I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources. I hope that you had an opportunity to read the statement that I sent out earlier today, as well as my testimony from last week’s oversight hearing.
Governor Baker visited Mattapan’s Morning Star Baptist Church today and announced that Massachusetts will receive thousands of doses of the recently approved Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine next week. The Governor also said that 550,000 Massachusetts residents have been fully vaccinated so far. The Morning Star vaccine site launched last month and has administered 1,000 vaccines so far with plans to eventually administer 500 per day.
The Governor provided an update with a handful of statistics, including that there is currently a 1.7% COVID-19 test positive rate and 2 million COVID-19 vaccines that have been shipped to Massachusetts. Today, the Governor also announced a statewide public awareness campaign featuring doctors of color and $4.7 million for hyperlocal efforts to reduce barriers to the COVID-19 vaccine. He shared that trusted, neighborhood-based institutions are essential in ensuring access to the vaccine, especially in communities where vaccine hesitancy remains.
You can watch the Governor's COVID-19 update here.
Massachusetts has transitioned to Phase III, Step 2 of the reopening process today, Monday, March 1, 2021. The updates include lifting the capacity limit on restaurants, raising capacity limits across other sectors to 50%, and reopening indoor performance venues and recreational activities at 50% capacity. Read more here. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who is the current Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warns that "now is not the time" to lift restrictions. Dr. Walensky also served on the Massachusetts COVID-19 Advisory Board.
The Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General has announced the FY2022 Healthy Summer Youth Jobs Grant Program. Applicants may apply for grants to fund jobs for youth with core health and wellness components while also providing opportunities for professional enrichment. The deadline for applications is Friday, March 5, 2021. To learn more about this opportunity, click here.
The CDC also recently updated its guidelines for face masks. The recommendations include adjusting your mask to get a better fit or adding a second mask. Read more here.
The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was approved for emergency use over the weekend, which will help protect more individuals across the Commonwealth against COVID-19. Unlike the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna options already being used in communities across the Commonwealth, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization on Saturday, February 27, 2021. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will require just a single shot with simpler transportation and storage requirements. Read more here.
I have been asked for my preference regarding which vaccine I would choose. After careful reading and conversations with public health experts, I look forward to taking whichever one is available. I feel confident in the efficacy of all three.
A reminder that individuals who received the first dose of their vaccine at Carewell Urgent Care have been told that their appointments to receive their second doses have been canceled. The COVID-19 Response Command Center has stated the Administration is ensuring second doses to vaccinate all individuals who receive their first doses at vaccination clinics across the state, and the Command Center and the Department of Public Health are actively working with CareWell on their request for second doses.
Resources for Booking and Getting to Your Appointment
Online: Go to vaxfinder.mass.gov/ or book directly at cvs.com. You can also visit macovidvaccines.com - even though it’s not an official site, it has been handling the increased traffic without crashing and it updates every 5 minutes.
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 65+ 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.
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!
Wednesday - 2254 Massachusetts Ave, St. John the Evangelist Church, 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Thursday - CambridgeSide in East Cambridge, 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM (Drive-through testing in garage. Enter on First St.)
Friday - 50 Church St. 12:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Saturday - Christian Life Center located at 85 Bishop Allen Drive. 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Sunday - CambridgeSide in East Cambridge, 11:00am - 7:00pm (Drive-through testing in garage. Enter on First St.)
You can schedule an appointment online or by calling 617-665-3795.
Our community is grieving the loss of a CRLS student. If you have a young person in your life who needs mental health resources and support during this time, the Cambridge Teen Health Center can help. For appointments and more information on where to find support, click here. Another great resource is this guide created by the Riverside Trauma Center and Samaritans. Riverside also offers a 24-hour assistance by calling 1-888-851-2451 and selecting option #2 to be connected to a Trauma Center Manager. As always, if my office can provide additional resources and assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at Marjorie.Decker@mahouse.gov.
An Emergency Order was issued last week by the City prohibiting live musical performances at restaurants until further notice and delaying the opening of indoor performance venues until Monday, March 22, 2021 in light of Governor Baker’s updates to the state’s reopening plan. Effective today, Monday, March 1, 2021, capacity limits across all sectors with capacity limits will be raised to 50%, excluding employees, and restaurants will no longer have a percent capacity limit. They will be required to continue to enforce six-foot distance between tables, limit seating to six people per table, adhere to the maximum 90-minute time limit per table, and require that food be served with alcohol orders. As a reminder, restaurant customers may only remove face coverings in the actual act of eating and drinking. Face coverings are required at all other times while seated at tables and when wait staff are present at tables. Read more here.
Local Parks Program
Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui has announced that the Local Parks Program will begin the week of March 22, 2021 and run weekly through fall 2021. The program is held from 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM Mondays at Sennott Park and from 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM Wednesdays at Danehy park. Elevate Youth is continuing to accept applications from families of 4th and 5th graders until capacity is met. For those who are interested, text “CAMBRIDGE” to 857-995-8050 or email Elevate Youth’s program coordinator Cam Regan at email@example.com. Read more here.
Cambridge Works is a transitional jobs program for younger adults who have had difficulty finding a job. This program is ongoing and open to residents, must be age 18-35, without a college degree. The program is meant for those who have experienced difficulty finding jobs for any of the following reasons: limited work experience, a gap in work history, frustration with dead end jobs, or legal or personal issues. For additional information on the Cambridge Works program, click here.
Cambridge Library Services
Contactless holds pickup has resumed at all branches. The winter schedule includes a dedicated hour for seniors and at-risk individuals at the start of each service day at the Main Library. Details are available on the library website at www.cambridgema.gov/cpl. For assistance, call 617-349-4040 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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."