I am writing to you today with Cambridge and public health updates.
Table of Contents
- Public Health Update
- Cambridge Updates
- A Glimpse at the Past Week
- Mental Health Services and Resources
Public Health Updates
COVID Wastewater Levels Increasing
Coronavirus wastewater numbers have nearly tripled just three weeks after dropping to their lowest levels in two years, suggesting that cases of COVID-19 are ticking up in the greater Boston area. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority regularly tests wastewater from Boston’s Deer Island Treatment Plant for traces of the virus that causes COVID-19 (mwra.com/biobot/biobotdata.htm). The testing determines the number of coronavirus RNA copies per milliliter of wastewater, as shed by people with and without symptoms. Although elevated wastewater numbers sometimes precede increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations, experts believe the rising levels will not translate to severe cases. Learn more at bit.ly/3KvS3zV.
Rates of Severe Maternal Morbidity Nearly Doubled Over a Decade in MA
A report released Wednesday by the Department of Public Health (DPH) found an alarming increase in unexpected, life-threatening health complications related to pregnancy and birth. The severe maternal morbidity rate (SMM) nearly doubled from 52.3 per 10,000 deliveries in 2011 to 100.4 per 10,000 deliveries in 2020. Black non-Hispanic birthing people consistently suffered the highest rates of severe maternal health complications, with inequities increasing yearly. According to the report, by 2020, the SMM rate for Black non-Hispanic birthing people was 2.5 times higher than that of White non-Hispanic birthing people. The report also revealed inequities experienced by birthing people with disabilities, particularly among intellectual, vision, and mobility-related disabilities. Read more about the findings of the report at bit.ly/43pi4aG.
End of COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
As a reminder, the COVID-19 public health emergency has ended. That means:
- Healthcare facilities can set their mask policies
- Private insurers aren’t required to provide free rapid tests
- Vaccines & treatments are covered by insurance in MA
Learn more at mass.gov/COVID
MassHealth Redetermination Underway
The MassHealth eligibility redetermination process began on April 1. Over the upcoming year, MassHealth will renew the membership of all 2.3 million members. Visit mass.gov/masshealthrenew or call (800)-841-2900 to learn more about this process.
Cambridge Book Bike Summer 2023
The Cambridge Book Bike program — an initiative from Cambridge Book Bike, Let’s Talk, The Center for Families, the Cambridge Public Library, and the Department of Human Service Programs (DHSP — works to bring free books and activities for Cambridge kids of all ages to parks across the City. In collaboration with the Summer Food Program at DHSP, free lunch is offered at the parks while the Book Bike program takes place. Upcoming events this week are at Fresh Pond Apartments (Rindge Ave.) on Tuesday (7/25) from 11:30-12:30 and at Sennott Park (Broadway St.) on Thursday (7/27) from 11:30-12:30 pm. Learn more here: http://www.cambridgebookbike.org/
Applications for Rise Up Grant Program Close on July 31
Rise Up Cambridge is a grant program funded by the City of Cambridge to provide direct cash to low-income Cambridge households with children at or under 21 years of age earning at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level. Eligible households will receive $500 per month for 18 months. The program is supported by the $22 million that Cambridge received from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, and will run as a pilot program for 18 months. Applications for the program close on July 31st. Read more about the program here: www.cambridgema.gov/riseup
New Neighborhood Profile
The City of Cambridge’s Community Development Department released an updated 2023 Neighborhood Statistical Profile, which provides a statistical snapshot for each of Cambridge's thirteen neighborhoods and the city as a whole. This is a great resource to learn more about the characteristics of your neighborhood, the other twelve neighborhoods, and the city in general.
Sumner Tunnel Closure
The Sumner Tunnel is closed for restoration from July 5th through August 31st. Cambridge residents will experience travel disruption to Boston Logan Airport. The MBTA is adding additional routes to the SL1, the silver line route that connects South Station to the airport. Please plan for traveling to the airport, as the Massachusetts Department of Transportation encourages people to build in extra travel time.
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 Cambridge Public Health Department manages the hotline. 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 from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM 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.
A Glimpse at the Past Week
Tour of Davita Northeast Cambridge Dialysis
On Monday morning, I toured the Davita Northeast Cambridge Dialysis clinic with my colleague, Representative Steve Owens. I appreciate the patients who were generous enough to share their stories with us and help us understand the challenges that they are facing.
Intern Speaking Series
I talked with the legislative intern cohort Tuesday morning about my journey to public service, my priorities, and how to advocate for legislation on Beacon Hill. I am encouraged about the future leaders of the Commonwealth after speaking to many young people passionate about public service. Eden Elfathy and Lily Grodzins introduced me!
Electrical Fire in the State House
On Tuesday afternoon, two wires feeding into a transformer in the State House’s sub-basement caught fire, forcing legislators, staff, advocates, and tourists to evacuate. As a precaution, the State House was closed Wednesday, and we all worked remotely. Thankfully no one was hurt, and there was minimal damage. Thank you to the State Police, the DCR Rangers, and the Boston Fire Department for quickly responding and keeping everyone safe.
Mental Health Services and Resources
If you or a loved one are struggling, please know 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.
As always, please contact me with questions or concerns at Marjorie.Decker@mahouse.gov.