COVID-19: May 20, 2020 Update From Representative Dykema

May 20 Coronavirus Update

I appreciate the feedback you continue to send in response to the reopening plan that was announced by the Governor on Monday. 

The plan, which is based on recommendations of the Reopening Advisory Board, is expansive but don’t address every aspect of our reopening. The conversation is evolving and will need to collaborative, as we identify and respond to new issues as we move through the reopening process. I appreciate you making me aware of your concerns, and you can also submit questions and comments directly to the Reopening Advisory Board and the Department of Labor Standards through their online portal. I’ve received numerous questions from small businesses who don’t fit clearly into one of the re-opening categories and aren’t sure when they can reopen. To be appropriately classified in a reopening phase, you should submit your question through the online portal. The same applies if you have concerns about the opening of daycare facilities, which is another commonly expressed concern.

New Updates

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Department of Public Health data
  • There are 88,970 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 1,045 new cases and 128 deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • The average new cases over the last 7 days is 1,210, and the average number of deaths is 107.
  • 8% of the 13,013 tests reported today were positive, with a 7-day weighted average positive test rate of 9.4%.
  • 2,518 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, an increase of 46 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.

Reopening Update

  • Information on current business and social prevention policies and reopening plans for the future can be found at mass.gov/reopening. Key elements of Phase 1 are the safer at home advisory, the schedule for business reopening, and information on workplace safety standards
  • 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.
  • In response to worker concerns about the ability of all companies to successfully create a safe work environment as the state begins to reopen, the Attorney General’s office has created a dedicated online complaint form to report unsafe working conditions during the pandemic to the Fair Labor Division. All workers may file reports anonymously and complaints can also be provided over the phone at 617-727-3465. More information can be found here.
  • Businesses needing to procure cleaning and protective supplies can find a list of distributors and contact information here

Health Care

  • Hospital Capacity: As of 5/20, 50% of the Commonwealth’s 17,200 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.
  • Personal Protective Equipment: PPE distribution continues across the Commonwealth, with over 1,950,000 pieces of PPE distributed in the MetroWest region, including over 380,000 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 723 visits and conducted 45,587 tests as of 5/20.
  • Those wishing to access the statewide COVID-19 test locator can visit https://mass.gov/covidtestmap to find a provider close to them.

Local Update

  • 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: 49
    • Hopkinton: 110
    • Southborough: 40
    • Westborough: 319
  • 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. Town COVID-19 pages can be found in the “Local Resources” section of this newsletter.

Legislative Update

  • Today, the House passed a bond bill authorizing local and state governmental spending on many essential projects, but with a primary focus on information technology infrastructure upgrades. Not only do municipal governments and state agencies rely on up-to-date IT software and capability to provide essential information and services to residents, but particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, our IT needs are greater than ever before as more individuals are getting services remotely and many state workers must continue to do the essential work of keeping the Commonwealth running remotely. The bill now travels to the Senate for consideration.

Additional Items

  • The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has developed a searchable map of public resources for those experiencing food insecurity. Information on local Project Bread sites, food pantries, and houses of worship offering food services can be found online. Those wishing to submit a community resource site not shown on the map can do so here.
  • The Attleboro Registry of Motor Vehicles service center is reopening on Tuesday, May 26 for business-to-business services only. This service center location joins Milford, Chicopee, and Wilmington as dedicated business-to-business centers for bulk RMV transactions required of large businesses. Individual customers looking to process RMV transactions can find information on what transactions are possible online or how to make an appointment for in-person services here.

Local Resources

All of the towns in the 8th Middlesex District now have centralized COVID-19 resource pages 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

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.

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