COVID-19 Virus Preventive Measures

The COVID-19 Virus & Testing

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 “is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans. Common signs of infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.”
Experts are finding that some with COVID-19 may only present with a sore throat or mild symptoms. Because it’s a danger to the elderly, those with compromised immune systems or preexisting conditions everyone must follow Lexington’s, the state’s, and the federal government’s recommendations of distancing, washing, and avoiding crowds. According to the CDC: “Mildly ill patients should be encouraged to stay home and contact their healthcare provider by phone for guidance about clinical management. Patients who have severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, should seek care immediately. Older patients and individuals who have underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their physician early in the course of even mild illness.”
Testing is the only way to determine if the virus is present. The CDC has criteria for those who qualify for testing. The benchmarks for testing are also evolving as testing becomes more available.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website, there are three current priorities for testing:
1. Hospitalized patients who have signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 in order to inform decisions related to infection control.
2. Other symptomatic individuals such as, older adults and individuals with chronic medical conditions and/or an immunocompromised state that may put them at higher risk for poor outcomes (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, receiving immunosuppressive medications, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease).
3. Any persons including healthcare personnel, who within 14 days of symptom onset had close contact3 with a suspect or laboratory-confirmed4 COVID-19 patient, or who have a history of travel from affected geographic areas within 14 days of their symptom onset. (For a complete explanation, visit, )


In their most recent advisory, the Town of Lexington conveyed the following:
“All persons are urged to maintain social distancing (approximately six feet away from other people) whenever possible and to continue to wash hands, utilize hand sanitizer, and practice proper respiratory etiquette. All higher risk individuals should avoid large gatherings. Higher risk individuals include older adults, anyone with underlying health conditions, such as heart or lung disease or diabetes, anyone with weakened immune systems, and anyone who is pregnant.”
What follows is guidance on these precautions from the Centers for Disease Control (, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health ( and the Town of Lexington (

Social distancing is the practice of putting distance between yourself and others (at least 6 feet) and staying at home when you can to reduce transmission of the virus.

Because people can carry the virus and not display symptoms, this is important to reduce the transmission of the virus throughout the community. According to the state, Middlesex County is showing signs of community spread of the virus. On March 18, The Boston Globe reported: “Massachusetts hospitals began to see a mounting number of suspected coronavirus patients Tuesday, an ominous indication that the pandemic may be spreading in the region at a clip that is more rapid than the official state numbers imply.
Massachusetts General Hospital officials said the number of patients suspected to have COVID-19 in their emergency room or in beds had quadrupled to 53 between Monday and Tuesday, in addition to three other confirmed cases in intensive care and three in regular beds.”

If you must be out, avoid crowds. Governor Charlie Baker has prohibited restaurants from offering dine-in service and Lexington is included in that order, of course. Boston bars and beer gardens, restaurants small and large, coffee shops, sandwich shops and the like, are close to dine-in guests. Many restaurants are offering takeaway service, and takeout establishments are not curfewed. Check with restaurants ahead of time for specific details.

All are discouraged from gathering in groups in public places. Children and teens are discouraged from visiting older people, including their older family members. Teens and young people are often resistant to these guidelines, but they must be convinced to comply. Do your best to reinforce the message.
Every health official agrees these efforts will help “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of the virus. Infections will still happen, but they won’t happen all at once and save communities from overwhelming local hospitals which will, in turn, save lives by lessening the load on ICUs and demands on ventilators and protective gear for healthcare professional.

•There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19.
•The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
•The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person:
– Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
-Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
• These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Wash Your Hands
• Wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap for twenty seconds after blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing, after using the restroom, before eating or preparing food, after contact with animals or pets, before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance (e.g. a child)
Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% ethanol and 70% isopropanol.
• When blowing your nose, use a tissue and dispose of the tissue. Cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.


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Clean and Disinfect
Make sure that you prepare your home should you need to protect a sick member of your family or if members of your household are traveling in and out of the house or apartment to perform necessary services.
Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
Other options include:
• Diluting your household bleach.
To make a bleach solution, mix:
5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water
4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water

Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.

• Alcohol solutions.Ensure solution has at least 60% ethanol and 70% isopropanol.
• If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
In case of an outbreak in your community, protect yourself and others and follow local guidance from the town and state.
• Stay informed about the local outbreak situation
• Keep away from others who are sick
• Limit close contact with others as much as possible (about 6 feet)
• Continue to practice everyday hygiene and preventive actions
• If someone in the household is sick, separate them into a prepared room
• If caring for a household member, follow recommended precautions and monitor your health
• Avoid sharing personal items
• If you become sick, stay in contact with others by phone or email
• Notify your work if your schedule needs to change
• Take care of the emotional health of your household members, including yourself

If You Feel Sick
•Stay home and speak to your healthcare provider if you develop fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Call your provider; do not go to an emergency room unless necessary.
• If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. In adults, emergency warning signs*:
-Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
-Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
-New confusion or inability to arouse
-Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all-inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptom that is severe or concerning.

Take additional precautions for those at highest risk, particularly older adults and those who have severe underlying health conditions.
• Consider staying at home and away from crowds if you or a family member are an older adult or have underlying health issues

• Make sure you have access to several weeks of medications and supplies in case you need to stay home
When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick and limit close contact with others


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