Friday, January 5 Cambridge & Public Health Updates

Dear friends,


I am writing to you today with Cambridge and public health updates. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and wish you all a very happy new year. I also want to extend my congratulations to the newly sworn-in Cambridge City Council — including Mayor E. Denise Simmons and Vice Mayor Marc McGovern — and Cambridge School Committee. 


I would also like to thank outgoing Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui for her incredible leadership over the last 4 years. In her first term, Mayor Siddiqui ably guided Cambridge through the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. In her second term, she launched Rise Up Cambridge, an initiative that provides families living in deep poverty with additional cash assistance. As data continues to show, the additional cash support families receive helps them avoid having to make impossible decisions between food and winter boots, and between diapers and rent. Instead, direct cash assistance stabilizes families’ finances, enabling them to afford basic needs and giving them more bandwidth that often ensures greater stability and the need for less support over time.  


Table of Contents

  • Cambridge Updates
  • Public Health Updates
  • Mental Health Services and Resources

Cambridge Updates

Update on Temporary Emergency Shelter at the Cambridge Registry of Deeds Building

On December 28th, I participated in a community meeting that the city hosted alongside my legislative colleagues and state officials to update the community on the Temporary Emergency Shelter at the Cambridge Registry of Deeds Building. As I wrote in my last newsletter, the Registry of Deeds Building can host up to 70 families (and 200 total people) temporarily. The state quickly retrofitted bathrooms to provide for residents’ basic needs, and they are fed meals at breakfast and dinner. I appreciate how many folks offered to volunteer at the shelter, donate clothes and other resources, and support our new Cambridge neighbors. You can reach out to or call (617) 349-7222 if you have any questions! As always, feel free to also reach out to my office.


Cambridge Public Health Helpline Supports Residents with COVID-19

To speak with someone, call the confidential COVID-19 Hotline at 617-933-0797. Learn more here.


City Offering Free At-Home COVID Tests in Partnership with the Cambridge Health Alliance

The tests 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.

Public Health Updates

DPH to Review Regulations on Crisis Pregnancy Centers

In an effort to maintain integrity, accessibility, and transparency in reproductive care, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced the agency has initiated a review of its statutory and regulatory obligations regarding anti-abortion centers on Wednesday, after several complaints of several of these centers, often called “crisis pregnancy centers.” According to DPH, nearly 30 anti-abortion centers are operating in the state, of which only four are subject to DPH licensure under state law. With this review, DPH aims to ensure professional licensees and facility licensees – including these centers – adhere to their designated scope of practice and operate transparently and free from deceptive practices.


Some Massachusetts Hospitals Reinstating Masking Rules

A rise in respiratory illnesses is prompting some of the state’s largest hospital systems to reimplement mask mandates for specific individuals, including MGB, UMass Memorial, Baystate Health, Beth Israel Lahey, and Boston Medical Center. Each week, the state’s Department of Public Health (DPH) reports data on contagious respiratory viruses to help track trends in respiratory disease and vaccination activity in Massachusetts. According to DPH’s latest data, approximately 18% of emergency department visits were due to acute respiratory disease. Additional data shows that 21.5% of hospital admissions involved some sort of respiratory illness, including COVID-19 (5.7%), influenza (3.3%), and respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV (1.1%). Some hospital systems have responded to these changes in cases by updating masking policies to reduce transmission. Mask guidelines at healthcare facilities differ across the state, largely requiring employees to wear a mask in patient areas and strongly encouraging patients and visitors to do the same, especially if they are experiencing respiratory illness symptoms.

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

The Massachusetts Overdose Prevention Helpline is a virtual spotting/overdose detection service for people who use drugs. Learn more at:, or access it by calling 800-972-0590.

As always, please contact me with questions or concerns at




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