I write to you today with public health and legislative updates.
I also want to welcome two new legislative/district interns to the office: Lily Grodzins, who started this week, and Eden Elfathy, who will start on July 10 with the Cambridge Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program. With these two additions, our amazing intern team is complete. I look forward to telling you more about them.
Table of Contents
- Cambridge Updates
- Public Health Updates
- A Glimpse at the Past Week
- Mental Health Services and Resources
Cambridge Celebrates Independence Day
City of Cambridge offices, libraries, and senior centers will be closed on Tuesday, July 4 in observance of the Independence Day holiday, and payments will not be required at parking meters and parking meter pay stations. I hope you have a fun and safe Fourth of July.
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
DPH Opioid Overdose Deaths Report
As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, we have devastating new data on the impact of opioids on Massachusetts residents. According to reports published by the Department of Public Health, there was a record high of 2,357 confirmed and estimated opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts in 2022. This mirrors national data as deaths are increasing across the country. Key findings are summarized below and more details are available at mass.gov/lists/current-opioid-statistics.
- Non-Hispanic Black residents experienced the largest increase of 42%.
- The street drug supply is toxic — fentanyl was present in 93% of the deaths where there was a toxicology screen. Xylazine, which cannot be counteracted by naloxone alone, was present in 5%.
- The least densely-populated, most isolated communities had the highest age‐adjusted opioid‐related overdose death rate at 36.1 deaths per 100,000 residents.
- Males are 72% of opioid OD deaths, but overdose death rates are increasing for Black and Hispanic women.
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
I held office hours at multiple locations across the City this week. I appreciate the opportunity that office hours provide to connect with constituents face-to-face. I always want to hear from constituents, so please do not hesitate to email me at Marjorie.Decker@mahouse.gov, call my office at 617-722-2130, or visit me at the State House in Room 130.
Naloxone Advocacy and Training Event
I joined my colleagues Representative Donaghue, Representative Vargas, Representative Pignatelli, and Senator Keenan in hosting a naloxone training and advocacy event in memory of Representative Donaghue's son Brian Donaghue Simpson, who passed away due to an opioid overdose five years ago. I am grateful to Boston Medical Center for providing training and to Lieutenant Governor Driscoll and Health and Human Services Secretary Walsh for their supporting remarks.
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.
As always, do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions or concerns at Marjorie.Decker@mahouse.gov.