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
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
Boosters Available for Children Ages 5-11 in MA
Following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Baker-Polito Administration announced today that all Massachusetts residents ages 5-11 are eligible to receive a Pfizer COVID-19 booster. The booster should be administered at least five months after completion of a primary COVID-19 vaccine series to provide continued protection against COVID-19. Families can make a booster appointment by calling their primary care provider’s office, visiting vaxfinder.mass.gov, or calling 2-1-1 for the COVID-19 Vaccine Resource line.
State Announces Second Round of Premium Payments to Low-Income Workers
Yesterday, the state announced a plan to provide $500 payments to low-income workers. These payments will be delivered to an estimated 330,000 workers in June. Eligibility will be based on filed 2021 Massachusetts tax returns. Individuals will be eligible for payments if their 2021 income from employment was at least $13,500 and their total income put them at or below 300% of the federal poverty level. You can learn more and find out if you are eligible here: https://bit.ly/3wtUlsp.
CDC Recommends Boosters for Children Ages 5-11
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending a booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. The Food and Drug Administration authorized the booster earlier this week, to be offered at least 5 months after the child’s last dose. The CDC's advisers pointed to growing evidence from older kids and adults that two primary vaccinations plus a booster are providing the best protection against the newest coronavirus variants. Learn more: https://n.pr/3sMhyUu.
Federal Government Offering Another Round of Free COVID Tests
U.S. residents can once again order free COVID-19 tests from the federal government by visiting COVIDtests.gov. The U.S. Postal Service will deliver eight free rapid antigen tests to any household in the U.S. that wants them, according to the website. That brings to sixteen the total tests offered per household so far. Learn more: https://n.pr/3wxOzoA.
COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics Every Wednesday
The Cambridge Public Health Department is offering weekly COVID-19 vaccine clinics for the Cambridge community:
- Wednesdays, April 6 - June 15
- 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
- Cambridge Public Health Department, 119 Windsor Street, 2nd Floor, Cambridge
- By appointment only
The clinics will offer free COVID-19 vaccines (first, second, and booster doses). Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be available to those who are eligible.
- *Appointments can be made at https://bit.ly/Camb-Color
- Residents ages 5 and older are eligible to be vaccinated.
- A parent or guardian must accompany children and teens who are under age 16.
- Teens aged 16 - 17 may come alone if a parent or guardian has completed a consent form via the online registration system.
- You do not need insurance, a social security number, or an ID.
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/
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.
Cambridge Walk-In Testing
Walk-in testing will continue to be offered one day per week during the following hours
- 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/3KoefZx
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, May 19, 2022:
Residents who have received at least 1 dose: 104,175
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 86,008
Residents with Booster: 54,423
Daily COVID-19 Vaccination Report
The Department of Public Health publishes a Daily COVID-19 Vaccine Report in addition to its Weekly COVID-19 Vaccination Report. Information as of Friday, May 20, 2022:
Total doses administered: 14,708,962
Total booster doses administered: 3,037,346
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: 1,690,961
New Cases: 3,938
Total Deaths: 19,322
New PCR Tests: 48,729
Total Cases: 27,590
New Cases: 150
Total Deaths: 164
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.
For Harvard University COVID-19 information, click here. For MIT COVID-19 information, click here.
House Passes Prison Construction Moratorium and Legislation To Foster Greater Fairness And Equity In Cannabis Industry
The MA House of Representatives approved a bond bill this week that included a section prohibiting, for a period of five years, any public agency from studying, planning, designing or constructing new correctional facilities or performing renovations or conversions to expand capacity at an existing correctional facility.
The House also passed legislation that encourages and facilitates participation in the cannabis industry from communities disproportionately harmed by marijuana criminalization by creating a Social Equity Trust Fund. The bill also strengthens the host community agreement process and clarifies procedures for permitting social consumption sites.
Final Report of the Racial Inequities in Maternal Health Commission
This week, Senator Jo Comerford and I filed the final report of the Racial Inequities in Maternal Health Commission with the Legislature. You can read it at https://malegislature.gov/Bills/192/SD3168/Bills.
It has been an honor to engage in this work on behalf of Speaker Mariano and the House. Sincere thanks to the Commissioners and all those who generously and courageously provided testimony of their personal experiences and of communities they serve and represent.
While so many people helped shape this report, I want to acknowledge the significant efforts of Kate Alicante, who has been an extraordinary Research Analyst for the Public Health Committee. Special thanks as well as to the entire Public Health Committee staff and to my Chief of Staff, who all took on additional responsibilities so that more time could be dedicated to this Commission report.
This report concludes the work of the Commission. It now presents us with an opportunity to better understand the staggering statistics that define maternal health outcomes for families of color in the Commonwealth, particularly Black families. This report will help inform and drive our advocacy with a commitment to safer maternal health outcomes for families of color in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts kids in psychiatric crisis spend weeks, months in ERs waiting for help
Cheryl Fiandaca, CBS News Boston
State Rep. Marjorie Decker tells WBZ-TV that kids are not getting the help they need. In 2020, the second-leading cause of death for kids 10-14 was suicide.
Decker says we are failing our children, and while millions have been invested in mental health, more needs to be done
The state says it has increased services for children and adolescents and added hundreds of inpatient treatment beds for kids. But, the I-Team has learned many of those beds are not being used. Of the 444 licensed psychiatric beds in Massachusetts, 89 are offline because of a lack of staffing.
That leaves many kids waiting in emergency rooms for help that can't come fast enough. Decker calls it a broken system.
"What we know is that the longer a kid sits in the ER waiting for care, the less likely they are to get the care that they would have been eligible for on day one," Decker says.
Learn more: https://cbsn.ws/3wI7Nrw
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.