I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources as well as recent legislative news.
I hope that you saw my email yesterday about Omicron, boosters and testing. I also sent a letter yesterday to Governor Baker strongly urging him to reconsider and call for a statewide indoor mask mandate rather than an advisory, as well as temporary implementation of indoor gathering limits. There is a clear public health consensus on the necessity of wearing masks indoors; we need the Governor to use his authority to impact 351 cities and towns at once by mandating rather than advising. An advisory still leaves too much up to personal choice. It is also important that our statewide public health messaging engages people in where we are in the evolving pandemic. We should be asking people to take two steps back for 4-6 weeks with the goal of taking three steps forward once we can safely navigate the surge. You can read the full letter here: t.ly/FM3J.
Wishing you and your families a safe and happy winter break.
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
Saturday Tests Available in Cambridge by Appointment
- Visit https://www.cic-health.com/cambridge to make an appointment.
- You will need to create a new account. You will receive test results administered at this site through the CIC’s system.
- The testing site is at 295 Third Street
- Appointments will be released at 12:00 p.m. each Monday for Saturday testing.
- Questions should be directed to CIC’s Customer Service Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 877-280-2937.
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 23, 2021
- Saturday, December 25, 2021
- 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.
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.
Statewide Mask Advisory
The Department of Public Health released an updated mask advisory yesterday, recommending that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask or face covering in indoor, public spaces.
Activation of National Guard to address Non-Clinical support needs
Yesterday, Governor Baker announced that he is activating up to 500 members of the Massachusetts National Guard to address the non-clinical support needs of hospitals and transport systems. Up to 300 of these Guard members will begin training this week and will support 55 acute care hospitals, as well as 12 ambulance service providers across the Commonwealth. Learn more: bit.ly/3pffuDg.
Elective Surgery Guidance
The Department of Public Health released updated guidance to hospitals concerning nonessential, elective invasive procedures. To preserve health care personnel resources, effective 12:01am on December 27th, all hospitals are directed to postpone or cancel all nonessential elective procedures likely to result in inpatient admission in order to maintain and increase inpatient capacity. Learn more: bit.ly/3FvkCsk.
President Biden announces new steps to protect against Omicron
Yesterday, President Biden announced new steps to address the risks posed by the Omicron variant of COVID-19. These measures include:
- The federal government plans to buy a half-billion at-home COVID test kits and mail them to people who want them, with deliveries beginning in January. Private insurance companies will be required to reimburse individuals for the COVID-19 tests ordered from the federal government.
- The federal government will announce new federal testing sites across the country, including one in New York City that will open before Christmas.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency will deploy planning officials to assess needs across the country and preposition supplies like masks, gloves and ventilators.
Learn more: https://n.pr/3ebXkvJ.
Food and Drug Administration authorizes antiviral pill to treat COVID-19
The FDA has authorized the 1st antiviral pill, Paxlovid made by Pfizer, to treat COVID-19 at home. The pill is taken twice per day for five days in combination with a second medicine called ritonavir, a generic antiviral. Early results from a Paxlovid study showed a 70% reduction in hospitalization risk among several hundred people at lower risk for severe disease. Learn more here: https://n.pr/3sqbMZg.
Pause on student loan repayment extended through May 1
Today, President Joe Biden announced that he is extending the pause on student loan payments until May 1. Repayments were previously set to re-start on February 1. Learn more: https://cnn.it/30P6gEa.
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.
Cambridge Distributing Over 21,000 Rapid Test Kits
The City of Cambridge has begun distributing over 21,000 at-home rapid COVID-19 antigen test kits to individuals and families from prioritized high risk and disproportionately impacted populations in Cambridge. The City received this allocation of iHealth Labs COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Each kit contains two tests and delivery is underway to various community partners that serve the identified populations. Learn more at camb.ma/3qgk2s3.
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 the following days:
- Thursday, December 23
- Friday, December 24
- 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 16, 2021:
Residents who have received at least 1 dose: 96,011
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 81,963
Daily COVID-19 Vaccination Report
Total doses administered: 12,448,593
Total cumulative doses shipped to MA: 14,594,560
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: 960,973
New Cases: 7,817
Total Deaths: 19,525
New PCR Tests: 106,568
Total Cases: 9,921
New Cases: 129
Total Deaths: 126
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.