I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources as well as recent legislative news.
I’m Participating In a Children’s Mental Health Panel on Boston 25 Tonight at 10:30
Tune into Boston 25 News tonight at 10:30 PM to watch Kerry Kavanaugh discuss children’s mental health with me and a panel of experts featuring Dr. Fatima Watt, the Director of Behavioral Health Services at Franciscan Children’s Hospital; Amara Azubuike, the Director Of Behavioral Health Policy & Advocacy at Boston Children’s Hospital; and John Crocker, the Director of School Mental Health & Behavioral Services at Methuen Public Schools.
The segment will also be livestreamed on the Boston 25 NOW app, and will be available to watch afterward on the app or on boston25news.com. I appreciate Kerry and Boston 25 for their ongoing coverage of this crisis.
Pfizer Booster Shots Available in MA
The Baker-Polito Administration announced today that COVID-19 booster shots are available for eligible residents who have received the Pfizer vaccine. In accordance with updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pfizer COVID-19 Booster is now available to:
- Individuals 65 years of age and older.
- Individuals 18-64 years of age at risk for severe COVID-19 due to certain underlying medical conditions as defined by the CDC.
- Individuals 18-64 years of age who are at increased risk for COVID-19 because of occupational or institutional settings.
These residents are eligible to receive their Pfizer booster shot at least 6 months after their second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Additional information on the COVID-booster, including FAQs, can be found at mass.gov/COVID19Booster.
House Approves Vaccine Mandate for Members & Staff
The Massachusetts House of Representatives voted last night to approve a reopening plan that requires House Members and staff to be fully vaccinated in order to work at the State House in person. The plan allows Members and staff to request accommodations for medical conditions or sincerely held religious beliefs. In addition, masks will be required in all House-controlled spaces, and Members will continue to have the option to work and vote remotely. Read more at t.ly/woXV.
I am grateful to Speaker Mariano and to Speaker Pro Tempore Hogan, who led the House Reopening Working Group, for their leadership in ensuring the safety of every House Member, officer, employee, and visitor. We are modeling what should be a best practice for businesses across the Commonwealth: everyone who is working in person should be required to be vaccinated, with accommodations made for those who legitimately can’t be.
Flu Clinics Scheduled for October
Cambridge residents can receive a seasonal flu shot at the Cambridge Public Health Department’s annual flu clinics this fall. The health department has implemented strict safety procedures at their clinics to reduce the risk of getting — or transmitting — COVID-19. They encourage people to register online and registration will be open around 2 weeks before each clinic date. Walk-ins are also welcome. There is no charge but the health department asks that people with health insurance bring their cards. The clinic dates are:
- Friday, October 15, 2021
- Citywide Senior Center, 806 Massachusetts Ave
- 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
- 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
Learn more at cambridgepublichealth.org/flu.
Grab-and-Go Lunches available to Adults Ages 60 and Older
This program will provide cold sandwich lunches for local older adults (ages 60 and over), their spouses, and dependents with disabilities. The lunches are available to older adults for a suggested $3.00 donation. A pick-up site is located at the Cambridge Senior Center (806 Massachusetts Ave.), Monday – Thursday from 11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Recipients may eat in the Senior Center’s dining room or take the meal to go. Reservations are required by 11:00 a.m. on the previous business day for Grab-and-Go lunches. To make a reservation, please call 617-349-6042.
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. Beginning Monday, October 4, 2021, the COVID-19 testing location at CambridgeSide mall will transition back to a drive-through only testing site. Those arriving on foot or by bicycle will not be allowed.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
Pfizer Says COVID-19 Vaccine is Safe & Effective for Kids 5-11
Pfizer announced Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine has shown to be safe and effective in children ages 5 to 11, at a dose that is about one third of that for adults. Pfizer will seek emergency use authorization for this age group soon. Read more at t.ly/mo38.
CDC Endorses COVID-19 Booster Recommendations
On September 24, 2021, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation for a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in certain populations and also recommended a booster dose for those in high risk occupational and institutional settings. Read more at t.ly/KtW0.
Travel Restrictions to US Lifting in November
The Biden Administration announced on Monday that, beginning in November, it will lift the ban on air travelers from 33 countries including China, India, Brazil and the UK. Travelers will have to show proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test. No quarantine will be required. Read more at t.ly/iCMl.
How To Spend $5 Billion In COVID Relief: Mass. State Legislature Hears Public Health Proposals
by Matt Murphy, State House News Service
“From food insecurity and staffing shortages to an unequal and “broken” local public health system, advocates and lawmakers on Tuesday said the COVID-19 pandemic exposed gaps in the state’s ability to meet the health needs of residents that should be filled with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.” Learn more here: https://www.wgbh.org/news
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 relative to preventing overdose death and increasing access to treatment (with Representative Fernandes), An Act regarding Medicare savings programs eligibility (with Representative Ultrino), An Act providing for a gender neutral designation on state documents and identifications (with Representative Domb), An Act to lift kids out of deep poverty and An Act providing immediate childcare assistance to homeless families. The hearing schedule is available at malegislature.gov, where hearings will also be livestreamed.
ARPA Hearing Next Friday
The Joint Committee on Ways and Means will be holding a virtual hearing on the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funding focusing on the areas of Education, Social Equity, Safety Nets, and Families on Friday, October 1 at 11:00AM. This hearing will be available to be viewed live at malegislature.gov/Events/Hearings/Detail/3930.
MA Vaccination Updates
Mobile Vaccination Services
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is now more convenient than ever. Mobile pop-up vaccination clinics are happening in cities and towns across MA – at community centers, auditoriums, parks, and other locations. Dates and locations can be found at t.ly/qTMc.
DPH is offering organizations the option to easily vaccinate groups. Mobile vaccination services are available for employers, schools, community organizations, priority populations, and other groups. For more information on hosting a mobile pop-up vaccination clinic, visit t.ly/FmpK.
CHA Offering Walk-In Vaccinations
The Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) offers 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 at home.color.com/vaccine/register/metronorth 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.
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 23, 2021:
Residents who have received at least 1 dose: 84,782
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 76,838
Daily COVID-19 Vaccination Report
Total doses administered: 9,392,849
Total cumulative doses shipped to MA: 10,747,180
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: 749,440
New Cases: 1,784
Total Deaths: 18,154
Total Cases: 7,321
New Cases: 37
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.