I write to you today 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
- DPH Resources on COVID-19
- This Week’s Case Count
- Recent Press
- Mental Health Services and Resources
- Where to Give
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).
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 Wednesdays Beginning February 8
The Cambridge Public Health Department will be 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 vaccine 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.
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: 117,334
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 92,667
Residents with 1 Booster: 63,215
Residents with 2 Boosters: 33,489
Total doses administered: 17,491,974
Total first booster doses administered: 3,484,685
Total second booster doses administered: 1,601,583
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: 2,000,273
New Cases: 5,797
Total Deaths: 21,826
New PCR Tests: 68,613
Total Cases: 35,053
New Cases: 12
Total Deaths: 181
State interactive data dashboard: bit.ly/3Pe3hJk
Harvard COVID dashboard: bit.ly/3z8sa3C.
Cash boost eyed to aid Massachusetts families in “deep poverty”
By Sam Drysdale, State House News Service
Over a hundred advocates and lawmakers met Thursday to lobby for new legislation filed by Rep. Marjorie Decker and Sen. Sal DiDomenico (HD 507 / SD 501) focused on “lifting kids out of deep poverty.” The legislation would raise maximum cash assistance grants by 25 percent a year until they reach half of the federal poverty level.
Decker said with lawmakers having filed over 7,000 bills already this session, it is the job of supporting lawmakers and advocates to fight for cash assistance that would “change people’s lives for the better.”
“When families who are struggling have more resources, they struggle less — when families have more cash, to be very clear. I’m talking cash, not vouchers,” Decker said. “They make the same choices about how to take care of their families and improve the health outcomes of their families.”
Learn more at bit.ly/3RaX1UA.
Mass. legislators working across the aisle to address beverage container waste
By Kinga Borondy, Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Legislators have filed at least three bills seeking to revise the state’s beverage container laws since the start of the new legislative session. Rep. Marjorie Decker, D-Cambridge, Sen. Cynthia Creem, D-Newton, and Rep. Michelle Ciccolo, D-Lexington, have filed bills seeking to expand the types of containers subject to a deposit.
"Plastic pollution is as much a danger to public health as it is to the environment. The bottle bill is one of the most effective tools we have to encourage recycling, and I look forward to working with my colleagues and advocates to update it this session," said Decker.
Learn more at bit.ly/3JovWeK.
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.