CHATHAM -- As more coronavirus infections are discovered across the country and in the Commonwealth, some town governments on the Lower and Outer Cape have posted notices about the virus, also called Covid-19, on their web sites. And the county government moved to make emergency funds available.

With the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions or compromised immune systems at greater risk, some councils on aging say they’re hearing from anxious seniors.

“We have been getting calls. Folks are concerned,” said Mandi Speakman, director of the Chatham COA.

She said the staff there is referring people to the state government web site at mass.gov/guides/information-on-the-outbreak-of-2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19.

“The bottom line is to take the same care and precautions you would to protect yourself from catching the flu virus,” said Speakman.

Dr. David Pombo, the medical director of infection prevention at Cape Cod Healthcare, agreed, saying in a statement issued by CCH: “Right now, if you are living on Cape Cod, your chances of dying from the flu are much higher than your chances of dying from the coronavirus.”

Coronavirus symptoms are cold-like, according to the CDC, and include: runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever and a general feeling of being unwell.

As with the flu and other viruses, the coronavirus can sometimes cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses such as pneumonia or bronchitis. This is more common in people with cardiopulmonary disease, people with weakened immune systems, infants, and older adults, the CCH statement pointed out.

It noted that people who have the coronavirus are contagious even before they exhibit symptoms, and that people are transmitting the virus during the incubation period, which begins with exposure to the disease and lasts until symptoms develop.

“SARS and MERS were not supposed to be transmissible during the incubation period,” he said. “The coronavirus seems to be more transmissible, so it could be more widespread,” said Dr. Pombo.

With questions about the virus increasing by the day, CCH is making Dr. Pombo available to local media in a weekly conference call, starting this week, “given the large volume of inquiries we are receiving related to the subject,” a spokesman said Monday.

Meanwhile, Dr. Pombo and others, including Judith Giorgio, Chatham health agent, suggested that those who did not get a flu shot this year should get one.

“It is not too late to get your flu vaccine. About 35,000 Americans die from influenza each year, and most of them were unvaccinated,” he said.

Like other area municipalities, Chatham is reminding residents that it has an emergency response plan for public health emergencies "should we need to implement it."

Some towns are providing an Emergency Notification link on their home pages, with instructions about how to sign up for it. Notifications can be delivered by phone, cell phone, email and text.

Provincetown aimed to reassure residents that its health department has a public emergency plan based on a CDC template that is updated yearly with guidance from the county department of health and environment.

Town health department staff, it said in its web site statement, "have been trained in specific epidemiological guidelines pertaining to the current Covid-19 outbreak."

The Nauset Regional School District has a notice on its web site home page, with general information about cold and flu season, and when to keep children at home, although it doesn't specifically reference Covid-19.

At the county level, the county administrator earlier this week requested from the county commissioners access to $250,000 for an emergency management fund.

“Recognizing that CDC has opined that America’s senior population is the most prone to critical threats from the coronavirus and recognizing that our demographic profile houses the largest senior population of any county in New England, we must be poised to respond when needed, as needed,” county administrator Jack Yunits wrote in a memo to the commissioners.

 

How to protect yourself

Frequent hand-washing, for 20 seconds with hot water and soap.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Cough hygiene – into a tissue when possible (throw it away immediately) or into your elbow if necessary.

Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose with unwashed hands.

Avoid contact with those who are ill.

Stay home from work or school when ill.