I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources as well as recent legislative news.
I try to answer the emails that come into the repdecker@gmail inbox, but I have primarily used that account to manage outgoing communications. I ask that if you are reaching out to me about an urgent issue to please email Marjorie.Decker@mahouse.gov, where we have a more robust system to track incoming emails.
MA Will Track School COVID Cases
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will resume asking school districts to report positive cases to the state. These reports will include positive cases of students and staff members who’ve been in school district buildings within seven days of testing positive. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3nnD7Jm.
As you may recall, I wrote an op-ed with my Public Health Committee co-Chair Senator Jo Comerford calling on the Governor for a more comprehensive plan for keeping children, families, and school employees safe. I have communicated the need for the tracking and reporting of positive cases to the Department of Public Health and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and am pleased that the administration is taking this step to keep students and staff members safe.
Health Connector Public Webinar on September 14th
The Health Connector will hold a FREE webinar to learn about your coverage options and shopping for coverage on Sept. 14, 10-11AM: http://bit.ly/insurance-options-091421
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 took 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 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.
Cambridge COVID Testing Now Available 4 Days Per Week
As of September 8, 2021, the City of Cambridge is offering 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.
Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Community Job Fair
The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce will host a Community Job Fair on Wednesday, September 15th from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM at the Lawn On D in Boston. This job fair is an opportunity for jobseekers to meet dozens of companies actively hiring in fields like IT, health care, finance, and advanced manufacturing. Registration for this event is free and information on the event, including employers who will be participating, can be found here.
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. The next sessions are:
- Tuesday, September 21
- 6:00 – 7:00 PM Rental Programs
- 7:00 – 8:00 PM Homeowner Programs
- Register at t.ly/FiXZ.
- Affordable Housing Information Sessions Wednesday, October 6
- 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Rental Programs
- 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Homeowner Programs
- Register at t.ly/9pWd.
Biden Expanding Employee Vaccine Requirements
The Biden Administration announced this week that all businesses with 100 or more employees will have to ensure that every worker is either fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing for the coronavirus. In addition, federal workers and contractors will be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19, as will health care workers and teachers in settings that receive federal funding. Learn more at t.ly/en20.
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.
Hurricane Ida delivered a gutting reminder of the threats posed by climate change
By Yvonne Abraham, Boston Globe
“But we have to do something. So, let’s start on Beacon Hill: The 100% Clean Act would transition this state to 100 percent clean electricity by 2035, and 100 percent clean heat and transportation by 2045. The bill could pass by next August, but only if enough of us demand that our legislators get behind it.” Read more: https://bit.ly/2XiEdeu.
Public Invited to Testify at Structural Racism in Probation Hearing
The Commission on Structural Racism in the Massachusetts Probation Service will hold its second virtual hearing on Friday, October 1st, at 1:00 pm. To register to testify, please provide your contact information via this form (https://forms.gle/wqfVeZthFSpxzCBF7) by Wednesday, September 29th, at 1:00 pm. Once registered, you will receive further instructions on how to participate. I am honored to serve on this important commission and I encourage you to take advantage of this final opportunity to provide oral testimony.
Bills I have filed that are being heard next week
Several of my bills are scheduled for public committee hearings next week, including An Act to update the bottle bill, An Act relative to providing health education in schools, An Act establishing collective bargaining rights for TNC drivers, An Act requiring major policy makers to disclose donations to entities engaging in political activity, and An Act authorizing the city of Cambridge to offer early voting in municipal elections. The hearing schedule is available at malegislature.gov, where hearings will also be livestreamed.
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, September 9, 2021:
Residents who have received at least 1 dose: 84,040
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 76,194
Daily COVID-19 Vaccination Report
Total doses administered: 9,279,381
Total cumulative doses shipped to MA: 10,540,780
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.
Today’s Case Count
Total Cases: 725,359
New Cases: 1,726
Total Deaths: 18
Total Cases: 7005
New Cases: 22
Total Deaths: 124
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.
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
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.