FAQ in the Time of COVID-19

This web page provides information to common questions that may be of concern to residents.  If you have questions that is not addressed in this page email them directly to the Board of Health members at boh@ashfield.org.   

What Does a Stay at Home Advisory Mean?

The Department of Public Health issued a Stay-at-Home Advisory, built in two parts.  The first part is directed to those Massachusetts residents who are 70 years and older and those with underlying health conditions to strongly advise them to stay-at-home with the exception of essential trips for food, medicine, and focused time for exercise and fresh air.  As this part of our population has significantly higher fatality rates with confirmed cases of this virus, this DPH Advisory in the strongest terms urges you to stay-at-home unless necessary and to limit your exposure to this virus.

The second part is directed to the population as a whole - both to those who are needed to keep our essential services operational, and for all other residents of the Commonwealth.   This part of the advisory also advises staying-at-home for all those who are not providing essential services as described in Executive Order #21 (found online at https://www.mass.gov/doc/march-31-2020-essential-services-extension-order/download, https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-essential-services).

In every instance, this DPH Advisory requires the adherence for safe hygiene practices and vigilant physical distancing. Individuals in the Commonwealth should always practice physical distancing, meaning keeping a distance of 6 feet between you and the other person.

Under this advisory, “staying home” means:

  • Only leave your home to address essential needs, get some fresh air and exercise, and if you do, avoid unnecessary contact with other individuals.
  • You should still run essential errands such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy but should practice physical distancing when shopping. If you are at high-risk, you should inquire about your local pharmacy/grocery store’s alternative hours for high risk individuals.
  • When going to the pharmacy you should fill your prescriptions for 90 days if possible; for some medications this is not allowed. If you are at high-risk, you should try to use a mail-order service.
  • You can still go to the gas station, order and pick up take-out food and receive deliveries (e.g. Amazon, UPS, Fedex).
  • You can still go outside to get fresh air, however, you must practice physical distancing while outside and avoid touching surfaces frequently touched by others.
  • You are encouraged to use remote modes of communication such as telephone or video chat (e.g.  Facetime, Skype, Facebook Messenger Video Chat) instead of visiting friends or family. This is especially true for a hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or other residential care setting.
  • Non-essential medical care like eye exams, teeth cleaning, and elective procedures must be rescheduled.
  • If possible, health care visits should be done remotely.
  • Parents should not arrange play dates for children during this time.
  • All individuals must eliminate close contact activities such as pick-up sports games.
  • Individuals with any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 should remain in their homes, and request assistance with accessing essential services, such as obtaining food or medications.

When should one Self-Report Symptoms to the Health Agent?

If you have been diagnosed by lab test or have a doctor’s diagnosis with 2019 Novel (new) Coronavirus (COVID-19) and now have symptoms, or if you have had a high-risk exposure to COVID-19 but have no symptoms:

Stay home and have no visitors to your home. Contact your local Board of Health for guidance on isolation and quarantine.  You can find a contact list for each Franklin County community public health nurse online at: https://frcog.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Local-Public-Health-Contacts-for-COVID-19-for-Primary-Care-_Updated-April-1.pdf.  Reporting to your Board will allow them to communicate with local dispatch to ensure that any first responder who might need to come to your home for any type of emergency can know to take appropriate precautions.

ISOLATION is required of persons who have symptoms and have a diagnosis of COVID-19. You will be required to stay home and have no visitors unless medically required and wearing proper levels of protection.

ISOLATION may discontinue after 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 seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared (illness onset). Onset date (of symptoms) would be considered “day zero”.

QUARANTINE is for persons who are not symptomatic but are at high risk for having been exposed to the COVID 19 virus. A person at high risk for exposure without symptoms is required to stay home and monitor symptoms for 14 days. If symptoms develop, quarantine may not be exited until the 14 days have passed AND all symptoms have resolved, which may be later.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Information for Households

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a webpage providing guidance for households around cleaning and disinfecting, found at:


That page includes:

  • updated links to EPA-registered disinfectant list
  • Added guidance for disinfection of electronics
  • Updated core disinfection/cleaning guidance

The CDC also puts forth guidance for building your own disinfectant if you are unable to find EPA-approved pre-made disinfecting products on store shelves.  They recommend:

Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:

  • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water OR
  • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water

Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.