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
MA Ending COVID-19 School Testing, Updating Quarantine Guidance for Children
The Administration announced this week that the statewide COVID-19 testing program for K-12 schools will not continue in the fall.
- Early Childhood and Out of School Time Programs: The current testing program will remain in place through the end of June and into fiscal year 2023 (beginning July 1, 2022). The state will discontinue monthly PPE distribution on July 1.
- K-12 Schools and District Summer Programs: The current COVID-19 testing program will remain in place through the school year. The state will supply summer programs run by school districts with rapid antigen tests, though CIC Health will not be continuing its support.
- For the 2022-2023 school year, the state will not provide districts with rapid antigen tests or the associated staffing or databases for in-school testing. Districts, however, are able to run their own testing programs and are able to purchase tests from the statewide contract.
Additionally, the state has updated the isolation and quarantine guidance for children in child care centers and other educational settings.
- Children who are identified as close contacts may continue to attend programming as long as they remain asymptomatic.
- Those who can mask should do so until Day 10.
- A test on Days 2 and 5 is recommended, but not required.
Learn more: https://bit.ly/3t1am7h
Walgreens Offering Free At-Home COVID-19 PCR Kits in MA
Walgreens Pharmacy announced that they are making free COVID-19 at-home test kits available to consumers at a select number of their pharmacies in Massachusetts. These test kits will be available for either in-store or curbside pickup. This program is designed to offer customers access to convenient, reliable testing at no cost and with no insurance or eligibility requirements. With the state-operated COVID-19 testing sites now closed, accessible free testing options are now limited, even as the pandemic continues to linger. The Pixel COVID-19 at-home collection kit uses the same test trusted by doctors and hospitals across the country and is considered the gold standard in diagnosing COVID-19 as well as the several variants of the virus.
Pfizer says 3 of its COVID shots give kids under 5 strong protection
Three doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine offer strong protection for children younger than 5, the company announced Monday. Pfizer plans to give the data to U.S. regulators later this week in a step toward letting the littlest kids get the shots. The Food and Drug Administration has begun evaluating data from rival Moderna, which hopes to begin offering two kid-sized shots by summer. Learn more: https://cbsn.ws/3NA1eOB
CDC Offers Booster Tool
The Centers for Disease Control and Development has an online booster tool that lets you know if and when you can get your COVID-19 booster dose. Answer a few questions to get recommendations on booster eligibility, timing, and available vaccines: bit.ly/3mrK4Z5.
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
CHA Lunch & Learn 6/1 on Boosters and Beyond
The Cambridge Health Alliance is holding its next Lunch & Learn on Wednesday, June 1 at noon. Dr. Lou Ann Bruno-Murtha, CHA Chief of Infectious Disease, will provide updates on when it's best to get boosters, whether mixing vaccine manufacturers is a good idea, vaccines for children, and more. http://challiance.org/lunchandlearn.
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/
Closures and Service Information for Memorial Day
In observance of the Memorial Day Holiday on Monday, May 30, City of Cambridge offices, libraries, and senior centers will be closed and payments will not be required at City of Cambridge parking meters and parking meter pay stations.
COVID-19 Testing Information
Closures and Service Information for Memorial Day Holiday
The city's appointment-only COVID-19 test site at 295 Third Street, Cambridge, operated by CIC Health, will be open on Saturday, May 28, from 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. and closed on Sunday and Monday.
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 is 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 26, 2022:
Residents who have received at least 1 dose: 104,267
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 86,043
Residents with Booster: 54,653
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 27, 2022:
Total doses administered: 14,790,043
Total booster doses administered: 3,054,854
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: 1,710,941
New Cases: 3,092
Total Deaths: 19,404
New PCR Tests: 48,739
Total Cases: 28,252
New Cases: 105
Total Deaths: 165
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.
Legislature Approves Work and Family Mobility Act
This week, the House and Senate both voted to enact the Work Family and Mobility Act conference committee report. I am thankful to my colleagues on the conference committee for working quickly and diligently to come to an agreement and send this legislation to the Governor’s desk. Unfortunately, Governor Baker chose to veto the bill today. The Legislature is expected to override that veto.
House passes legislation addressing teen sexting and image-based sexual assault
The House also passed legislation addressing teen sexting and image-based sexual assault, commonly referred to as “revenge porn.” Currently, minors who possess or share explicit photos of themselves or other minors are charged with violating Massachusetts child pornography laws and are required to register with the Sex Offender Registry. This legislation allows minors to be diverted to an educational program established in the bill prior to delinquency proceedings. The bill also addresses the non-consensual distribution of explicit images by adults by establishing a penalty in the existing criminal harassment statute. Under this bill, a victim may also petition the court for a harassment prevention order against a person who has violated this statute. I am thankful to Speaker Mariano, Chairman Michael Day, and Chairman Jeff Roy for their work on this. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3PQkUjs.
Advocates hope Texas school shootings will build momentum to ban manufacture of assault rifles in Massachusetts
Sarah L. Ryley, Boston Globe
Supporters of a bill to prohibit gunmakers in the state from manufacturing assault weapons for civilian use are making a renewed push to get the ban enacted in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead.
Massachusetts has among the strictest gun laws in the nation, yet until recently, was also its top gun manufacturer, producing 1.8 million guns in 2018, according to data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. That includes an unknown number of assault rifles, even though Massachusetts law has long prohibited them from being owned or sold in the state.
At least three states — New York, New Jersey, and California — prohibit the manufacture of assault weapons, according to Representative Marjorie Decker of Cambridge, one of the bill’s lead House sponsors. She said she’s “optimistic” there’s still an opportunity for the bill to move forward.
Learn more: https://bit.ly/3t2UVey
Uvalde shooting triggers closer look at gun laws; Massachusetts lawmakers ‘extremely proud’ but say they will review additional reforms
Chris Van Buskirk, MassLive
Decker, who also filed legislation targeting ghost guns, said a regular citizen in Massachusetts cannot purchase an assault weapon. “So why would we allow those guns to be manufactured for the purpose of sale to private citizens in other states?” she told MassLive, adding that she was “horrified” after learning of the Texas shooting in the wake of the Buffalo shooting two weeks ago.
“Nobody needs an assault weapon, nobody, barring the military,” the Cambridge Democrat said. “What are we so afraid of? Why aren’t we afraid of losing the people we love? Like when does that actually start to translate into this is not inevitable?” Learn more: https://bit.ly/3NwrGc2
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.