I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources.
As of today, 2,699 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 286,866 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, and there are 3,720 newly reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state today. 61,236 tests have been performed today, and 11,443 have passed away. Learn more here.
State Action Updates
COVID vaccine in Massachusetts: Health officials to report on how many residents, workers are vaccinated
The Department of Public Health will begin sharing data next week on how many Massachusetts workers and residents receive a coronavirus vaccine as part of its ongoing daily reporting on the virus, officials said Tuesday. Gov. Charlie Baker said health officials will launch a public dashboard using data compiled from the state’s hospitals showing how many vaccine doses are administered. The news comes as hospitals across the state are to set to start vaccinating medical personnel and other frontline workers on Tuesday, Baker said. So far, four hospitals have received roughly 6,000 first doses, with another 53,625 are expected to be shipped on Tuesday, which will be distributed to an additional 17 hospitals and health care facilities, Baker said. Read more here.
Decline In Higher Ed Aid Applications Flagged As Worrisome
Applications for federal higher education financial aid declined significantly this fall, raising concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic may exacerbate gaps in college accessibility for vulnerable student groups. Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, completion rates by Thanksgiving dropped about 16 percent nationwide and 18 percent in Massachusetts compared to the same timeframe in 2019, officials said at a Board of Higher Education meeting. The change is even more pronounced among specific populations: for the 50 Massachusetts high schools with the largest populations of minority and low-income students, FAFSA completion rates are down about 25 percent from last year. Read more here.
MBTA Control Board Votes To Scale Back Bus, Train And Ferry Service
The MBTA will scale back service on buses, trains and ferries in the new year. The T’s Fiscal Management and Control Board voted 3-2 Monday to approve a series of service cuts that will lead to less frequent trains and buses as well as the elimination of most ferry service. The approved service cuts are not as drastic as what was originally proposed in November. The T previously suggested halting all ferry service, cutting 25 bus routes, ending some late-night and weekend services, and closing six commuter rail stations. But the transit agency faced strong opposition from riders, and criticism from transit advocates, elected officials, union leaders and other groups. MBTA staff said they took all of the public feedback into account and modified its proposed cuts. Read more here.
Baker Press Conference Updates:
Gov. Baker Urges Residents to Skip Holiday Gatherings, Citing Post-Thanksgiving COVID Spike
Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday urged Massachusetts residents not to gather in groups during the upcoming holidays, saying such activities over Thanksgiving led to a significant spike in coronavirus cases. Baker said a surge of new coronavirus cases since Thanksgiving has put a “significant strain” on the health care system, and warned the situation could worsen after December’s holidays, threatening to dampen optimism following the arrival this week of vaccine shipments to the state. “It’s pretty simple,” Baker said in a press conference. “The safest way to celebrate this year is with members of your own household and to postpone or cancel any travel plans and to avoid gatherings with people you don’t live with. Any type of celebration beyond that has real potential, as we saw with Thanksgiving, to spread the virus and hurt the ones we love the most.” Watch the announcement here.
Harvard University COVID-19 information, click here.
MIT COVID-19 information, click here
Update on the Public Health Response to COVID-19 Pandemic in Cambridge for December 14, 2020, 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 10×10 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
One in Eight of Our Cambridge Neighbors is Experiencing Hunger
Cambridge friends, one in eight of our neighbors are experiencing hunger and food insecurity, and while our food pantries are fighting to keep food on the table, they can’t do it alone. This holiday season, give the gift of food security to your neighbors by supporting food access organizations and the newly launched Cambridge Challenge Against Hunger with a generous donation. With a gift of just $100, you can feed four families on Food For Free’s Home Delivery program, and help bring a new meaning to the ‘season of giving.’ If you would like to donate, click here. For a full list of Cambridge organizations to donate to, click here.
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.