COVID-19 May 1, 2020 Update From Representative Dykema

May 1 Coronavirus Update

Yesterday, I opened this newsletter with some key statistics and data trends from the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, which are critical indicators for the policy decisions we are making on the local, regional, and state level. At the same time, however, we cannot forget the human faces of this crisis and I wanted to take a moment again today to recognize the unparalleled contributions of frontline workers in our community.

Source: Twitter.com/FronlineMAorg

UMass Memorial Hospital has created an “Everyday Strength” page where patients, staff, and families can post photos along with messages of support and gratitude. The MetoWest Medical Center has a COVID-19-specific “Meet Our Heroes” page along with a space for patients and families to recognize caregivers who have impacted them personally. Finally, Attorney General Maura Healey has launched a statewide initiative called FrontlineMA that provides resources, information, and an opportunity for residents to send messages of support for frontline workers of all kinds, including health care workers, first responders, and other essential workers. If you are a healthcare professional or essential worker, know that we are so grateful for what you do.

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Department of Public Health data
  • There are 64,311 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 2,106 new cases and 3,716 deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • Overall, over 289,000 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.

New Face Covering Guidance

  • The Governor signed an executive order today (effective May 6) requiring use of face coverings in public when social distancing measures are not possible.
    • Who: All children and adults over 2 years of age, except those with relevant medical conditions or other DPH-approved exemptions
    • What is required: Masks or face coverings in circumstances where social distancing of 6 feet is not possible. Medical-grade masks are highly discouraged to ensure that health care workers and first responders retain access to adequate PPE supplies.
    • Where: In public spaces, including businesses and buildings that remain open, parks and outdoor spaces where social distancing is not possible, and public transit including taxis and shared rides.
    • Violations: Local authorities are authorized to enforce the order, which may include civil penalties up to $300. Businesses are allowed to decline entry to those not wearing masks for non-medical reasons.
  • The full order can be read here.

Health Care

  • Hospital Capacity: As of   4/30, 54% of the Commonwealth’s 18,200 permanent and temporary hospital beds are available for new patients if needed. In the MetroWest region, 38% of the region’s 2,400 beds are available for new patients.
    • NOTE: COVID-19 hospitalization numbers, while remaining relatively high, have dropped for the last 4 days in a row. Although over 3,700 patients are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, yesterday’s total hospitalization numbers were the lowest since April 16.
  • Personal Protective Equipment: PPE distribution continues across the Commonwealth, with over 1,084,000 pieces of PPE distributed in the MetroWest region, including 242,000 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 478 visits and conducted 24,496 tests as of 4/30.

Small Business

  • This week, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services updated its guidance for nurseries, greenhouses, garden centers, and agricultural supply stores, which are considered essential services under the Governor’s order but are limited in the activities and operations they may perform. The updated guidance can be found online.
  • The Massachusetts High Technology Council is holding a free webinar on economic competitiveness and the COVID-19 recovery for Massachusetts businesses on Thursday, May 7 at 4 p.m. Registration is online and open to all.

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 all four of our towns have local resource pages:
  • Advocates, Inc., a Framingham-based organization serving those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and/or mental health needs has put together a COVID-19 service update page providing information on program changes, virtual services, resources available for those in need during the pandemic. The organization is also soliciting mask donations for those able to forgive. 
  • The South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC) has compiled a list of community-specific resources for those impacted by COVID-19, including fuel and food assistance, senior resources, and domestic violence help. They also provide a list of recovery resources for those who may be struggling with addiction.

 Additional Items

  • The Attorney General’s office has published two informational flyers informing Massachusetts residents of their rights and protections during the COVID-19 pandemic. The flyers provide information about state laws and regulations regarding every patient’s Equal Access to Care and the Financial and Economic Protections for all residents. These flyers are downloadable for easy printing and available in a number of languages.
  • 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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