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
Today Governor Baker announced that there has been a 65% drop in daily hospital census for COVID-19 patients since the peak in early January 2021. The 7 day positive test average is now down to 1.9%. As of yesterday, Monday, February 22, 2021, he stated that 30,000 new doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered to Massachusetts residents. The mass vaccination site at Natick Mall opened yesterday, Monday, February 23, 2021. Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 24, 2021, a mass vaccination site will open in Dartmouth at the former Circuit City. This site will begin by giving 500 shots a day before expanding to 2,000 shots a day.
The Governor also promoted in-person learning this school year. He aims to move kids to in-person learning full-time by phasing out remote learning in April 2021. He mentioned that the process would entail starting with elementary school students. He stated that with the proper mitigation strategies in place, developed by our state's team of medical professionals, schools across the Commonwealth have been able to safely welcome kids back to the classroom for months now. There are still approximately 20% of districts that are learning fully remotely, which impacts nearly 4,000 students. The Governor announced that the Administration is making funding, supplies, and public health tools available for districts.
You can watch the Governor's COVID-19 update here.
I am preparing to testify as House Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health at the COVID-19 Emergency Response and Management oversight hearing, which is being held this Thursday, February 25, 2021. You may access the livestream of the virtual oversight hearing here.
If you are a patient of Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) or 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. Keep in mind that the Governor has not officially made any statements about what appears to be a limited reversal on hospitals. It is important to note that not every hospital will have COVID-19 vaccine supplies. I hope to better understand these changes Thursday at our virtual oversight hearing.
The first mass COVID-19 vaccination site in MetroWest opened at the Natick Mall yesterday. Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 24, a mass vaccination site will open in Dartmouth at the former Circuit City. This site will begin by giving 500 shots a day before expanding to 2,000 shots a day.
Additionally, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is likely to review Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine data on Friday, February 26, 2021. It is probable that the vaccine will be granted emergency authorization by the beginning of March 2021.
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 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!
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 MBTA Service Planning team will provide information at a virtual public meeting about temporary schedule changes that go into effect in March 2021 and April 2021. The meeting will be hosted on Zoom at 6 PM tomorrow, February 24, and will allow attendees the opportunity to ask questions and provide input on future service changes. You may register here. Once you have registered, you will receive a confirmation email that contains information about joining the virtual meeting. If you do not have access to a computer, please call 617-448-4374 to get the call-in number for the meeting. This meeting offers free accessibility accommodations and language services upon request.
The Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women is having a hearing tomorrow, February 24, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM 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. To participate in the related survey, click 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 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.
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, 2021. Indoor gatherings are still limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25 people. Learn 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 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.