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
Baker administration closing 3/4 of its free COVID testing sites this month
Due to a significant decline in demand at state-sponsored Stop the Spread testing sites and the wide availability of rapid antigen tests, the Spread (STS) testing program will downsize to 11 sites. As of March 1, Massachusetts 7-day average of cases reported is down 96% from its peak in January of this year and overall positivity rate is less than 2%.
As of April 1, 2022, 11 STS sites will continue to offer PCR testing. These tests will remain free to any Massachusetts resident, with no insurance or ID necessary.
- Lawrence (2 locations)
- New Bedford
- Springfield (2 locations)
The locations that will remain open were selected based on demonstrated need, volume of daily testing, and geographic equity. These sites will continue through at least May 15, 2022.
DTA has received approval to issue another extra emergency SNAP payment.
DTA has received federal approval to issue an additional SNAP payment to bring families’ benefits to at least the max monthly amount. To learn more please visit: https://bit.ly/3HFB7Th
Updated Mask Guidance for School Buses and Vans, Transportation Hubs
Effective March 1, 2022: The CDC updated its guidance on mask wearing and announced that it is no longer requiring that masks be worn on school buses or vans for K-12 and child care programs or in outdoor areas of a transportation hub. To learn more please visit: https://bit.ly/3KiaSE5
Cambridge Public Schools Considering Lifting Mask Mandate
Superintendent Greer announced on Wednesday that Cambridge Public Schools is proposing to lift the mask requirement for students and staff on Monday, March 14, in alignment with the City of Cambridge. A final decision has not been made, but they are continuing their planning and discussions over the next several days. We expect a follow-up communication next week.
City updating Mask Mandate for Public Spaces and City Buildings
The City of Cambridge announced that due to the sustained improvement to the City’s COVID-19 metrics over the past month, it will lift its mask requirement for indoor public places effective at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, March 13, 2022. Cambridge has seen a steady decrease in reported cases, test positivity, and COVID-19 virus detection in the City’s municipal wastewater monitoring program. For more information please visit https://bit.ly/3hfL3I4.
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 a special Saturday clinic tomorrow, 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/
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
Cambridge Announces Schedule Updates to Its COVID-19 PCR Testing Program
Appointment-Only Testing Changes
Appointment-only testing, provided through a partnership with CIC Health, will be available 7 days per week to people who live or work in Cambridge. Beginning Saturday, March 5, 2022, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 877-280-2937.
Walk-In Testing Changes
Based on lower testing demand at walk-in sites and improved city COVID-19 metrics, walk-in COVID-19 PCR testing will be offered two days per week, beginning Monday, March 7, 2022. Walk-in testing sites will be 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 Saturday Testing Tomorrow
The City will offer walk-in Saturday testing tomorrow at the Christian Life Center (owned and operated by St. Paul AME Church), located at 85 Bishop Allen Drive. Testing will be from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m
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 3, 2022:
Residents who have received at least 1 dose: 103,182
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 84,971
Residents with Booster: 51,428
Daily COVID-19 Vaccination Report
Total doses administered: 13,698,557
Total booster doses administered: 2,857,728
Total cumulative doses shipped to MA: 16,047,850
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: 1,543,609
New Cases: 900
Total Deaths: 22,833
New PCR Tests: 56,914
Total Cases: 2,056
New Cases: 80
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 Approves Offshore Wind Bill
This week, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed H4515, An Act Advancing Offshore Wind and Clean Energy. This important bill:
- Invests hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade in infrastructure, innovation, job training, supply chain capacity, and transmission upgrades
- Promotes a more competitive bid process to fuel economic development
- Provides thousands of good-paying jobs with a focus on ensuring access and opportunity for every segment of our population
- Modernizes our electric grid to accommodate the energy of the future
- Invests in long-term energy storage to help our transition to renewable energy
- Protects our coastal environment and fisheries
The bill now heads to the Senate for approval.
Here’s how the new 988 crisis helpline will work in Massachusetts.
By Jason Law, Boston 25 News
There is a new helpline coming that could make things a lot easier. The Federal Communications Commission designated 988 as a nationwide suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. The number goes live on July 16. One of the goals with 988 is to take police out of the equation when someone is in need of mental health treatment.
“They do not need to be the first responder to every mental health crisis and sometimes it’s actually a lot safer if they’re not,” Decker said. “The research does, in fact, affirm that when somebody calls a crisis hotline often that can literally be the lifesaving line.”
Read more at bit.ly/3MzCerl.
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.