COVID-19: May 12, 2020 Update From Representative Dykema

May 12 Coronavirus Update

Department of Public Health data

As we start to think in more concrete terms about what a phased reopening and, ultimately, a “new normal,” will look like, one thing that is clear is in the absence of a COVID-19 vaccine, a central component of our long-term solutions to this pandemic will be testing.

In the last 14 days, Massachusetts has tested an average of 10,500 people for COVID-19 each day. As we ramp up testing capacity, we’re hoping to be testing over 3x as many people each day and establishing an infrastructure capable of conducting over 1 million tests a month. Programs like the M-ERT manufacturing grants help us develop and produce the materials needed to conduct these tests, and programs like the National Guard’s mobile testing unit help us get tests to the people who need them most. To be able to prevent the “widespread community transmission” that led to our current state of emergency, we need to be able to accurately determine who is sick as soon as they are exposed, regardless of circumstances. We are making significant progress, but we are not there yet.

New Updates

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Department of Public Health data
  • There are 79,332 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 870 new cases and 33 deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • Overall, over 400,000 tests have been conducted by public and private sources. 13% of the 6,768 tests reported today were positive.
  • 3,127 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, an increase of 25 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 5/12, 54% of the Commonwealth’s 17,800 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 1,640,000 pieces of PPE distributed in the MetroWest region, including over 330,000 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 640 visits and conducted 38,485 tests as of 5/12.
  • The Massachusetts Health Connector has updated its informational resources on those seeking health insurance enrollment due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a reminder, the special enrollment period for health insurance is still open and closes on May 25th.

Economy and Workforce

  • For those who are unemployed or have experienced a significant work reduction and may not be certain if they qualify for standard unemployment assistance or self-employed “pandemic unemployment assistance,” the Department of Unemployment Assistance has developed an easy-to-use, step-by-step screening tool so applicants can be certain they are applying to the correct system.
  • Any individuals who still have not yet received their “stimulus checks” are strongly encouraged to visit the Get My Payment portal on the IRS website, which provides information on obtaining Economic Impact Payments for those who did not receive a direct deposit tax return in 2019.
  • As a reminder, anyone wishing to submit comments to the Reopening Advisory Board can do so online. If you would like to review the outline of the four-phase reopening approach released yesterday, you can view it here.

Legislative Update

  • Today, the Governor filed a supplemental budget authorizing an additional $1 billion in COVID-19 specific spending for testing, equipment purchases, rate adjustments for essential human services workers, and other elements of pandemic response that are reimbursable by FEMA and other federal sources. This bill authorizes spending that is then reimbursed from federal sources including the recently-passed CARES Act.
  • The Joint Committee on Education will be holding a virtual oversight hearing on the state of remote learning and education impacts in the K-12 system due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Information on how to stream the hearing online and how to submit written testimony can be found here.

Additional Items

  • This week’s Supreme Judicial Court report on testing and confirmed positive cases at Massachusetts jails and correctional facilities is available online
  • The American Red Cross has released a list of resources on Teaching Preparedness and Safety while at Home. These child-centered resources and activities for grades K-5 that allow for families to learn about emergency preparedness in a variety of online, family-friendly formats.

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.

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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.

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