I write to you this evening with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources as well as recent legislative news.
Table of Contents
- Legislative Updates
- 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
Briefing on Alcohol Safety and Public Health
Yesterday, I co-hosted a legislative briefing at the State House sharing the findings from “Alcohol, Health, and Safety in Massachusetts: A Status Report, 2022” by Boston University Professor David Jernigan, Ph.D, as well as related bills that have been filed this session. Key findings from the report, available at bit.ly/3XlvYaO, include:
- Alcohol’s role in death and disability in Massachusetts has risen by 13.8% since 2009 — faster than lung cancer, diabetes, hypertension, dietary risks, and tobacco use.
- Massachusetts ranks among the top 10 highest states for overall binge drinking and 14th highest for underage binge drinking.
- Fatal crashes involving drinking drivers are more common in Massachusetts than nationwide.
MA Still Offering Gift Cards at Family-Friendly Vaccine Clinics
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is still offering a $75 gift card at any of the clinics listed at bit.ly/3ZhgTt1. Gift cards will now be offered through March 31, 2023 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.
State Public Awareness Campaign on Extra Pandemic SNAP Benefits Ending
The state has launched a new website, Mass.gov/ExtraCOVIDSNAP, to help residents plan for the end of extra temporary SNAP benefits. The SNAP Emergency Allotments were made available in March 2020 under the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act and will end on March 2, 2023 following recent federal legislation. Over the next several months, individuals and families should explore any optional expenses that may increase their regular SNAP benefits. Also, Massachusetts households who get SNAP benefits automatically can participate in the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP).
White House Plans to End COVID Emergency Declarations in May
The White House is planning to end the COVID-19 national emergency and public health emergency on May 11. The declarations have been extended multiple times since enacted by the Trump administration in 2020. Ending the emergency declaration could have implications for funding for tests and vaccines as well as impact other pandemic-related policies. Learn more at n.pr/3wPP9Pd.
Report Your At-Home COVID Test Results with Make My Test Count
Individuals who take a COVID-19 at-home test can report their test result anonymously at MakeMyTestCount.org, a new website from the National Institutes of Health. The site does not ask for personal information such as name, date of birth, or street address, only general information such as age and ZIP code. Data collected through MakeMyTestCount is de-identified and sent to the same public health systems that currently receive COVID-19 test results from laboratories and doctors’ offices. Learn more at bit.ly/3DjS46f.
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. Most Massachusetts residents can also 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.
Free COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics Every Wednesday
The Cambridge Public Health Department is offering free COVID-19 and flu vaccines to adults and children (age 5+) every Wednesday from 12-4 p.m. at 119 Windsor Street, second floor.
- Vaccine Clinic Dates: Every Wednesday from Feb. 8–June 14.
- Appointments are required. You can register online at bit.ly/40bMk8C. If you have questions or want help making an appointment, call 617-933-0797.
- People age 5 and older can receive their first dose, second dose, or bivalent booster of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
- Flu vaccines will be available for adults and children (age 6 months and older), while supplies last. High-dose flu vaccines will also be available.
- No ID, Social Security Number, or health insurance is needed for the free vaccines.
Public Health Helpline Supports Residents with COVID-19
To speak with someone, call the confidential COVID-19 Hotline for the public health departments of Cambridge, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop at 617-933-0797. The hotline is managed by the Cambridge Public Health Department. Learn more at bit.ly/3J7FYAO
City Offering Free At-Home COVID Tests
The Cambridge Public Health Department, in partnership with the Cambridge Health Alliance, is providing free COVID-19 rapid antigen at-home test kits. They can be picked up Monday through Friday in the CHA lobby at 119 Windsor Street. Cambridge businesses or organizations that would like free rapid tests to provide to customers can call the COVID-19 hotline at 617-933-0797 to request them.
COVID-19 Testing Information
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: 117,342
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 92,719
Residents with 1 Booster: 63,309
Residents with 2 Boosters: 33,709
Total doses administered: 17,533,754
Total first booster doses administered: 3,495,254
Total second booster doses administered: 1,621,435
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: 2,010,024
New Cases: 4,591
Total Deaths: 22,030
New PCR Tests: 64,082
Total Cases: 35,193
New Cases: 11
Total Deaths: 183
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.