I write to you today with Cambridge and public health updates.
Table of Contents
- Cambridge Updates
- Public Health Updates
- A Glimpse at the Past Week
- Recent Press
- Mental Health Services and Resources
Honoring Saundra Graham
Cambridge has lost an incredible trailblazer whose impact on our community is immeasurable. My condolences are with her family whom she loved deeply and the many neighbors and residents whose lives were touched and shaped by her friendship and advocacy.
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 was funded with $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
Sumner Tunnel Closure
The Sumner Tunnel is closed for restoration from July 5th through August 31st. This will increase traffic in and around the Greater Boston area, and, most saliently for Cambridge residents, will impact travel to Boston Logan Airport. In an effort to mitigate the delays, the MBTA is adding additional routes to the SL1, the silver line route that connects South Station to the airport. Please plan accordingly if you are 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 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 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.
Public Health Updates
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 own mask policies
- Private insurers aren’t required to provide free rapid tests
- Vaccines & treatments are still 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.
A Glimpse at the Past Week
Joint Committee on Public Health Hearing
On Thursday, I co-Chaired a Public Health Committee hearing that covered bills related to Healthcare Facilities, Workforce Development, Health Information Technology, and Tobacco. One of my bills was included in the hearing:
- An Act relative to clinical laboratories (H.3628)
- This bill would update existing regulations for the construction, maintenance, and utilization of clinical laboratories in the Commonwealth, including the addition of gender-inclusive language, removal of the role of the Advisory Committee on clinical laboratory regulation, and the authorization for laboratories at colleges and universities to collect and test specimens for diagnosis and treatment of students, staff, and faculty. Among other tasks, this legislation authorizes DPH to establish appropriate rules and regulations for the committee, inspect any clinical laboratory and any relevant records, impose licensure modifications, and establish qualifications of laboratory personnel, including clinical laboratory directors.
Conversation with Community Action Project (CAP) Fellows
I had the pleasure of speaking with the summer fellows at the Civic Action Project about my journey to public service and my legislative priorities, as well as answering questions about what politics looks like within the State House. I am grateful to have been a CAP Collaborative Executive Fellow last fall and to have hosted a CAP intern in my office, so I was excited to meet the current group of summer fellows and answer questions.
“Grieving Workforce” member shares life-saving techniques
Galvanized by the record loss of Massachusetts residents to opioid-related overdoses last year, dozens of lawmakers, legislative staffers and advocates gathered Thursday to learn about how to administer naloxone, a life-saving medication that reverses overdoses. …
Proposals from Reps. Dylan Fernandes and Marjorie Decker and Sen. Julian Cyr (H 1981 / S 1242) would establish a 10-year pilot program for municipalities to pursue local approval to create overdose prevention facilities. Gov. Maura Healey and Health and Human Services Secretary Kate Walsh, who attended the training and advocated for expanded distribution of naloxone, support the facilities, although Healey has not offered her own proposal. …
Decker, the House chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health, stressed the importance of boosting access to naloxone with a broader strategy to combat the state’s worsening crisis and make drug use safer.
“I’m so grateful that many of you are here today, that you want to figure out how to have access to it and also to be properly trained to do this,” Decker, a Cambridge Democrat, said at the event. “We cannot leave anything off the table — every tool that we know that we have that can give somebody one more day to live is a tool that we need to all have access to, which is why my committee, my colleagues and myself continue to be committed to overdose prevention sites.”
Learn more at: https://tinyurl.com/2495nu7c
State takeover floated as a potential solution for hospital closures
Massachusetts lawmakers are weighing a bill that would give the state the power to step in and temporarily take control of a hospital that wants to shut down essential services….
"This is a problem that we have to address," said Rep. Marjorie Decker, the House chair of the Public Health Committee. "Our hospitals are really struggling. They are flailing on every level, and we are working hand in hand with our provider community, our patient community and our hospital community. It is complicated and we are really doing a lot to try to figure this out, because we know that the outcomes are dire and stark."
Learn more at: https://tinyurl.com/mtj2uzr8
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.