I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources.
As of today, 2,436 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 250,022 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, and there are 2,463 newly reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state today. 43,304 patients have been tested today, and 11,035 have passed away. Learn more here.
Save the date
I am hosting a town hall on adolescent mental health and the arts during the COVID-19 pandemic next Thursday 12/10 at 5PM. I will be joined by Roxann Mascoll, a mental health clinician, Keith Mascoll, an Actor, Producer, and Mental Health advocate and CRLS students. Keep an eye out for a link to register for the Zoom in the coming days, or join in by watching CCTV Channel 9 or Facebook Live. Please submit questions you have ahead of time to Marjorie.Decker@mahouse.gov, or submit them in the Q&A chat during the town hall. I hope to see you there.
To listen to Keith and Roxann’s podcast Living a Triggered Life Podcast, which is focuses on a Black couple who have their own trauma histories talk Love, mental health, relationships, and family dynamics as they explore the impact on their long term marriage, click here.
Keith has also worked on The Boys 2 Men Monologues project, which uses art to guide young men in writing a personal monologue including their thoughts about manhood, mental health, being black and brown during the Black Lives Matter movement, and being resilient. To learn more about the project, click here.
State Action Updates
Massachusetts health officials report 4,747 more COVID cases, 48 deaths on Sunday
Massachusetts public health officials on Sunday reported another 4,747 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of active cases to about 57,304. Officials on Sunday also announced another 48 deaths linked to confirmed COVID-19 cases. Over the course of the pandemic, Massachusetts has seen at least 247,559 coronavirus cases and 10,763 deaths. When including probable cases, the death toll is now at 11,004, according to the Department of Public Health. Currently, 1,416 people are hospitalized with the virus, including 298 in intensive care units. Read more here.
MCAS testing postponed, extended as COVID cases rise in Massachusetts
With coronavirus cases and hospitalizations surging in Massachusetts, state education officials have postponed and extended the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System testing. For juniors in high school, the class of 2022, the MCAS ELA and mathematics tests have been postponed until later in the year, according to a message sent to districts by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on Monday. Those tests were supposed to take place in a January to February window. However, high school seniors, the class of 2021, and adult test-takers will still be eligible to participate in one or both tests starting in January to earn their competency determination, the department said. Read more here.
I filed an amendment to the House FY21 budget that called for the Governor to cancel MCAS this year. This amendment was not directly related to the FY21 budget and was withdrawn. I have communicated my opposition to requiring the MCAS to DESE Commissioner Riley. There is no way that the MCAS is going to provide us with data that we don't already have, nor is it worth the harm it will inflict in trying to implement it remotely. I will be filing a bill in January to cancel the MCAS this year. This is in addition to a bill I have been filing that would place a three-year moratorium on administering the MCAS. During this moratorium, DESE would create and implement a grant program to support the establishment of district task forces to develop and pilot alternative assessment models, allowing educators, students, parents and local districts to establish a vision and goals for their public schools.
MBTA Will Delay Some Service Cut Decisions, GM Poftak Says
The frequent and vocal opposition to a proposed package of MBTA service cuts, combined with growing momentum toward a new federal stimulus package, appears to be making a difference. Describing a "dynamic and rapidly developing" situation, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak announced at the start of a board meeting Monday that he would suggest deferring some critical decisions on the service cuts until February, when the agency formally embarks on its fiscal year 2022 budgeting process. He did not say specifically what portions of the wide-ranging plan might be delayed or reconsidered, though members of the Fiscal and Management Control Board plan to discuss the topic later on Monday after an executive session to discuss collective bargaining. Read more here.
Baker Press Conference Updates:
Gov. Baker announces expansion of free COVID-19 testing
The Baker-Polito Administration today announced the Commonwealth will increase testing capacity and locations to provide more access for residents in every county. This plan includes five new locations, and the state plans to collect 110,000 COVID-19 tests per week—representing a 50% testing increase for state-financed and organized testing sites alone. Across Massachusetts, there are more than 350 testing locations available to the public. Massachusetts remains among the top five states for testing per capita in the nation and has made significant progress to increase testing and access.
Temporary Emergency Rules for Hospitals
Governor Charlie Baker also announced that effective Friday, hospitals in Massachusetts will temporarily curtail inpatient elective surgeries that can safely be put off amid the recent spike in coronavirus infections. This will create more room within hospitals for COVID-19 patients. Read more here.
You can watch the full press conference here.
Harvard University COVID-19 information, click here.
MIT COVID-19 information, click here
Temporary Shift to All Remote Learning Beginning Thursday, December 10
The shift to all remote learning will continue for at least 1 week at least through December 16. In-person learning will resume when two or more metrics remain below threshold for 7 consecutive days. Reopening decisions based on the metrics will be made in consultation with the Cambridge Public Health Department. Read more here.
SHARED STREETS PROGRAM UPDATE
The existing Shared Streets will be removed for the season today, Friday, December 4 in advance of the projected snow. Read more here.
Popportunity is a COVID-safe, outdoor, winter market held at Starlight Square in Central Square, Cambridge. Opening on Small Business Saturday, November 28th, Popportunity will run every Saturday and Sunday, 11am - 5pm, through December 20th. Artists, makers, and retailers can apply for a 10x10 market tent or a Pop-Mini stall here.
Thank you to the Central Square Business Improvement District for providing a safe space where we can support our neighbors and our local economy.
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. People who live and work in Cambridge can get a flu shot at no charge at one of the flu clinics run by the Cambridge Public Health. 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:
- Monday - 50 Church St. 12:00pm – 8:00pm
- Tuesday - 50 Church St. 12:00pm – 8:00pm
- Wednesday - 2254 Massachusetts Ave, St. John the Evangelist Church, 10:00am – 6:00pm
- Thursday - CambridgeSide in East Cambridge, 11:00am – 7:00pm (Drive-through testing in garage. Enter on First St.)
- Friday - 50 Church St. 12:00pm – 8:00pm
- Saturday - Pisani Center located at 131 Washington Street. 11:00am – 7:00pm
- Sunday - CambridgeSide in East Cambridge, 11:00am – 7:00pm (Drive-through testing in garage. Enter on First St.)
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
Cambridge Community Center
In partnership with the Central Square BID, the Cambridge Community Center (CCC) has launched a safe, socially-distanced Food & Supply Pantry. The pantry is open Tuesdays – Fridays 1:00pm – 3:00pm at 5 Callender street, Cambridge MA (Gymnasium Entrance). The CCC have received generous food donations from our friends at Food For Free and Lovin' Spoonfuls, and have been able to offer community members healthy options, including fresh fruits and vegetables as well as other quality grocery items. In addition to food donations, here are some other supplies that are in need for the pantry.
- Feminine hygiene products (preferably pads)
- General hygiene products (shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.)
- Toilet paper
- Household cleaning supplies
Even if you're not able to donate to our COVID-19 Relief Fund, you can still support the pantry by spreading the word!
On Fridays, Cambridge CoHousing will be collecting food for the Chelsea Food Collaborative. Drop off is between 9 AM to 2:30 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."
For the four upcoming Fridays (11/27, 12/4, 12/11, 12/18) Cambridge Cohousing invites you to donate a children's book with your food donation -- a new or in very new-like condition for children ages infant to 10 years old. Our partner in Chelsea is very grateful. They say that not only will the children benefit but also adults who are learning English or learning to read to and with their children. They will distribute during the holiday seasons coming up. Thanks for your continued support.
A Collective Kindness Effort
Cambridge Camping has been serving low-income families for 127 years. I feel honored to be an alum of their summer camp program. Now, more than ever, our children need support, connection to mentors and peers, and the opportunity to create and share joy. Since COVID, CCA has innovated to support its families, providing necessary services – diapers, food, school supplies - and safely offered in person and virtual programming. Cambridge Camping has risen to the COVID challenge and proven that relationships and connection are stronger than any virus.
As we enter this season of giving and gratitude, CCA is grateful for the support we’ve received to date, yet we are $3,000 away from our goal which will allow us to provide gift baskets of hearty holiday food and toys to camper families. Please help us raise $3,000 by December 15 and together we will bring joy and much needed essential relief. If you cannot contribute, please share and join us in our wish for a peaceful, healthy 2021. Donate here today.
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:
I also encourage you to donate to the following organizations that are engaging in racial justice work:
As always, do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions or concerns at Marjorie.Decker@mahouse.gov.