I write to you today with relevant COVID-19 updates and resources as well as recent legislative news.
In addition, my office is hiring an Administrative Aide. If you are interested, please email Marjorie.Decker@MAHouse.gov to ask for the job description.
Table of Contents
- Recent Press
- State Updates
- National Updates
- Cambridge Updates
- COVID-19 Testing Information
- MA Vaccination Updates
- This Week’s Case Count
- Mental Health Services and Resources
- Where to Give
DCF needs more resources to serve kids with medically complex needs
By The Editorial Board, Boston Globe
I was pleased that the Editorial Board wrote that “If the state has custody of a child, it is obligated to meet that child’s needs in the most appropriate setting. Month-long waits in a hospital are inexcusable.” Learn more at t.co/qEeM5a2U3N.
While I was not asked to comment, this editorial is focused on an issue that I have filed legislation to address. Recent data from the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association show that 83% of pediatric patients who no longer need inpatient care, but are “stuck” waiting for discharge, are involved with the Department of Children and Families. They are often receiving services from other agencies as well.
The bill that I filed would streamline the process so that everyone works together to identify what children and adolescents in crisis need and how to coordinate a response. It also requires that we gather and review data in order to develop best practices. This builds on the groundwork that has already been laid for children’s mental health in Massachusetts.
End of COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in Massachusetts
The state’s COVID-19 public health emergency will end on May 11, 2023, to align with the end of the federal public health emergency. Governor Healey will also file legislation that would extend key flexibilities provided by the public health emergency, particularly around staffing for the healthcare industry and emergency medical services (EMS). Learn more at bit.ly/3ZWcyva.
MA Offering Gift Cards at Family-Friendly Vaccine Clinics Through March 31
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 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.
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 boosted.
- 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: 117,119
Fully Vaccinated Residents: 93,033
Residents with 1 Booster: 64,137
Residents with 2 Boosters: 34,659
Weekly DPH COVID-19 Vaccination Report
Total doses administered: 17,613,301
Total first booster doses administered: 3,521,012
Total second booster doses administered: 1,653,440
This Week’s COVID-19 Case Counts
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: 2,027,015
New Cases: 2,612
Total Deaths: 22,414
New PCR Tests: 57,051
Total Cases: 35,422
New Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 188
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.