I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources.
As of today, 1540 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 150,498 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, and there are 1,137 newly reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state today. 2,684,620 patients have been tested, and 9,700 have passed away. Learn more here.
State Action Updates
MCAS exams coming in spring, education officials say
Top Massachusetts education officials on Tuesday insisted MCAS exams will be held next spring and urged districts to conduct in-person learning even if they are located in communities at high risk for COVID-19 – as long as there is no evidence the transmission is occurring in schools.
Testifying virtually before the Legislature’s Education Committee, state Education Secretary Jim Peyser and education Commissioner Jeff Riley said their guidance to school districts has been updated to reflect that districts are encouraged to remain open even if their community is red on the Baker administration’s color-coded map. School districts had been asked to review at least three weeks of community COVID-19 data before adjusting learning models Baker administration officials say three weeks in red is not enough to move to remote learning. Read more here.
As COVID-19 numbers rise, Massachusetts Contact Tracing Collaborative ramps back up
When demand for contact tracing fell in June, just under 200 people opted to leave their jobs at the Massachusetts Contact Tracing Collaborative. Another 460 full-time employees were laid off in July. Five months later, as COVID-19 numbers are on the rise across the state, the contact tracing collaborative has rehired some of those contact tracers and made some new hires to prepare for the possibility of a second wave. At least some of those hired are coordinating with college towns across the state, said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, who leads the COVID-19 command center. The state rehired roughly 150 people between August and October and brought in 150 more people to help beef up the contact tracing initiative, according to the command center. Read more here.
Connecticut And New York Discourage Travel To And From Massachusetts As COVID Cases Rise
As Massachusetts residents find other governors warning their constituents not to visit the Bay State as COVID-19 transmission rates climb, Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday he told New York and Connecticut they were making a mistake, to no avail. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont added Massachusetts to his state's advisory list on Tuesday requiring visitors to fill out a travel form when they arrive in Connecticut and to present proof of a negative coronavirus test or quarantine for 14 days. And in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it was not "practically viable" to try to limit travel between neighboring states, but discouraged his own people from non-essential travel to Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Read more here.
Small Business Opportunities
In furthering the House’s efforts and focus on Small Business Economic recovery, I’m pleased to announce this new grant opportunity for small businesses. This week, the Commonwealth has announced a grant program for small businesses under 50 employees. Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation will administer these grants. Small businesses with 5 or fewer employees may qualify for grants, not loans, of up to $25,000 and businesses with 6 to 50 employees may qualify for grants up to $75,000 for assistance with business expenses related to COVID-19. The program is funded at $50.8M. Grants can be used to fund expenses such as payroll and benefit costs, rent, utilities, and interest on debt obligations. The grant application is now available online and you can refer your small businesses to MGCC’s website link provided here. Please do not hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any questions.
Governor Baker Press Conference Updates:
Governor Baker Nominates Justice Kimberly Budd to Become Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court
Governor Charlie Baker today nominated Associate Justice Kimberly Budd to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court. The nominee and her family joined Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito for a formal announcement today at the State House. If confirmed, Justice Budd will be the second Black Chief; second female Chief and first Black female Chief. She will replace Chief Justice Ralph Gants who tragically passed away earlier this fall. Watch here.
THE CAMBRIDGE PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT REPORTS NEW CASES OF COVID-19 IN LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES
On Monday, October 26, the Cambridge Public Health Department was alerted through the MAVEN surveillance system and the facility that a resident of an assisted living facility in Cambridge tested positive for COVID-19. This individual experienced symptoms of COVID-19 before being brought to a local hospital for evaluation, where they tested positive and were admitted. This individual had no contact with other residents of the assisted living facility, but the health department’s public health nurses are alerting all staff and home health aides who provided direct care due to their potential exposure. This investigation, which includes contact tracing, is underway and ongoing. Read more here.
CAMBRIDGE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION AND CITY OF CAMBRIDGE LAUNCH NEW CULTURAL CAPITAL FUND WITH OVER $600K
The Cambridge Community Foundation and the City of Cambridge have joined forces to launch a new Cultural Capital Fund with grant funding of over $600,000 to address urgent needs in the local arts and culture sector due to the COVID-19 Pandemic as an initial step. The Foundation also commits to building an endowment for the arts and culture sector, targeting $5 million over five years, to protect the City’s cultural richness over the long-term. The City has allocated $500,000 from the Mayor's Disaster Relief Fund to provide grants to local arts organizations of up to $25,000 for capital improvements necessary due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and up to $10,000 for operations and programming during the COVID-19 Pandemic through the new Fund. The Foundation has also received a $100,000 gift from the Wagner Foundation, a long-time supporter, to address urgent needs in the local arts and culture sector, with a focus on the Central Square Cultural District. The Cambridge Community Foundation will begin accepting grant applications from organizations on October 28 and expects to distribute first round grants by mid to late November. 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:
- St. John the Evangelist Church, located at 2270 Massachusetts Avenue, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Wednesday, October 28.
- There is no testing on Saturday October 31 at the Pisani Center, located at 131 Washington Street. Testing will resume next Saturday. Please stay tuned for updates.
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.