I write to you this evening with recent legislative news as well as relevant COVID-19 updates and resources.
This Monday at 11AM I will be leading a Joint Committee on Public Health and Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management joint public oversight hearing on vaccinating children under 12 against COVID-19. The committees will hear from the following invited guests:
MaryLou Sudders, MSW, ACSW, Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services
Margret Cooke, JD, Acting Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Dr. Paul Biddinger, Vice Chairman for Emergency Preparedness in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Chair of the Massachusetts COVID-19 vaccination advisory board
Dr. Benjamin Linas, Associate Professor, Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine
Dr. Carole Allen, President of the Massachusetts Medical Society
Dr. Lloyd Fisher, President of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Dr. Assaad Sayah, CEO of Cambridge Health Alliance and Commissioner of Public Health for the City of Cambridge
Dr. Sandhya Rao, Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President, Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts
Dr. Vincent Chiang, Chief Medical Office, Boston Children’s Hospital
Dr. Mary Moran, Senior Medical Director for Vaccines, Pfizer
Dr. Randall Hyer, Senior Vice President of Global Medical Affairs, Moderna
Juan Cofield, President, NAACP - New England Area Conference
Carlene Pavlos, Executive Director, Massachusetts Public Health Association
Sumbul Siddiqui, City of Cambridge Mayor and School Committee Chair
Ruth Mori, President, Massachusetts Association of Public Health Nurses
Michael Curry, President and CEO, Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education declined to participate in this oversight hearing.
Covid Vaccine Cases Increase in Cambridge including Breakthrough Cases
There have been 83 confirmed cases in Cambridge this month, 42% of which have been “breakthrough cases'' meaning they were fully vaccinated but still got infected. The Cambridge Public Health Department is urging residents both vaccinated and not to wear a mask and practice physical distancing in situations where transmission is likely and when around unvaccinated people, including young children. Read more here: https://bit.ly/36TwwwE
In light of the Delta variant and increases in COVID-19 cases, I have formally recommended that Cambridge expand their COVID-19 testing operations again.
The City of Cambridge has launched the 8th Cycle of Participatory Budgeting (PB8). Idea collection is open to everyone of all ages, and the deadline is July 31st. Learn more here: https://pb.cambridgema.gov/.
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 upcoming informational webinars about available housing services, programs, and resources. The free webinars will take place on 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.
Boston Public Schools will require masks this fall
Mayor Kim Janey announced that Boston Public School students will be required to wear masks this fall. Governor Baker has not reversed statewide guidance that allows children to learn mask-free in Massachusetts. Read more here: https://bit.ly/3y7C4Qk.
Governor Baker announces no plans to bring back COVID-19 restrictions
Yesterday, Governor Charlie Baker announced that he has no plans to bring back coronavirus restrictions in Massachusetts and no plans to change mask guidance for school in the fall despite a rise in cases attributed to the Delta variant. Read more here: https://cbsloc.al/3zw03Zu.
I am disappointed that the Governor seems to be reverting to his initial pandemic response of deferring to municipalities instead of taking statewide leadership that is informed by public health. This approach places a burden on local governments. At the very least, I encourage everyone to keep in mind that the pandemic is not over yet, and it will require us to be nimble and adapt to unknown changes that will occur.
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.
Covid-19 hospitalizations are trending upward in 45 states
Covid-19 hospitalizations are trending upward in 45 states, with levels below previous peaks. Hospitalizations are increasing more rapidly in parts of the country with low vaccination rates. The CDC estimates that 97% of those who have gone to the hospital with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. Learn more: https://nyti.ms/3kQwJZS.
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.
Some of the Recent Press Coverage of Our Work
House of Representatives passes bill to legalize sports betting
Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize sports betting for those 21+ in Massachusetts. Thirty states have already legalized betting on sports in some fashion. It’s estimated that if all licenses go out, the state would receive $70 to $80 million in licensing fees. Learn more here: https://wbur.fm/3wYI4Jt.
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.
Market Basket Vaccine Clinics
There are ongoing COVID-19 vaccine clinics set up in the parking lots of Market Basket stores in Chelsea, Fall River, Lawrence, Lynn and Revere. No appointment is necessary. Anyone who gets a shot at one of these clinics will also receive a $25 Market Basket gift card. See the full clinic schedule here: CIC-health.com/marketbasket.
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. Read more here. 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 22, 2021:
Residents who have received at least 1 dose: 81,809
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.
July Schedule for Cambridge COVID Testing & Vaccination Sites
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.
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 through the end of July, 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." Starting in August, donations will be accepted on a once per month basis, with collections happening on the last Friday of every month.