2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Board of Health Advisory

First Cases of Positive COVID-19 in Salem
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On Friday, March 20, 2020 the Salem Board of Health announced that three Salem residents have tested positive for COVID-19, novel coronavirus disease. All three patients are currently doing well and are isolated at home.

“Cases of cases COVID-19 have been reported in every state, as well as across Massachusetts,” said Health Agent David Greenbaum. “The Salem Board of Health and the City of Salem have been preparing for the last several weeks for the arrival of COVID-19 in our community.  The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation and we expect to see additional cases in Salem as it progresses. The Salem Board of Health and the City will continue to share COVID-19 information as it becomes available.”

An extensive epidemiological investigation, including contact tracing is being conducted for these three cases. Through this investigation, the Board of Health will determine and identify all contacts of these cases. If you have not been contacted by the Salem Board of Health, you are not considered a contact of one of these cases. All people determined to have had had direct, face-to-face contact with one of these cases are being instructed to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms for a period of fourteen (14) days.

Because the risk level for COVID-19 is rising throughout Massachusetts and the illness has now been identified in Salem, the Board will not issue additional press releases announcing new cases; however, a current count of positive cases, less recovered individuals, will continue to be included in the City’s regular updates posted at salem.com/covid19.

About the COVID-19 Coronavirus

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can cause mild to more severe respiratory illness.  Most patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have recovered on their own. However, COVID-19 can cause severe illness, and even death, particularly among those who are older or who have chronic medical conditions. Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person. COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Public Health recommendations to reduce risk of infection with COVID-19:

While there is currently no vaccine to prevent the COVID-19 coronavirus, there are several important measures you can take to stay healthy. These precautions are similar to those you would take to avoid the flu:

  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or by coughing or sneezing into your elbow
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Avoid gatherings of more than 10 people

The Board of Health is aware that events are being postponed or canceled and employers are encouraging employees that can work from home do so.  Residents should stay at home if they are sick. While currently available information indicates that the vast majority of children and most adults are not at risk for severe illness, we do know that some members of our community are at higher risk. These include:

  • People 60 and older
  • People with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes
  • People who have weakened immune systems
  • People who are pregnant

People at higher risk should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible, including public places with lots of people and large gatherings where there will be close contact with others.

For more information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic we recommend residents always rely on trusted sources for the most accurate information about novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Please visit: Massachusetts Department of Public of Public Health COVID-19 website at (mass.gov/dph) https://www.mass.gov/resource/information-on-the-outbreak-of-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19 or the Centers for Disease Control (cdc.gov) coronavirus website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html for more information.