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 earlier email about the legislation passed by the House on reproductive and gender-affirming health care and step therapy.
Table of Contents
- State Updates
- National Updates
- Cambridge Updates
- COVID-19 Testing Information
- MA Vaccination Updates
- Vaccination Appointment Resources
- Today’s Case Count
- Infant Formula Shortage Updates
- Legislative Updates
- Recent Press
- Mental Health Services and Resources
- Where to Give
Massachusetts launches vaccination effort to curb spread of monkeypox
Massachusetts health care providers are starting to provide more doses of a vaccine to contain the growing monkeypox outbreak. Officials at the state Department of Public Health said they received 2,004 doses of the vaccine, known as JYNNEOS, from the federal government, with more expected in the coming weeks. The doses went to four health care providers, who were allowed to begin vaccinations Wednesday. Learn more: https://wbur.fm/3ygxZu4
Massachusetts Approved to Provide P-EBT for Families through Summer 2022
Families who received Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) food benefits will continue to receive benefits through the summer of 2022. P-EBT is a child nutrition program created during the Public Health emergency to promote increased food security for students and children who missed school or could not attend childcare due to COVID-19. Summer P-EBT benefits are estimated to provide continued food assistance for the families of approximately 400,000 school-age children, as well as 109,000 children under age six in households that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. This additional support will bring $200 million of federal funds into the Commonwealth. For more information, please visit: https://www.map-ebt.org/
FDA allows pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid COVID treatment
The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday it's allowing state-authorized pharmacists to prescribe Pfizer's antiviral treatment Paxlovid. Paxlovid is authorized for the treatment of "mild-to-moderate" COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients that have tested positive and are considered to be at high risk of developing severe disease. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3Imn3Qq
City of Cambridge Allocates $19.6 Million in ARPA Funds
Approximately $19.6 million of the remaining American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds have been distributed. As a part of this $19.6 million allocation, 50% of this $19.6 million is being distributed to non-profits, which are important community partners with the City. This $9.4 million in funding for non-profits is in addition to the roughly $19 million dollars already allocated to this sector in the previous rounds of ARPA funding. $2.0 million has been allocated to support transit recommendations from the Mayor’s Task Force. Approximately $5 million has been allocated to support requests made in the areas of small business, homeless support, food insecurity, mental health, public health, arts, and job training. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3Ip9pfb
Cambridge Disparity Study Info Session July 19
The City of Cambridge has engaged Griffin & Strong, P.C to conduct a Disparity Study that will review whether there are effects of past discrimination that impact the present way the City procures goods and services. The study will be used to determine whether a sheltered market program – a way of advancing equity in procurement – can be implemented in Cambridge.
Griffin & Strong, P.C. will host a Virtual Informational Meeting on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, from 5:00-6:30 p.m. This online session will provide an opportunity for the Cambridge community to ask questions, learn about the study, and discuss how to participate. Local business and community voices are extremely important for this Study, and everyone is encouraged to participate. Advanced registration is recommended but not required to participate. Register online at: https://bit.ly/3P6imws.
Cambridge Summer Food Program Provides Free Meals to Cambridge Youth
As of Tuesday, July 5, the Cambridge Summer Food Program is providing free breakfast, lunch and dinner meals every weekday to Cambridge children and youth ages 18 and under. The Summer Food Program, operated by the City of Cambridge Department of Human Service Programs (DHSP), aims to increase food security for Cambridge families by providing free, nutritious meals to children. Breakfast and lunch meals will be available at outdoor locations throughout the city, and Cambridge youth can join DHSP's Recreation staff for fun activities in nearby parks while meals are served. Free dinner meals will be provided at the city’s Summer Basketball League locations. Cambridge youth and children do not need to participate in the leagues to receive a dinner meal. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3I3fD4i
The City of Cambridge 9th Cycle of Participatory Budgeting
The City of Cambridge has launched the 9th cycle of Participatory Budgeting (PB) and is seeking ideas from the community on how to spend $1 million on projects to improve Cambridge. The Idea Collection phase will be open from June 1 – July 31, 2022. Winning projects from past PB cycles have included youth center upgrades, home essentials for newly housed residents, solar panels for the Main Library, laundry access in public schools, and many more. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3QM6Acc
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 www.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.
- The City's walk-in testing sites are no longer available.
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
Vaccination Locations for Children
Children ages 6 months to 4 years old are now eligible to receive the safe, effective, and free COVID-19 vaccine. You will not be required to provide an ID or insurance to vaccinate your child. Parents with the youngest kids in this age group should first contact their family doctor for a vaccine appointment.
- Pharmacies: CVS and Walgreens locations
- CVS (ages 18 months and up at MinuteClinics) - https://bit.ly/3xVwH7B
- Walgreens (ages 3 and up) - https://bit.ly/3OxEHTm
- Mass General Brigham (for patients): Schedule an appointment through vaccines.gov or vaxfinder.mass.gov, or text your zip code to 438829; or call 1-800-232-0233. Vaccines are available through primary care appointments.
- 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. Information as of Thursday, July 7th, 2022:
Residents who have received at least 1 dose: 105,583
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 86,369
Residents with Booster: 56,348
Daily COVID-19 Vaccination Report
Total doses administered: 15,060,386
Total booster doses administered: 3,129,238
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
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: 1,776,091
New Cases: 1,850
Total Deaths: 19,787
New PCR Tests: 26,696
Total Cases: 30,602
New Cases: 46
Total Deaths: 166
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.
Infant Formula Shortage Updates
FDA Developing New Framework for Continued, Expanded Access to Infant Formula Options for U.S. Parents and Caregivers
The FDA intends to consider enforcement discretion requests until the temporary shortage is addressed. The FDA’s flexibilities have enabled the agency to help dramatically increase infant formula supplies to address the shortage, while also protecting the health of infants, many of whom rely solely on infant formula during a critical period of growth and development. To date, it has resulted in a total estimated quantity of more than 400 million, 8-ounce bottles worth of formula from nine countries for children in the U.S. The enforcement discretion described in the May guidance is set to remain in effect until Nov. 14, 2022. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3nMeBAw
HHS website with Information for Families on the Formula Shortage
For information on measures being taken by the federal government to address the formula shortage and resources on locating baby formula, visit: HHS.gov/formula. You can connect with community resources as well as recommendations from physicians & clinicians.
House Passes Bill Supporting Veterans’ Services, Military Families
The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed comprehensive legislation yesterday addressing the Commonwealth’s most immediate needs in the veteran community and making necessary updates to service member quality-of-life issues and acknowledgements of our military branches and individual service, including supporting military families who relocate to the Commonwealth with expedited licensure and school enrollment, creating education awareness programs and establishing the Massachusetts Medal of Fidelity. Highlights of the legislation include:
- Military spouse licensure portability: requires the Division of Occupational Licensure, the Department of Public Health, and Massachusetts Boards of Registration to accept a military spouse’s application for licensure or notify them of what criteria they were not able to meet within 30 days of the application.
- Expedited military spouse teacher licenses: establishes a military spouse certificate to be issued by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner to military spouse teachers that meet certain requirements.
- School enrollment for military children: allows military families to register and enroll in a school district when a service member first receives their relocation order, waiving the proof of residency requirement at the time of registration. This provision also allows military children who are transferring mid-semester to enroll in and attend one of the Commonwealth’s virtual schools.
- Purple Star campus designation: establishes the Purple Star Campus Program, to be administered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, to designate schools that demonstrate a commitment to students and families of service members.
- In-state tuition continuity for military-connected college students: ensures that a member of the military stationed in the Commonwealth, their spouse, or their children are deemed an in-state resident after their acceptance at one of the state’s higher education institutions.
- Civilian licensure and certification information: directs the Commissioner of Veterans’ Services to make information on civilian licensure and certification opportunities available to service members and veterans, and provide information on military education and skills to relevant agencies.
- Open Burn Pit Registry:
- Directs the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health (DPH), in consultation with the Commissioner of the Department of Veterans’ Services and the Adjutant General of the National Guard, to develop educational materials and an informational pamphlet on the health impacts of open burn pits during overseas deployment and information on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry to be distributed to health care providers, veterans’ service offices and organizations, and service members and veterans.
- Directs the Commissioner of the Department of Veterans’ Services, in consultation with the Commissioner of DPH and the Adjutant General, to contact all members of the Armed Forces, National Guard and veterans to register for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry.
- Requires the Adjutant General to request that the periodic health assessment for National Guard members determine whether the member is eligible to participate in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry and if eligible, the member register for the Registry.
- Massachusetts National Guard family education program: establishes a Massachusetts National Guard Family Education Program to allow National Guard members to transfer their unused education benefits under the National Guard Education Assistance Program to their dependents.
- Slot machines at veterans’ organizations: allows the Gaming Commission to issue limited slot machine licenses to veterans’ organizations.
- Founding anniversaries of U.S. Armed Forces: requires the Governor to set aside the founding date anniversaries of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Massachusetts National Guard.
- Medal of Fidelity: establishes the Massachusetts Medal of Fidelity to be presented to the next of kin of a service member or veteran who died as a result of service-connected post-traumatic stress disorder, a service-connected condition resulting from a traumatic brain injury, or a service-connected disease, condition or injury related to exposure to harmful toxin, herbicides, agents or materials.
- Deborah Sampson Memorial Commission: Establishes a commission to determine a location and create a memorial for Deborah Sampson, a Massachusetts resident who disguised herself as a man in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.
- Funeral and burial benefits: requires funeral directors and their staffs to provide information on burial and funeral benefits for veterans.
House Passes Pandemic Policy Extensions Bill
The House also approved H4989, An Act relative to extending certain state of emergency accommodations, in order to extend or make permanent some of the measures that were put into place during the COVID-19 state of emergency. This bill:
- Requires a notice to quit for nonpayment of rent to include information regarding the tenant's legal rights, applicable trial court rules or standing orders, the availability of rental assistance programs and any legal restrictions on residential evictions.
- Authorizes the use of communication technology in real estate property closings by attorneys engaged in directing or managing a real property closing or taking actions in furtherance of a closing.
- Permits notary publics to select a tamper-evident technology for notarial acts with electronic records in accordance with standards established by the Secretary of State. Allows tangible electronic copies to be considered equivalent to an original document as a recording under certain circumstances.
- Extends the authority for remote participation for all public bodies and the authority for representative town meetings to meet by remote means, through March 31, 2023.
‘We’re all on high alert’: Supreme Court decision means Mass. police chiefs have less of a say in who shouldn’t get a gun
By Matt Stout, Boston Globe
“At the moment, I’m still confident that our laws will hold up and meet the intentions of the Legislature’s laws that have been passed over the last decade,” said Representative Marjorie C. Decker, a Cambridge Democrat. “Is it reasonable to worry that the Supreme Court has made it clear that things that we have held up as important bedrocks and values of Massachusetts law could be under attack? I think we’re all on high alert.”
Healey’s office and the Baker administration advised chiefs to continue enforcing other tenets of the state’s law, specifically its so-called suitability provision. That gives chiefs wide discretion to consider other factors beyond someone’s criminal record or reason for pursuing a license, such as if police have been called to their home or if they had been the subject of domestic violence incidents that didn’t result in arrests or charges.
Read more: https://bit.ly/3RhR08h.
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.