Board of Health (508) 862-4644 health@town.barnstable.ma.us
COVID-19 Frequently Asked Question
Should I be tested?

If you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 or you are a resident in a community where there is ongoing spread of COVID-19 and develop symptoms of COVID-19, call your healthcare provider and tell them about your symptoms and your exposure. They will decide whether you need to be tested, but keep in mind that there is no treatment for COVID-19 and people who are mildly ill may be able to isolate and care for themselves at home.

For detailed information, visit the CDC’s webpage: Testing for COVID-19

You can also call 2-1-1, a 24-hour state-supported telephone hotline.

 

How do I get tested for Coronavirus COVID-19

To receive testing, patients must be screened for COVID-19 by a Cape Cod Healthcare clinical care provider, receive a doctor’s order and appointment for COVID-19 testing. Patients displaying symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, coughing or shortness of breath should contact their primary care provider to be screened for COVID-19. If you do not have a primary care provider, please call a Cape Cod Healthcare urgent care center. Please note: Those arriving at the testing site without a doctor’s orders and/or an appointment will be turned away without exception.

At the designated appointment time, the patient will drive to the main entrance of Cape Cod Community College and follow signage to the testing lot. Patient will remain in the car, present a photo ID and receive a nasal swab by nurse in personal protective equipment. The patient will receive a copy of discharge instructions for self-quarantine once testing is complete. Samples collected from the location will be sent to the Department Public of Health (DPH) or an offsite commercial testing facility depending on their symptoms. Results are expected to be available between one (1) to three (3) business days. All results (positive and negative) will be reported to the patient. Patients who have been tested will also receive a daily check-in call by a public health nurse until their results are confirmed. Patients will be tested regardless of their ability to pay; no copays will be charged for a COVID-19 test.

I have been tested for COVID-19, now what?

“For those of you who have completed the #COVID-19 screening with a doctor, and you’re waiting for a call-back with your appointment for testing: Cape Cod Healthcare staff are calling patients with an appointment same day/next day for same day/next day appointment, at this time.”

Who is at higher risk?
Early information out of China, where COVID-19 first started, shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes:
  • Older adults
  • People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
    • Heart disease
    • Diabetes
    • Lung disease
What should I do if someone in my household is quarantined?
  • Establish a room (and a bathroom if possible) which only the quarantined person can use.
  • The quarantined person should not leave home at all, except for urgent medical care. If urgent care is needed, they should wear a surgical mask at all times while outside of the home. Do not take buses, subways or ride shares like Uber or Lyft. Use a personal vehicle or call an ambulance to get to the provider’s location. And call ahead to your provider so they can be ready.
  • All household members should practice strict personal hygiene. That means washing your hands frequently with soap and warm water. When you cough or sneeze, use a tissue every time. Then wash your hands.
  • Do not share plates, glasses, cups, or utensils. Wash all these items in a dishwasher or with dishwashing liquid and warm water.
  • Wipe down frequently used surfaces with a household disinfecting cleaner – especially if they’ve come in contact with bodily fluids like spit, mucus, urine, feces, or vomit.
  • Do not allow visitors in your home.

All household members should monitor their own health and call their healthcare provider if they develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath).

In addition, the CDC has provided a list of recommendations for how to best care for someone at home which can be found on the CDC website.

 

For Persons with COVID-19 Under Isolation

The decision to discontinue isolation should be made in the context of local circumstances. Options now include both 1) a time-since-illness-onset and time-since-recovery (non-test-based) strategy, and 2) test-based strategy.

Time-since-illness-onset and time-since-recovery strategy (non-test-based strategy)*

Persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:

  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and,
  • At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

Test-based strategy (simplified from initial protocol) Previous recommendations for a test-based strategy remain applicable; however, a test-based strategy is contingent on the availability of ample testing supplies and laboratory capacity as well as convenient access to testing. For jurisdictions that choose to use a test-based strategy, the recommended protocol has been simplified so that only one swab is needed at every sampling.

Persons who have COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:

Persons with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms may discontinue isolation when at least 7 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test and have had no subsequent illness provided they remain asymptomatic. For 3 days following discontinuation of isolation, these persons should continue to limit contact (stay 6 feet away from others) and limit potential of dispersal of respiratory secretions by wearing a covering for their nose and mouth whenever they are in settings where other people are present. In community settings, this covering may be a barrier mask, such as a bandana, scarf, or cloth mask. The covering does not refer to a medical mask or respirator.

Search Results Web results What is the difference between isolation and quarantine

Isolation and quarantine are public health practices used to protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.

  • Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms.
Why are COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts reported by county?

Please note: To protect privacy and confidentiality of individuals who test positive for COVID-19, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health only publicly reports positive case counts and deaths by county on COVID-19 Cases, Quarantine and MonitoringThe decision to share more detailed case counts by community rests with each city or town, based on the assessment of the situation in their own communities. DPH only asks local boards of health to respect the privacy and confidentiality of residents when providing community case counts.

 

Is it safe to attend events and gatherings?

The Department of Public Health has posted recommendations to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, which are available here: COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment.

What is the limit on the number of people in gatherings?

As of March 23rd, Governor Baker has restricted gatherings to no more than 10 people.​ Read more: March 23 Press Release.

 

FAQ' s for COVID- 19
What are the symptoms and complications of COVID-19?

The COVID-19 virus affects different people in different ways.  COVID-19 is a respiratory disease and most infected people will develop mild to moderate symptoms and recover without requiring special treatment.  People who have underlying medical conditions and those over 60 years old have a higher risk of developing severe disease and death.

Common symptoms include:

  • fever
  • tiredness
  • dry cough.

Other symptoms include:

  • shortness of breath
  • aches and pains
  • sore throat
  • and very few people will report diarrhoea, nausea or a runny nose.

People with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy should self-isolate and contact their medical provider or a COVID-19 information line for advice on testing and referral.

People with fever, cough or difficulty breathing should call their doctor and seek medical attention.

 

How does COVID19 spread?

The virus spreads largely by respiratory droplets. These spread by coughing, sneezing, or through respiratory secretions. 

The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person. Someone who is sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That is why CDC recommends that these patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on how sick they are) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.

How long someone is actively sick can vary so the decision on when to release someone from isolation is made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with doctors, infection prevention and control experts, and public health officials and involves considering specifics of each situation including disease severity, illness signs and symptoms, and results of laboratory testing for that patient.

Current CDC guidance for when it is OK to release someone from isolation is made on a case by case basis and includes meeting all of the following requirements:

  • The patient is free from fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • The patient is no longer showing symptoms, including cough.
  • The patient has tested negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart.

Someone who has been released from isolation is not considered to pose a risk of infection to others.

 

Is there a vaccine?

There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.

 

Is there a treatment?

There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. Studies are currently ongoing to determine the efficacy of different antiviral treatments. People with COVID-19 can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms.

 

Should I wear a mask when I go out in public?

As of April 3, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings. This recommendation is made in light of recent studies that have shown individuals with the virus who lack symptoms can transmit the virus to others. CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings including places where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (such as grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

It is critical to emphasize that social distancing measures remain in effect and keeping 6 feet apart from others remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. 

Learn more at the CDC website, including recommendations for making a face covering. 

 

What if I am pregnant?
What if I am having anxiety and stress?

The CDC has resources for Manage Anxiety & Stress, including information about reducing stress in yourself and others.

The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health has resources and tips for Maintaining Emotional Health & Well-Being During the COVID-19 Outbreak.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health also has resources for managing stress, anxiety, or other strong emotions:

The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster, including disease outbreaks like COVID-19. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories.

 

What resources are available to me if I am struggling with issues related to sexual or domestic violence during this time?

Help and support are available to you. Many services for people struggling with issues related to  sexual and domestic violence are available remotely during this COVID-19 public health emergency. Visit the Domestic Violence Program and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Survivor Services page for more information.

 

Face Masks & Face Coverings
Governor Baker has issued an Order effective Wednesday, May 6 requiring face masks or cloth face coverings

Governor Baker has issued an Order effective Wednesday, May 6 requiring face masks or cloth face coverings in public places where social distancing is not possible. This applies to both indoor and outdoor spaces. Exceptions include children under the age of 2 and those unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a medical condition. Read the full DPH Guidance.

DOWNLOAD & PRINT FAQ Mask Guidance

What are the requirements of the Order?

The Order requires that every person over the age of five (5) wear a mask or cloth face covering in the following instances:
1. When in a place open to the public, whether indoor or outdoor and when the person is unable to maintain social distancing; or
2. When a person is inside, or waiting in line outside of any grocery store, pharmacy, or other retail store; or
3. When a person is providing or using the services of any taxi, car, livery, ride-sharing, or similar service or any means of mass public transit, or while within an enclosed or semienclosed transit stop or waiting area.

This also applies to all workers and customers of businesses or other organizations open to the public that are permitted to operate as COVID-19 Essential Businesses.

Are there any exceptions to the requirement to wear a mask or face covering under the Order?

Yes, the Order specifically exempts the following individuals from the requirement to wear a mask or face covering under the Order:
1. Those with medical conditions or disabilities that may inhibit them from wearing a mask or face covering safely.
This may include, but is not limited to:
• Those who cannot breathe safely;
• Those who, due to a behavioral health diagnosis, are unable to do so;
• Those communicating with people who rely upon lip-reading;
• Those who require supplemental oxygen to breathe;
2. Those who are exercising outdoors and are able to keep physical distance from others; and
3. Children under the age of 2 years.

Keep in mind that individuals not wearing a mask or face cover due to a medical condition or disability are not required to produce any documentation verifying the condition.

Are children between two (2) and five (5) years of age required to wear a mask or face covering under the Order?

Children between the ages of two (2) and five (5) years of age are encouraged to wear a mask or face covering, but it is up to the discretion of the parent or guardian. As a result, the Order does not require such children to wear a mask or face covering.

What is a “mask or face covering”?

There is no official definition other than the requirement that the mask or face covering covers the person’s nose and mouth.

The DPH Guidance advises that such masks or coverings should:
• fit securely and comfortably against the side of the face;
• be secured with ties or ear loops;
• allow for breathing without restriction; and
• be able to be laundered and dried without damage or change of shape.

3 Further, the Order strongly discourages individuals from using medical-grade masks to comply with the Order. These masks should be reserved for use by healthcare workers or first responders

May businesses require customers to wear masks or face coverings while on their property?

Yes, businesses have the right to decline the entry of any customer who refuses to wear a mask or face covering for non-medical reasons.

Businesses cannot, however, decline entry of a customer for failing to wear a mask or face covering because of a medical condition.

Businesses may also consider providing other reasonable accommodations to individuals with medical conditions or disabilities such as curbside service.

Individuals with medical conditions or disabilities who are denied service because they are unable to wear a face mask can file a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.

How is the Order enforced?

The Order states that the Department of Public Health, local boards of health, and authorized agents under G.L. c. 111, § 30 are authorized to enforce the Order and if necessary, may do so with the assistance of State or municipal police.

The Order provides that violations of this Order will be punished in the following manner: (a) a warning for the first offense; and (b) a civil citation and fine of up to $300.00 for the second or subsequent offense.

What about existing local board of health regulations or orders regarding masks and face coverings?

The Governor’s Order preempts all conflicting local board of health regulations or municipal orders regarding masks and face coverings, and as of Wednesday, May 6, 2020, those regulations may no longer be enforced.

Note, however, that if individuals have already been cited under such a regulation for a violation occurring before March 6, 2020, the municipality still has the authority to collect any such fines for that violation.

What is law enforcement’s role in enforcing the Order, and what is the recommended response?

Again, law enforcement may be called upon to assist the DPH, local boards of health, or authorized agents in enforcing the Order, if necessary. 4 However, the DPH, local boards of health, and authorized agentsremain the enforcement authorities. As a result, law enforcement has only a support role, if called upon, to enforce the Order.

Prior to any law enforcement response, chiefs of police and law enforcement executives should have interactive discussions with their local boards of health, municipal counsel and authorized agents of local boards of health to clarify:
• In what instances law enforcement personnel may be called upon to assist;
• The method by which law enforcement personnel may be called upon to assist;
• The information needed in calling upon law enforcement personnel to assist; and
• The anticipated level of law enforcement response in certain situations.

If law enforcement is called upon to assist the DPH, local board of health, or their authorized agents, then the following response is recommended after arriving on scene: 

1. Identify the party, establish contact, and diffuse the situation. Officers should be aware that individuals may be experiencing a high-level of stress based upon the ongoing pandemic, and the orders and regulations being placed upon their liberty. As with all citizen contacts, officers should seek to use this first contact with the party to calm the situation as much as possible, to establish a connection, and to diffuse the situation. Note that nothing in this guidance is meant to require, advise or recommend that officers deviate from accepted officer safety standards and tactics. Officer safety remains paramount.

2. Determine whether an exemption applies. Remember, certain individuals are exempt from the requirements of the Order. In order to determine whether an exemption applies, officers should tactfully ask the party why they are refusing to wear a mask or face covering.

If the reason is because the person has a medical condition or disability, then the party will indicate this. Officers should not follow up with requests for documentation to substantiate this.

Likewise, officers should not ask the party to identify the specific medical condition or disability. And if an exemption applies and the person is seeking to enter a business, ascertain whether a reasonable accommodation has been offered to allow the person to access the business without wearing a mask. One such example may include offering curbside service.

3. If an exemption does not apply, attempt to achieve voluntary compliance. Officers should always attempt to achieve voluntary compliance. One aspect of the role of law enforcement is to provide education and training to the public on not just what the law is, but also, why the law exists.

Officers may wish to carry such educational materials with them to share with citizens. These materials may display, in a picture format for instance, the benefits of using such masks and face coverings, and the benefits of social distancing. Similarly, officers may wish to talk through ways the person could comply with the order if a tradition mask is not available.

For example, the use of a bandana, long sock or cloth. Additionally, the Department may want to research local providers in the area that offer masks and face coverings and officers consider carrying extra masks whenever possible. The primary goal is that through a congenial conversation, officers can achieve voluntary compliance.

4. If voluntary compliance cannot be achieved, then officers may issue a citation to the party under the Order if absolutely necessary. This is the last resort for simple violations of the Order. If absolutely necessary to gain compliance, officers may issue a civil citation for up to $300.00 using the same process that they use for marijuana and other violations under G.L. c. 40, § 21D. 5.

If the party is in violation of other criminal laws and regulations, then officers may respond in accordance to the violation. If the party is in violation of other criminal laws or regulations (e.g. breach of the peace, disturbing the peace, trespass, disorderly conduct, etc.), then officers may response to those infractions in the usual manner.

 

What if a business declines entry to a customer because they are refusing to wear a mask?

If law enforcement is called upon to respond to an incident where a business declines entry to a customer because they are refusing to wear a mask or face covering, then officers should consider the following:

1. Determine whether the party has a medical or disability related reason for not wearing a mask. Remember, under the Order, businesses may only decline entry to a customer for refusing to wear a mask or face covering for non-medical reasons.

As a result, officers should attempt to determine, with discretion, why the person is refusing to wear a mask or face covering. In order to determine whether an exemption applies, simply ask the party, why they are refusing to wear a mask or face covering.

If the reason is due to a medical condition or disability, then the party will indicate this. Officers should not follow up with requests for documentation to substantiate this. Likewise, officers should not ask the party to identify the specific medical condition or disability.

2. Determine whether a reasonable accommodation was offered. If the customer has a medical condition or disability which means they cannot safely wear a mask, the business is required to either allow the customer to enter the store without a mask or provide another reasonable accommodation that allows access to the business.

If a business does not provide a reasonable accommodation, a complaint can be filed with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.

3. Determine whether there is a discriminatory motive for declining entry to the party. Remember that G.L. c. 272, § 92A provides that a place of public accommodation may not discriminate against any person based upon their religious sect, creed, class, race, color, denomination, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, deafness, blindness, or physical or mental disability.

As a result, officers shall not take any enforcement action if there are sufficient grounds to believe that the reason why the party is being denied entry is discriminatory in nature. Again, such instances of discrimination may be referred to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.

4. Attempt to achieve voluntary compliance. Officers should always attempt to achieve voluntary compliance. One aspect of the role of law enforcement is providing education and training to the public on not just what the law is, but also, why the law exists.

Officers may wish to carry such educational materials with them to share with citizens and which display, in a picture format, the benefits of using such masks and face coverings, and the benefits of social distancing.

Similarly, officers may wish to talk through ways the person could comply with the order if a tradition mask is not available. For example, the use of a bandana, long sock or cloth. Additionally, the Department may want to research local providers in the area that offer masks and face coverings and officers should consider carrying extra masks whenever possible. The primary goal is that through a congenial conversation, officers can achieve voluntary compliance.

Officers may advise the person that they have to comply, or the business may have them removed. Rev. 05.04.2020 Page 7 of 7

5. If voluntary compliance cannot be achieved in a business setting, officers may utilize the trespass charge as the last resort. If the party will not voluntarily comply, either by donning a mask or face covering, or by refusing to leave the business, and an exemption does not apply, then the officer may consider utilizing the charge of trespass under G.L. c. 266, § 120. Again, such charges should only be used as a last resort when voluntary compliance cannot be achieved through other means.

Do I still need to stay at least 6 feet away from people if I am wearing a face cloth covering?

Yes. Wearing cloth face coverings is an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19. CDC still recommends that you stay at least 6 feet away from other people (social distancing), frequent hand cleaning and other everyday preventive actions. A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but it may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important if someone is infected but does not have symptoms. View CDC’s guidance on how to protect yourself.

How to Safely Wear and Take Off a Cloth Face Covering