Department of Public Health, said 400 individuals have been tested statewide.
Declaring a state of emergency allows state agencies to protect people from immediate dangers in part by providing resources for rescue, shelter, or evacuation, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency’s website.
The last time a state of emergency was declared in Massachusetts was during the Merrimack Valley gas explosions in 2018, when excessive pressure in natural gas lines owned by Columbia Gas of Massachusetts caused a series of explosions and fires to occur in as many as 40 homes, with over 80 individual fires, in the Merrimack Valley.
What it means to self-quarantine
Hartenstine told The Times that emergency planners are working with the hospital and boards of health across the Island to prepare for coronavirus. He released the following document on what it means to self-quarantine.
- Self-quarantine means you think you may have been exposed, and don’t wish to share the disease if you have. Current advice is quarantine for 14 days.
- Self-isolation means you have the symptoms, but don’t require hospitalization.
The basics are the same for both.
- Separate yourself from your partner, your housemates, children, and family members or visitors; don’t even pet your dog
- Don’t share your room or your bathroom
- Wear a mask around other people, in your home, in your car on the way to medical care. A scarf or bandana could work to trap the cough droplets you might be spraying. Tell the medical staff that you have a risk of infection from the virus
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds just about every time you think of it.
- Don’t share dishes, towels, bedding with anyone. Wash them after use, with hot water.
- Countertops, tabletops, keyboard, phone, light switches — disinfect them often. Dispose of a cleaning cloth, or plan on washing it, with hot water.
- Call a doctor if you exhibit symptoms, or they worsen
- Housemates can go to work or school, but they must take up the slack for shopping, other errands, and CLEANING often.
This is for people who are ill with the coronavirus — in other words, symptomatic.
- Household members should wear face masks
- They should wear gloves if contact with bodily fluid is likely, even emptying a waste basket. THROW THEM AWAY after each use. Learn how to don them and remove them
- Use liners is wastebaskets
- Exclude any contact with uninfected elderly, and people with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions
- The patient is a danger to family and visitors, but must be watched for changes in health. Keep track of the changes