I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources.
As of today, 1492 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 142,295 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, and there are 821 newly reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state today. 2,549,525 patients have been tested, and 9,537 have passed away. Learn more here.
State Action Updates
Legislative Oversight Hearings on Holyoke Veterans Nursing Home
Today, the Legislature held a hearing on the Holyoke Soldiers Home COVID-19 Outbreak from a Family and Healthcare Proxy Lens. 76 Veterans died at the Holyoke Veterans Home 41 Veterans in total passed away in the Bedford VA and in West Roxbury. These veterans served our country with no questions asked. They trusted our government to send them to war, and they trusted us as leaders in government to care for them in their golden years. They are survivors, and we neglected them and their families. Our Federal and State governments failed to give our veterans the protection and dignity that they gave in their service to our country. I am grateful to my colleague Representative Linda Dean Campbell for her tireless work on behalf of Speaker DeLeo and all of her House colleagues to provide a public and transparent platform through two oversight hearings. These hearings will help to ensure that the families and staff of the Holyoke Soldiers Home have the chance to tell us their stories and experiences in their quest for accountability and answers. There will be a second public hearing on the Holyoke Soldiers Home COVID-19 Outbreak on Thursday at 12PM. You can watch a livestream of the hearing here.
Mass. Education Commissioner: Fears of Super-Spreading Schools 'Somewhat Unfounded'
State public health officials plan updates to the metric that measures community COVID-19 transmission risks that will incorporate examples where cases at colleges, nursing homes, or jails may push an entire community into the red category and affect decisions about in-person learning, according to the state education commissioner, who added Tuesday that fears of super-spreading schools have turned out to be "somewhat unfounded." The green-yellow-red stoplight metric announced in August by Gov. Charlie Baker was quickly adopted by state education officials as the way to determine if in-person, hybrid or remote learning is the best approach in a new school year marked by grave concerns over virus transmission possibilities. At Tuesday's meeting, Riley said he expects the updates to its stoplight metric will reflect "more nuanced" information about virus cases. During the week of Oct. 1, which state officials are using for baseline data, there were 163 total cases in schools, including 106 students and 57 staff. In the week of Oct. 8, there were 160 cases - 92 students and 68 staff. Read more here.
Sudders: Surge Showed Strength of Mass. Health Care System
The COVID-19 pandemic that has shined a light on health inequalities and exposed parts of the health care system that are not working as intended also revealed the strengths of the system in Massachusetts, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said Tuesday. The commission on Tuesday is hosting a streamlined, virtual version of its annual hearing to examine recent health care spending trends. This year, the event focuses on the pandemic's impacts. Gov. Charlie Baker, in recorded remarks, revisited the topic of the speech he gave at last year's hearing -- the health care reform bill he filed in October 2019. Baker said some of the emergency measures put in place to respond to the COVID-19 crisis underscore the importance of ideas proposed in that bill, like permanently integrating telehealth into the state's health care system. At the pandemic's height earlier this year, Baker said, 75 percent of mental health clinical visits occurred by telehealth. Read more here.
Governor Baker Press Conference Updates:
The Baker-Polito Administration has launched a new free testing site in Revere open to all residents of the Commonwealth. The Stop the Spread site, which is run in partnership with Project Beacon and medical care partner, PhysicianOne Urgent Care, will be able to test 1,000 residents per day at full capacity. For a full list of testing sites in the Commonwealth, visit mass.gov/gettested. You can watch the announcement here.
Cambridge Opens Public Showers in Harvard Square. The First Church Shelter will staff and assist with use of the 10 showers, two of which are wheelchair accessible. The shower units are expected to remain in place at least through the end of the year. This week, the showers are open on weekdays from 1-4 p.m. The organizers say they will reassess in a few weeks, based on feedback, and adjust the hours if needed. Read more here.
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 24.
- St. John the Evangelist Church, located at 2270 Massachusetts Avenue, 10:00am - 6:00pm on Wednesday, October 21.
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.