If you live in, or near, a community that has been designated by Massachusetts public health officials as being at high risk for COVID-19, you may be hearing directly from the state about how to stay safe from the virus.

Starting Monday, the state’s COVID Enforcement and Intervention Team and COVID-19 Command Center began sending out emergency alerts to cell phones in high risk communities including Chelsea, Everett, Framingham, Lawrence, Lynn, Nantucket, New Bedford, Revere, Winthrop, and Worcester to remind residents to remain on guard against the virus.

As of Tuesday, 63 communities in Massachusetts have been designated as high risk for the coronavirus.

“The purpose of this messaging tool is to help residents remain vigilant,” Tory Mazzola, a spokesperson for the Command Center, said in a statement. “We cannot let our guard down because our actions — wearing a mask or stopping gatherings with extended family and friends, for instance — can save lives and stop the spread.”

According to Mazzola, because the COVID-19 alert system can reach every cell phone in a designated area, sending alerts about the risk of the virus will help “get people’s attention,” remind them of the measures needed to prevent the spread of coronavirus and of ways to get more information. Phones in nearby communities may also receive the alerts due to the cell tower locations, according to the state.

The first alerts were sent out Monday evening between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. in both English and Spanish, using the following template:

MAGovt Alert COVID19 is a serious threat in [city/town name]. 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 state said the wireless alert system is just one tool in a broader messaging campaign to stop the spread of COVID-19, which includes field teams, paid advertising, and other communications related to the pandemic.


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