COVID-19: May 22, 2020 Update From Representative Dykema

May 22 Coronavirus Update

I hope you are finding time to enjoy the beautiful weather and that you are preparing for a thoughtful and reflective Memorial Day weekend with your family. 

Given the beautiful forecast and the long weekend, many of you may have questions about what activities are allowed and how to have a safe, healthy holiday weekend. As you know, Massachusetts is operating under a Safer at Home Advisory during Phase 1 of reopening. What that means is that it is recommended that you stay home if possible, except for a few specific purposes: healthcare, worship, permitted work, necessary shopping, and outdoor activities. If you are high-risk or live with high-risk individuals, you should still be staying home at all times except to conduct essential errands.

I hope we can all take some time this weekend to remember those who have sacrificed for our country as we celebrate the Memorial Day holiday. My office will be taking some time to reflect and reconnect with family and we’ll look forward to being back in touch with the next issue of the newsletter on Tuesday.  

New Updates

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Department of Public Health data
  • There are 90,084 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 805 new cases and 80 deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • The average new cases over the last 7 days is 1,067, and the average number of deaths is 91.
  • 7.9% of the 10,158 tests reported today were positive, with a 7-day weighted average positive test rate of 9.2%.
  • 2,323 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, a decrease of 73 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

  • Businesses set to reopen on Monday, May 25 include: laboratory and life sciences, hair salons and barber shops (appointment only), pet grooming (appointment only curbside), car washes, outdoor recreation businesses, health providers (pediatric care and high-priority preventative care), retail (remote fulfillment and curbside), and offices outside Boston (remote work encouraged, 25% capacity limit).
  • The Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development has released a helpful  one-page summary of what businesses can expect in Phase 1 of reopening. This summary includes a timeline for reopening by industry sector, as well as the documentation required for reopening. More information can also be found at mass.gov/reopening.
  • 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.

Health Care

Source: DPH data
  • Hospital Capacity: As of  5/22, 52% of the Commonwealth’s 17,200 permanent and temporary hospital beds are available for new patients if needed. In the MetroWest region, 42% of the region’s 2,600 beds are available for new patients.
  • Personal Protective Equipment: PPE distribution continues across the Commonwealth, with over 2,010,000 pieces of PPE distributed in the MetroWest region, including over 408,000 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 739 visits and conducted 46,590 tests as of 5/22.
  • Those wishing to access the statewide COVID-19 test locator can visit https://mass.gov/covidtestmap to find a provider close to them. 
  • Note on testing: As we begin to fully utilize our 30,000 test/day capacity, there is a strong likelihood the raw numbers of positive tests may increase. as you can see from the graph above, positive test rates have stabilized around 10% and are slowly decreasing. It will be important to consider both factors when evaluating the progression of the virus in weeks to come.

Legislative Update

  • This week, both chambers of the Legislature passed S.2618An Act providing additional support to those affected by the novel coronavirus through the unemployment insurance system. This legislation increases the adaptability of the UI system for businesses, including nonprofits, and workers to meet the needs created by the unprecedented conditions created by COVID-19. Most notably, it removes the “dependency cap” which allows for additional per-child benefits to be delivered to workers regardless of total amount and increases the total benefit period Massachusetts workers are allowed to claim to 30 weeks (plus the federal 13 week extension). The bill now travels to the Governor for his signature.

Additional Items

  • RMV announced another round of extensions to standard and commercial drivers licenses and permits set to expire in the coming months. The full list of extension can be found in the table to the right and more information on RMV changes during the COVId-19 pandemic can be found here.
  • As a reminder, feel free to review the Commonwealth’s central resource page on Emotional Health and Wellbeing during the pandemic, which includes resources for older adults children, those at risk of sexual and relationship violence, or those concerned about mental health or addiction.

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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