Friday August 27 Legislative and COVID-19 Updates

Dear all,

 

I write to you this evening with recent legislative news as well as relevant COVID-19 updates and resources

 

State Updates

 

Stop & Shop Now Accepting EBT Card Payments for Massachusetts SNAP Customers Shopping Online for Pickup and Delivery

Stop & Shop today announced that those in Massachusetts using SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits now have the option to pay with an EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) card when placing online orders for Stop & Shop Pickup and Delivery. Learn more: https://www.mass.gov/news/stop-shop-now

 

RMV Announces Online Scheduling for Virtual Suspension Reinstatement Hearings

The Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) announced that it has implemented a new process that can be used by customers to schedule virtual suspension reinstatement hearings and to conveniently upload required supporting hearing documentation. For more information please visit:  www.Mass.Gov/RMV

 

Education Commissioner Riley Mandates Masks for All K-12 Public Schools

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Riley received  authorization on Tuesday to issue a mask mandate for students age 5 and older in public schools through the beginning of October. He issued the mandate on Wednesday. Learn more here: wbur.fm/3sR1BeM

Last week, I met with both Commissioner Riley and Department of Public Health Commissioner Margaret Cooke to continue to push for universal masking and the greater use of pool COVID-19 testing in all, not just some, of our schools and for mandating vaccines for school staff.  Additionally, I hope that you saw the Boston Globe op-ed piece that I co-wrote with my co-Chair of the Public Health Committee Senator Jo Comerford asking the Governor to follow the recommendations of state and national public health leaders, including his own advisers and members of his administration, and announce stronger mandates for masking, vaccination requirements, and testing in K-12 schools.

 

Massachusetts Senate to Require Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination 

This week, Senate President Karen Spilka announced that ​​state senators and staff will be required to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 by mid-October. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3gDrPMS

 

Cambridge Updates

 

Cambridge Indoor Mask Mandate Effective September 3

The City of Cambridge has issued an emergency order requiring that face masks or coverings be worn in indoor public places. The order takes effect at 8:00 AM on Friday, September 3, 2021. It applies to everyone over the age of two years old, with exceptions in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines. Learn more at camb.ma/3DpTD11.

 

Cambridge Expanding Free COVID-19 Testing to 4 Days Per Week. 

Beginning September 8, 2021, the City of Cambridge will offer COVID-19 testing 4 days per week. 

  • Mondays: 4:00 – 8:00 PM at the CambridgeSide mall 
  • Wednesdays: 2:00 – 6:00 PM at 2254 Massachusetts Ave, St. John the Evangelist Church 
  • Thursdays: 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM at the CambridgeSide mall
  • Sundays: 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM at 50 Church Street

 

Testing for CambridgeSide 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. There will be no testing on Labor Day, September 6, 2021. 

 

Learn more: https://www.cambridgema.gov/covid19/News/2021/08/septembertesting

 

​​Cambridge Health Alliance to Require Mandatory Vaccination For All Employees

Cambridge Health Alliance joins leading healthcare systems across the state by making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all CHA employees effective October 18, 2021. Employees must receive their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by October 18. Staff who are not in compliance will be placed on unpaid leave and given until November 5 to receive their final dose or their employment with CHA will not continue unless they have an approved medical or religious exemption. There is a process for people to apply for an exemption. With new variants continuing to form, vaccination is the best defense against continued spread and serious effects from the virus, and a vaccine mandate will help CHA provide the safest environment for its staff and the patients and communities it serves.

 

I’d like to thank CEO Dr. Assaad Sayah for leading on this issue and being unafraid to lead in order to protect the health and safety of CHA patients and staff.

 

City Partnership with Local Restaurants Providing Meals to Homeless Residents Extended through October 3, 2021

The City of Cambridge announced that it is extending its successful program for feeding homeless residents with meals provided by local food establishments through October 3, 2021. In March 2020, the City launched an innovative project to contract with local restaurants to provide food to the City’s homeless community during the COVID-19 public health crisis. Learn more: https://www.cambridgema.gov/covid19/News/2021/08/mealsprogram

 

Upcoming Affordable Housing Information Sessions

The City of Cambridge will offer information sessions about its affordable rental and homeownership programs. Attendees will learn about the eligibility requirements and application process for Cambridge Rental and Homeownership Programs. Learn more: https://www.cambridgema.gov/news/2021/08/cambridgeaffordablehousing

 

Cambridge Works, City’s Transitional Jobs Program, Accepting Applications.

Cambridge Works City’s Transitional Jobs Program is now accepting applications for Cambridge Residents between the ages 18-35 who are in need of work experience in order to secure a full-time job. The 2021 cycle of Cambridge Works will run from mid-September through December. Learn more: cambridgeworks.org

 

 

Nationwide and Federal Updates

 

FDA Approves First COVID-19 Vaccine

On August 23 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine has been known as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, and will now be marketed as Comirnaty (koe-mir’-na-tee), for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals. Learn more at t.ly/TFQ1. 

 

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 now offering walk-in vaccinations at its Somerville site (176 Somerville Ave), and also at the three CHA pharmacy locations (Cambridge Hospital, East Cambridge Care Center and the Malden Care Center). CHA has also been offering “pop-up” vaccination clinics in local communities. You can find information on hours and locations for the pop-up clinics here: https://www.challiance.org/patients-visitors/covid-19-vaccine. 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 26, 2021:

 

Residents who have received at least 1 dose: 83,974

Fully Vaccinated Residents: 76,345

 

Daily COVID-19 Vaccination Report

The Department of Public Health publishes a Daily COVID-19 Vaccine Report in addition to its Weekly COVID-19 Vaccination Report. Information as of Friday, August 27, 2021:

 

Total doses administered: 9,158,451

Total cumulative doses shipped to MA: 10,282,740

 

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 info@eldercare.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!

 

Vaccination Timeline 

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

COVID-19 Vaccination in MA: Eligibility

FAQs

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 Press Conference Updates

 

Governor Baker did not hold a press conference today.

 

Today’s Case Count 

 

Massachusetts

Total Cases: 703,961

New Cases: 1,591

Total Deaths: 17,847

Tests: 65,167

 

Cambridge

Total Cases: 6,715

New Cases: 19

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.  

 

For Harvard University COVID-19 information, click here. For MIT COVID-19 information, click here

 

Cambridge COVID Testing Now Available 4 Days Per Week

 

Beginning September 8, 2021, the City of Cambridge will offer COVID-19 testing 4 days per week. 

  • Monday: 4:00 – 8:00 PM at the CambridgeSide mall 
  • Wednesday: 2:00 – 6:00 PM at 2254 Massachusetts Ave, St. John the Evangelist Church 
  • Thursday: 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM at the CambridgeSide mall
  • Sunday: 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM at 50 Church Street

 

Testing for CambridgeSide 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. There will be no testing on Labor Day, September 6, 2021. 

 

Learn more: https://www.cambridgema.gov/covid19/News/2021/08/septembertesting

 

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:

Cambridge Mental Health Resources

National Mental Health 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

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: 

  

I also encourage you to donate to the following organizations that are engaging in racial justice work: 

 

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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