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.
For Harvard University COVID-19 information, click here.
For MIT COVID-19 information, click here.
Baker Press Conference Updates
Governor Baker announced today that the Commonwealth will be moving forward in the reopening plan, and that we will enter Phase 3 Step 2 effective Monday, March 1, 2021. Indoor performance venues and indoor recreational activities are set to reopen with a 12% capacity limit. Capacity limits across all sectors are set to increase to 50%. Effective Monday, March 22, 2021, the Commonwealth will move into Phase 4 Step 1, as long as the Massachusetts public health data continues to improve.
Governor Baker also announced today more than $49 million in awards to 1,108 additional small businesses in the eighth round of relief grants administered by Mass Growth Capital.
You can watch the Governor's COVID-19 update here.
This afternoon I testified as House Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health as part of a Public Health panel that I assembled with my co-Chair, Senator Comerford. The virtual legislative oversight hearing on COVID-19 vaccination distribution was hosted by the newly formed Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management. The Public Health panel included:
- Dr. Bisola Ojikuti, an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Global and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, an Associate Physician within the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and a faculty member within the Infectious Disease Divisions at Brigham and Women's and Massachusetts General Hospitals;
- Meredith O'Leary, the Public Health Director for Northampton.
A quick summary of my testimony is that the current vaccination distribution system did not intentionally build in equity, the design seems more inspired by the Game of Thrones. Intentional equity would have been able to respond to the needs of individuals who do not have a computer, endless hours to navigate, transportation and many other issues that you could also identify. The limited supply does not explain the operational challenges of the website or 211. Best public health practices would have looked to the helpers that live and work in every community to design a system that engages, enrolls and delivers the vaccine without luck or adding to the additional stress and angst of this process. I will be happy to link my testimony in tomorrow's email. We have the ability, opportunity and responsibility to do better.
A reminder that as of yesterday, the Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) is temporarily pausing scheduling any new first-dose appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine. This does not disrupt your scheduled second dose. Another reminder that if you are a patient of Mount Auburn Hospital, and are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, check with your provider or on your patient portal as they are once again accepting patients for vaccination appointments.
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 and 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 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 the vaccine rollout. There are currently more than 170 vaccination sites in Massachusetts. The map of vaccination sites is here; you can search by zip code as well.
Phase Two will occur from February 2021 to March 2021. Priority groups are as follows:
- 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/daycare 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 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: 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 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 2020 survey found a loss of more than $484 million in revenue for cultural organizations in Massachusetts. The survey will be open until Monday, March 1, 2021, and cultural organizations can fill it out here.
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, 2021. To learn more about this opportunity, click here.
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 supports, 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.
Cambridge Health Department Survey
The Cambridge Health Department wants to know how Cambridge residents feel about the COVID-19 vaccine. The survey is available in Amharic, Arabic, Bangla, Simplified Chinese, English, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Spanish. You may access the survey here.
35th Annual MLK Brunch Virtual Program
The 35th Annual MLK Brunch, hosted by the Cambridge NAACP Branch, will be presented during the virtual program this Saturday, February 27, 2021, from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Here is the link to attend. I will be part of the speaking program. If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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 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."
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
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.