I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources as well as recent legislative news.
I am grateful to have had multiple opportunities to see friends and colleagues in person over recent weeks, from the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Breakfast, to a tour of the Cambridge YWCA, to an HHS Office of Civil Rights listening session at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center on securing access to reproductive and other healthcare services. I look forward to continuing to gather safely over the holidays and in the New Year.
Table of Contents
- State Updates
- National Updates
- Cambridge Updates
- COVID-19 Testing Information
- MA Vaccination Updates
- DPH Resources on COVID-19
- This Week’s Case Count
- Mental Health Services and Resources
- Where to Give
State Distributing At Least 3.5 Million More Free At-Home COVID Tests
The Baker-Polito Administration this week announced plans to distribute another 3.5 million free at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen tests and personal protective equipment (PPE) for municipalities and community organizations. Municipalities may request to receive tests, KN95 masks, surgical masks, face shields and nitrile gloves to combat the spread of COVID-19. The Commonwealth is also making these tools available to other settings and organizations including day programs, councils on aging, community-based organizations, health care providers, providers of affordable housing for seniors, Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) and assisted living residences. Learn more: bit.ly/3YlVCOa.
MA Offering Gift Cards at Family-Friendly Vaccine Clinics
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is offering a $75 gift card at any of the clinics listed at https://bit.ly/3TObt5o. Gift cards will be offered through December 31, 2022 to any Massachusetts resident (adult or child) who gets vaccinated (first dose, second dose, or booster) while supplies last. You do not need an appointment, but some clinics may encourage pre-registration.
Free COVID-19 Tests Available by Mail
Households are now able to order free rapid at-home COVID-19 tests again from http://COVIDTests.gov as part of a broader White House winter COVID preparedness plan. The tests, the fourth round of free rapid tests this year, will start to ship the week of December 19. They will likely not arrive before the holidays, but most Massachusetts residents can show their insurance card to get free rapid antigen tests at the pharmacy desk of stores like CVS and Walgreens every 30 days. The government is urging people to test themselves when they have symptoms, and before visiting with family. Learn more: wbur.fm/3PtNPty.
Authorities Urge Indoor Masking in Major Cities as 'Tripledemic' Rages
Public health officials are revisiting the topic of indoor masking as three highly contagious respiratory viruses take hold during the holiday season. Over the past few weeks, a surge in cases of COVID, the flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) has been sickening millions of Americans, overwhelming emergency rooms, and even causing a cold medicine shortage. The triple threat has been called a "tripledemic." Learn more: wbur.fm/3hCUoNX.
Federal Internet Discounts for Eligible Households
The Affordable Connectivity Program is an FCC benefit program that helps ensure that households can afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare and more during the COVID-19 pandemic. The benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price. For more information, visit fcc.gov/acp.
Cambridge Public Health Department Reports Rise in COVID-19 Cases
Since Thanksgiving, Cambridge has seen an increase in COVID-19 infections in the community and in the public schools. Confirmed cases and hospitalizations have also been rising in Middlesex County over the past week, causing the county’s COVID-19 community level designation from the CDC to move from “low” to “moderate.” Learn more: bit.ly/3Ph9Uf6.
COVID-19 Testing Information
Cambridge Appointment-Only Testing
Appointment-only testing, provided through a partnership with CIC Health, is available 7 days per week to people who live or work in Cambridge. Testing at CIC Health’s 295 Third Street location is available during the following hours:
- Monday - Friday, from 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
- Saturday & Sunday, from 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Appointments can be booked online at cic-health.com/cambridge, or assistance is available from CIC’s Customer Service Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 877-280-2937.
State COVID-19 Testing
Please visit mass.gov/GetTested.
Home PCR Tests for Adults
Please visit t.ly/vL4j for details and to request a test kit.
MA Vaccination Updates
Vaccines and Boosters for Children
As a reminder, everyone ages 6 months or older is eligible to be vaccinated and everyone ages 5 years or older is eligible to be boosted. Children who have received a two-dose primary series of any vaccine and those who have received boosters are eligible to get the updated bivalent booster as long as two months have passed since their last dose.
- 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.
Residents who have received at least 1 dose: 116,536
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 92,064
Residents with 1 Booster: 62,255
Residents with 2 Boosters: 30,576
Total doses administered: 17,216,449
Total first booster doses administered: 3,434,516
Total second booster doses administered: 1,467,398
DPH Resources on COVID-19
COVID-19 FAQs: bit.ly/3aLrW99
This Week’s COVID-19 Case Count
Please note that these are only the reported cases. The actual case counts are underreported due to people using rapid tests at home.
Total Cases: 1,950,694
New Cases: 8,391
Total Deaths: 21,053
New PCR Tests: 104,031
Total Cases: 34,302
New Cases: 17
Total Deaths: 179
State interactive data dashboard: bit.ly/3Pe3hJk
Harvard COVID dashboard: bit.ly/3z8sa3C.
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
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
Thanks to everyone who has generously contributed to many organizations serving vulnerable people locally, nationally, and globally. If you are able to donate, please visit https://bit.ly/3fyEWkw for places serving those most affected by COVID-19 and https://bit.ly/3SMFeCU for 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.