I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources.
Today’s Case Count
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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.
Baker Press Conference Updates
Governor Baker did not hold a press conference today.
Governor Baker joined Boston Public Radio today and said that he was angry about the state vaccine website crashing this morning as newly eligible residents rushed to sign up for appointments. I know that many of you were among those trying to get online. This will be addressed along with many other issues at the COVID-19 Emergency Response and Management Oversight Hearing next Thursday, February 25, where I will be assembling a panel and testifying as House Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health.
The website crashing this morning should have been predictable. Appointments for Boston sites were down for hours. We were told by the administration today that within 42 minutes, all 21,000 appointments in Danvers, Springfield, Dartmouth, and Natick were booked. I understand how frustrating and disappointing it is when the Governor has expanded the eligibility pool and yet we still have not figured out how to prioritize vulnerable residents who were already eligible. We need to figure out a system of booking appointments beyond first come, first served to whoever is eligible. The current tool does not serve the goal of ensuring equity.
I will continue putting pressure publicly and privately on the Governor to address this. Stay tuned here. I suspect that over the next 1 to 2 weeks we will see more opportunities for local distribution, but until then my colleagues and I will continue asking questions and pushing the Governor to respond.
CVS Now Offering Vaccines
CVS is now offering free COVID-19 vaccines at select locations across Massachusetts, including one in Cambridge. If you are eligible, you can schedule your first and second doses through the pharmacy’s website. CVS is expected to post new appointments daily. The Cambridge location is 215 Alewife Brook Pkwy, Cambridge, MA 02138. Schedule an appointment here. The site is getting a lot of traffic and may need a minute or two to load.
Resources for Booking and Getting to Your Appointment
- Online: With the state website struggling to deal with the increased traffic, I encourage you to visit macovidvaccines.com even though it’s not an official site. You can also visit vaxfinder.mass.gov/ or book directly at cvs.com.
- Phone: Call 2-1-1 between 8:30AM and 8:00PM Monday-Thursday or 8:30AM – 5:00PM 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.
- 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 email@example.com.
- 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!
Daily COVID-19 Vaccination Report
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Massachusetts is currently in the middle of Phase Two of vaccine rollout. There are currently 125 vaccination sites in Massachusetts and it is expected that this will ramp up to 165 sites by mid-February. The map of vaccination sites is here; you can search by zip code as well.
The Phase Two priority groups are:
- Individuals 75 or older (currently eligible)
- Individuals 65 or older or with two or more comorbidities and/or residents and staff of low income and affordable senior housing (currently eligible)
- Early education and K-12 workers, transit, utility, food and agriculture, sanitation and public health workers (not yet eligible)
- Individuals with one comorbidity (not yet eligible)
Phase Three will expand vaccination efforts to the general public.
For more details and updates on vaccination priorities, please visit https://www.mass.gov/covid-19-vaccine.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has a Frequently Asked Questions site that is continually updated as they receive new questions. Access the FAQs here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-vaccine-frequently-asked-questions. Questions can be submitted to COVID-19-Vaccine-Plan-MA@mass.gov.
COVID Testing Sites
Testing appointments through the City’s free mobile-testing program are available at the following locations:
- Monday – 50 Church St. 12:00pm – 8:00pm
- Tuesday – 50 Church St. 12:00pm – 8:00pm
- Wednesday – 2254 Massachusetts Ave, St. John the Evangelist Church, 10:00am – 6:00pm
- Thursday – CambridgeSide in East Cambridge, 11:00am – 7:00pm (Drive-through testing in garage. Enter on First St.)
- Friday – 50 Church St. 12:00pm – 8:00pm
- Saturday – Christian Life Center located at 85 Bishop Allen Drive. 11:00am – 7:00pm
- 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.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has 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 Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women is having a hearing on February 24 to hold space for Women of Color to share experiences, strategies and successes with one another during COVID-19. Featuring Guest Speakers: Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Dr. Charmain Jackman. Register here: walkinourpower.eventbrite.com.
The Massachusetts Cultural Council is launching a fifth survey of the state’s cultural institutions to take stock of the economic damage the COVID-19 pandemic has caused. More than 30,000 cultural sector jobs have been affected by COVID-19-related cancellations and closures, the organization said, and its November survey found a loss of more than $484 million in revenue for cultural organizations in Massachusetts. The survey will be open until March 1 and cultural organizations can fill it out here.
Youth Employment Opportunity
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 March 5. To learn more about this opportunity, click here.
Harvard University COVID-19 information, click here.
MIT COVID-19 information, click here.
The City of Cambridge has increased indoor capacity limits from 25% to 40% as of February 8. Indoor gatherings are still limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25 people. Learn more here.
COVID-19 Emergency and Recovery Grants for Cambridge Nonprofit Organizations
The intent of this funding is to provide COVID-19 related assistance and critical support to the vulnerable and at-risk Cambridge families and individuals served by Cambridge nonprofit organizations. Applications for COVID-19 Emergency and Recovery Grants for Cambridge Nonprofit Organizations are due by 5:00 PM on February 22, 2021. To learn more about the grant opportunity and apply, click 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.
Translation Resources Available
Multilingual city resources and information on COVID-19 are available on the City’s multilingual help page.
Where to Give
On Fridays, Cambridge CoHousing will be collecting food for the Chelsea Food Collaborative. Drop off is between 9 AM and 2:30PM at 175 Richdale Ave, the entrance to CoHousing, either in a paper bag or small box. If you don’t see someone at the moment you come, please leave it just inside the gate where we will have boxes marked “For Chelsea.”
Transition House in Need of Emergency Donations
- Make a donation
- Order from their wishlist
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
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.