I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources as well as recent legislative news. We are sending the newsletter out a little early this week due to the upcoming holidays. There will be no newsletter next week.
Happy Hanukkah to everyone who has been celebrating, merry Christmas to those of you who will be celebrating soon, and happy New Year to you all. My condolences continue to go to the Russell family, who recently lost their mother Sheila. She served as Mayor and on the City Council for 14 years, and her humor and dedication to public service will be long remembered.
Two new staff members joined the office this week: a very warm welcome to Ramla Hagi, the new Researcher for the Joint Committee on Public Health, and to Hanna Nur, a Cambridge resident who is my new Legislative Aide. Two current staff members were working remotely when this photo was taken.
Table of Contents
- State Updates
- National Updates
- Cambridge Updates
- COVID-19 Testing Information
- MA Vaccination Updates
- DPH Resources on COVID-19
- This Week’s Case Count
- Mental Health Services and Resources
- Where to Give
Mass Medical Society Encourages Caution for Holidays
The Massachusetts Medical Society is urging residents to “exercise caution” by using masks and ensuring they and their loved ones are up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccinations and flu shots headed into holiday gatherings. COVID cases in Massachusetts are increasing and the state’s flu rates are higher than they have been in a decade. Learn more: bit.ly/3YM3WHp.
MA Offering Gift Cards at Family-Friendly Vaccine Clinics
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is offering a $75 gift card at any of the clinics listed at https://bit.ly/3TObt5o. Gift cards will be offered through December 31, 2022 to any Massachusetts resident (adult or child) who gets vaccinated (first dose, second dose, or booster) while supplies last. You do not need an appointment, but some clinics may encourage pre-registration.
FDA Approves Roche COVID-19 Antibody
On Wednesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a Roche monoclonal antibody for treating COVID-19 in hospitalized adult patients. The intravenous anti-inflammatory drug, Actemra, is a monoclonal antibody that reduces inflammation and is the first FDA-approved monoclonal antibody to treat COVID-19. Previous monoclonal antibody treatments were temporarily approved through emergency use authorization. Learn more: reut.rs/3v9rh8b
Free COVID-19 Tests Available by Mail
Households are now able to order free rapid at-home COVID-19 tests again from http://COVIDTests.gov as part of a broader White House winter COVID preparedness plan. The tests, the fourth round of free rapid tests this year, will start to ship the week of December 19. They will likely not arrive before the holidays, but most Massachusetts residents can show their insurance card to get free rapid antigen tests at the pharmacy desk of stores like CVS and Walgreens every 30 days. The government is urging people to test themselves when they have symptoms, and before visiting with family. Learn more: wbur.fm/3PtNPty.
Authorities Urge Indoor Masking in Major Cities as 'Tripledemic' Rages
Public health officials are revisiting the topic of indoor masking as three highly contagious respiratory viruses take hold during the holiday season. Over the past few weeks, a surge in cases of COVID, the flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) has been sickening millions of Americans, overwhelming emergency rooms, and even causing a cold medicine shortage. The triple threat has been called a "tripledemic." Learn more: wbur.fm/3hCUoNX.
Federal Internet Discounts for Eligible Households
The Affordable Connectivity Program is an FCC benefit program that helps ensure that households can afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare and more during the COVID-19 pandemic. The benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price. For more information, visit fcc.gov/acp.
City-Sponsored PCR Testing Ends December 28
The last day of city-sponsored PCR testing at CIC Health will be Wednesday, December 28. To find alternative PCR testing locations, including sites that offer free testing, residents can visit vaxfinder.mass.gov and search by zip code. Residents are also reminded that rapid antigen home tests are free at pharmacies for individuals covered by insurance. In addition, the City of Cambridge will be receiving a large supply of rapid tests from the state in the new year which will be made available to residents at no cost.
Cambridge Public Health Department Reports Rise in COVID-19 Cases
Since Thanksgiving, Cambridge has seen an increase in COVID-19 infections in the community and in the public schools. Middlesex County's COVID-19 community level designation from the CDC has moved from “low” to “moderate.” Learn more: bit.ly/3Ph9Uf6.
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 cic-health.com/cambridge, or assistance is available from CIC’s Customer Service Team at email@example.com or by calling 877-280-2937.
Please note holiday hours and closures for the COVID-19 test site at CIC Health, 295 Third Street:
- Friday, December 23, 2022 (Closing at 12 PM)
- Saturday, December 24, 2022 (Closed)
- Sunday, December 25, 2022 (Closed)
- The last day of city-sponsored PCR Testing at CIC Health will be Wednesday, December 28.
State COVID-19 Testing
Please visit mass.gov/GetTested.
Home PCR Tests for Adults
Please visit t.ly/vL4j for details and to request a test kit.
MA Vaccination Updates
Vaccines and Boosters for Children
As a reminder, everyone ages 6 months or older is eligible to be vaccinated and everyone ages 5 years or older is eligible to be boosted. Children who have received a two-dose primary series of any vaccine and those who have received boosters are eligible to get the updated bivalent booster as long as two months have passed since their last dose.
- 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.
Residents who have received at least 1 dose: 117,064
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 92,270
Residents with 1 Booster: 62,583
Residents with 2 Boosters: 31,494
Total doses administered: 17,288,778
Total first booster doses administered: 3,446,326
Total second booster doses administered: 1,499,691
DPH Resources on COVID-19
COVID-19 FAQs: bit.ly/3aLrW99
This Week’s COVID-19 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.
Total Cases: 1,959,910
New Cases: 9,216
Total Deaths: 21,149
New PCR Tests: 104,324
Total Cases: 34,514
New Cases: 104
Total Deaths: 180
State interactive data dashboard: bit.ly/3Pe3hJk
Harvard COVID dashboard: bit.ly/3z8sa3C.
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
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
Thanks to everyone who has generously contributed to many organizations serving vulnerable people locally, nationally, and globally. If you are able to donate, please visit https://bit.ly/3fyEWkw for places serving those most affected by COVID-19 and https://bit.ly/3SMFeCU for 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.