I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources.
Proposed Changes to MCAS Graduation Requirement
Education Commissioner Jeff Riley announced today that he intends to recommend changes to the graduation requirements for the high school class of 2022. These changes would modify the competency determination for English and math so that students would not be required to take the MCAS in light of missed testing opportunities last spring. Read more here.
This session, I filed legislation with my colleague Representative Susannah Whipps to place a moratorium on MCAS testing for the duration of the COVID-19 state of emergency. This is in addition to the legislation I have filed this session and in previous sessions that calls for a three year moratorium on MCAS testing and inclusive commission to review MCAS.
FDA Approves 2 Rapid, At-Home COVID Tests
The Food and Drug Administration has approved two rapid at-home tests for COVID-19 that will be sold over-the-counter. The newly authorized tests are Abbott's BinaxNOW test and Quidel's QuickVue. Abbott’s test should be available within weeks. Read more here.
MA Vaccination Updates
Massachusetts to Receive 100,000 J&J Doses Next Week
The Baker Administration announced yesterday that Massachusetts will receive 100,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine next week. The shipment won’t be delayed by the fact that 15 million J&J vaccines were accidentally ruined at a Baltimore plant several weeks ago. Read more 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 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.
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!
Virtual Candidate Forums for Interim Superintendent Finalists
The Cambridge School Committee is hosting Virtual Candidate Forums between 5:00 and 8:00 PM next Thursday, April 8, 2021 for the three finalists for the position of Interim Superintendent of Schools. Panels of students, family representatives, and educational staff will ask questions of the finalists. Members of the community can watch the forums live via Zoom. 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.
Governor Baker held a press conference at La Colaborativa in Chelsea today. The Governor announced that a mobile vaccination program, in partnership with the federal government, will begin next week. The vaccines will go to Chelsea and other hard-hit communities, with each mobile unit getting 500 doses per day. You can watch the Governor’s latest updates here.
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."