Updates from the Health Department

March 19, 2020

Number of COVID-19 Cases:

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Winchester is evolving and does not provide an accurate picture of people who have or may currently be carrying COVID-19. As testing increases, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases will increase. The most current state numbers can be found here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-cases-quarantine-and-monitoring

March 18, 2020


Given the Winchester Board of Health Declaration of a Public Health Emergency issued March 18, 2020, and in the interest of protecting public health during the Coronavirus pandemic, effective 12:01 am Friday March 20, 2020 all services offered to the public which cannot be provided at a distance of at least six (6) feet are hereby discontinued. 

This includes, but is not limited to: 

· Hairdressers and barbers 

· Nail salons 

· Massage services 

· Gyms, health clubs and yoga studios 

· Private instruction classes such as, driving and tutoring schools 

· Spa-type services for cosmetic purposes that are not deemed medically necessary 

This does NOT include services that are medically necessary and provided by a licensed health care provider such as, but not limited to, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, chiropractors, and mental health providers. 

This Emergency Order shall remain in effect until notice is given pursuant to a determination by the Winchester Board of Health and consultation with state and national guidance that the Public Health Emergency no longer exists. 

Jennifer Murphy, MPH
Director of Public Health 

Update: 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
March 10, 2020 

Two Presumptive Positive Cases of COVID-19 Identified in Winchester The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today notified the Winchester Health Department of two adult residents that tested positive for the novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19. The DPH results are considered presumptive positive and both samples will now be sent to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmation. Both residents are isolating at home and are experiencing mild illness. 

All individuals who are considered close contacts of these Winchester residents are being notified by public health officials and will be given appropriate instructions. 

DPH announced today that the total number of cases in Massachusetts is 92 and Governor Baker has declared a State of Emergency due to the increase of COVID-19 cases in MA. DPH strongly advises that anyone who feels ill, remain at home and call their primary care provider to see if they meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing. For more information, visit www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus. 

Coronaviruses are respiratory viruses and are generally spread through respiratory secretions (droplets from coughs and sneezes) of an infected person to another person. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath, and, in severe cases, pneumonia (fluid in the lungs). The severity of illness from COVID-19 is reported to be more severe for older adults and those with serious chronic medical conditions. For more information on COVID-19, go to www.cdc.gov or www.winchester.us. 

Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. To prevent the spread of germs, take the following steps:  

  • Stay home when feeling sick. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.  
  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.  
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.  
  • Clean things that are frequently touched (like electronics, doorknobs and countertops) with household cleaning spray or wipes.  
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Throw tissues in trash. Immediately wash hands or use sanitizer. 

We recognize that these are trying times. Our thoughts are particularly focused on our family members, friends, and neighbors of a vulnerable age, or who have an underlying condition that puts them at greater risk. The Health Department continues to monitor the risk of COVID-19 in our community. Staff has daily contact with DPH and continues to follow all CDC guidance for mitigating community spread of COVID-19. We will continue to provide updates on this rapidly changing situation. 

Board of Health:
Kerry Bartlett, MHS, Chair
Shannon Bottari, MD, Vice-Chair
Cathy C. Donaghey Tel: 781-721-7121 

Jennifer Murphy, MPH, Director
Kathy Whittaker, RN, Public Health Nurse

Update on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
March 5, 2020 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new respiratory illness that is spread through respiratory secretions, (droplets from coughs and sneezes) of an infected person to another. There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in Winchester and to date, only one confirmed case in Massachusetts. This is however, a rapidly evolving situation. 

While Massachusetts is currently considered low-risk for COVID-19, we understand that more cases are likely to emerge in the US in the coming days and weeks. Winchester Health Department staff have regular communication with the MA Department of Public Health (DPH) and the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) who are keeping us informed on national and local conditions. As information and guidance becomes available from the CDC, the Winchester Health Department will continue to work closely with the Winchester Public Schools, town officials and public safety officials to closely monitor the situation and implement any recommended actions from state and federal authorities, as needed. 

At the Winchester Health Department, our current role centers on the provision of prevention messaging, and to conduct risk assessment and public health management of persons returning from travel to high risk countries and others at risk for COVID-19 development. 

It is important to focus on the many things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. 

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when feeling sick. 
- Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue, throw your tissue in the trash, and clean your hands after.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects like door handles, counters, electronics, etc. 
- Make sure you are up to date on important immunizations like flu and pneumonia. The Winchester Health Department still has both – call us! 
- Sign up for Winchester Aware, the Town’s emergency notification system. 
- Learn how to prepare and take action at home by clicking here 

For up to date information on COVID-19 you may visit www.cdc.gov. Questions? Email the Winchester Health Dept. at healthdept@winchester.us or call 781-721-7121.