Boston: BPHC Shares Guidance on Preparing for COVID-19 and Other Common Respiratory Viruses As Children Return to School

BOSTON ~ As Boston families prepare to send their children back to school, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) is reminding everyone to be aware of the increasing COVID-19 cases and to prepare for cold and flu season.

In order to protect others from infection, BPHC recommends that families have COVID-19 rapid testing kits available at home and ready to use if anyone is feeling sick or has been exposed to someone with COVID-19. To make this easier, BPHC has created an expansive network of distribution hubs where residents can get free at-home rapid testing kits in every Boston neighborhood. Additionally, two standing clinics at the Bruce C. Bolling Building in Roxbury and City Hall offer free COVID-19 vaccines, boosters, and rapid at-home testing kits which can be taken on site.

To support as many families and BPS employees as possible before the start of the new school year, BPHC is extending the hours of operation at its clinical site at the Bruce C. Bolling Building in Roxbury next week from Tuesday through Saturday from 12-6pm. Normal hours of operation (Thursdays-Saturdays from 12-6pm) will resume the following week.

"Being prepared is one of the best strategies to protect ourselves and others as we begin to settle back into school and testing for COVID-19 if you are feeling sick or have been exposed is one of the best ways we can protect our classmates, colleagues, and family members," said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission.

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BPHC also strongly recommends that all families stay up to date with their vaccines for COVID-19, flu, and other diseases such as pertussis, measles, and varicella by getting their annual flu shot in September or October. The FDA and CDC are expected to issue approvals for updated COVID-19 vaccines and schedules in the coming weeks which BPHC will review before providing recommendations.

In addition to having access to rapid testing kits and staying up to date with vaccinations, BPHC recommends that everyone take steps such as staying home when sick; wearing a mask if you are around others while ill or have to leave the house; talking with your trusted healthcare provider about treatment if you test positive for COVID-19 or flu; wearing a well fitting face mask; washing your hands regularly with soap and water; regularly disinfecting high touch surfaces; etc., in order to protect themselves from getting sick with COVID-19 or other respiratory viruses.

Though numbers remain higher than earlier this summer (948 RNA copies/mL on August 23 compared 247 RNA copies/mL on June 7), there has been no cause for immediate concern yet as hospitalizations have only increased slightly since August (69 new weekly hospitalizations). However it is important for everyone in Boston be aware of these increases as back-to-school season approaches along with cold & flu season.

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