I want to take a moment to provide you with the latest update regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) at the Worcester Housing Authority (WHA). This is an important message, so please take the time to read it in its entirety.
I am not going to sugar-coat the situation we are in. It is bad. The number of infections within our community and across the state have been steadily rising and are predicted to get exponentially worse in the coming months. Here at the WHA, we have already experienced multiple deaths at the hands of this uncontained virus. It has ripped apart families - mothers, fathers, siblings, and grandparents - leaving devastated friends and family members behind to pick up the pieces.
Together with local hospitals and public health officials, I have been carefully tracking infection rates within our sites. WHA staff have been doing everything in their power to keep our properties safe and sanitized. Nevertheless, the number of infections on our family properties continue to go up, with more and more being diagnosed each day.
As a result, I had asked our Property Management and Public Safety staff to conduct frequent walks and surveillance of our properties to gain an understanding as to what might be leading to this sudden increase in infection rates, often with me accompanying them. What I have witnessed is disturbing and alarming.
Most noticeably, at our family sites like Great Brook Valley, Curtis Apartments, Lakeside Apartments, Main South apartments and some of our other smaller sites, we are seeing a large number of residents out and about on the property without masks and not observing social distancing requirements. These violations encompass all ages – from children, who are most likely to be carriers of the virus; to grandparents, who are most likely to be victims – I am seeing people congregating, socializing, and hanging out on the properties with no masks and no distancing. This is not ok. This is irresponsible.
No matter how often our Maintenance staff clean and sanitize our properties and no matter how many free masks, hand sanitizers, and resources our Family & Resident Services staff hand out, if you do not do your part, it will never work. Personal accountability matters. You must take responsibility for your own safety, the safety of your family, and the safety of your neighbors.
Only you can prevent more infections. Only you can prevent more deaths.
Wear your mask any time and every time you leave your home. Wear it properly, completely covering your mouth and nose. Maintain a safe distance of at least six feet from anyone who does not live with you. Do not share benches. Do not share food or drink. Do not share cigarettes or hugs. Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water and use hand sanitizer when not near a sink or after handling items in a store or outside your home. Keep your hands away from your face. The virus spreads through droplets introduced through the mouth, nose, or eyes.
We are all tired of this virus, but this virus is not tired of us. As soon as you let your guard down, you jeopardize your life and the lives of those who count on you to be here. If you see something, say something; remind your friends and neighbors to wear their masks, remind them to take precautions, remind them that you love them and want them to be around and to be healthy. Winter is just around the corner and once cold and flu season kick into high gear, we will all be at risk. Stay vigilant.
Available Resources COVID-19 related updates are frequently posted on our webpage: www.worcesterha.org/covid19.html This webpage can be translated into over 100 languages. For text alerts, please text: WHACOVID to phone number 67076. Our Family & Resident Services Department has been working hard to line up referrals and necessary supplies to assist you with food, personal care items, educational assistance, medical care, mental health resources, or entertainment activities. If you need assistance, please reach out to 508-635-3306.
Thank you for your anticipated cooperation. On behalf of the entire WHA staff, I wish you good health and good luck. We are all in this together.
Coronavirus COVID-19 Alert
The number of COVID-19 cases in GBV and Curtis is higher than any other WHA development. We continue to see too many people NOT wearing their masks nor staying 6 feet distance from others.
You need to take this seriously as you are putting the health and safety of yourself, your children and others at risk. You are not immune to COVID-19 and currently the ONLY way to prevent transmission to others is by practicing good safety measures.
It’s very simple:
Wear a face mask at all times when you are outside of your apartment.
Distance yourself as much as possible by 6 to 8 feet from others.
WASH HANDS FREQUENTLY
Wash your hands thoroughly and as often as possible.
Clean regularly touched parts of the house such as surfaces, phones, computers, door knobs, and so on.
USE HAND SANITIZER
Use hand sanitizer often.
KIDS MUST COMPLY TOO
Your children also need to practice these safety measures.
Everyone needs to do their part in fighting this pandemic, and WE NEED YOU TO DO YOUR PART.
The battle against COVID-19 is unfortunately far from over. This summer we saw the number of COVID cases dramatically reduce primarily because individuals were taking safety measures seriously. This allowed us to experience a path toward normalcy and see businesses reopen.
However, the number of new COVID cases in Worcester have increased by over 43% in the last week, according to the Department of Public Health. Additionally, since the start of August, the city has seen increases in COVID cases, every week. At the Worcester Housing Authority, where we did not have any COVID cases in July, we have identified 11 new cases during August. This is a concerning trend and I want to take a moment to remind and refocus all residents on practicing safety measures.
The safety of our residents and staff is our top priority. Although we continue to disinfect high traffic areas, such as elevators and entry door handles, there are three basic safety measures that have proven to be highly effective in preventing the spread of COVID.
Facemasks I have personally seen an increase in the number of residents and visitors not wearing facemasks or wearing them inappropriately. Please remember that masks are required when entering WHA premises. It is important to note that if you do not wear your mask correctly, you diminish its effectiveness. For example, if your mask is exposing your nose or you have it around your chin and your face is exposed, then that is as effective as if you are not wearing a mask. Please wear your mask and cover your nose and mouth and remind your guests to do the same.
Hand Sanitizer / Washing Hands As you are aware, we have installed hand sanitizing stations at all WHA developments. Please make sure you use them when entering the building or exiting. It is important that you sanitize and/or wash your hands frequently and keep your fingers away from your mouth or eyes. We recommend that you clean your hands every 30 minutes or when you have been in contact with public areas, such as doors, elevator buttons, laundry machines, etc.
Social Distancing It is equally important that you always remain 6-8 feet distance from people, even if it is someone you know well or for a long time. As an additional safety measure, we highly encourage you to limit who is entering your apartment. If you do have a guest or visitor, they should always wear their mask inside your apartment and wash their hands. We certainly advise that you halt any unnecessary social gatherings.
We have been working closely with the City of Worcester and health care providers to provide free COVID testing at various WHA sites. Over the past few weeks, free testing was offered at Great Brook Valley and at Lakeside apartments.
As we continue to offer information on free testing, we encourage you to take advantage of these free tests in particular if you feel you have been exposed to COVID or have symptoms consistent with the virus.
POSITIVE RESULT If you tested positive for COVID, we encourage you to contact us at (508) 635-3306. This allows us to assist you during your recovery and provide additional services for you and your family. We also provide additional sanitizing around your apartment to ensure we contain the virus. We find it extremely beneficial to know this information so we can determine if we are seeing an increase in COVID cases in a WHA development. We appreciate your cooperation with this.
Please keep in mind that we are here to help. Our Resident Services office is our central hub to answer your questions and provide you information on resources that you may be eligible. I encourage you to call us with any questions so we can assist you. Their number is 508-635-3306
In conclusion, I want to make sure that I convey to you that overall our COVID numbers are very low and this notice is not meant to alarm you. I have been very pleased in how responsive our residents have been and how seriously all of you have taken this pandemic. This notice is meant to serve as a reminder that we are still in a pandemic and we cannot let our guard down. Latinos, African-Americans, elder individuals and those with compromised health issues are suffering the worst with this virus. Our WHA resident population is mainly comprised of folks in the high risk category.
To avoid an outbreak or an increase of COVID numbers, please stay vigilant and encourage others to do the same. We all need to work together to minimize the spread of this virus.
As you are aware, concerns about the COVID-19 virus (aka coronavirus) are increasing and, as with other businesses around the country, the WHA is actively monitoring developments and will do whatever is necessary to protect our staff and residents. The virus symptoms manifest as a mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) believes at this time that symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.
The WHA is working diligently to provide all staff and residents the provide all information pertenint to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 situation.
While we are always there for you via email/phone, we encourage you to utilize the various remote tools available especially the CDC and the World Health Oganization (WHO).
Here are some informational resources regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and how to keep your communities safe and healthy. In addition, please remember to check with your local health department and local governments.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development's COVID-19 page states that "[e]veryone should continue promoting everday disease prevention strategies;" - If you are sick, stay home from work or school.
- Avoid close contact with those who are already sick.
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with a tissue or the crook of your arm.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth.