I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources.
Some of you may have seen the painful news that a CRLS student has taken their own life. Many of us know the isolation, pain and stress that this pandemic has on us. My heart aches for their family, friends, and peers. If you have a young person in your life who needs resources and support during this time, please share 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.
Today’s Case Count
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 both visited and spoke at the mass vaccination site in Natick. This week at the Natick Mall they are vaccinating 100 people per day, and next week they will ramp up to 500 vaccinations per day. By April 2021, their goal is to vaccinate 5,000 people per day, 7 days a week at the Natick site. The Governor also announced that the 7 day average positive test rate is now 1.89%. He stated that as of yesterday, Tuesday, February 23, 2021, the vaccination report indicated that the Commonwealth has received about 1.7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 1.4 have been administered, which is an 85.5% administration rate.
As of tomorrow morning, Thursday, February 25, 2021, approximately 50,000 new appointments for first doses will be available in Massachusetts, which will be found on the state’s website here. This includes the mass vaccination locations at Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium, Springfield, Danvers, Dartmouth, and Natick. Retail pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens will also administer over 20,000 doses next week as well. Eligible individuals can visit www.mass.gov/COVIDvaccine tomorrow morning to find and schedule a vaccination appointment. The Governor stated that he anticipates the 50,000 appointments will be booked quickly. Appointment availability is very limited due to the constrained supply of vaccine doses that the Commonwealth is receiving from the federal government.
To prepare for a surge in website traffic, due to the new appointments that will be added tomorrow, the Administration said it has been working with a tech team to improve the site’s capabilities and functionality to manage heavier website traffic. They’re implementing a digital waiting room that will prevent outages on the scheduling website for Massachusetts vaccine sites. This means that if there’s high traffic on the site, some users may be placed in the waiting room.
The Governor shared that about 95% of our population is within a 45 minute drive from a mass vaccine site, or 30 minutes from a regional site. To make the vaccine more accessible, the Governor says the Administration is working with municipalities to help them develop 11 regional vaccination collaboratives that can quickly and effectively administer the vaccine. They announced that this $4.7 million initiative will promote COVID-19 vaccine equity in the 20 communities most disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. For more information, click here.
You can watch the Governor’s COVID-19 update here.
Tomorrow I will be testifying at a virtual legislative oversight hearing on COVID-19 vaccination distribution that will be held at 11 AM on Thursday, February 25, 2021, by the newly formed Joint Committee on COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Management. I have gathered a 3-person panel of experts for the Public Health panel: Dr. S. Atyia Martin, the Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Boston; 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; and Meredith O’Leary, the Public Health Director for Northampton. You may watch the livestream of the virtual oversight hearing here; the Public Health panel is scheduled to start at 3:00.
As a patient of the Cambridge Health Alliance, I just learned that starting today, February 24th, CHA is temporarily pausing scheduling any new first-dose appointments for the COVID vaccine. This is based on guidance from the state, which has advised the hospital that it will not be able to supply CHA with additional first doses at this time.
A 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.
Keep in mind that the Governor has not officially made any statements about what appears to be a limited reversal on hospitals, there appears to be some effort to now categorize the decision to not give hospitals more vaccines as a temporary hold rather than a permanent shift. It is important to note that not every hospital will have COVID-19 vaccine supplies. I hope to learn more about these changes tomorrow, Thursday, February 25, 2021 at our virtual oversight hearing.
Today, Wednesday, February 24, 2021, a mass vaccination site opened 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.
Documents posted online by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seem to support Johnson & Johnson’s claims of the efficacy of their one-dose COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA states that this potential COVID-19 vaccine option was proven to be 66.9% effective across all geographic areas “when considering cases occurring at least 14 days after the single-dose vaccination” and 66.1% effective “when considering cases occurring at least 28 days after vaccination.” You can read more here on the matter.
Resources for Booking and Getting to Your Appointment
Don’t forget to book your second appointment while you’re getting your first dose!
Daily COVID-19 Vaccination Report
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:
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:
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 tonight, Wednesday, February 24, 2021, 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 tonight, Wednesday, February 24, 2021 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 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.
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 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 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:
I also encourage you to donate to the following 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.