People who live in or near some Massachusetts communities at high risk for COVID-19 transmission were getting alerts on their phones Monday afternoon reminding them about coronavirus safety rules.
It's the first time a Wireless Emergency Alert is being sent about the coronavirus in Massachusetts, a Massachusetts COVID-19 Command Center spokesman said.
The first of the alerts were going to phones in Chelsea, Everett, Lawrence, Lynn, Nantucket, New Bedford, Revere, Framingham, Winthrop and Worcester between 5 and 10 p.m. in English and Spanish, the spokesman said. People who live in nearby communities within reach of cell towers broadcasting the alerts may get the message as well.
"I live in Malden, so I come to Revere and at least I know...that the cases are higher here, and I can just prepare myself better," said Malden resident Yolanda Hernandez.
The 10 communities are being targeted because they've been frequently at high risk of having the coronavirus transmitted locally, according to the spokesman. In total, there are currently 63 Massachusetts cities and towns currently deemed at high risk of COVID-19 transmission.
The English version of Monday's alert will read:
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
It's part of Massachusetts' campaign to remind people to keep being vigilant about the pandemic, which isn't over, the spokesman said.
In fact, Massachusetts' numbers have been ticking up since the summer.
Wireless Emergency Alerts like the one being sent tonight are part of the system that also sends out Amber Alerts and alerts about dangerous weather, like tornadoes. They are sent by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
The company in charge of the alerts, Everbridge, is based in Burlington, Massachusetts.
"Being able to leverage our technology in our home state to keep our citizens safe, which are also our employees, is great," said Brian Toolin, an Everbridge employee.