Statement from Sassy Outwater Wright on Coronavirus/COVID-19
Greetings, MABVI participants and friends,
You have likely been watching the news about the new Coronavirus called COVID-19. Here at the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, we are paying close attention to updates and guidelines from the CDC and the Department of Public Health. We’d like to take a moment to update you as to the precautions we’re taking here at MABVI and offer you some information about MABVI services for the duration of the coronavirus situation.
While Massachusetts is still considered to be at low risk, that could change at any time. The most up-to-date and accurate information can be found at the Center for Disease Prevention (CDC) website: www.cdc.gov/COVID19 or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health website: www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus.
Also, this fact sheet from the Mass. Department of Public Health which I encourage you to read for more information about the virus, how it spreads, and what to do to keep yourself and loved ones healthy. Please note the same precautions to help prevent colds and the flu can help protect against other respiratory viruses like this one.
Since most of our programs occur out in the community or in people’s homes, we need your help. We will have to work with one another to keep everyone safe during this time. Honesty, patience, cooperation, and flexibility will get us all through this, and I know MABVI people have those qualities in plenty. I do ask that you read the information here and help makes sure everyone affiliated with MABVI knows about it and helps practice it.
- If you are sick, please stay home and do not expose others
- If someone in your household is sick, please do not expose others. Stay home or advise people coming into your home that someone in the home is sick.
- If you have been traveling to a state or country with confirmed community-transmitted cases of the coronavirus, please wait 14 days before meeting with people in their homes.
- Do not shake hands
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth, and if you do, please wash your hands.
- Please wash your hands upon arrival in someone’s home for at least 20 seconds using soap and warm water. Please wash your hands often, especially when entering a home or upon exiting a public space such as public transit, a hospital, a classroom, or a meeting space.
- Please do not shake hands right now to greet someone. CDC guidelines recommend keeping six feet between yourself and others.
- Please ask others how they would like to be greeted instead.
- If you cough or sneeze, please use a sleeve or elbow rather than your hand to cover your mouth, reducing the transmission of the virus onto surfaces such as doorknobs, tables, railings or seats you touch.
- Please clean surfaces you touch often, such as computers, counters, phones, and even the handle of your cane or magnifier or guide dog harness could use a good cleaning. Please follow guidelines from manufacturers for cleaning each product.
- If you are at group events where food or drink is served, please do not have others pick up your cups, plates or utensils and napkins. If you do touch someone else’s used cups, plates or utensils, please wash your hands.
- We ask that right now food at any MABVI gathering be restricted to only what you brought with you for yourself; no potlucks or food made at home and passed from hand to hand or served by many people.
A couple more things to keep in mind:
- Please have backup plans for obtaining care if possible. If you need medications, food, or other essential items, please make sure you have what you need should you need to stay home for a couple of weeks. Many communities are working to help people with disabilities and older adults in these situations. Please familiarize yourself with what is available to you in your area in terms of community supports. Please make sure you have a community phone contact to reach out to and check in with, such as a friend, family member, or someone at your local community center or service organization who can make sure you are healthy and safe.
- This is an especially vulnerable time for the blindness community as transportation, public access and obtaining information becomes harder. MABVI is committed to our community and to the health of everyone involved in our programs. As community resources and supports become available, we will make every effort to let you know about resources in your area as we find out about them.
- We will be working closely with senior and community centers and other community partners during this time if events need to be canceled or rescheduled. We ask that you have patience with us through this process. We will make every effort to cancel or reschedule things ahead of time, but this is a developing situation and we may need to change things such as appointments or meetings at the last minute to keep our staff, consumers and volunteers healthy.
When arranging one-to-one meetings with MABVI consumers, staff or volunteers, we ask that you put your health first; please cancel the meeting if you or someone in your household is sick. If you are going into someone’s home, we advise asking if anyone in the household has been sick over the past 14 days, and if so, we advise waiting to reschedule the event for at least 14 days. If you can postpone the meeting, we advise doing so. If you need MABVI’s assistance to reschedule, please call us at: 1-888-613-2777.
Our volunteers help with important regular tasks such as grocery shopping. We want to minimize disruption in your life while also protecting the health of everyone involved with MABVI. If you can do so, we ask that you begin looking at a plan B for some of those tasks should your volunteer be unable to assist you for a meeting or two. It’s always good to have a back-up plan in place should you need it.
Be aware that scams may develop around this Coronavirus including asking for donations or promising vaccines. If you have reason to believe someone you know is being targeted, please let a MABVI staff member know. Read more about the levels of scams at the Federal Trade Commission’s website.
Wishing you good health and hoping Massachusetts sees a beautiful spring,
-Sassy, Executive Director: MABVI