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
- Infant Formula Shortage Updates
- Legislative Updates
- Recent Press
- Mental Health Services and Resources
- Where to Give
If you have COVID-19, call your primary care provider immediately to discuss whether you should be seeking treatment. Currently there are at least two options for treatment, depending on your overall health.
As a reminder, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is providing a free telehealth program for residents 18 years and older who have tested positive for COVID-19 and who are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms. Residents can connect with a trained health care clinician for a video consultation to determine if they are eligible for Paxlovid, a pill that can reduce the risk for severe symptoms and hospitalization by nearly 90 percent if taken within 5 days of symptom onset. If eligible, they can choose between pickup at their local pharmacy or free overnight delivery (if the prescription is written before 5 p.m. Monday - Friday). Learn more: www.mass.gov/COVIDtelehealth
At home COVID-19 rapid antigen tests will be distributed for Massachusetts residents this week.
Over 2 million free COVID-19 tests will be distributed this week to 264 municipalities to provide to their residents. Each municipality will determine how to distribute tests to their residents. The tests are being distributed on a rolling basis over the next two weeks. Read more: https://bit.ly/3MReiP3
Massachusetts Department of Public Health Releases Updated Mask Advisory
On June 10th the Department of Public Health (DPH) released updated guidance regarding the use of masks and face coverings in the Commonwealth. Recognizing that Massachusetts is a national leader in vaccination rates with over 84 percent of eligible residents fully vaccinated and over half of adults boosted, and in light of recent improvements in COVID-19 indicators, effective July 1, 2022, the new guidance advises that masks indoors are optional for most individuals, regardless of vaccination status. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3OkjgoA
Changes to T Subway Service Schedule Starting Monday
The MBTA today announced weekday subway service changes to take effect on the Red, Orange, and Blue Lines on Monday, June 20, and continuing through the summer.
These changes, which mirror typical Saturday schedules for the subway, affect weekday service only. There will be no changes to Red, Orange, or Blue Line weekend service, and no changes to any Green Line service.
There is one exception to the revised summer schedule. In the afternoon and evening of Monday, July 4, the MBTA will provide regular weekday service in order to accommodate people attending Independence Day festivities.
FDA committee recommends Moderna’s shot for young children
Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously on Wednesday to recommend that the agency authorize the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccines for young children, a move that could clear the way for regulators to authorize both pediatric vaccines on an emergency basis later this week. Pfizer’s three-dose vaccine would cover children 6 months through 4 years old, while Moderna two-dose vaccine would be for children 6 months through 5 years old. States have already ordered millions of doses. Depending on what regulators do, White House officials have said administration of doses could start in earnest on Tuesday.
Learn more: https://bit.ly/3xS3mfD
The City of Cambridge and Cambridge Public Health Department Issue Mask Advisory & Announce Expanded Free COVID-19 Testing for June
With Cambridge and Middlesex County both in the High COVID-19 Community Level category as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the City of Cambridge and Cambridge Public Health Department today issued an advisory strongly recommending that residents wear masks when indoors outside the home and when around others. People at higher risk for serious illness should consider additional precautions. Higher risk groups include people age 65 and older, people with certain medical conditions, and people who are immunocompromised. You are also at higher risk if you are not fully vaccinated and boosted. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3Nx4332
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:
- 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/
Memorial Drive Phase 3 Public Meeting:
The Memorial Drive Phase III public meeting will take place on Thursday June 30th, 2022 from 6:00pm – 7:30pm. This meeting project will help provide improvement for pedestrians and bicyclists that further enhance the Memorial Drive parkway as a recreational amenity and important bicycle and pedestrian corridor. Memorial Drive Phase III project limits are from JFK Street (i.e., the Anderson Bridge) to the Eliot Bridge in Cambridge. Learn more:
City of Cambridge Celebrates Juneteenth With Citywide Events:
Juneteenth is a day to celebrate the end of slavery in the United States. This Juneteenth, the Mayor’s Office, City of Cambridge, Cambridge Public Library, Margaret Fuller House, The Arts Council, The Cambridge Families of Color Coalition, and a number of community organizations have come together to collaborate on a range of events, including a parade, Black business festival, yoga, storytime and more! This year’s theme will be centered around Black Joy and Black Excellence. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3xWsYYG
COVID-19 Testing Information
Get free at-home COVID-19 tests
Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order a 3rd round of free at-home tests at http://COVIDTests.gov. All households are now able to order an additional 8 free at-home tests bringing the total number of free tests available to each household since the start of the program to 16.
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.
Cambridge Walk-In Testing
The City announced it is expanding its free, 7-day per week COVID-19 PCR testing program by adding an additional walk-in testing site on Saturdays for the month of June. Walk-in COVID-19 PCR testing will be offered two days per week in June as follows:
- Wednesdays, from 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. at 2254 Massachusetts Ave, St. John the Evangelist Church.
- Saturdays, from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at 85 Bishop Allen Drive, Christian Life Center, owned and operated by St. Paul’s AME (beginning Saturday, June 4 and continuing on June 11, June 18, and June 25)
For more information please visit: https://bit.ly/3xzCoYH
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 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 throughMyHealth 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, June 16th, 2022:
Residents who have received at least 1 dose:104,707
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 86,249
Residents with Booster: 55,642
Daily COVID-19 Vaccination Report
Total doses administered: 14,939,809
Total booster doses administered: 3,096,197
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. Three counties in Massachusetts, including Middlesex County, currently have high COVID-19 community levels according to the CDC.
Total Cases: 1,748,276
New Cases: 1,563
Total Deaths: 8
New PCR Tests: 34,034
Total Cases: 29,726
New Cases: 42
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:
Abbott’s baby formula plant closes again after severe storms and flooding
Abbott has stopped production of its infant formula at its Sturgis, Michigan, plant less than two weeks after restarting due to severe thunderstorms that caused flooding inside the plant.
The company announced the pause in production in a statement on Wednesday, adding that it will re-sanitize the plant and production is likely to resume in a few weeks. Abbott says it is nearly back at the production level of formula it saw in January despite the Sturgis plant being out of commission.
Learn more: https://n.pr/39ECbeV
New 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 Comprehensive Mental Health Bill
Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed legislation to address barriers to care for mental health. Thank you to Speaker Ron Mariano, Chair Adrian Madaro & Chair Aaron Michlewitz for their commitment to this legislation and their work on these issues. Thank you as well to the advocates from the Children’s Mental Health Campaign who've been working tirelessly to represent the behavioral health needs of people across our state.
This legislation includes language from five bills that I filed this session: An Act relative to transparency in behavioral health boarding, An Act to create a thriving public health response for adolescents, An Act relative to collaborative care, and An Act to better coordinate suicide prevention services, behavioral health crisis care and emergency services through 988 implementation.
I will share more information on this legislation and the important, structural changes it makes to behavioral health care.
Mental health access: Massachusetts residents, including kids, could see expanded care options under newly passed bill
By Alison Kuznitz, MassLive
Yet the bill should make major inroads in combatting the stigma surrounding mental health, said state Rep. Marjorie Decker, the House chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health. It also reimagines and integrates care for Bay Staters, streamlining communication across primary care and behavioral health care providers.
“If you’ve ever been in a situation where you are trying to ensure that all of your providers for behavioral health, your mental health and your primary care understand what’s at stake in both your body, your heart and your mind, this right here is an enormous change,” Decker said.
Learn more: https://bit.ly/3zJ0tz6
In Boston, hundreds demand stricter gun laws at March for Our Lives rally
By Ken Macleod, CBS Boston
In Cambridge, police held the seventh annual gun buyback -- offering a "no questions asked" surrender of guns in exchange for gift cards. City officials have also written an open letter urging other states to pass the gun restrictions that have not been forthcoming at the federal level.
"In Massachusetts, we have the most comprehensive gun laws and the second-lowest rate of gun homicide in the country -- because of our smart and thoughtful gun ownership laws," said Rep. Marjorie Decker.
Learn more: https://cbsn.ws/3O6rOzC
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.