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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Latest Updates and Information

COVID-19 Symptom Checker

Massachusetts residents can visit buoyhealth.com/mass to use a simple symptom checker to assess the risk for COVID-19.

Change of Practice Operations - Effective Tuesday, March 31, 2020

During the COVID-19 crisis, we have temporarily suspended some of our practice operations and relocated some services to other practices in order to protect the health of our patients and staff and to best utilize staff and equipment which are in short supply. We are reaching out to our patients to re-schedule appointments affected by these changes with in-person visits for urgent needs at one of our other practice locations, with phone or video visits, or for a later date. We are committed to supporting our patients through this challenging time. Should you need care, please continue to call your doctor’s office. Calls to relocated services are being re-routed so that staff will direct you as appropriate for medical advice and care. View a full list of our Atrius Health sites.

Practice Locations with Temporarily Suspended, In-Person Operations
Please continue to call your doctor's office for medical advice.

Beverly
Boston – Copley Square
Boston – Post Office Square
Bourne
Braintree – Annex only (Behavioral Health)
Cambridge
Chestnut Hill/West Roxbury
Duxbury
Kingston
Plymouth – Court Street
Plymouth – Long Pond
Plymouth – Pine Hills
Quincy – Granite Medical
Watertown
Weymouth – 90 Libbey Parkway (Only Family Medicine and Lab are closed)

Additionally, we have temporarily closed our optical shops and temporarily suspended walk-in services at some of our locations for lab and pharmacy services. View a listing of nearby labs open for walk-in service. For pharmacy, please call your doctor’s office for prescription needs as calls are being re-routed.  

Donations of Homemade Masks and other Supplies

During a time of supply shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have received kind requests from our patients and the community who are willing to help make homemade masks and provide additional donations. Contributions of critical supplies and equipment are appreciated by the Atrius Health Community at this time. Current needs at Atrius Health include:

  • Gowns — fluid-resistant
  • Masks — surgical
  • Eye protection — face shields of any kind

We are also currently accepting donations of homemade masks to use in the event our supply is depleted. Please visit our COVID-19 donation page for more on how to donate and instructions on how to make masks. Thank you!

TESTING UPDATE – March 23, 2020

At this time, testing for COVID-19 is most helpful and of greatest benefit for patients experiencing symptoms of fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath where the results of the test would lead to real and significant consequences for patients and people they may work or live with. So it’s most important to test healthcare workers, first responders and people who may live in congregate settings like nursing homes. Even for people at risk for developing more severe illness or people with known COVID-19 contacts, we do not recommend testing before the onset of symptoms. People without symptoms should stay home and monitor themselves for fever, cough or shortness of breath. Individuals who are experiencing fever, cough, or shortness of breath, please call the practice.

RESTRICTED VISITOR POLICY

To protect the health of our patients and staff, effective immediately, we are temporarily restricting visitors to our practice. For patients receiving care at our office, only one person may accompany patients to their appointments (such as a parent or legal guardian for pediatric patients under the age of 18). All visitors who accompany a patient to their appointment will be screened upon entering an Atrius Health facility for their travel history, exposure to COVID-19, and respiratory tract symptoms, including fever and/or cough. If a visitor accompanying a patient is found to meet any of the visitor restriction criteria, they will be masked and, when possible, should not accompany the patient on their visit. We are also following the same screening protocol for any vendors or business partners who may need to visit our practices in the course of normal operations. Thank you for your cooperation in ensuring a safe environment for all.

RESCHEDULE OF ANY NON-URGENT/ELECTIVE CARE VISITS

As part of our COVID-19 response, to ensure the safest environment possible and preserve medical resources, Atrius Health is contacting patients for whom we feel we can safely reschedule non-urgent, elective care or to discuss alternative options such as telehealth where possible. “Non-urgent elective” care is defined as any procedure, test, therapy, or clinic visit that can be safely delayed without threat to the health or safety of our patients. Current information about COVID-19 stresses the importance of limiting contact between people in an effort to blunt the spread of COVID-19. All of these efforts at “social distancing” are to slow the spread of the virus so that the health care system can better adjust to take care of those who become ill. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

COVID-19: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What should I do as a patient of Atrius Health?

If you are experiencing fever, cough or shortness of breath, please contact the practice by phone. Our COVID Resource Center team will evaluate you and guide you on next steps depending on your symptoms and medical history. Please note at this time, testing for COVID-19 is only helpful for patients experiencing symptoms of fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath. Even for people at risk for developing more severe illness or people with known COVID contacts, testing is not recommended or ordered before the onset of symptoms. People without symptoms should stay home and monitor themselves for fever, cough or shortness of breath.

What is COVID-19?  

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person and has spread worldwide over the past few months. Although there are many types of human coronaviruses, including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses, COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans.

How is COVID-19 spread?

Based on our best science to date, it is believed that COVID-19 is spread through respiratory secretions, namely droplets that come from a cough or a sneeze. Since the virus can live in droplets that land on a table, phone, or railing, we can catch this virus by touching our mouth, nose, or eyes after coming in contact with these droplets. This is why it is really important to wash our hands frequently and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. 

Social distancing is in the news right now, and it means keeping a safe distance from one another to try to minimize the chance that you will catch or spread COVID-19. In general, staying 6 feet apart is considered a safe distance. Because of this public health recommendation, many schools, businesses, and restaurants had already elected or had been asked to close. Further, today Governor Baker ordered a Stay-At-Home advisory from March 24 through April 7th.

When we physically distance ourselves from other people and reduce the opportunities to spread the virus, we can hopefully slow the rate of new cases and help our healthcare system better keep up and care for those who get infected, a concept known as “flattening the curve.”

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 and what happens if I get it?

Most people who develop COVID-19 develop an illness that may be very similar to the flu with fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The CDC believes at this time that symptoms of the new coronavirus may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 after exposure.

With rest and supportive care at home (e.g., drinking plenty of fluids, acetaminophen or Tylenol as directed, etc.), most people recover within the course of a several days to 1-2 weeks. Stay in touch with your primary care provider’s office for more individually tailored supportive care advice.

Some people are at higher risk of experiencing more severe symptoms with a COVID-19 infection: people with lung or heart disease, smokers, people with weakened immune systems due to illness or medications, and more generally people over the age of 65. Since people with these conditions could develop more severe symptoms, it is important for them to self-monitor closely for the onset of flu-like symptoms and to contact their doctor’s office for the best way to get evaluated, even when your symptoms are mild.

What can be done to prevent the spread of coronavirus?

Consistent hand hygiene and cough etiquette are the best way to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses like COVID-19. We strongly recommend the following:

  • Limit contact with others to help “flatten the curve”
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • When coughing or sneezing, always cover your nose and mouth with a flexed elbow or tissue. Wash your hands after every time.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with individuals who have a fever or cough

Who should get tested for COVID-19?

At this time, testing for COVID-19 is most helpful and of greatest benefit for patients experiencing symptoms of fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath where the results of the test would lead to real and significant consequences for patients and people they may work or live with. So it’s most important to test healthcare workers, first responders and people who may live in congregate settings like nursing homes.

Even for people at risk for developing more severe illness or people with known COVID-19 contacts, we do not recommend testing before the onset of symptoms.  

Again, if you do not have any of these symptoms, please stay at home as much as possible, practice social distancing to protect yourself and others around you, especially those in our communities at higher risk, and self-monitor for any of these symptoms.

Call your Atrius Health doctor’s office if you have a fever, cough or shortness of breath, and we will evaluate you and can direct you from there.

How is the COVID-19 test done?

The test for COVID-19 requires us to take a swab and insert it into your nose to get a sample of secretions from the back of your nose. The person taking your swab will be wearing protective equipment including a face shield, mask, gown, and gloves.   

Can I get tested even if I do not have symptoms?

The testing that is available is not helpful for people who do not have symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath, and testing it is not currently recommended or offered to people without symptoms.

Shouldn’t I get tested if I have had contact with someone who was tested as positive for COVID-19?

If someone with whom you had close contact is found to have COVID-19 disease, we recommend that you should do all that you can to isolate yourself in your home and attempt to remain out of close contact with other people in your home. Monitor yourself for symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath. If you do develop symptoms, please contact us either if you feel you are in the high risk group (outlined in #2, above) OR if you feel you are becoming really sick. We are here to help.

Again, testing is not recommended or is being offered to people who have been in contact with someone who has proven COVID but does not have symptoms. There is no benefit in testing people who have no symptoms for the reasons outlined above.

What should I do if I have COVID-19?

The CDC has great information about what to do if you are sick and how to care for yourself at home. And please do not hesitate to contact your Atrius Health provider if you are worried about worsening symptoms.

When do I know that I have recovered from COVID-19?

The CDC says you have recovered if it has been at least 7 days since your symptoms first appeared, if you have gone 3 days without a fever and without the use of fever-reducing medications, and if respiratory symptoms like cough and/or shortness of breath have improved.

Should I wear a face mask if I am healthy to prevent catching COVID-19?

CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is recommended for health workers and other people who are taking direct care of someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings. Most often respiratory viruses are spread from person-to-person in close contact or within six feet of each other. As a healthy person, the best way to protect yourself and your community is with everyday preventative actions, like staying home, washing your hands often with soap and water, disinfecting surfaces and avoiding people who have symptoms. These actions will help minimize and slow the spread of the respiratory illness in the community. 

How does Atrius Health clean its facilities to keep me safe during a visit to the practice?

We are working hard to keep our facilities as sanitary as possible to keep you safe if you have a need to visit. Medical Assistants use disinfecting wipes to clean the exam rooms between patients. Building Services staff have special focus on wiping down and disinfecting high touch points in every facility. We have added extra cleaning staff to focus on wiping down surfaces. In an attempt to increase the frequency of cleaning and our concentration on disinfection, we have also limited the number of public access points in facilities where appropriate. Our contract cleaning service has also added resources to ensure that that the patient and staff touch points are getting disinfected.

How do I talk to my children about COVID-19?

We understand that what is happening right now is very hard for adults to process, and it can be equally confusing and very scary for children, as well. The CDC has an entire page on their website dedicated to helping parents and guardians talk to children about COVID-19, from general principles to use when approaching and holding the conversation to child-friendly answers about COVID-19.

Where can I get the latest information about COVID-19?

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the CDC and have excellent websites with the latest information. Below are helpful links:

Frequently Asked Questions

Prevention and Treatment

What To Do If You Are Sick

How COVID-19 Spreads

CDC Situation Summary

Current Cases in Massachusetts

Current Cases in the US

Global Map Confirmed Cases

How can I explain information about coronavirus in a non-scary way to my child?

This graphical comic developed by NPR may be a helpful tool to explain the basics, quell fears, and emphasize ways to prevent spread.