I write to you this evening with recent legislative news as well as relevant COVID-19 updates and resources.
This week, the Joint Committee on Public Health, of which I am the House Chair, held a hearing on bills before the committee related to vaccines, including bills on the topic of vaccine exemptions for school-aged children. More than 400 people signed up to testify before the committee virtually, and the hearing spanned nearly 16 hours from 10:00 AM on Monday to almost 2:00 AM on Tuesday. You can read more about the hearing and legislation before the committee here: https://bit.ly/3kryGvt.
Some of the Recent Press Coverage of Our Work
Build Back Better Without Single-Use Plastics
On Wednesday, I spoke at the Build Back Better Without Single-Use Plastics Webinar with my colleague Representative Ciccolo on the need to ban single-use plastics in Massachusetts. This is an environmental issue and a public health issue. I am thankful to MASSPIRG, Community Action Network, Conservation Law Association, and Clean Water Action for putting on this important event.
“We are at the precipice of a public health crisis when it comes to our love affair with single-use products to be in our ecosystem.” To learn more about the webinar, visit https://tinyurl.com/3ka54ckd.
Safe Consumption Sites Briefing
Today, my colleagues Representative Dylan Fernandes and Senator Julian Cyr and I hosted a virtual briefing on our bill to introduce a decade-long pilot program to establish at least two supervised consumption sites in the state. With overdose deaths on the rise and Massachusetts ranking 8th in overdose mortality, we must meet the moment we’re in with the urgency required to save lives. Safe consumption sites are one important path to saving lives and addressing the stigma associated with addiction. Safe consumption sites should be embraced for giving people another day to live, as otherwise, some will face certain death. Thank you to SIFMA Now and Fenway Health for helping to coordinate the briefing. Learn more here: https://bit.ly/3xNS9dw
Free Breakfast and Lunch for People Aged 18 and Under
Anyone 18 and under can get free breakfast and lunch at Daily Table 7 days a week, from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Visit locations in Cambridge, Dorchester or Roxbury and ask for the Local Lunchbox Special, or order free delivery online at dailytable.org/shop. No identification is required and parents/guardians may pick the food up. Visit dailytable.org for locations.
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.
Upcoming Webinars on Housing Resources
Cambridge residents are invited to attend 3 upcoming informational webinars about available housing services, programs, and resources. The free webinars will take place on July 20th, August 3rd and September 21st from 3:00-4:00 PM. They will be recorded and available to residents following the events. Visit camb.ma/3qYMSNK to learn more.
Southbridge, Easthampton, and Lowell RMV Service Centers Reopening
On August 2nd, the Southbridge, Easthampton, and Lowell Service Centers will reopen. These openings will follow current customer service protocols and will also be on the RMV appointment scheduling platform ay mass.gov/rmv.
Health Insurance Available For People Receiving Unemployment
Individuals currently receiving unemployment benefits may now qualify for a no- or low-monthly cost ConnectorCare health insurance plan from the Health Connector. Learn more at www.mahealthconnector.org. Enrollment is open through July 23, 2021.
Mass VaxMillions Giveaway Registration Now 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.
Nationwide and Federal Updates
Every State in the U.S. is Seeing an Uptick in COVID-19 Cases
COVID-19 cases are increasing across the U.S. as the Delta variant continues to spread. Those who are vaccinated are largely protected from COVID-19, including the Delta variant, and the highest rates of COVID-19 are in areas of the country with lower vaccination rates.
Updated CDC Guidance for Schools
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released updated guidance for early education and care programs and K-12 schools. The recommendations say that unvaccinated students and staff should wear masks and maintain distances of at least 3 feet, but vaccinated students and staff do not have to wear masks. The CDC also recommends that all bus drivers and passengers wear masks regardless of vaccination status. Visit bit.ly/39RLWS8 for more information.
MA Vaccination Updates
The Vax Bus is hosting its second round of walk-in mobile vaccine clinics in 28 cities and towns from July 17 - August 5. The two-dose Pfizer vaccine will be available for ages 12 and up, and the single dose J&J vaccine will be available for ages 18 and up. Visit mass.gov/vaxbus for hours and locations.
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, July 15, 2021:
Residents who have received at least 1 dose: 81,422
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 74,480
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, July 16, 2021:
Total doses administered: 8,764,236
Total cumulative doses shipped to MA: 9,694,630
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 Press Conference Updates
Governor Baker did not hold a press conference today. Many of the Governor’s recent updates are available at mass.gov/governor-updates.
Today’s Case Count
Total Cases: 665,801
New Cases: 269
Total Deaths: 17,655
Total Cases: 6,114
New Cases: 4
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.
July Schedule for Cambridge COVID Testing
As of July 1, the City of Cambridge is offering free COVID-19 testing on Thursdays between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM inside the 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
On Fridays, Cambridge CoHousing will be collecting food either in a paper bag or small box for the Chelsea Food Collaborative. 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.