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
- Recent Press
- Mental Health Services and Resources
- Where to Give
Health Connector’s Public Webinar on Tuesday, March 15th
During this session, Health Connector staff will cover how to apply, enroll, and get health insurance coverage. Join to learn about health coverage options available through the Health Connector, savings because of the American Rescue Plan, and a walk-through on how to shop for plans and complete enrollment. The webinar will be held on Tuesday, March 15, 12:00–1:00 p.m. on Zoom. To register please visit: http://bit.ly/insurance-options-031522.
Information on COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
If you paid for funeral costs for someone who passed from COVID-19 after January 20, 2020, FEMA’s Funeral Assistance Program may be able to help by providing up to $9,000 for expenses. The program will cover many types of costs, including:
- The use of a funeral home equipment or staff
- Clergy or officiant services
- Cremation or burial costs
- The transfer of remains or transportation to identify a deceased individual
To apply, call the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline: 844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585
Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information please visit: https://bit.ly/3MQVdhd
Mask Requirements in Schools Reduced Coronavirus cases, CDC finds:
School districts that required masks this fall saw significantly fewer COVID-19 cases than those where masks were optional, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC looked at 233 school districts and found those with mask requirements saw a 23 percent lower incidence of coronavirus cases. Rates in districts that required them in hallways but not classrooms were in between. For more information please visit: https://wapo.st/3MIdNrJ
Mask Use on Public Transportation
At CDC’s recommendation, TSA will extend the security directive for mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs for one month, through April 18th.
During that time, CDC will work with government agencies to help inform a revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor. For more information please visit https://bit.ly/34vCtCm
CDC Data Show Higher Hospitalization Rates for Unvaccinated Children, Adults
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that COVID-19 hospitalization rates were three times higher for unvaccinated children ages 5 to 11 years than for vaccinated children in that age group. Hospitalization rates were two times higher for unvaccinated adolescents than for vaccinated adolescents, five times higher for unvaccinated adults up to age 64 than for vaccinated adults the same ages, and eight times higher for unvaccinated adults ages 65 and up. Learn more at bit.ly/3pnE2J8.
Households Able to Order an Additional Set of 4 Free COVID-19 Tests at COVIDTests.gov
March 07, 2022
Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests. If you haven’t already, order yours today. Starting this week, you can place a second order (for a total of 8 free at-home tests per household).
Here’s what you need to know about your order:
- Each order includes 4 individual rapid antigen COVID-19 tests
- Orders will ship free
- Starting this week, limit of 2 orders per residential address
Learn more and order your tests now at www.covidtests.gov
Masks Optional in Cambridge Public Schools Beginning Monday, March 14
CPS will lift its mask requirement this Monday, March 14. Masks will be optional for all students and staff during the school day, at all CPS-sponsored events and activities including before and after school programs and in district offices. Masks will continue to be required in the nurse’s office in alignment with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). For more information please visit: https://bit.ly/35Lq0LE
CHA Vaccine Center Open for Walk-Ins
The CHA Somerville Vaccine Center is now accepting walk-in patients again, subject to availability. 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/
COVID-19 Testing Information
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:
- Sunday, from 2:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- Monday – Friday, from 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
- Saturday, from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Appointments can be booked online at www.cic-health.com/cambridge or assistance is available from CIC’s Customer Service Team at email@example.com or by calling 877-280-2937.
Walk-in testing sites are open during the following hours:
- Monday, from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at CambridgeSide in the Parking Garage on Level G3.
- This will remain walk-up only, not drive-through. Level G3 is accessible by the CambridgeSide’s elevator and escalators. Visitors can park in the garage and proceed to Level G3. Parking will be validated. The Parking Garage entrance is located on CambridgeSide Place.
- Wednesday, from 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at 2254 Massachusetts Ave, St. John the Evangelist Church.
For more information please visit: https://bit.ly/3vH5wOL
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
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 on Thursdays. Information as of Thursday, March 10, 2022:
Residents who have received at least 1 dose:103,324
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 85,063
Residents with Booster: 51,755
Daily COVID-19 Vaccination Report
Total doses administered: 14,008,225
Total booster doses administered: 2,878,189
Total cumulative doses shipped to MA: 16,093,150
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: 1,548,164
New Cases: 677
Total Deaths: 22,980
New PCR Tests: 48,750
Total Cases: 20,449
New Cases: 19
Total Deaths: 142
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 passes $1.6 Billion Supplemental Budget
On March 9th the House unanimously passed a $1.6B supplemental budget providing funding initiatives, including COVID needs, rental assistance and resettlement assistance for potential Ukrainian refugees.
- $700 Million for COVID related needs, including tests, vaccinations, treatments, and PPE to help combat future variants.
- Protections renters by allocating $100 million into rental assistance for needy families and extending eviction protections for tenants who have active assistance applications
- $140 Million for programing and workforce needs for special education schools
- $100 Million for local winter damage road repairs
- $10 Million for refugee resettlement assistance, with special attention for future Ukrainian refugees
- Extends state authorization for outdoor dining from April 1st, 2022 to April 1st, 2023
- Extends beer, wine and cocktails to-go from May 1st, 2022 to April 1st, 2023
- Exempts from personal income tax the payments that will be given out for the premium pay for essential workers that the Legislature enacted last year.
For more information please visit: https://bit.ly/3CuWXI4
ACES: The ‘Better Bottle Bill’ for our environment:
ACES was formed as a way to amplify the great work of our climate and environmentally focused allies. They are composed of over 40 organizations that are aligned with the purpose of the alliance. The “Better Bottle Bill,” filed by Rep. Marjorie Decker and Sen. Cindy Creem, will increase the bottle deposit from its current five cents to 10 cents and add more types of beverage containers to the program and put a deposit on water bottles, vitamin drinks, nips and bottles for other drinks that weren’t contemplated when the initial law was adopted in the early 1980. Read more https://bit.ly/3hXRYpL
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.