I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources.
As of today, 2,071 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 204,060 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, and there are 2,225 newly reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state today. 80,819 patients have been tested today, and 10,551 have passed away. Learn more here.
There will not be a COVID-19 newsletter update Wednesday, November 25, and Thursday, November 26. The newsletter will resume, Friday, November 27.
State Action Updates
Baker-Polito Administration Awards Over $4.7 Million to Support Food Security in Massachusetts
Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced over $4.7 million in grants to address urgent food insecurity for residents across the Commonwealth as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding is being awarded as part of the fifth round of the new $36 million Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program, created following recommendations from the Administration’s COVID-19 Command Center’s Food Security Task Force, which promotes ongoing efforts to ensure that individuals and families throughout the Commonwealth have access to healthy, local food. Read more here.
Massachusetts to use rapid COVID testing for visitors of long-term care facilities
People visiting loved ones at nursing homes or other long-term care facilities in Massachusetts will soon undergo rapid COVID-19 testing beforehand, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said Monday. The state plans to roll out rapid COVID-19 testing, specifically the Abbott BinaxNOW testing program, to long-term care facilities across the state, particularly for visitors, Sudders said. The announcement comes a week after the state announced rapid testing for K-12 schools. Those who test negative may enter the facility as long as they aren’t showing COVID-19 symptoms and agree to wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet apart from others. Those who test positive won’t be allowed in. Read more here.
Massachusetts education officials considering at-home MCAS testing in the spring during COVID pandemic
With the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System scheduled to be administered this winter and spring during the coronavirus pandemic, one teacher said it will be a “logistical nightmare” for districts that have been fully remote to administer the test. But Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley on Tuesday said the tests are still on track to be administered, but that the department is considering options like limiting the amount of time for which students take the test or at-home testing this spring. Christine Spelman, a graduation coach at Springfield High School of Science and Technology, told board members during a public comment period that administering MCAS is a logistical nightmare for districts that have only had remote education thus far this academic year. The testing could exacerbate stress and inequity, Spelman said, noting that some students are taking care of younger siblings at home, and students are facing issues of homelessness, abuse and food insecurity during the pandemic. Many colleges are waving SAT and ACT requirements this year because of COVID-19. I filled Amendment #460 in the FY21 budget, which would have required the state to pause MCAS this year while we are amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Amendment #460 did not pass. In addition to the legislation that I have filed that would have required the state to pause the MCAS, and have an opportunity to be more thoughtful and inclusive on the efficacy of the MCAS and its outcomes, I will also file a bill to cancel MCAS for one year while students are dealing with the inequity of remote learning. Read more here.
Baker Press Conference Updates:
Governor Baker did not hold a press conference today.
Harvard University COVID-19 information, click here.
MIT COVID-19 information, click 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.
Local Organizations in Need Around the Holidays
Cambridge Women’s Center
This Thanksgiving, the Cambridge Women's Center will be open and celebrating as best we can. We'll have hot food and gift bags at our front door, and limited seating for a socially distanced meal in our backyard. Thank you to all of our volunteers and community partners who stepped up to cook warm and nourishing dishes, donate gifts, and staff the center. We are sending deep gratitude and a big hug to everyone in our community. It's been a trying year, and we couldn't have made it this far without you. To make a Thanksgiving donation, click here.
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.
Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee
Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee (CEOC) is Cambridge’s anti-poverty agency. The CEOC’s mission is to empower people and mobilize resources to fight poverty’s causes and impacts through education and organizing. For this GivingTuesday (12/1) CEOC has set a goal to raise $5,000 to help launch Give-Direct, a cutting-edge cash transfer program — and they can’t achieve it without you! Please consider joining the charge to reach their transformative goal on December 1. And, since GivingTuesday relies on the limitless potential of social media, don’t forget to share, tag, and use the hashtag #GivingTuesday and #CEOCGiveDirect. Busy that day? You also can make a gift now to be processed on GivingTuesday.
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:
- 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
- 2254 Massachusetts Ave, St. John the Evangelist Church, 10:00am – 6:00pm Wednesdays
- 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 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.
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.