I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources as well as recent legislative news.
Table of Contents
- State Updates
- National Updates
- Cambridge Updates
- COVID-19 Testing Information
- MA Vaccination Updates
- Vaccination Appointment Resources
- Today’s Case Count
- Legislative Updates
- Mental Health Services and Resources
- Where to Give
Statewide School Mask Mandate Ends Feb. 28
Governor Baker, Education Secretary James Peyser and Commissioner Jeffrey Riley announced this week that the state’s school mask mandate will end at the end of this month. School districts will be able to establish their own local requirements. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3gG6WjF.
I have continued to spend my time talking with various public health and infectious disease professionals, most recently to get their input on the Governor’s rollback of the school mask mandate. I will share my thoughts on this move by Governor Baker with you soon. While this is welcome news for many, it’s a move that needs to be navigated and messaged carefully.
MIAA lifting mask mandate for indoor high school sports on Feb. 28
Today, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association announced it will lift its mask mandate for indoor high school sports during the winter season on Feb. 28.The MIAA will defer to host schools and venues for specific mask-wearing protocols as statewide tournaments approach. Schools will need to communicate their regulations. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3BoeNMo.
COVID-19 Essential Employee Premium Pay program available soon
On December 13, 2021 Governor Baker signed into law the COVID-19 Essential Employee Premium Pay program. The Legislature allocated $460 million for premium payments to Massachusetts workers. Based on filed 2020 Massachusetts tax returns, individuals will be eligible for a $500 payment if their income from employment was at least $12,750 and their total income put them below 300% of the federal poverty level. The first round of $500 payments will automatically be delivered to 500,000 people in March. For more information, visit: mass.gov/premiumpay.
Some Walgreens Stores in MA now able to fill prescriptions for COVID antiviral pills
This week, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health told providers that they can start writing prescriptions for some oral COVID antivirals (Paxlovid and molnupiravir) at some Walgreens stores across the state. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3GGj3rr.
Pfizer postpones FDA request for Covid vaccine for kids under 5
Pfizer has announced that it will wait for its data on a three-dose series of the vaccine to submit its application to the Food and Drug Administration to expand the use of its Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months to 4 years. Data is expected in early April. Learn more: https://nbcnews.to/3Lvh9O8.
New CDC report on COVID-19 Booster Effectiveness
Today, the CDC released a report that shows that COVID-19 booster shots decline in effectiveness after 4 months, though the shots still offered strong protection against severe illness and hospitalization. Learn more: https://cnb.cx/3sAdTs3.
COVID-19 Test Kits & Masks are No Longer Available for Pick Up at City Sites
Test kits and masks are no longer available for pick up at any sites as supplies have been exhausted. From Saturday, February 5, through Thursday, February 10, the City distributed over 10,000 test kits and 20,000 high-quality KF94 masks at pickup sites at the Main Library, City Hall, and neighborhood fire stations to people who live or work in Cambridge. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3Jkx6EJ.
Vaccine & Booster Clinics in February
The Cambridge Public Health Department is hosting a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Reservoir Church 170 Rindge Avenue, Cambridge
- Wednesday, February 16 from 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
The clinic will offer free COVID-19 vaccines (first, second and booster doses). Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be available to those who are eligible. Appointments can be made at https://bit.ly/Camb-Color. Walk-ins are also welcome.
Cambridge is holding vaccine and booster clinics on the G3 Level of the CambridgeSide mall parking garage (not a drive-thru clinic) on:
- Monday, February 14 from 4 PM to 8 PM
- Thursday, February 17 from 11 AM to 3 PM
Appointments are available and walk-ins will be accepted. Learn more: camb.ma/3GkDPN3
CHA Vaccine Center Open for Walk-Ins
The CHA Somerville Vaccine Center is now accepting walk-in patients again, subject to availability. They are also hosting special Saturday clinics on 2/19 and 3/5. You can make an appointment through MyCHArt or at bit.ly/3A19n7N.
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
- 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/
New Low Cost Internet Option for Cambridge Housing Authority Residents
Internet provider Starry will provide $15 per month internet service to residents of more than 2,360 Cambridge Housing Authority units. Additionally, the monthly cost will be covered by the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program. Learn more: https://bit.ly/367XZO6.
Two strong-willed Cambridge moms are working to wean Mass. utilities off fossil fuels
If you live in Cambridge and are concerned about climate change, these names will be very familiar. If you have access to BostonGlobe.com or can get a copy of the paper, be sure to check out this story about the fierce determination of Zeyneb Magavi and Audrey Schulman. The story is online at bit.ly/3HNhKbt.
Cambridge Offers Affordable Homeownership Lottery for First-Time Homebuyers
The City of Cambridge is offering nine new affordable condominiums for sale to income-eligible first-time homebuyers through a lottery process. These affordable condos are located at Inman Crossing Condominiums, 305 Webster Avenue in Inman Square, and Saint James Place Condominiums, 7 Beech Street near Porter Square. City staff will host a virtual information session on Tuesday, February 15, 2022, from 6:00-7:00 p.m. to provide an overview of the lottery, eligibility requirements, how to apply, and answer questions about this opportunity.
For more information, visit www.cambridgema.gov/HomebuyerLottery.
City of Cambridge Scholarship Program Applications Can Be Submitted Completely Online by March 7th
Applications for the 2022 City of Cambridge Scholarship are currently being accepted. The fund provides financial assistance to college-bound high school seniors and other Cambridge residents who wish to pursue post-secondary education. Applications can be submitted at: Cambridgema.gov/cityscholarship.
COVID-19 Testing Information
Upcoming Saturday Testing Dates
The City will offer Saturday testing on these 4 dates at the Christian Life Center (owned and operated by St. Paul AME Church), located at 85 Bishop Allen Drive. Testing on these Saturday dates will be from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
- February 12, 2022
- February 19, 2022
- February 26, 2022
- March 5, 2022
Cambridge Offering Testing 7 Days Per Week
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. To schedule an appointment, please visit cic-health.com/cambridge.
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
The testing site at the CambridgeSide mall has moved to the G3 Level of the mall parking garage. G3 is accessible by the mall’s elevator and escalators. Residents can park in the garage and proceed to G3 by foot or walk into the mall and head down to Level G3. Learn more at cambridgema.gov/covid19/testing.
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.
MA Vaccination Updates
High-Capacity Vaccination Sites in Boston, Roxbury, Lynn, Taunton
Eligible residents aged 5 and older can receive their primary series of COVID-19 vaccinations and residents age 12+ can 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
Walk-ins are accepted and appointments are available at vaxfinder.mass.gov.
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, February 10, 2022:
Residents who have received at least 1 dose: 102,640
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 84,548
Residents with Booster: 50,013
Daily COVID-19 Vaccination Report
Total doses administered: 13,757,872
Total booster doses administered: 2,757,103
Total cumulative doses shipped to MA: 15,828,750
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.
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: 1,518,669
New Cases: 2,499
Total Deaths: 22,122
New PCR Tests: 81,787
Total Cases: 18,989
New Cases: 39
Total Deaths: 139
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.
House of Representatives Passes Veterans’ Homes Legislation
This week, the House of Representatives passed H4441 An Act relative to the governance, structure and care of veterans at the Commonwealth’s veterans’ homes. This legislation makes substantial changes to the structure of the Soldiers’ Homes, now referred to as Veterans’ Homes, system here in Massachusetts. It:
- Strengthens leadership and ensures oversight of the Homes
- Creates a Veterans’ Homes Council to take on key responsibilities, including management and control of all Veterans’ Homes in Massachusetts and regulation of the Boards of Trustees.
- Requires the Department of Public Health to conduct inspections of the Veterans’ Homes at least twice a year.
- Requires each Veterans’ Home to have a Superintendent who is licensed as a nursing home administrator and be a veteran or have experience with management of veterans in a nursing home or long-term care facility as well as an Ombudsperson.
- Establishes the independent Office of the Veteran Advocate to ensure quality care for veterans and to serve as a liaison to federal and state agencies.
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
Cambridge Cohousing Collecting Food for Chelsea
Cambridge Cohousing Food will collect food for Chelsea on Wednesday February 16 and Thursday February 17 from 9 am to 4:30 pm. Gift cards for Target are also welcome. Please drop off at 175 Richdale Ave. in boxes marked “For Chelsea.”
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.