COVID-19: May 13, 2020 Update From Representative Dykema
May 13 Coronavirus Update
As you may have noticed, recent news surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic can seem to be all over the place, particularly as different parts of our country or even our Commonwealth face different stages of the pandemic. We received positive news from the City of Boston today, which reported no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks, but also crossed a significant statewide threshold of 80,000 positive cases. As we eagerly anticipate details of eventual reopening, many of us are still concerned for ill loved ones or coping with loss.
One news item in particular that brightened my day was this story of a UMass Medical student who was herself hospitalized with COVID-19, recovered fully, and now works shifts in the DCU field hospital caring for patients. This mix of rapidly-changing news can be confusing and overwhelming.
As I’ve mentioned before, May is Mental Health Awareness Month and for many of us, the biggest part of mental health care is the simple act of self-assessment and self-care. I encourage you to review these emotional health and wellbeing resources, as well as simply taking a bit of time each day to turn off your screens, spend time with loved ones, exercise, or just take a quiet, meditative moment alone.
On this note, I am sensitive to the double-sided nature of daily newsletter updates. For some, it provides comfort and stability to receive regular news from trusted sources. For others, it may be stressful or unhelpful to receive what can at times seem like “too much information.” In recognition of this balance, you may notice that some newsletter editions moving forward may be very brief – just an update on where our state and local public health metrics stand – but I will also be sure to pass along significant updates or valuable resources as soon as they do become available. As always, I welcome your questions and feedback.
Coronavirus Testing and Response
- There are 80,497 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 1,165 new cases and 174 deaths as of today at 4pm.
- Overall, over 410,000 tests have been conducted by public and private sources. 14% of the 8,536 tests reported today were positive.
- 3,101 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.
- This week’s town-by-town testing numbers have been released by the Department of Public Health. The full town-by-town list can be found here.
- Holliston: 48
- Hopkinton: 104
- Southborough: 36
- Westborough: 273
- As a reminder, all four of the towns in the 8th Middlesex district self-report case numbers more regularly than the state, often including data on residents who have recovered and residents in quarantine, as well. Town COVID-19 pages can be found in the “Local Resources” section of this newsletter.
- Hospital Capacity: As of 5/13, 53% of the Commonwealth’s 17,700 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.
- Personal Protective Equipment: PPE distribution continues across the Commonwealth, with over 1,673,000 pieces of PPE distributed in the MetroWest region, including over 336,000 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 649 visits and conducted 39,479 tests as of 5/13.
- Temporary field hospitals continue to operate for the time being, particularly the Boston Hope facility at the Boston Convention Center and the DCU Center facility operated by UMass Memorial. The Boston facility alone has treated 688 COVID-19 patients since opening.
Economy and Workforce
- The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network is holding a free webinar on impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on nonprofit organizations and the communities they serve at 2pm on Tuesday, May 19th. You can register online here.
- 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.
- Today, the House of Representatives enacted H.4677, An Act to facilitate the delay of the income tax filing deadline in its second remote formal session, which would authorize the state Treasurer to engage in emergency short-term borrowing to ensure that tax revenues impacted by COVID-19 do not impact the administration of the FY20 budget. The Senate will now enact the bill and send it to the Governor for his signature.
- The federal U.S. House introduced a new coronavirus response package called the HEROES Act, which provides $3 trillion in funding for programs including frontline responder hazard pay, extensions to stimulus checks and unemployment benefits, and expanded testing and contact tracing funding. A summary of the bill can be found here.
- The Joint Committee on Election Laws will be holding a virtual hearing on vote-by-mail legislation that has been filed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Legislators and stakeholders including the Secretary of State and the Attorney General are supportive of expanded options for fall elections, and all four of our towns offer early vote-by-mail options for June’s municipal elections. Details on bills being considered can be found here and written testimony can be submitted via email to the committee.
All of the towns in the 8th Middlesex District now have centralized COVID-19 resource pages with resources, updates, and alerts regarding town services.
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 resources: https://carolyndykema.com/covid19-state-resources
Department of Unemployment Assistance: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/department-of-unemployment-assistance
Department of Transitional Assistance: https://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 drop-off and delivery do not inadvertently contribute to the spread of the virus.
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 advisory. Residents 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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