I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources as well as recent legislative news.
Massachusetts Association for Mental Health Spirit of Compassion Award
Thank you to the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health for honoring me and my friend and colleague Senator Julian Cyr with their Spirit of Compassion awards at their Friend & Leader event this week and for honoring Speaker Ron Mariano, Secretary Marylou Sudders, and Senate President Karen Spilka with their Partners in Progress award. We wouldn’t look at someone with a broken arm or open wound to wait 2 weeks or a month, but our healthcare system, broken into silos, often forces people to do just that when waiting for behavioral health care, which causes additional needs & trauma. To everyone tirelessly doing behavioral health work, trying to meet the needs of those who are suffering, thank you.
Oversight Hearing on Kids and COVID-19 Next Thursday
The Joint Committees on Public Health, COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management, and Education are holding a joint oversight hearing next Thursday, October 21 at 10:00 AM. This is a follow-up to the oversight hearing we held in July. We’re going to hear from members of the Baker administration as well as experts, invited by the Committee Chairs, about the anticipated rollout of vaccines for the new age group, lessons learned from school-based clinic operations and testing in school settings, and projected plans and protocols as related to the new eligibility status for children aged 5 to 11. The joint oversight hearing will be held remotely and will be livestreamed under the Hearings & Events section of the legislative website
Table of Contents
- COVID-19 Testing Information
- State Updates
- National Updates
- Cambridge Updates
- MA Vaccination Updates
- Today’s Case Count
- Legislative Updates
- Recent Press
- Mental Health Services and Resources
- Where to Give
COVID-19 Testing Information
Cambridge COVID-19 Testing
- 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
As of Monday, October 4, 2021, the COVID-19 testing location at CambridgeSide mall has transitioned back to a drive-through only testing site. Those arriving on foot or by bicycle will not be allowed. Learn more at https://www.cambridgema.gov/covid19/testing.
State COVID-19 Testing
To find a COVID-19 testing site in Massachusetts, visit https://www.mass.gov/info-details/find-a-covid-19-test.
Governor Baker activates National Guard to help with COVID testing in schools and security for prisons
This week, in response to staffing issues facing Massachusetts schools and prisons, Governor Baker activated hundreds of National Guard members to assist staffers to help with COVID-19 testing in public schools. Another 250 Guard members are training to work at state prisons in case of staffing shortages expected. Learn more: https://wbur.fm/3BOFnNS.
FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee unanimously recommend booster doses of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine
Today, the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted 19-0 to recommend the extra dose for all recipients of the J&J Janssen vaccine, 18 and older. The FDA will now consider the committee’s advice. Then the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine advisers will be asked to consider it. Learn more: https://cnn.it/2XkPF9I.
Merck submits COVID-19 treatment pill for FDA authorization
On Monday, drugmaker Merck asked for FDA authorization for its pill against COVID-19. If approved by the FDA, this would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19. The FDA announced Thursday that it will meet on November 30th for review. Learn more: https://n.pr/2YQwyFl.
U.S. to donate more than 17 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines to the African Union
President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the U.S. will donate 17 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine to the African Union. This donation is in addition to the 50 million doses the US has already sent to the African Union. Learn more: https://cnn.it/3aIuilQ.
City of Cambridge tips for staying safe on Halloween
The Cambridge Public Health Department has put together a list of safe ways to celebrate Halloween this year, and is discouraging indoor parties with people who do not live in your household. You can find the list here: https://bit.ly/3lLDxIi.
Cambridge School Vaccine Mandate
As of November 22, 2021, all eligible students in Cambridge Public Schools must be vaccinated against COVID-19, but failure to get vaccinated will not result in expulsion. In addition, students who are eligible but unvaccinated will not be allowed to participate in after-school extracurricular activities as of November 29. Read more at https://www.cpsd.us/studentvax.
I’m so proud of and thankful for the Cambridge School Committee members for showing the courage to lead in the absence of state-level guidance.
Where to Get a Pfizer COVID-19 Booster Shot
COVID-19 boosters are available at the following locations in/near Cambridge for eligible MA residents who got the Pfizer vaccine:
- Cambridge Health Alliance (Walk-ins or appointments)
- CVS (Appointments required)
- 624 Mass. Ave (Central Square)
- Schedule here: https://bit.ly/3mgBACv.
- Star Market (Walk-ins or appointments)
- 699 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge
- Schedule here: https://bit.ly/3uujXTv.
- Search by zip-code for other locations https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/
Flu Clinics (plus COVID Vaccines) Scheduled for October
Residents are encouraged to register two weeks ahead of time. Walk-ins are also welcome. No charge, but bring your insurance card. CPHD will also be offering free Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines at the clinics. This will include first and second doses of the vaccine as well as booster shots. Learn more at cambridgepublichealth.org/flu.
- Saturday, October 16, 2021
- King Open School, 850 Cambridge St
- 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM
- Friday, October 22, 2021
- Reservoir Church, 170 Rindge Ave
- 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM
- Saturday, October 23, 2021
- Pisani Center, 131 Washington St
- 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Cambridge Food Resource Guide
An updated guide of food pantries, free meal programs & more in Cambridge is now available. Learn more: bit.ly/cambfoodguide
Danehy Park Family Day Tomorrow
The City of Cambridge will host Danehy Park Family Day on Saturday, October 16, from 11AM – 3PM. Enjoy a fun-filled day of children’s amusement rides, arts and crafts, music and roving performers, plus snacks, T-shirts, and colorful kites. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3Bpauzj
Upcoming Affordable Housing Information Sessions
The City of Cambridge is offering 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. The next sessions are:
- Affordable Housing Information Sessions Monday, October 18
- 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Rental Programs
- 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Homeowner Programs
- Register at t.ly/cEUT.
MA Vaccination Updates
Mobile Vaccination Services
You can find hours and dates for mobile vaccination clinics at t.ly/qTMc.
CHA Offering Walk-In Vaccinations
These sites are open to all Massachusetts residents age 12 and older:
- 176 Somerville Ave
- Cambridge Hospital
- East Cambridge Care Center
- Malden Care Center
CHA is also offering “pop-up” vaccination clinics – information on hours and locations here: https://www.challiance.org/patients-visitors/covid-19-vaccine.
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.
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. Information as of Thursday, October 14, 2021:
Residents who have received at least 1 dose: 85,504
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 77,423
Daily COVID-19 Vaccination Report
Total doses administered: 9,794,068
Total cumulative doses shipped to MA: 11,294,560
Vaccination Appointment Resources
Resources for Booking and Getting to Your Appointment
- Online: Visit 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.
Booster Shot Eligibility
COVID-19 boosters are available for eligible MA residents who got the Pfizer vaccine. See if you’re eligible to receive one on the graphic below, and learn more here: https://bit.ly/3mkHVg6.
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.
Today’s Case Count
Total Cases: 777,475
New Cases: 1,512
Total Deaths: 18,439
New Tests: 105,638
Total Cases: 7,551
New Cases: 18
Total Deaths: 125
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.
Bills I have filed that are being heard next week
Several of my bills are scheduled for public hearings next week, including An Act protecting youth from nicotine addiction; An Act authorizing the city of Cambridge to provide police, fire, emergency and other municipal services to certain properties in the city of Somerville and the city of Boston; An Act relative to a petition for a special law re: fire cadet program for the city of Cambridge fire department; An Act relative to media access and transparency in correctional facilities; and An Act to strengthen family and community connection with incarcerated people. The hearing schedule is available at malegislature.gov, where hearings will be livestreamed and available for viewing after they conclude.
Time to upgrade our successful bottle law
“Since its passage nearly four decades ago, the bottle bill has been a remarkable and well-recognized success in Massachusetts. But it’s now time to modernize the Massachusetts law, in part because it has never been comprehensive enough, in part because the trends in the drinks industry have overgrown the trellis of the law.” For more information, please visit t.ly/Gyci.
Mental Health Services and Resources
If you or a loved one are struggling, please know that you are not alone. There are some great resources here: decker4rep.com/2021/mental-health-services-and-resources/.
Intimate Partner Abuse Prevention Helpline For MA residents
Thanks to COVID-19 relief funds from the CARES ACT, Massachusetts now has a Helpline that people can call for help rather than harming their partner. Open to any resident, the helpline is the first in the nation of its kind. This initiative is designed to prevent intimate partner violence by fostering accountability and change in people who harm or may harm their intimate partner. You can find more information at 10to10helpline.org or by calling 877-898-3411.
Where to Give
If you are able to give to others during this time, I encourage you to look to places that are working to help those most affected by COVID-19: decker4rep.com/2021/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: decker4rep.com/2021/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.