Tuesday April 27 COVID-19 Updates - It's Late, but Read for Governor's Updates about Reopening and Face Masks
I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources. I spoke earlier tonight on the critical Public Health investments in the House Fiscal Year 2022 budget. Budget week continues tomorrow. You can find a list of all amendments filed here. You may watch the archived videos and live stream here.
I also want to recognize that the City of Cambridge has lost another resident to COVID-19. If this was your loved one, I am deeply sorry. This is a sobering reminder that the pandemic is far from over.
Reminder: Vaccines Town Hall This Thursday, April 29
Please join me, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, Dr. Bronwyn MacInnis, Director of the Infectious Disease and Microbiome Program at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, and Dr. Assaad Sayah, CEO of the Cambridge Health Alliance for a Town Hall meeting on Vaccines on Thursday 4/29 at 5:30PM. You can register for a Zoom linkhere. The town hall will also air on CCTV's Channel 9, cctvcambridge.org/channel09, cctvcambridge.org/youtube, and Facebook.com/cctvcambridge.
Please send any questions you have on vaccines for the panelists to Marjorie.Decker@mahouse.gov ahead of the panel.
Baker Press Conference Updates
Baker-Polito Administration Announces Plans for Continued Reopening
Massachusetts will reopen some outdoor Phase 4, Step 2 industries effective May 10th and put plans in place for further reopening on May 29th and August 1st.
On Monday, May 10, 2021:
Large venues such as indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas and ballparks currently open as part of Phase 4, Step 1 at 12% will be permitted to increase capacity to 25%.
Amusement parks, theme parks & outdoor water parks will be permitted to operate at a 50% capacity after submitting safety plans
Road races and other large, outdoor organized amateur or professional group athletic events will be permitted to take place with staggered starts after submitting safety plans
Youth and adult amateur sports tournaments will be allowed for moderate and high risk sports.
Singing will be permitted indoors with strict distancing requirements at performance venues, restaurants, event venues and other businesses.
On Saturday, May 29, 2021:
Subject to public health and vaccination data, gathering limits will increase to 200 people indoors and 250 people outdoors for event venues, public settings and private settings.
Street festivals, parades and agricultural festivals can open at 50% of their previous capacity and after submitting safety plans
Bars, beer gardens, breweries, wineries and distilleries, will be subject to restaurant rules with seated service only, a 90 minute limit and no dance floors
Restaurant guidance will be updated to eliminate the requirement that food be served with alcohol and to increase the maximum table size to 10.
On Sunday, August 1, 2021:
Subject to public health and vaccination data, remaining industries will be permitted to open including:
Dance clubs, and nightclubs
Saunas, hot-tubs, steam rooms at fitness centers, health clubs and other facilities
Indoor water parks
Face Coverings Order to be Relaxed for Some Outdoor Settings
Effective Friday, April 30, 2021, the Face Coverings Order will be relaxed for some outdoor settings. Face coverings will only be required outside in public when it is not possible to socially distance, and at other times required by sector-specific guidance. Face coverings will still be required at all times in indoor public places. Face coverings will also continue to be required at all times at events.
High Schools Must Return to In-Person Learning May 17
Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeffrey C. Riley announced today that high schools across the Commonwealth must bring students back to full-time, in-person learning by Monday, May 17, 2021 unless a district receives a waiver. Read more here.
State Universities Will Require COVID Vaccines This Fall
The Massachusetts state university system will require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to campus in the fall. State university employees are also expected to get vaccinated. Read more here.
MA 4th in Federal Aid Per Capita
According to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Massachusetts has received the fourth most federal aid per capita during the COVID-19 pandemic so far. As of April 15, Massachusetts had received $68.19 billion in federal assistance dating back to the start of the pandemic, which amounts to $9,893 per resident. Read more here.
MWRA Finding Reduced Viral Levels in Wastewater
The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) has found declining amounts of coronavirus in wastewater samples for 7 of the last 8 days in the southern section of the system and for the last 9 days in the northern section. The levels are still above last summer’s lows but are much lower than the highs of early 2021. Learn more here.
The US Department of Labor sent emergency workplace safety rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to the Office of Management and Budget last night. President Biden had originally set a deadline of March 15 for a decision on mandatory workplace safety rules, but Labor Secretary Marty Walsh requested further review. Read more here.
Biden Administration Expanding Access to Life-Saving Opioid Addiction Treatment
New federal guidelines will allow far more medical practitioners to prescribe buprenorphine, a drug proven to reduce opioid relapses and overdose deaths. The new rules eliminate a training requirement and allow a wider range of health workers to offer buprenorphine treatment, including nurse practitioners, physician assistants and certified nurse midwives. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the opioid crisis — according to the CDC, synthetic opioid fatalities rose by an unprecedented 55% during the twelve months ending in September 2020. Read more here.
The COVID-19 Housing Stabilization Program provides short term financial assistance to individuals and families in Cambridge who are experiencing housing instability. New applicants are encouraged to apply. Learn more here.
May 7 Deadline for Small Business Grants
An additional $600,000 in grants for Cambridge small businesses is available through the City’s Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund and the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority. Grant applications accepted from Wednesday, April 14, 2021 until Friday, May 7, 2021. Read more here.
Council on Aging Homebound Vaccination Program
The homebound vaccination program is for people who would not otherwise be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine unless they receive it in their home. It does not include individuals who are temporarily homebound; and/or able to leave the home with adequate assistance; or those who would prefer to get a vaccine in their home. If you meet the definition for homebound, or know someone who does, please call the Cambridge Council on Aging (CoA) at 617-349-6220. Learn more here.
2nd out of US states for persons with 1+ doses administered per capita
1st for persons with 1+ doses per capita amongst states with 5M people or more
Vaccine Eligibility Open to All Adults
All Massachusetts residents aged 16 and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, people under the age of 18 can only receive the Pfizer vaccine and there are certain steps these individuals should take prior to scheduling their appointment. Learn more here.
Preparing for your Vaccination Appointment
Learn about how you can prepare for your vaccination appointment here
Resources for Booking and Getting to Your Appointment
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.” This multilingual service is for residents who don’t have Internet access or have trouble using the Internet.
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. You can also visit macovidvaxhelp.com, which is an unofficial site staffed by volunteers for eligible individuals who are unable to book vaccine appointments on their own.
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.
The City of Cambridge has published accessibility information for the state’s mass vaccination sites. You can find it here.
Don’t forget to book your second appointment while you’re getting your first dose!
If you or a loved one are struggling, please know that you are not alone. Here are some great resources:
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 Ave, 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."