COVID-19: May 11, 2020 Update From Representative Dykema

May 11 Coronavirus Update

Source: Mass.gov

We continue to see a gradual, but noticeable improvement in the public health metrics we use to track the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a welcome reflection of the sacrifices that you all have made to keep each of us and our communities safe from this dangerous virus.

While we don’t yet have enough data to demonstrate the “sustained downward trend” necessary for reopening, we are moving in the right direction. As such, the administration is working to provide more information about what a staged reopening will look like. Today, the Governor highlighted the broad shape of our reopening plan. More information is included below. I welcome your thoughts on the approach.

As a reminder, this plan is highly contingent on following the data on key indicators of public health and shifts in direction or pace of the pandemic recovery can and will mean that our reopening plan may change.

Reopening Update

Today, the administration released the broad overview of a phased reopening plan for Massachusetts. Because there is a large volume of information being released, I wanted to provide the basics (along with links to additional information) in its own section today. The final report of the Reopening Advisory Board is due to be released on May 18.

Phased approach:

  • Today, the administration announced a four-phase approach to reopening the Massachusetts economy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of the phased reopening, based on public health guidance, is to methodically allow certain businesses, services, and activities to resume, while protecting public health and limiting a resurgence of new COVID-19 cases.
    • “Start”: limited industries resume operations with severe restrictions
    • “Cautious”: additional industries resume operations with restrictions and capacity limits
    • “Vigilant”: additional industries resume operations with guidance
    • “New Normal”: development of vaccine and/or therapy enables resumption of new normal
  • If public health metrics fall below thresholds, there is the chance that we may move backward in phases. There is also the possibility of targeted local interventions within phases to address any “hot spots” that may arise.

Phase 1 components:

  • Overall social guidance: General rules for all individuals to practice, such as face covering use and social distancing
  • Mandatory safety guidelines for workplaces: These standards will apply to all workplaces covered under this phase, and may include limits on office opening, total capacity, cleaning protocols, etc.
  • Industry-specific protocols and best practices: These standards will be designed to provide additional guidance to sectors that need more specific protocols or have unique concerns to protect workers and the public. 

Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards:

  • All businesses allowed to open in phase one will be subject to detailed safety standards designed to prevent community transmission of COVID-19 and allow for safe operation.
  • Categories of standards include social distancing, hygiene, staffing, and cleaning and disinfecting.
  • More information on safety standards can be found here.

Additional information:

  • Today’s Reopening Advisory Board presentation can be found here.
  • Updated information and FAQ on essential services can be found here.

New Updates

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Department of Public Health data
  • There are 78,462 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 669 new cases and 129 deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • Overall, over 394,000 tests have been conducted by public and private sources. 11% of the 6,339 tests reported today were positive.
  • 3,102 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, a decrease of 26 from yesterday.
  • 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 5/11, 54% of the Commonwealth’s 17,900 permanent and temporary hospital beds are available for new patients if needed. In the MetroWest region, 40% of the region’s 2,400 beds are available for new patients.
  • Personal Protective Equipment: PPE distribution continues across the Commonwealth, with over 1,607,000 pieces of PPE distributed in the MetroWest region, including over 327,000 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 629 visits and conducted 37,539 tests as of 5/11.

NOTE: Today’s new cases were the lowest since March 26th, and hospitalization numbers have declined for the fifth day in a row. As we continue to track public health metrics that may lead to reopening, these will continue to be key indicators for the Commonwealth, and I will try to highlight overarching trends in addition to daily numbers.

Economy and Workforce

  • The Small Business Administration is hosting a webinar on COVID-19 resources for underserved communities in Massachusetts, including resources for women-, minority-, and veteran-owned business, at 9am on Wednesday, May 13. You can register to attend online here.
  • For manufacturers, the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership is hosting a webinar on Friday, May 15 at 1pm on navigating regulations as businesses return to operation following the pandemic. You can register to attend online here.

Legislative Update

  • Today, the Senate passed legislation to improve data collection and reporting for COVID-19 in all state facilities and agencies in the Commonwealth. The bill, which was previously passed with similar language by the House, will now be enacted by both chambers once final language is approved.

Local Resources

All of our towns now have centralized COVID-19 resource page with resources, updates, and alerts regarding town services.

HollistonHopkintonSouthboroughWestborough

The Department of Public Health also releases weekly reports on town-by-town COVID-19 case numbers and rates, which can be found online here.

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. 

Guide for job/income loss resourceshttps://carolyndykema.com/covid19-state-resources

Department of Unemployment Assistancehttps://www.mass.gov/orgs/department-of-unemployment-assistance

Department of Transitional Assistancehttps://www.mass.gov/dta-covid-19-resources-and-support

How You Can Help

Holliston Youth and Family Services requests your support of the Community Action Fund, which provides emergency assistance to those affected by COVID-19. Learn more or donate here.

The Westborough Rotary Club has launched a COVID-19 Community Relief Fund to provide assistance to those affected by COVID-19. Learn more or donate here.

The American Red Cross is asking for blood donations, the need for which is significant due to blood drive cancellations.The need is dire due to the cancellation of hundreds of blood drives. People can donate at the Worcester American Red Cross Donor Center, 381 Plantation St. Worcester or call 1-800-RED CROSS. Some local donor sites, including the Natick Senior Center, are available for appointments as well.

Information on our local food pantries can be found below. The most pressing need right now is cash donations to ensure that food dropoff and delivery do not inadvertently contribute to the spread of the virus.

Holliston Pantry Shelf | Project Just Because | Southborough Food Pantry | Westborough Food Pantry

Current Statewide Advisories

Stay at Home: Due to evolving spread of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, Governor Baker has directed the Department of Public Health to issue a stay at home advisoryResidents are advised to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel and other unnecessary activities until May 18th. Residents over 70 years of age or with underlying health conditions, who are considered at high risk when exposed to COVID-19, should limit social interactions with other people unless absolutely necessary. 

Face Covering: To maintain behaviors that limit the spread of COVID-19 and to prepare for the precautions necessary once the state begins to reopen, Governor Baker has issued an advisory requiring masks or cloth face coverings in public indoor and outdoor spaces in situations where social distancing is not possible. The full advisory and detailed guidance can be found online.

A list of all executive orders in place during the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 state of emergency can be found here.

*NOTE: The email software client that we use to send these emails provides “click tracking” by default. We do not review this data or use tracking for any purpose, but we wanted to make all our readers aware as some have raised privacy concerns.

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