FRAMINGHAM – Monday evening, October 19, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts used its Wireless Emergency Alert system to sent out an alert about COVID-19 to individuals in the 10 cities hardest hit by the coronavirus.
Those top 10 communities are: Chelsea – Everett – Lawrence – Lynn – Nantucket – New Bedford – Revere – Framingham – Winthrop – Worcester.
But not all in Framingham received the alert on their cell phone. And some who live in other communities received the alert? Why was that?
“The technology identifies phones in a designated community and sends an alert to these phones. This is based off of cell phone tower locations, which can at times include residents in neighboring cities or towns,” said a spokesperson for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
That means if you were shopping at Shoppers World or had an appointment in downtown Framingham but live in Sudbury or Natick, you would have received the alert.
Several individuals who live in Framingham and were in Framingham did not get the alert. And some individuals in the same household in Framingham received the alert and some did not. Why was that? SOURCE asked the Commonwealth those questions.
“There is a feature in the cell phone’s notification settings to enable or disable Wireless Emergency Alerts. Residents should ensure this feature is on so that they can be informed when an emergency arises,” said a Commonwealth spokesperson.
Phone should also be set to know your location.
Finally, the participation in wireless emergency alerts by wireless carriers is widespread but voluntary.
Some carriers may offer the wireless emergency alerts over all or parts of their service areas or over all or only some of their wireless devices.
Other carriers may not offer the wireless emergency alerts (WEA) at all.
Even if you have WEA-enabled device, you would not receive WEAs in a service area where the provider is not offering WEA or if your device is roaming on a provider network that does not support the WEA service, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Consumers should check with their wireless carriers to determine the extent to which they are offering wireless emergency alerts.
Framingham has been a red community or high-risk community for the spread of the coronavirus for 7 consecutive weeks.
“MAGovt Alert COVID19 is a serious threat in [city/town name],” the language on the message reads. “Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Do not share food drinks utensils. Stay home if sick. Get a free COVID test. Stop gatherings with family and friends. Protect you and your loved ones. For more info visit mass.gov/stopcovid19.”
The message is scheduled to go out between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. in English and Spanish, with each local community listed in the first sentence.
According to the state, these 10 communities have been “persistently high risk,” and that the alert is “another important message to remind residents to remain vigilant – wear masks, get tested/stay home if they feel sick, stop having gatherings and practice social distancing.”
“This alert is also part of a broader campaign that includes field teams, paid advertising and other communications to remind residents that the pandemic is not over, and these best practices will help protect their family, friends and neighbors,” according to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
How is Framingham dealing with the virus?
Framingham became a high-risk or red community the last week of August.
At that time the City’s positive cases per day over 100,000 individuals was 8.7.
Seven weeks later, and that number has almost doubled to 17.9 cases per day.
The State has been providing multi-lingual outreach teams to Framingham and five other communities for weeks.
The state is also paying for three free COVID-19 testing sites in the City of Framingham.
But Dr. Wong has also said the testing site has capacity issues.
Once Framingham became a red community or high-risk community, it meant the Baker-Polito administration could provide additional supports.
- Targeted interventions and inspections by a range of member agencies, including Local Services, Labor Standards, DPH, MSP and ABCC, coordinated by EOPSS and MEMA.
- Increased enforcement, including fines, of sector guidance for businesses to ensure businesses and residents are aware of and following COVID-19 orders.
- Cease and desist orders as necessary for businesses and organizations in violation of the COVID-19 orders.
- Support for ABCC and local licensing boards in exercising their existing authority to fine restaurants or suspend or cancel liquor licenses when restaurants do not comply with required COVID-19 safety measure or sanitation codes.
- Technical support to local government officials to support enhanced local COVID-19 prevention efforts such as assistance in accessing CARES Act funding.
- Potential restrictions or shutdowns for parks, playgrounds, businesses or other entities and locations believed to be contributing to the COVID-19 spread in higher risk COVID-19 communities.
- Additional public health support such as testing, tracing and quarantining.
The City of Framingham has not asked for many of these supports.