Wednesday 9/23 COVID-19 Updates

Dear all, 

 

I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources.

 

As of today, 1368 Cambridge residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and 99 residents have passed away, according to the state’s database. Learn more here.  There have been 126,408 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, and there are 542 newly reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state today. 2,125,840 patients have been tested, and 9,135 have passed away. Learn more here.

 

I was happy to meet with constituents and local members of Mass. Senior Action this morning to discuss the importance of supporting policies that assist seniors, including expanding eligibility for the state’s Medicare Savings Program and my bill to reduce deep poverty, which would increase MA’s TAFDC (or welfare) grants to a level that matches 50% of the federal poverty line. Massachusetts ranks as the worst state in the nation for elder economic security, and as the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates hardships for seniors across MA, we must continue to have these discussions and take action to support them.

 

I was honored to be recognized for my leadership in supporting addiction prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery by the Massachusetts Coalition for Addiction Services at the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery’s Recovery Month forum today alongside my Senate co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery Julian Cyr. 

 

State Action Updates

 

Massachusetts received approval from the USDA to issue funds for the month of September through the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program to those whose children are learning remotely and receive free or reduced lunch, including at schools that offer free or reduced lunch for all students. Eligible families receive $5.86 per day. Those who already have P-EBT cards will get their funds at the end of this month, and newly eligible families will be notified in October. 

 

Maine has lifted its restrictions on travelers from Massachusetts. Starting today, travelers from Massachusetts to Maine will no longer have to provide a negative COVID test or quarantine for two weeks. 

 

Governor Baker Press Conference Updates:

 

Governor Baker held a press conference today. He announced that restaurants can start seating 10 people per table and utilize bar seating starting Monday September 28th. Bars and nightclubs will remain closed. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced later that the City of Boston will continue enforcing a maximum capacity of 6 per restaurant table. 

 

If you are able to follow Cambridge resident Bill Hanage, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on twitter @BillHanage, he writes a thread that explains why this move by the Governor is counter-productive to opening schools and slowing the spread of COVID-19. Here is a CDC report on Community and Close Contact Exposures Associated with COVID-19 that he includes in the thread. Bill is married to Helen Jenkins, Assistant Professor of Biostatistics at the Boston University School of Public Health. They have children in the Cambridge Public Schools System and have helped advise the Cambridge Health Alliance and Cambridge Public Schools.

 

Governor Baker also announced that the State will extend the Stop the Spread program, which provides no-cost testing to all Massachusetts residents, in 18 high-risk communities through the end of October. 

 

He also stated that school districts should only pursue remote-only learning if their community is in the highest-risk category for COVID-19 for three consecutive weeks. On Friday, 16 school districts were asked to submit plans to the state to bring students back in-person by Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeffrey Riley. 

 

Cambridge Updates

 

The City has announced funding for a mask partnership with the Cambridge Mask Alliance to make masks accessible to those who are in need. The City awarded a grant of $24,000 to the Cambridge Volunteer Clearinghouse (CVC), which is leading the initiative and has provided CVC with $62,500 in grants since June. 

 

The City announced that it will transition the pilot program allowing shared use hours for off-leash dogs at Sacramento Field into an ongoing program. Off-leash hours will happen each morning from 7-9AM.

 

Where to Get Tested

 

Testing appointments through the City’s free mobile-testing program are now available at the following locations: 

  • Russell Youth and Community Center (formerly the West Cambridge Youth Center), 680 Huron Avenue, 10AM – 6PM on Wednesday 9/23 and Wednesday 9/30.
  • Pisani Center located at 131 Washington Street, 11AM – 7PM, on Saturday, 9/26

 

You can schedule an appointment online or by calling 617-665-3795.

 

The state’s Stop the Spread initiative provides no-cost testing in communities across the state that have continued to see a higher number of residents testing positive for COVID-19. Stop the Spread testing sites are open to ALL Massachusetts residents and are not restricted to residents of the cities where sites are located. You do not need to have any symptoms to be tested. Find more information about locations and hours here. Current Stop the Spread communities are: Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Framingham, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lynn, Marlborough, Methuen, New Bedford, Randolph, Revere, Salem, Saugus, Springfield, Winthrop, and Worcester. 

 

If you are feeling symptomatic and feel the need to get tested sooner, you can call your primary care provider to make an appointment to be tested.  

 

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 3:30PM 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: 

 

Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund

 

Cambridge Health Alliance

 

Cambridge Community Foundation

 

Food for Free

 

Greater Boston Food Bank

 

Cradles to Crayons Emergency Essentials Fund

 

Mount Auburn Hospital

 

The One Chelsea 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

 

Prisoners’ Legal Services

 

Boston NAACP

 

Massachusetts Bail Fund

 

ACLU of Massachusetts

 

Union of Minority Neighborhoods

 

As always, do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions or concerns at  Marjorie.Decker@mahouse.gov.   

 

Sincerely,  

Marjorie

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