I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources.
As of today, 1,939 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 189,518 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, and there are 2,744 newly reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state today. 97,636 patients have been tested today, and 10,407 have passed away. Learn more here.
Harvard University COVID-19 information, click here.
MIT COVID-19 information, click here.
State Action Updates
A very special congratulations to Representative Katherine Clark, who was just elected as Assistant Speaker of the House.
Massachusetts broke single-day record for most COVID cases last week; reports 2,263 new COVID cases, 20 deaths today
Massachusetts last week broke its record for the most new COVID-19 cases in a day with 3,175 cases on Nov. 9. The previous one-day high was 2,990 on April 17, according to data of cases by date released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. State health officials confirmed another 2,263 coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the number of active cases to 32,309. That’s based on 65,468 new molecular tests, according to the Department of Public Health. There have been 186,774 confirmed cases of the respiratory infection since the start of the pandemic. Health officials also announced another 20 COVID-related fatalities, bringing the total number of deaths to 10,360. There are currently 835 people hospitalized across the state with COVID-19 symptoms, including 159 patients in intensive care. The seven-day average of positive tests increased to 3.25% on Tuesday, which is up from a low of 0.8 in September. Read more here.
Overdose Deaths Have Risen In Mass. Amid Pandemic, State Data Show
Drug overdose deaths are rising during the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts. A report from the state Department of Public Health shows a 2% increase for the first nine months of the year, as compared to 2019. The preliminary data translates to 33 more deaths. There are many suspected reasons for the increase. People are using drugs in more isolated settings. They fear becoming infected with COVID-19 if they seek treatment. Women, in particular, don’t want to leave children who are out of school at home alone to attend appointments or programs. And, there is only one treatment program in Massachusetts that takes people who test positive for the coronavirus. The state update echos reports about rising overdose deaths around the country during the pandemic. In Massachusetts, opioid and other drug overdose deaths dropped 5% between 2016 and 2018. But the decline plateaued in 2019, and now fatalities are rising again. The state update echos reports about rising overdose deaths around the country during the pandemic. In Massachusetts, opioid and other drug overdose deaths dropped 5% between 2016 and 2018. But the decline plateaued in 2019, and now fatalities are rising again. Read more here.
Homeless Families Struggle To Access State Aid Amid The Pandemic, Say Some Advocates by GBH News
Massachusetts advocates for the homeless say they fear many are falling through the cracks of the state bureaucracy charged with protecting them, leaving parents and children in potentially dangerous conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. With state offices closed to in-person visits, families in need of, and legally entitled to emergency housing, have had to depend on an unreliable telephone hotline, these advocates say, with calls sometimes going unanswered and voicemail unreturned. And the evidence that some families are having trouble accessing emergency housing isn’t just anecdotal. A review by GBH News of state records finds a dramatic decline in the number of families living in, and applying to, state-sponsored shelters or other emergency housing. And while some of that decline may be attributable to a statewide moratorium on evictions, lifted in October, advocates say they’ve nonetheless seen the number of those facing homelessness increase across Massachusetts. State Representative Marjorie Decker, of Cambridge, says the low numbers more likely signal a system that is leaving vulnerable families behind. “Are we letting people fall through the cracks? And the answer is absolutely we are. And it's not OK,” said Decker. “Certainly, during a pandemic, that should be alarming for everyone. And the sense of urgency is growing - as COVID-19 rates rise, as evictions resume -- and as Winter gets closer. Read more here.
Baker Press Conference Updates:
Gov. Baker Releases New Details on College, Public School Testing in Mass.
Governor Baker said he wants Massachusetts colleges and universities to make testing available to all students planning to leave campus for Thanksgiving within 72 hours of their departure. If a student tests positive, they should isolate in university housing for COVID-positive students. The guidelines for higher education institutions were designed to ensure students are leaving campus, where they're often in communal spaces and with peers, free of the virus. "Hopefully it'll help prevent thousands of students from traveling around the state and over state lines to potentially infect their family members and loved ones with this virus when they return home” he said. Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley also announced the launch of a new COVID-19 testing program in public schools. The program will kick off in early December in 134 school districts. A parent or guardian's consent will be required prior to administering any tests. He said the state is still finalizing the list of schools. The test kits will be provided to the districts at no cost. The first phase of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's testing initiative will use Abbott's BinaxNOW, an antigen test that uses a nasal swab and test card to return a result in about 15 minutes, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley said. Watch the announcement 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.
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."
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.