I write to you this evening with recent legislative news as well as relevant COVID-19 updates and resources.
Health Connector Public Webinar
The Massachusetts Health Connector is hosting a free, public webinar on August 10, 2021 at 10:00 AM covering how the American Rescue Plan helps make coverage more affordable, especially for those receiving unemployment income who may qualify for a $0 or low-monthly cost health insurance plan through the Massachusetts Health Connector. The webinar is ahead of the August 23, 2021 enrollment deadline for coverage starting September 1, 2021. For registration and more details, visit http://bit.ly/insurance-options-081021.
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.
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.
Additional COVID Testing Available on Sundays
The City of Cambridge is now offering COVID-19 testing at 50 Church Street on Sundays from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Details are available at https://www.cambridgema.gov/covid19/Testing.
Healthy Aging & Cycling Summer Fridays
The Community Development Department and Cambridge Council on Aging will host the Healthy Aging & Cycling Summer Fridays for adults and senior citizens. Beginning with off-street paths, rides will focus on improving comfortability on-bike as well as introduce navigating the city by bicycle. Visit https://www.finditcambridge.org/ for more information.
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.
Free Water Safety Program at Francis J. McCrehan Memorial Swimming Pool 8/7
DCR and New England Swimming are partnering to offer Water Safety Days at pools across the state. Water Safety Days will offer safe, fun activities to help teach and inform young people between 4 and 14 years old about aquatic safety and water skills while promoting the importance of water competency.
A water safety day will be held at the Francis J. McCrehan Memorial Swimming Pool in Cambridge on Saturday, August 7, 2021 from 10:30-2. You can register for it here: https://bit.ly/3xp1Z4R.
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.
FDA Could Authorize COVID Vaccine Booster Shots for Immunocompromised Soon
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to review data soon that supports the use of additional COVID-19 vaccine doses for immunocompromised patients. That would include about 7 million adults in the United States, including those who have received organ transplants, patients on cancer treatments and those with rheumatologic conditions and HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read more at https://wapo.st/3AkgTuY.
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 5, 2021:
Residents who have received at least 1 dose: 82,567
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 75,458
Daily COVID-19 Vaccination Report
Total doses administered: 8,958,817
Total cumulative doses shipped to MA: 9,957,570
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: 678,544
New Cases: 1,111
Total Deaths: 17,727
Total Cases: 6,370
New Cases: 13
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
Starting in August, 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.