Friday, October 13th, 2023 Public Health & Legislative Updates

Dear friends,

I am writing to you today with public health, Cambridge, and legislative updates. 

Table of Contents

  • Public Health Updates
  • Cambridge Updates
  • Legislative Updates
  • A Glimpse at the Past Week
  • Mental Health Services and Resources

Public Health Updates 

Massachusetts Public Health Council Approves Regulation to Allow Pharmacists to Dispense Hormonal Contraceptives

In a move to enhance access to reproductive health care, Massachusetts public health officials voted to grant pharmacists the authority to directly dispense hormonal contraceptives to patients. The state Public Health Council approved updated regulations on an emergency basis to allow pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraceptive patches and oral contraceptives to individuals, regardless of whether their primary or reproductive care providers have previously prescribed the medication. The council vote allows the emergency regulations to take effect for three months, with a public hearing scheduled for November 6 to evaluate the need for further regulatory changes. DPH aims to provide comprehensive reproductive health care and expand access to hormonal contraception. The regulatory changes create exemptions for pharmacists and make it clear that the changes authorize but do not mandate pharmacists to engage in this prescriptive practice. The Department's goal is to ensure access to appropriate reproductive health care for all Massachusetts residents.

Cambridge Updates

Flu and COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic 

The Cambridge Public Health Department and Cambridge Health Alliance will be hosting flu and COVID-19 vaccine clinics throughout October, offering residents — both children and adults — the opportunity to access vaccines. On Saturday, October 21, the clinic will be held at King Open School (860 Cambridge Street) from 10am to 4:30pm. More information can be found here.


Public Health Helpline Supports Residents with COVID-19

The Cambridge Public Health Department manages a hotline to provide residents with COVID-19 additional support. 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. Learn more about this service here.


City Offering Free At-Home COVID Tests

The Cambridge Public Health Department, in partnership with the Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), 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. The at-home COVID test expiration date can be checked here.


Cambridge Community Foundation’s Block Party

Cambridge Community Foundation’s Block Party will be held in Central Square on Saturday, October 14, from 1pm - 5pm at Starlight Square (Bishop Allen Dr. to Norfolk St.). The event is free for all ages and will feature food from local restaurants, live music, and a farmers market.

Legislative Updates

State House hearings on the thousands of bills filed this session are back in full swing, and three of the bills I filed were heard this week. 

  • An Act relative to a petition for a special law re: fire cadet program for the city of Cambridge fire department (H.2496) would allow the City of Cambridge to appoint Cambridge residents between the ages of 18-23 as a fire cadet, for a period of full-time “on the job” training. Those appointed would have to meet physical qualifications required of applicants for appointment as a firefighter in Cambridge and be determined by the appointing authority to be of good moral character. Fire cadets would participate in classroom training and cooperative education and training designed to educate and prepare the cadet to become a permanent firefighter.
  • An Act relative to providing health education in schools (H.455) would update the standards for health education in the Commonwealth to ensure that they are medically accurate and age appropriate and that there is a focus on areas of growth and physical development, mental health, family and interpersonal relationships, substance use prevention, and accurate and unbiased information on LGBTQ health. Many elements of this bill were included in the Governor’s recent update to the Comprehensive Health and Physical Education Framework.
  • An Act authorizing the city of Cambridge to impose a real estate transfer fee (H.4063), a bill I filed on behalf of the City of Cambridge as the senior representative in the delegation, would impose a real estate transfer fee equal to 2% of the portion of the purchase price exceeding $1 million.

A Glimpse at the Past Week

MOVA VOCA Bridge Briefing

I was honored to host a briefing this week with MOVA (Massachusetts Office of Victim Advocacy) to continue to educate legislators about the services that programs funded by MOVA provide to survivors of varied crime types — including domestic and sexual violence, stalking, human trafficking, child abuse, and homicide — throughout their communities. Over the last two years, I have worked closely with the House Chair of Ways and Means, Aaron Michlewitz, and Speaker Mariano to help restore $60 million of funds for MOVA that Congress lost. We have restored $40 million to date, and are working to restore the last $20 million.


Small Business Tour

Throughout the month of October, my team and I have been meeting with small business owners to learn more about what makes them successful, hardships they face, and anything else they’d like their state representative to know. On Friday, I invited Yvonne Hao, the Massachusetts Secretary of Economic Development and a Cambridge resident, to join me and business owners for a conversation so she could hear directly from them what it is like to run a small business today. I plan to highlight the small businesses that I have visited in the next few newsletters, so stay tuned!

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:

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 partner. You can find more information at or by calling 877-898-3411.

Overdose Prevention Helpline

As always, please contact me with questions or concerns at




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