I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources as well as recent legislative news.
Wishing you and your families a safe and happy New Year.
Table of Contents
- COVID-19 Testing Information
- State Updates
- National Updates
- Cambridge Updates
- MA Vaccination Updates
- Vaccination Appointment Resources
- Today’s Case Count
- Mental Health Services and Resources
- Where to Give
COVID-19 Testing Information
Cambridge Offering Testing 7 Days Per Week in January
Beginning Monday, Jan. 3, Cambridge is expanding its free COVID-19 testing program. People who live or work in Cambridge can now book an appointment and be tested for free at CIC Health’s 295 Third Street location in Cambridge any day of the week during the month of January. Visit camb.ma/3HrBq4p to learn more.
Walk-In Cambridge COVID-19 Testing Sites
- Monday: 4:00 - 8:00 PM at the CambridgeSide mall
- Wednesday: 2:00 - 6:00 PM at 2254 Massachusetts Ave, St. John the Evangelist Church
- Thursday: 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM at the CambridgeSide mall
- Sunday: 2:00 PM - 6:00 PM at 50 Church Street
As of November 1, the testing site at the CambridgeSide mall has returned to walk-in testing inside the mall. Learn more at cambridgema.gov/covid19/testing.
There will be no testing on the following dates due to the holidays:
- Thursday, December 30, 2021
- Saturday, January 1, 2022
State COVID-19 Testing
To find a COVID-19 testing site in Massachusetts, visit mass.gov/GetTested.
Additional State Sponsored Sites available in Boston, Roxbury, Lynn, Taunton
Beginning in early January, eligible residents aged 5 and older will be able to receive their primary series of COVID-19 vaccinations and residents age 16+ will be able to receive their booster shots at these locations:
- Fenway Park, 4 Jersey Street, Boston, MA
- Roxbury: Melnea Cass Recreation Complex, 120 MLK Jr Blvd, Boston, MA
- Roxbury: Whittier Street Health Center, 1290 Tremont Street, Roxbury, MA
- Lynn: North Shore Community College, Modular Building at 300 Broad Street, Lynn, MA
- Taunton: Taunton COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic, 2005 Bay Street, Taunton, MA
Appointments are available now by visiting vaxfinder.mass.gov.
Home PCR Tests for Adults
Lab-based PCR testing with home collection is available at no cost to all eligible Massachusetts adults. Kits are reserved for adults (18+) who live or work in a congregate setting, are experiencing symptoms, have recently been in contact with someone with COVID-19, or who have otherwise been recommended for testing. Please visit the Pixel by LabCorp for Massachusetts webpage at t.ly/vL4j for details, and to request a test kit.
COVID-19 Rapid Test Kits Available to Municipalities, Other Entities Direct from Manufacturers
Yesterday, the governor’s administration announced contracts with COVID-19 at-home test manufacturers that will allow municipalities and eligible entities to begin the process of placing orders for rapid test kits that utilize the state-negotiated prices. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3pDLe54.
DESE announces 200K COVID-19 Rapid Tests for Mass. School Teachers, Staff
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced that it will send 200,000 rapid tests to school districts, which is enough that each staff member can get two of the rapid antigen tests. before they return to school after the holiday break. DESE is strongly encouraging all school personnel to take one of the at-home antigen tests no more than 24 hours before they return to work to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but it is not required.
RMV to Extend Use of State-Owned Vehicles for Road Testing into 2022
The Massachusetts RMV is announcing the agency will continue with the use of Commonwealth-owned vehicles for Class D road testing services through April 30, 2022 and has delayed the return to the use of private passenger vehicles for road tests. Due to the pandemic and health and safety protocols, since June of 2020, the RMV has deployed a fleet of Commonwealth-owned vehicles for road tests which are cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis. Learn more: Mass.Gov/RMV.
CDC shortens recommended Covid-19 isolation and quarantine time
On Monday, the CDC shortened its recommended times that people should isolate when they've tested positive for COVID-19 from ten days to five if they don't have symptoms, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others. Learn more: https://cnn.it/30P6gEa.
Please note that many public health, infectious disease doctors and epidemiologists are surprised that the five day shortened quarantine period does not include a verification of a negative test. Many of them believe that the CDC stopped short of that requirement based on concerns regarding the availability and accessibility of rapid tests. While most people will have moved beyond the transmissible contagious stage, not everyone will, which is why the absence of a negative test has caused great concern. *Note that in the U.K., there is still a seven day isolation period, and individuals must test negative on days six and seven in order to no longer self-isolate.
FDA expected to broaden Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine booster eligibility to 12 to 15 year olds
As a heads up, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to broaden eligibility for Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine boosters to youths ages 12 to 15 early next week. They are also expected to allow adolescents and adults to receive a booster dose of Pfizer’s vaccine five months after receiving a second dose, instead of the current six months. It is also expected that they will authorize boosters for younger children, ages 5 to 11, with immune deficiencies. Learn more: https://cnn.it/3sHeeLj.
Cambridge Vaccine/Booster Clinics
The City of Cambridge is offering COVID-19 vaccine & booster shots by appointment only for eligible people aged 18 & older who live or work in Cambridge on:
- Jan. 3 from 4PM to 8PM
- Jan. 6 from 11AM - 3PM
Sign up at camb.ma/35WqRG6.
Cambridge Public Health Dept. Issues Advisory on Omicron
The Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD) has issued an advisory on protecting yourself from the Omicron variant. Given the very high transmissibility of Omicron, the CPHD urges residents to observe these recommendations:
- Get your vaccine and booster
- Wear your mask as much as possible. Higher quality “medical style” masks provide the best protection.
- Carefully consider holiday celebrations and social gatherings
- Take precautions if traveling
- Get tested
- If infected with or exposed to COVID-19, follow public health guidance
Learn more: t.ly/azY0.
I have been in communication with the City Manager, the Mayor and our Board of Health encouraging them to follow in the steps of Boston and join them in creating a regional approach to indoor vaccine mandates in public spaces along with a mandate for municipal employees in an effort to protect public facing staff and the public from transmission.
CHA Vaccinating Kids 5+
COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 and older are available at the Cambridge Health Alliance Vaccine Center in Somerville (next to Target). Due to high demand, vaccines are by appointment only. Visit bit.ly/3q1r4me to make an appointment. Clinic hours for the CHA Somerville Vaccine Center:
- Monday & Tuesday: 11:00 a.m.–6:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, Thursday & Friday: 8:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Where to Get a COVID-19 Booster Shot
This is a list of a few places that we are familiar with that are offering COVID-19 boosters in/near Cambridge for eligible MA residents:
- Cambridge Health Alliance (Appointments required)
- CVS (Appointments required)
- 624 Mass. Ave (Central Square)
- Schedule here: bit.ly/3mgBACv.
- Star Market (Walk-ins or appointments)
- 699 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge
- Schedule here: bit.ly/3uujXTv.
- Search by zip-code for other locations https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/
Cambridge Food Resource Guide
You can find a list of food pantries, free meals, and other programs available in Cambridge for those in need of food assistance here: bit.ly/3pjJj5K.
Senior Center Holiday Closures
In observance of the upcoming holidays, the Cambridge Council on Aging/ Cambridge Senior Center will be closed on Friday, December 31.
MA Vaccination Updates
Vaccination Locations for Children Ages 5-11
- Pharmacies: CVS and Walgreens locations
- Mass General Brigham (for patients): covidvaccine.massgeneralbrigham.org/MA
- Boston Children's Hospital (for patients): Schedule an appointment through the hospital’s MyChildren’s Patient Portal or call 617-919-7102.
- Atrius Health (for patients): Parents can schedule an appointment directly through MyHealth Online or call their child’s doctor’s office.
- Pediatricians’ Offices: Call your child’s doctor or nurse to determine vaccine availability.
- To see all Massachusetts vaccine locations and make appointments, go to vaxfinder.mass.gov or VaxAbilities.com for children with sensory and/or other accommodation needs.
Mobile Vaccination Services
You can find hours and dates for mobile vaccination clinics at t.ly/qTMc.
CHA Offering Walk-In Vaccinations
These sites are open to all Massachusetts residents age 12 and older:
- Cambridge Hospital
- East Cambridge Care Center
- Malden Care Center
CHA is also offering "pop-up" vaccination clinics - information on hours and locations here: https://www.challiance.org/patients-visitors/covid-19-vaccine.
Cambridge Vaccination Data
The City of Cambridge has added Cambridge Vaccination Data to its COVID-19 Data Center. Data will be updated weekly on Thursdays. Information as of Thursday, December 23, 2021:
Residents who have received at least 1 dose: 97,545
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 82,432
Daily COVID-19 Vaccination Report
Total doses administered: 12,707,897
Total cumulative doses shipped to MA: 14,807,600
Vaccination Appointment Resources
Resources for Booking and Getting to Your Appointment
- Online: Visit vaxfinder.mass.gov/. You can also book directly with a pharmacy at cvs.com or walgreens.com.
- 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.”
- In-Home Vaccinations: Anyone who is unable to get to a vaccine location can call the Homebound Vaccination Central Intake Line at 833-983-0485 between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM Monday-Friday. Boosters are also available.
Booster Shots Available for Fully Vaccinated Adults
COVID-19 boosters are available for all fully vaccinated MA residents aged 16 years and older. Learn more at mass.gov/COVID19booster.
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. Questions can be submitted to COVID-19-Vaccine-Plan-MA@mass.gov.
Today’s Case Count
Total Cases: 1,038,566
New Cases: 21,137
Total Deaths: 19,773
New PCR Tests: 119,292
Total Cases: 11,318
New Cases: 324
Total Deaths: 128
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.
Mental Health Services and Resources
If you or a loved one are struggling, please know that you are not alone. There are some great resources here: decker4rep.com/2021/mental-health-services-and-resources/.
Intimate Partner Abuse Prevention Helpline For MA residents
Thanks to COVID-19 relief funds from the CARES ACT, Massachusetts has a helpline that people can call for help rather than harming their partner. Open to any resident, the helpline is the first in the nation of its kind. This initiative is designed to prevent intimate partner violence by fostering accountability and change in people who harm or may harm their intimate partner. You can find more information at 10to10helpline.org or by calling 877-898-3411.
Where to Give
If you are able to give to others during this time, I encourage you to look to places that are working to help those most affected by COVID-19: decker4rep.com/2021/places-that-are-working-to-help-those-most-affected-by-covid-19/.
I also encourage you to donate to the following organizations that are engaging in racial justice work: decker4rep.com/2021/organizations-that-are-engaging-in-racial-justice-work/.
As always, do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions or concerns at Marjorie.Decker@mahouse.gov.