COVID-19 April 30, 2020 Update From Representative Dykema

April 30 Coronavirus Update

As you know, I do my best to highlight important, up-to-date data in this daily newsletter to provide a fact-based view of the scope and nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. These data often highlight the severity of this crisis, particularly when we think about the thousands of families who have lost a loved one to COVID-19.

The daily data dashboards provided by DPH offer a large volume of information each day, and stakeholders are working to ensure that we are continuing to expand publicly-available data reporting, particularly for groups disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, including nursing homes, the incarcerated population, and people of color. While we have not seen significant shifts in hospitalization or infection data yet, one promising trend highlighted by Governor Baker and Health and Human Services Secretary Sudders today is that our positive test rates appear to be consistently lower than they were a few weeks ago. While we are still seeing close to 2,000 new cases confirmed each day, we are also conducting many more tests, and recent daily totals have seen positive test rates under 20%, down from a peak of 34% on April 22.

While we cannot draw significant policy conclusions from a few days of data, we will be looking for sustained positive trends in coming weeks to understand how and when we can reopen more of the economy. As we move into May, there will be more and more discussion of the timing and shape of a reopening plan, and it will be important to note that our statewide decisions are driven first and foremost by a large and quickly-growing body of scientific information.

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Department of Public Health data
  • There are 62,205 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 1,940 new cases and 3,562 deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • Overall, over 275,000 tests have been conducted by public and private sources.
  • The Department of Public Health has regularly released a daily reporting dashboard containing detailed information on hospitalizations, demographic data, and county-by-county breakdowns of cases. To view the DPH dashboard, visit here.

Health Care

  • Hospital Capacity: As of  4/29, 53% of the Commonwealth’s 18,200 permanent and temporary hospital beds are available for new patients if needed. In the MetroWest region, 40% of the region’s 2,500 beds are available for new patients.
  • Personal Protective Equipment: PPE distribution continues across the Commonwealth, with over 1,028,000 pieces of PPE distributed in the MetroWest region, including 219,000 N95/KN95 masks and 136 ventilators.
  • Mobile testing: The MA National Guard mobile testing unit continues to visit and conduct test at the Commonwealth’s long-term care facilities, having made 453 visits and conducted 22,119 tests as of 4/29.
  • The Commonwealth’s contact tracing effort continues to build capacity, now employing roughly 1,000 staff who have conducted contact tracing for over 5,000 COVID-19-positive individuals. One promising trend from early contact tracing efforts is that average number of contacts are lower than anticipated, a sign that Massachusetts residents are taking social distancing and quarantine policies seriously. More information on Massachusetts’s contact tracing program can be found here.
  • Under the FEMA disaster declaration, 75% of costs associated with COVID-19 prevention, treatment, and control are reimbursable by the federal government. Today, the Governor formally requested that FEMA increase its reimbursement to 100% of costs associated with COVID-19 response due to the extraordinary impacts of the pandemic on Massachusetts residents.
  • There are currently roughly 10,000 individuals in Massachusetts under active quarantine and isolation, and the Commonwealth continues to take steps to provide housing for those who must quarantine or isolate but are limited in their capacity to do so. Hotel capacity continues to be able to accommodate quarantining individuals who cannot do so at home, and there are five sites set up to provide quarantine and isolation for homeless individuals. Municipalities who provide quarantine and isolation services are eligible to have 75% of costs reimbursed by FEMA, and municipal guidance on reimbursement can be found here.

Mental Health and Wellbeing

  • May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I encourage everyone to be mindful of the impact that this pandemic and the many stresses that it creates are having on our well-being. This is a difficult time for everyone, and caring for the mental health of ourselves and each other is critical. There are many resources for protecting emotional and mental well-being available online, and I encourage all of us to review them and make time in our routines to practice self-care.
  • If you or a loved one needs or is having trouble accessing mental or behavioral health services, including counseling and addiction services, the recently-launched Massachusetts Network of Care provides a single point of contact for state services that meet a wide range of needs and are searchable by ZIP code.

Small Business:

  • The state Reopening Advisory Board has begun meeting with employers, labor representatives, frontline workers, health care providers, and municipalities to receive input on the priority needs and concerns for staged reopening recommendations. The Board has been appointed and began meetings this week with the goal of providing recommendations by the end of the stay at home advisory on May 18th.
  • The 495/MetroWest Partnership and the MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board will be conducting weekly town hall discussions of issues MetroWest businesses are facing due to COVID-19 beginning Wednesday, May 6th at 1pm. These discussions are free and open to all MetroWest businesses and registration is online.

Additional Items

  • A reminder that all Holliston residents are now required to wear cloth face coverings in public spaces and open businesses. The full order and guidance can be found here. This follows CDC guidance for face coverings in public that all individuals should follow to the greatest extent possible.
  • The state library systems has expanded its offerings for free online educational and literary resources, which can be found online at the state Board of Library Commissioners website. All who have library cards can access materials, and those who do not have Massachusetts library cards can apply for an eCard through the Boston Pubic Library.

Resources for Residents Experiencing Job Loss or Loss of Income

COVID-19 is causing broad disruption to the economy which is affecting incomes of many residents and families. There are a number of state resources and supports available to support workers who may find themselves unemployed or otherwise income-constrained during this uncertain time. 

For your convenience, you can find a guide of resources and information at: https://carolyndykema.com/covid19-state-resources/.

Additional Guidance on Unemployment Assistance

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