I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources.
As of today, 1495 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 142,941 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, and there are 646 newly reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state today. 2,562,247 patients have been tested, and 9,559 have passed away. Learn more here.
State Action Updates
Bill Filed To Help 17,000 Mass. Residents With Jobless Benefits
Nearly a month after they asked the Baker administration to explore the change, a group of lawmakers filed a bill that would temporarily increase the minimum unemployment benefits Massachusetts pays to help thousands of claimants retroactively access up to $1,800 in federal aid. Sen. Pat Jehlen, who co-chairs the Labor and Workforce Development Committee, and Rep. Stephan Hay, the committee's House vice chair, unveiled legislation they say would help 17,000 people who narrowly missed qualifying for the federal Lost Wages Assistance program. The bill would retroactively and temporarily raise the state's unemployment benefit floor to $100, allowing everyone who qualified for any type of jobless aid between the weeks ending Aug. 1 and Sept. 5 to receive another $300 for each week. Read more here.
Snow Days for Massachusetts Schools to Be Decided by Local District
The Massachusetts Department of Secondary and Elementary education released their snow day guidelines. Giving school districts the option to go remote for snow days or not. Meaning snow days as many people remember them; no work, sledding all day, may be over. The Commissioner has determined that for this school year only (2020-2021), if there are days when schools must close because of inclement weather or other emergency, districts may choose whether to treat those days as “snow days” to be made up later or provide all students with remote learning on those days in a manner that is consistent with the regulatory requirements listed above. This decision will be made at the local level. Read more here.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker files interim $5.4 billion budget to cover costs in November
The Baker administration filed an interim $5.4 billion budget to cover costs for the next month as lawmakers and Massachusetts officials draft a final budget plan for the rest of fiscal 2021. Despite concerns about the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, the governor’s budget calls for a 3.8% increase in spending compared to the previous fiscal year. If approved and sent back to Baker, the temporary budget would take effect Oct. 31. Officials have largely relied on temporary budget to keep the state running into fiscal 2021 in the absence of a full-year budget. Read more here.
Governor Baker Press Conference Updates:
Governor Baker and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll spoke on Wednesday about new restrictions on Halloween activities in Salem as the state faces a rise in COVID-19 cases. The new restrictions in the city include early business closures, road closures, and parking restrictions. Large city events for Halloween were canceled back in August. You can watch the announcement here.
One New Case of COVID-19 At a Long-Term Care Facilty
On Tuesday, October 20, the Cambridge Public Health Department was alerted through the MAVEN surveillance system and the facility that a resident of a long-term care facility tested positive for COVID-19. Following the recommendation of the individual’s infectious disease doctor, they will complete 20 days of isolation instead of the standard 10 days for positive cases. 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:
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.