I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources.
As of today, 1472 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 138,651 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, and there are 568 newly reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state today. 2,471,688 patients have been tested, and 9,452 have passed away. Learn more here.
State Action Updates
Governor Baker’s revised spending plan announced today includes $5.28 billion in state aid to local schools, a funding level which amounts to $108 million more than was previously allocated last year and is $196 million less than proposed in January’s budget before the economic downturn. The Student Opportunity Act alters school funding to better account for costs associated with special education, employee health care, and teaching low-income students and English language learners. Signed in 2019, there is a provision stipulating that funding formula changes are fully incorporated in the state budget by 2027 and that every year leading up to 2027 the budget “shall increase foundation and increment amounts over the prior fiscal year in an equitable and consistent manner”. The interpretation of what “equitable and consistent” would be and how this funding would be phased in was set to be a debated topic before the COVID-19 outbreak. Baker has said when federal money is added in the updated budget districts will receive more funding than they would have under the previous Budget passed in January. The House of Representatives and the Senate will take up the budget in early November. Read more here.
State officials have awarded over $6.5 million to 13 Massachusetts organizations to develop new products to assist in the response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The new grants from the Massachusetts Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (MERT) will expand in-state manufacturing of critical products, which has produced more than 11 million pieces of personal protective equipment and other crucial items as of September. The new grants announced during national Manufacturing Month has brought the total MERT awards to $16.2 million. MERT has driven production for critical items including N95 mask, protective gowns, hands sanitizer, and ventilators.
Breakdown of the $16.1 million awarded through the MERT grant program:
- $7.2 Million to support the development of protective mask
- $3.2 Million for COVID-19 testing
- $3.2 million for gowns
- $1.4 million for ventilators
- $630,000 for testing PPE
- $341,000 for hand sanitizer
- $257,000 for support of materials /supply chain
You can read more about the new MERT grants here
Governor Charlie Baker’s updated annual budget would direct less money to MBTA operations than he filed before the COVID-19 outbreak, however, the transit agency is still expected to receive a potential funding boost. MBTA officials adopted a spending plan in May that made conservative estimates regarding state financial support, so the MBTA would receive about $59 million more than it baked into its 2021 revenue numbers under the latest operating budget transfer proposed by Governor Baker. While the final figure may still vary, additional funding can impact the MBTA’s decision on major service cuts, this includes the possibility of fare hikes and layoffs in the future. These actions could be taken to shorten the impending budget gap of hundreds of millions of dollars lost due to fewer riders during the pandemic. The MBTA has experienced a sharp decline in ridership since the pandemic, causing a gap in fares which typically accounts for a third of the MBTA’s total revenue. MBTA riders have only returned to 25 percent of pre-pandemic averages on the subway and 40 percent pre-pandemic averages on buses by late September. Read more here.
Governor Baker Press Conference Updates:
Governor Baker did not hold a press conference today.
The Cambridge Recycling Center at 147 Hampshire St. is now open on Tuesdays 4:00 pm – 7:30 pm and Saturdays 9:00 am – 4:00 pm. The Recycle Center will switch to a drop off only facility indefinitely. The swap shelf and book shelf will remain closed. Only one vehicle, bicycle, or individual will be permitted to enter the Recycle Center at a time. Residents are encouraged to limit visits to the Recycle center due to long wait periods. At this time cans, bottles, paper, and cardboard are not accepted currently at the Recycle center, these items should be recycled curbside. Due to the ongoing pandemic, extra steps are being taken to protect workers, residents, and public health.
Before visiting the Recycle Center please review the following:
- Face coverings and a physical distance of 6 feet are mandatory at all times
- Please limit vehicles to 1 person per vehicle
- Please allow DPW staff to communicate with you through your passenger side window.
- Double-check that the items you wish to dispose of are accepted at the respective facility
In-person early voting will run from Saturday, October 17th to Friday, October 30th, at 3 locations in Cambridge:
- Longfellow Community School – 359 Broadway, rear entrance
- Cambridge Water Department – 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
- Valente Library – 826 Cambridge Street, side entrance on Berkshire Street
- Weekdays, Monday to Friday – 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Saturday, Oct. 17th, Sunday, Oct. 18th, and Sunday, Oct. 25th – 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
- Saturday, Oct. 24th – 1:00 to 7:00 p.m.
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:
- Pisani Center located at 131 Washington Street, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., on Saturday, October 10, 17, and 24.
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:
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.