I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources.
As of today, 1465 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 138,083 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, and there are 518 newly reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state today. 2,456,951 patients have been tested, and 9,429have passed away. Learn more here.
The coronavirus outbreak in the United States continues to rise including here in Massachusetts. Forty-four states and Puerto Rico are showing signs that coronavirus spread is continuing or escalating, while only two states — Maine and Vermont — are showing signs of positively curbing the virus, according to Covid Exit Strategy.
State Action Updates
State officials announced a Comprehensive Eviction Diversion Initiative To Keep People Safely Housed During Pandemic. It supports tenants and landlords during the financial challenges caused by the pandemic. The goal of this initiative is to keep tenants safely in their homes and to support the ongoing expenses of landlords once the Commonwealth’s pause of evictions and foreclosures expires on Saturday, October 17th. This strategy was developed by a cross-agency team assembled by the Administration in coordination with the Massachusetts Trial Court to manage the end of the moratorium on October 17th and reflects input from a broad range of stakeholders. The Administration is making a $171 million total commitment this fiscal year, with $112 million of new funding to support new and expanded housing stability programs during the remainder of the fiscal year. The details can be found here.
Massachusetts Department of Public Health MA-DPH would like you to take the COVID-19 community impact survey. DPH is trying to better help people through the COVID-19 crisis by hearing about their experiences and challenges right now. By taking the COVID-19 Community Impact Survey, you will help MA-DPH act and address the most critical needs, partner with communities to support local efforts, and inform state policy with accurate information on what people need now and in the long term. Results will be available to community-based organizations for their own planning and action purposes.
This survey is open to Massachusetts residents age 14 and older and takes 10-15 minutes to complete. Currently, the survey is available in six of the most common languages spoken in the state: English, Chinese (standard and traditional), Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, and Vietnamese.
Take theCOVID-19 Community Impact Survey
Governor Baker Press Conference Updates:
Today, Governor Baker submitted a revised annual budget to the legislature proposing the state spend $45.5 billion more than he originally pitched in January before the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the State House News Service, Baker's administration projected that state tax revenue will be nearly $3.6 billion lower than forecasted. The new proposal closes the gap with federal relief funding and $1.35 billion from the state's "rainy day" fund. The budget proposal avoids any broad-based tax increases, layoffs or cuts to social and health safety net programs, and maintains funding for local aid .Another proposed change is intended to accelerate sales tax collections. It would require companies doing more than $150,000 in annual sales to pay sales taxes from the first three weeks of each month during the final week of that same month. Baker's plan would also allocate almost $101 million in funding to small business recovery programs. You can watch his announcement here.
Governor Baker and members of his administration provided an update on a series of initiatives that will keep supporting the residents of the Commonwealth to stop the spread of COVID-19, and ensure the state’s readiness status heading into the fall and winter.Led by the COVID-19 Command Center, the Administration outlined inter-departmental programs that have been built or expanded since the start of the pandemic in March, all of which strengthen the Commonwealth’s ability and capacity to respond if COVID cases in Massachusetts increase. This includes:
- One of the most robust testing networks in the nation
- A first-in-class contact tracing network
- Investments and strengthened initiatives to provide appropriate care for older adults and staff at long-term care facilities (LTCF)
- Hospital preparedness plans
- PPE stockpile investments
- Health and Safety requirements to protect teachers and students as schools re-open
- A cautious phased approach to resume business activity
You can read about the programs here.
Seven skilled nursing facility residents in Cambridge have tested positive for COVID-19 since October 2. Five of the seven individuals are current residents of the facility; the other two individuals were discharged from the facility prior to testing positive and no longer reside in Cambridge. In addition, one facility employee who does not reside in Cambridge has tested positive for COVID-19. The five current residents of the facility are symptom-free and recovering. The Cambridge Public Health Department does not have information on the two cases who no longer reside in the city. The eight cases are considered a cluster. The facility has been working closely with the Cambridge Public Health Department and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) to prevent additional infections. In adherence with state guidance, the facility will continue testing all staff and residents once a week until two weeks have passed with no additional infections. The date of the last positive test was Wednesday, Oct. 7. State and local health officials believe the coronavirus was introduced into the facility’s isolation unit from residents who had recently been discharged from several area hospitals. The MDPH healthcare acquired infections team has been notified of the cluster and is conducting an investigation regarding the hospital-acquired infections. 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.
A new podcast called Brave New Planet, hosted by Eric Lander premiered this week. Brave New Planet delves deep into the most exciting and challenging scientific frontiers, helping us understand them and grapple with their implications. In the 21st century, powerful technologies have been appearing at a breathtaking pace—related to the internet, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and more. They have amazing potential upsides, but we can’t ignore the serious risks that come with them. There is a Podcast website that has resources for each episode and information about all the guests.http://bravenewplanet.org/ Or You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts — https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/brave-new-planet/id153198121
At latest count, the Broad has performed a total of nearly 3 million coronavirus tests. At 70,000 a day, it alone is running about 7% of the national total of about 1 million tests per day. It's handling the tests for Massachusetts nursing homes and hot spots, and over 100 colleges. I know I speak on behalf of the city and the Commonwealth when I express my deepest gratitude for Eric and his Team.
The City of Cambridge announced that it is canceling all City-sponsored Halloween events and will not be issuing street closure, block party, or park permits this year for community events to help prevent large groups of trick-or-treaters and others from congregating in close proximity. City-sponsored events include annual Halloween open houses hosted by the Cambridge Fire Department and Halloween activities sponsored by the Department of Human Service Programs Community Schools. The City of Cambridge urges residents planning to celebrate Halloween to follow the guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and to engage in only lower or moderate risk activities to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Halloween activities are subject to the current state gathering size limits as well as applicable any sector-specific workplace safety standards.Residents should stay home and refrain from Halloween activities, including handing out Halloween treats, if they feel unwell, have tested positive for COVID-19, have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or have traveled to or from a state that is not classified as lower risk within the last 14 days.
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:
- St. John the Evangelist Church located at 2270 Massachusetts Avenue, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. on Wednesday, October 14.
- 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
Food for Free, an organization that has been essential in helping to meet the needs of growing hunger insecurity in our community, is holding a Benefit Bake today, 9/22 with Flatbread Co. Somerville at 45 Day Street. When you order flatbreads, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Food for Free. Pickup, delivery, and outdoor dining will be available.
On Fridays, Cambridge CoHousing will be collecting food for the Chelsea Food Collaborative. Drop off is between 9 AM to 3:30PM 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:
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.