I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources.
As of today, 1581 Cambridge residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and 100 residents have passed away, according to the state's database. Learn more here. There have been 156,385 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, and there are 725 newly reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state today. 51,419 patients have been tested today, and 10,023 have passed away. Learn more here.
State Action Updates
Massachusetts reports 1,139 new COVID cases Sunday, marking 10th consecutive day of 1,000-plus cases
State health officials on Sunday reported 1,139 new COVID-19 cases, marking the tenth day in a row with more than 1,000 new positive tests, as well as 22 more deaths linked to the virus. The seven-day weighted average rate of positive tests stands at 1.8%, significantly up from 1.1% at the start of the month and September’s low of 0.8%. As of Sunday, 613 people are in treatment for COVID-19 at the hospital, including 113 in intensive care. Hospitalizations were in the 500s throughout most of October. The latest figures come as more than 120 Massachusetts cities and towns are now designated “high risk” based on rising coronavirus cases. Read more here.
DPH Revamping Daily COVID Data Reports
In an attempt to make the publicly released COVID-19 data more useful, the Department of Public Health has reorganized the daily “dashboard” that reports on new cases, testing and other metrics, and the department on Monday will begin reporting on case growth by age group and the impact of university testing on broader state trends, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said. Read more here.
Baker Calls Up National Guard Ahead of Election
Ahead of Election Day in a bitterly contested presidential campaign, Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday activated up to 1,000 members of the Massachusetts National Guard as one step in preparations to ensure Massachusetts "is positioned to maintain public safety following Tuesday's election," his administration said. Secretary of Public Safety Tom Turco said there is "no indication of any public safety risk in Massachusetts" but that the administration is making resources are available in case municipal officials request state assistance. The National Guard has been activated a few times in recent months without its members being pressed into duty. Read more here.
Household 'Clusters' Are A Problem In Massachusetts, But Source Of Most COVID Infections Remains Elusive
The state Department of Public Health released new details last week about the sources of COVID-19 clusters in Massachusetts, using data from the state's contact tracing efforts. But in some ways, the data raise more questions than answers. While Gov. Charlie Baker and other public officials have repeatedly said the biggest risk of infection was coming from social gatherings, particularly among young people, the data show that the vast majority of COVID-19 clusters were traced back to transmission within households. A household "cluster" is defined as two or more people living at the same address who were infected within four weeks of each other. The state's weekly COVID-19 report, released Thursday, stated that there have been 3,854 such household clusters in the state, leading to 7,428 confirmed cases. Read more here.
Governor Baker Press Conference Updates:
Massachusetts Updates New Public Health Regulations
Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a series of targeted measures to disrupt the increasing trend of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Governor Charlie Baker announced these changes at a time where public health data has indicated that cases are rising, with cases up by 278% and hospitalizations up by 145% since Labor Day. These measures are meant to disrupt rising trends now, so the Commonwealth can keep the economy and schools open for residents and to prevent the need to roll back to Phase I or Phase II of the reopening plan.
Stay At Home Advisory: The Administration issued a revised Stay At Home Advisory to ensure residents avoid unnecessary activities that can lead to increased COVID-19 transmission. The revised Stay At Home Advisory instructs residents to stay home between 10 PM and 5 AM. The Advisory allows for activities such as going to work, running critical errands to get groceries and address health needs, and taking a walk.
Early Closure of Businesses and Activities: Governor Baker issued a new executive order that requires the early closure of certain businesses and activities each night at 9:30 PM. The 9:30 PM closure requirement is aligned with the Stay At Home Advisory and together the two new initiatives are designed to further limit activities that could lead to COVID-19 transmission.
Face Covering Order: Governor Baker also signed an updated order related to face-coverings. The revised order requires all persons to wear face-coverings in all public places, even where they are able to maintain 6 feet of distance from others. The revised order still allows for an exception for residents who cannot wear a face-covering due to a medical or disabling condition, but it allows employers to require employees to provide proof of such a condition. It also allows schools to require that students participating in in-person learning provide proof of such a medical or disabling condition.
Gatherings Order: Governor Baker also signed an updated order restricting gatherings. The new gatherings order reduces the gathering size limit for gatherings at private residences: indoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 25 people. The limit on gatherings held in public spaces and at event venues (e.g. wedding venues) remains the same. The new order also requires that all gatherings (regardless of size or location) must end and disperse by 9:30 PM
All orders and advisories will be effective Friday, November 6th at 12:01 AM. Watch Governor Baker’s Press conference here.
Voting in Person on Election Day
Voting on Election Day will still be available for those who may want to vote at the polls on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Polling places will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Election Day. You must vote at your assigned polling location. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some polling sites like those in high-risk facilities were temporarily relocated for the upcoming 2020 State/Presidential Election. Read more here.
New Daily COVID-19 Testing at Four Sites Throughout the City as of November 9 Testing Available 7 Days a Week
The City of Cambridge announced today that it will begin offering COVID-19 testing for residents seven days a week at expanded locations, as part of a strategic initiative to coordinate testing and COVID-19 vaccine distribution. The initiative is led by the City's newly established Cambridge Pandemic Collaborative (CPC). Beginning Sunday, November 1, 2020, a new drive-through COVID-19 testing site will be available on Sundays and Thursdays at CambridgeSide in East Cambridge. Appointments for testing will be available from 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. The CambridgeSide testing site is located in the upper parking garage on First Street. The upper parking garage will be used for COVID-19 testing only. This is a drive-thru site and there is no access to the testing site from inside CambridgeSide or from the lower parking garage. Read more here.
Cambridge flu clinics are now open. The Cambridge Public Health Department is ramping up its efforts to vaccinate more residents than in previous years, with the goal of administering 10,000 flu shots this season. The flu vaccine is being donated by Cambridge Health Alliance. Cambridge residents can get a free flu shot at the health department's public clinics. The first four clinics will be held indoors on Oct. 15, Oct. 21 (two clinics), and Oct. 22 at the King Open School, 850 Cambridge Street in the Wellington-Harrington neighborhood. Outdoor clinics will be held on Oct. 28-29 at Starlight Square (the parking lot at the corner of Norfolk St. and Bishop Allen Dr. in Central Square) and at Danehy Park/Fresh Pond Plaza on Nov. 14. Flu shot appointments are required this year. To schedule an appointment online, go to https://cphd-flu-2020.as.me. The City's Flu Clinic Call Center at 617-349-9788 will open next week for those who wish to make appointments by phone. You can learn more about the clinics here.
Contactless Holds Pickup Service hours at the O'Neill Branch, 70 Rindge Ave., Cambridge have been extended. The new schedule, which will go into effect on Wednesday, October 7, is as follows:
Wednesdays, 1:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Thursdays, 11:00 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.
Fridays, 11:00 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.
Where to Get Tested
Testing appointments through the City's free mobile-testing program are now available at the following locations:
- CambridgeSide in East Cambridge, 11:00am – 7:00pm (Drive-through testing in garage. Enter on First St.) Sundays and Thursdays
- 50 Church St. 12:00pm – 8:00pm (beginning November 9th) Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays
- Pisani Center located at 131 Washington Street. 11:00am – 7:00pm Saturdays
You can schedule an appointment online or by calling 617-665-3795.
Translation Resources Available
Multilingual city resources and information on COVID-19 are available on the City's multilingual help page.
Where to Give
On Fridays, Cambridge CoHousing will be collecting food for the Chelsea Food Collaborative. Drop off is between 9 AM to 3:30 PM at 175 Richdale Ave, the entrance to CoHousing, either in a paper bag or small box. If you don't see someone at the moment you come, please leave it just inside the gate where we will have boxes marked "For Chelsea."
If you are able to give to others during this time, I encourage you to look to the following places that are working to help those most affected by COVID-19:
Cambridge Community Foundation
Cradles to Crayons Emergency Essentials Fund
I also encourage you to donate to the following organizations that are engaging in racial justice work:
Louis D. Brown Peace Institute
Families for Justice as Healing
Union of Minority Neighborhoods
As always, do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions or concerns at Marjorie.Decker@mahouse.gov.