I write to you this evening with recent legislative news as well as relevant COVID-19 updates and resources.
On Monday, the Boston Globe published an op-ed that I submitted with my Public Health co-Chair Senator Comerford calling on Governor Baker to show leadership on public health protocols in schools: https://bit.ly/3jK2BNs. I was pleased to see the Globe's follow-up editorial (https://bit.ly/3lXgtql) in support of our opinion piece. Dozens of school districts across the Commonwealth, from Berkshire Hills Regional to Boston, have already announced mask mandates for the upcoming school year. I would especially like to thank the Cambridge School Committee for voting to require masks.
However, as we said in the op-ed, these protections for children should not depend on the political will of each community. I recognize that this is not what we wanted for this fall, but it’s a reality we can’t ignore and we need to stay ahead of transmission rates. We are not an island.
Boston Mayor announces COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for City Employees
On Thursday, Boston Mayor Kim Janey announced that by the end of August, Boston city employees, contractors and volunteers will be required to verify their vaccination status. If employees are not vaccinated, they will be required to enter a new mandatory regular testing protocol. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3sjnkeT
In absence of state leadership, communities continue to impose their own restrictions. Belmont, Nantucket, Northampton, Provincetown, Salem, Truro, and Wellfleet have all implemented mask mandates for all indoor spaces. As the Delta variant continues to spread, the average number of new COVID-19 cases each day the past week across the country has jumped by 66% over last week and by 145% over rates two weeks ago.
We know that even with vaccines, transmission is still possible. While mandating additional protections may feel inconvenient, these mandates are about protecting an entire population that can’t be vaccinated yet— those age 12 and under. 63% of 12-15 yr olds and 67% of 16-19 year olds in our state have been vaccinated.
Vaccination Mandate for Long-Term Care Facilities
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced on August 4th that all unvaccinated employees and contractors at long-term care facilities will be required to get their first vaccine shot by September 1 and be fully vaccinated by October 10. There are limited medical and religious exemptions. Read more at https://bit.ly/3yq3uRo.
I applaud the governor for vaccines for certain industries like long term care facilities. It is time to call for the same protections for children— I am calling for teachers in our schools to be mandated to get the COVID-19 vaccine as well. The National Education Association endorsed Covid-19 vaccine requirements for school workers on Thursday. Until the governor is willing to show more leadership, communities are left on their own to navigate mandates.
Massachusetts Virtual Job Fair August 16-20
The Commonwealth’s largest virtual job fair will take place from August 16 through August 20 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. This free event has thousands of opportunities for employers and job seekers. Register at mass.gov/jobfair.
Mass VaxMillions Giveaway Registration Still Open
Residents of Massachusetts who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can now register at https://vaxmillionsgiveaway.com/ for one of five $1 million cash prizes or, for those under age 18, a $300,000 scholarship. The deadline to register is August 19, 2021.
Cambridge Artist On a Mission to Help Men of Color Who Survived Abuse
In 2018, Keith Mascoll, the Cambridge actor and mental health advocate, founded The Triggered Project, a series of creative endeavors designed to help men of color who are survivors of sexual abuse. Also in The Triggered Project toolbox is the Inner Monologue Sneaker Art Project. As a sneakerhead, Mascoll seeks to integrate his love of shoes and his work, helping survivors create their own monologues. The Mascolls (Keith and his wife, psychotherapist Roxann Mascoll, also the project’s lead clinician) recently launched “Living a Triggered Life” podcast, where the couple discusses how they navigate marriage as survivors of trauma, and held “The COVID Monologues” in Starlight Square. Visit https://bit.ly/3lXd0rI to learn more.
Cambridge Public Health Department COVID-19 Mask Advisory
The Cambridge Public Health Department continues to urge residents -- vaccinated and not -- to wear a mask when indoors in shared spaces. To be extra protective, people who are living with someone who is immunocompromised may choose to wear a mask in all indoor settings beyond their own home.
Cambridge Works is Recruiting
Cambridge Works, a transitional jobs program for Cambridge residents aged 18-35, is accepting applications through August 20, 2021 for the 2021 cycle, which runs from mid-September through December. Visit camb.ma/36BqD7h to learn more.
F.D.A. authorizes a third vaccine dose for those with weak immune systems
Today, F.D.A amended the emergency use authorizations for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for the use of an additional dose in certain immunocompromised individuals— specifically, solid organ transplant recipients or those who are diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3ADmpsx.
CDC Strengthens Recommendation for COVID-19 Vaccines for Pregnant People
Finding no increased risk of miscarriage or other adverse outcomes from COVID-19 vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is strengthening its recommendation for people who are pregnant to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is higher for pregnant and recently pregnant people, and CDC data show that only 23% of currently pregnant people have received at least one vaccine dose. Read more at n.pr/3iFuGpG.
AAP Recommends Universal Masking in School
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is recommending that everyone age 2 and up wear masks in school regardless of vaccination status. They note that universal masking is the best and most effective strategy to create consistent messages, expectations, enforcement, and compliance without the added burden of needing to monitor vaccination status. Read more at https://bit.ly/3j8AZB9.
Updated CDC Guidance for Schools
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status and says that children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place. Visit bit.ly/39RLWS8 for more information.
MA Vaccination Updates
CHA Offering Walk-In Vaccinations
The Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) is offering walk-in vaccinations at its three sites (176 Somerville Ave. in Somerville, Encore Boston Harbor in Everett and Tufts University in Medford, see https://bit.ly/3eM3TGF for locations and hours). These sites are open to all Massachusetts residents age 12 and older. They encourage people to pre-register here or via MyCHArt (for CHA patients), but walk-ins are welcome. As a reminder, only the Pfizer vaccine is currently approved for use in people under 18 years old, and minors must have a consent form signed by their parent or guardian.
Walk-In Vaccinations Available at CVS
Massachusetts residents age 12 and over can now get walk-in appointments at the 389 vaccine-carrying CVS locations across the Commonwealth. Read more here.
Cambridge Vaccination Data
The City of Cambridge has added Cambridge Vaccination Data to its COVID-19 Data Center. Data will be updated weekly on Thursdays at 6 PM. Information as of Thursday, August 12, 2021:
Residents who have received at least 1 dose: 82,977
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 75,746
Daily COVID-19 Vaccination Report
Total doses administered: 9,023,909
Total cumulative doses shipped to MA: 10,023,940
Vaccination Appointment Resources
Preparing for your Vaccination Appointment
Learn about how you can prepare for your vaccination appointment here.
Resources for Booking and Getting to Your Appointment
- Online: Find an appointment or see walk-in availability at vaxfinder.mass.gov/. You can also book directly with a pharmacy at cvs.com or walgreens.com.
- Phone: Call 2-1-1 between 8:30 AM-8:00 PM Monday-Thursday or 8:30 AM-5:00 PM Friday-Sunday and select the prompt for “help scheduling a vaccine appointment.”
- In-Home Vaccinations: Anyone who is unable to get to a vaccine location can call the Homebound Vaccination Central Intake Line at 833-983-0485 between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM Monday-Friday.
- Need help? For detailed information about how to make an appointment, including updates about specific health care providers, see the Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services vaccine resources page.
- Need a ride?
- Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) is offering free transportation for local adults aged 60+ to COVID-19 vaccination sites in Cambridge and Somerville as well as Fenway Park and CHA Malden. For more information, click here. To register for a ride, call SCES at 617-628-2601 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- All MassHealth members or Health Safety Net patients can get free transportation to COVID-19 vaccine appointments. You can request transportation for a scheduled appointment by calling (800) 841-2900. You may find additional information on transportation help here.
Don’t forget to book your second appointment while you’re getting your first dose!
Massachusetts is currently in Phase Three of the vaccine rollout. Everyone age 12 and older is eligible for a vaccine. For more details and updates on vaccination priorities, please visit mass.gov/CovidVaccine.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has a Frequently Asked Questions site that is continually updated as they receive new questions. You may access the FAQs here. Questions can be submitted to COVID-19-Vaccine-Plan-MA@mass.gov.
Governor Baker did not hold a press conference today. You can see recent updates at mass.gov/governor-updates.
Today’s Case Count
Total Cases: 686,018
New Cases: 116
Total Deaths: 17,772
Total Cases: 6468
New Cases: 26
Total Deaths: 123
The state has created an interactive dashboard, including the percentage of COVID-19 positive cases and testing rates by city and town. The dashboard can be viewed here.
Cambridge COVID Testing Now Available 3 Days Per Week
The City of Cambridge is offering free COVID-19 testing on Mondays from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM and Thursdays from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM inside the CambridgeSide Mall, as well as on Sundays from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM at 50 Church Street.
CambridgeSide Mall testing is located on the 2nd Floor above the Food Court. Free parking is available in the lower-level of the garage; entrance located on CambridgeSide Place.
Learn more at https://www.cambridgema.gov/covid19/Testing
Mental Health Services and Resources
If you or a loved one are struggling, please know that you are not alone. Here are some great resources:
Helpline for People Who Abuse Now Open to all MA residents
There is a new Helpline for People Who Abuse that launched on April 15, 2021, that came out of CARES ACT funding for COVID-19. The Helpline is open to any Massachusetts resident. This helpline is the first in the nation of its kind, and is based out of Western Massachusetts. You can find more information at 10to10helpline.org or by calling 877-898-3411.
Where to Give
Cambridge CoHousing is accepting donations of food for the Chelsea Food Collaborative either in a paper bag or small box once per month, with collections happening on the last Friday of every month. Drop off is between 9 AM and 2:30 PM at the entrance to CoHousing at 175 Richdale Avenue, Cambridge, MA. If you don't see someone at the moment you arrive, please leave it just inside the gate where we will have boxes marked "For Chelsea."
Transition House in Need of Emergency Donations:
If you are able to give to others during this time, I encourage you to look to additional places that are working to help those most affected by COVID-19:
- Mayor's Disaster Relief Fund
- Cambridge Health Alliance
- Cambridge Community Center
- Cambridge Community Foundation
- Food for Free
- Chelsea Food Collaborative
- Greater Boston Food Bank
- Hospitality Workers COVID-19 Emergency Fund
- Cradles to Crayons Emergency Essentials Fund
- Mount Auburn Hospital
- The One Chelsea Fund
- Daily Table
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.