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COVID-19 Preparation in Massachusetts

Information about public health emergency preparedness in Massachusetts

Massachusetts public health departments and our world-class health care providers are well-versed in emergency preparedness and our healthcare workers, institutions and public health partners across the Commonwealth are constantly training for the possible emergence of diseases.

Massachusetts has been planning for the surge in hospital cases of COVID-19. See COVID-19 Hospital Capacity And Surge Response for information about total hospital bed occupancy/availability as reported by Massachusetts hospitals, Alternate Medical Sites, and Command Center Surge Modeling.

We are engaging in daily communications with the CDC, US Health and Human Services, and other federal and regional agencies to make sure we are sharing with you and all of our Massachusetts partners the latest guidance and recommendations.

Table of Contents

Fall and winter readiness

On October 13, the Baker-Polito Administration announced COVID-19 measures in place to ensure readiness for fall and winter, including testing, contact tracing, hospital readiness, long term care facility readiness, PPE stockpile, and K-12 guidance. Read more in the press release.

Preparing for a COVID-19 vaccine

In anticipation of the approval of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, Massachusetts established an active inter-agency COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group in October 2020 to develop plans ensuring an equitable and speedy distribution to Massachusetts communities. Distribution of vaccine in Massachusetts commenced in December 2020 and is ongoing at this time. To learn more about the latest vaccine updates in MA, including the vaccine prioritization plan, frequently asked questions, and information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), view COVID-19 Vaccine in Massachusetts.

Infectious Disease Emergency Response (IDER) Plan

The Massachusetts DPH Infectious Disease Emergency Response (IDER) Plan PDF | Doc describes the department’s operations for an infectious disease emergency response, outlines department roles and responsibilities, and details the procedures and the coordination among and across responding agencies to ensure an effective operation. The IDER Plan establishes the framework for incident recognition and the activation and coordination of DPH and partner agency actions in response to infectious disease incidents having public health implications. The plan also describes the activities to ensure coordination, effective communication, and ongoing planning.

Additional preparedness steps taken by DPH

  • Created an Incident Command Structure to include briefings with state health leadership to facilitate information sharing, decision-making, and responses during a potential outbreak.
  • Standing up regional isolation and recovery sites located in hotels across the state.
  • Keeping public health partners including local boards of health, school health personnel, Emergency Medical Services, college and university health systems, and health emergency preparedness teams informed with the latest federal guidance.
  • Continually monitoring impacts to the supply chain of personal protective equipment such as gloves, face masks, and other equipment within the US and providing hospitals and health systems with strategies to optimize these supplies.
  • Continuing efforts by the State Public Health Laboratory staff and epidemiologic staff to perform surveillance of cases and contacts and respond to questions from clinicians, health departments, and the public 24/7.
  • The state public health lab received federal approval on Friday, February 28, 2020 to perform diagnostic testing for the virus. Read more about testing.

Preparedness resources for the public

DPH resources
CDC resources
  • Samaritans is continuing operations 24/7, as always.  During this unprecedented time, it can feel overwhelming to receive constant messages about COVID-19. Call or text their 24/7 helpline any time at 877-870-4673.
  • 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.