I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources as well as recent legislative news.
*As I mentioned last week, my office is working on a “Frequently Asked Questions” resource on rapid antigen tests and PCR tests that I will send out soon. We are currently working with new partners on this resource and will hopefully be sending it out next week. In the meantime, if you have questions please feel free to email my office at Marjorie.Decker@mahouse.gov with “COVID-19 Test Questions” in the subject line, and we will try to respond to you quickly as we are trying to be as accessible and as informative as possible.
Table of Contents
- COVID-19 Testing Information
- State Updates
- National Updates
- Cambridge Updates
- MA Vaccination Updates
- Vaccination Appointment Resources
- Today’s Case Count
- Legislative Updates
- Recent Press
- Mental Health Services and Resources
- Where to Give
COVID-19 Testing Information
Cambridge Offering Testing 7 Days Per Week in January
As of Monday, Jan. 3, Cambridge is expanding its free COVID-19 testing program. 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 during the month of January. Visit camb.ma/3HrBq4p to learn more.
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.
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.
New Tool for Residents to Access COVID-19 Digital Vaccine Card
The Governor’s administration announced a new tool that gives residents a new way to access their COVID-19 digital vaccine card and vaccination history called My Vax Records. My Vax Records allows people who received their vaccination in Massachusetts to access their vaccination history and generate a COVID-19 digital vaccine card.
The COVID-19 digital vaccine cards produced by the system utilize the SMART Health Card platform and generate a QR code that can be used to verify an individual’s vaccination status. The electronic record shows the same information as a paper CDC vaccine card: your name, date of birth, date of vaccinations, and vaccine manufacturer. It also includes a QR code that makes these same details readable by a QR scanner, including smartphone apps.
You can access your own at: MyVaxRecords.Mass.Gov.
MA will get 26 million rapid tests in coming months
Governor Baker announced that the state has secured an order for 26 million rapid antigen COVID-19 tests over the next three months. Distribution will initially focus on K-12 schools and childcare centers. These tests will arrive in the state on a rolling basis. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3tmaW0b.
Additional 500 members of the National Guard Activated
The Governor also announced that he will activate an additional 500 members of the National Guard to support the state’s healthcare system. Learn more: https://bit.ly/339J1FZ.
$13.5 million in new funding for the Massachusetts Vaccine Equity Initiative
Governor Baker’s administration announced $13.5 million in new funding as part of the Massachusetts Vaccine Equity Initiative. This funding is earmarked for community organizations in cities and towns disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus, and grants are intended to “increase awareness, acceptance and access to the COVID-19 vaccine.” Learn more: https://bit.ly/3Gq85ae.
President Biden announces free, high quality face masks will be available to all Americans, free rapid tests can be ordered starting Wed. 1/19
President Biden announced that his administration would make "high-quality masks" available to Americans for free. He said the U.S. has more than tripled the national stockpile of highly protective N95 masks to make sure they are widely available to the general public.
Additionally, next Wednesday Jan. 19th households can begin ordering free at-home COVID-19 tests. Orders for up to four tests per household can be placed using a website, COVIDTests.gov. The administration will also set up a phone number so those without access to computers or high-speed internet can place orders. Learn more here: https://n.pr/3nqx8SY.
Supreme Court issues decisions on vaccine rules
Yesterday, the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration's vaccine-or-test rule for businesses with at least 100 workers. It granted a separate request from the Biden administration to allow its vaccine mandate for health care workers to take effect. Learn more: https://cbsn.ws/3ntKnCF.
CDC updates guidance on COVID-19 isolation, still no testing requirement
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its isolation guidelines for people with COVID-19 this week, but did not add a testing requirement for ending isolation after five days. Instead, the CDC recommends that if an individual wants to test, the best approach would be to use a rapid antigen test toward the end of their five-day isolation period. Learn more: n.pr/3t01S0I.
Please note that many public health, infectious disease doctors and epidemiologists are surprised that the five day shortened quarantine period does not include a verification of a negative test. Many of them believe that the CDC stopped short of that requirement based on concerns regarding the availability and accessibility of rapid tests. While most people will have moved beyond the transmissible contagious stage, not everyone will, which is why the absence of a negative test has caused great concern. *Note that in the U.K., there is still a seven day isolation period, and individuals must test negative on days six and seven in order to no longer self-isolate.
Cambridge Health Alliance hosting virtual panel on COVID vaccines for children 1/19 7PM
The Cambridge Health Alliance is hosting a virtual panel discussion with Dr. Traci Brooks and Dr. Lou Ann Bruno-Murtha on 1/19 at 7PM. They will discuss safety, risks, immunity, boosters and more. Link to panel: https://bit.ly/3zEWAZV.
Cambridge Mask Order Extended to Common Areas of Certain Buildings
The City of Cambridge has amended its mask order to include common areas of residential, office, and laboratory buildings, effective January 7. Additionally, the City has issued temporary restrictions on City public meetings and indoor City events. Learn more: camb.ma/3pSUuSZ.
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.
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:
- City of Cambridge COVID-19 Booster Clinics — The City of Cambridge is offering COVID-19 vaccine and booster clinics for eligible people who live or work in Cambridge on the third floor inside the CambridgeSide mall on:
- Monday, January 17 from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
- Thursday, January 20 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
- Appointments are available and walk-ins will be accepted. Book an appointment here: https://bit.ly/3rl2fR3.
- 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/
MLK Day Celebration of Service
Many Helping Hands 365 is partnering with My Brother’s Keeper and the Cambridge YWCA to produce the 2022 Cambridge MLK Day Celebration of Service & Learning program. This year’s events include a community walk, Zoom conversations on racial justice, and Many Helping Hands 365’s traditional hands-on and self-led volunteer projects. Learn more and register at manyhelpinghands365.org/mlk-day/.
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.
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, January 13, 2022:
Residents who have received at least 1 dose: 99,879
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 83,529
Daily COVID-19 Vaccination Report
Total doses administered: 13,195,035
Total cumulative doses shipped to MA: 15,299,550
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: 1,318,694
New Cases: 1,806
Total Deaths: 20,450
New PCR Tests: 74,491
Total Cases: 15,719
New Cases: 224
Total Deaths: 129
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.
Bills I have filed that are being heard next week
Two of my bills have been scheduled for legislative hearings next week: An Act providing for electric vehicle charging stations in the city of Cambridge and An Act requiring backup cameras on certain vehicles. The hearing schedule is available at malegislature.gov, where hearings will be livestreamed and available for viewing after they conclude.
Police visited home where missing NH girl was last seen alive 13 times over five-month period
I spoke to Kerry Kavanaugh about the heartbreaking Harmony Montgomery case. It is clear that there were red flags before Harmony went missing. Harmony was placed with her father, who had a violent criminal history. In knowing that he had a violent criminal history, we need to know what the Courts found compelling when placing Harmony in his care. I have spoken with the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, House leadership, and the Office of the Child Advocate, and know that they are asking the questions needed to get to the bottom of this. It is disappointing to know her disappearance was not reported until this past New Year’s Eve. Multiple service calls were made to the police and the New Hampshire’s Division for Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). The lack of accountability and responsibility failed Harmony; it is our job to ensure the safety of every child, whether in Massachusetts or New Hampshire. Shout-out to Kerry Kavanagh who has been following and reporting on this case, and asking the difficult questions on it. To watch the segment please visit: https://bit.ly/3K1wEMO
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.