COVID-19: May 18, 2020 Update From Representative Dykema
May 18 Coronavirus Update
Following yesterday’s news that Massachusetts will be entering Phase 1 of our staged reopening plan, we’re all hoping that we’ve turned a corner in the pandemic and have begun making progress toward our new normal.
We’ve each made sacrifices to get to where we are today. And we’ll need to continue our disciplined practices and and commitment to “safer at home” guidelines if we’re to continue making progress. Covering our faces may be irritating and inconvenient at times, but it really does make a significant difference in helping stop the spread. The best thing we can do for our families and local businesses, and speed up the future we’re all looking forward to, is to take the reopening plan as seriously as we took protective measures at the height of the pandemic.
Coronavirus Testing and Response
- There are 87,925 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 873 new cases and 76 deaths as of today at 4pm.
- The average new cases over the last 7 days is 1,228, and the average number of deaths is 114.
- 11% of the 7,741 tests reported today were positive, with a 7-day weighted average positive test rate of 9.9%.
- 2,472 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, a decrease of 61 from yesterday.
- The Department of Public Health regularly releases 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.
- As detailed in yesterday’s newsletter, more details on our current business and social prevention policies and reopening plans for the future can be found at mass.gov/reopening. Key elements of Phase are the safer at home advisory, the schedule for business reopening, and information on workplace safety standards.
- For business owners, the Associated Industries of Massachusetts has updated its COVID-19 resource page with helpful information on complying with the reopening guidelines.
- For business owners or others who need to purchase protective equipment or cleaning supplies to reopen, you can find detailed information and search a list of vendors on this page.
- If you need additional guidance or have questions, either as an employer or a worker, you can submit questions and comments on reopening using the online contact form or via email.
- One commonly-raised question is the planning process for safely reopening schools and other education- and child-related issues. The Commissioner of Education has convened a special working group to address these issues and we are expecting more detailed guidance in June. In the short term, schools will continue with remote learning through the end of the year and child care providers remain closed except for emergency child care programs through June 29.
- Hospital Capacity: As of 5/19, 53% of the Commonwealth’s 17,600 permanent and temporary hospital beds are available for new patients if needed. In the MetroWest region, 42% of the region’s 2,400 beds are available for new patients.
- Personal Protective Equipment: PPE distribution continues across the Commonwealth, with over 1,906,000 pieces of PPE distributed in the MetroWest region, including over 367,000 N95/KN95 masks and 136 ventilators.
- Mobile testing: The MA National Guard mobile testing unit continues to visit and conduct tests at the Commonwealth’s long-term care facilities, having made 717 visits and conducted 45,065 tests as of 5/19.
- Those wishing to access the statewide COVID-19 test locator can visit https://mass.gov/covidtestmap to find a provider close to them.
- On Monday, the Senate passed a new version of legislation to improve data collection and reporting by the Department of Public Health on COVID-19. Once final language of the bill is approved, it will be enacted by both chambers and sent to the Governor for his signature.
- Those who are still having trouble accessing Economic Impact Payments (stimulus checks) from the IRS may now call 800-919-9835 to have their questions answered if they are not successful with the Get My Payment tool. The IRS phone operation is staffed by 3,500 operators and more details can be found online.
- AAA is reopening its Massachusetts offices to select services, including RMV services by appointment only. To find a AAA service center near you, visit aaa.com/branches.
- This week’s Supreme Judicial Court report of testing and positive COVID-19 cases in the state’s jails and correctional facilities is available online.
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 dropoff and delivery do not inadvertently contribute to the spread of the virus.
Current Statewide Advisories
Safer at Home: As of May 18, the statewide stay-at-home advisory is now the Safer at Home advisory. In many ways, this advisory remains in the same spirit as previous policies: You should practice social distancing and limit your non-essential interactions as much as possible.
Face Covering: As reopening continues, the statewide face covering advisory remains in effect for public indoor and outdoor spaces in situations where social distancing is not possible. The full advisory and detailed guidance can be found online.
Reopening Guidance: For more information on the state’s phased reopening plan and particular industry-specific guidance, visit mass.gov/reopening. For questions about business reopening timelines, visit this page.
A list of all executive orders in place during the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 state of emergency can be found here.