COVID-19: May 28, 2020 Update From Representative Dykema

May 28 Coronavirus Update

Source: Department of Public Health

As we do our best to be strategic and thoughtful about the strategy behind the COVID-19 response, there’s a lot of discussion about data. Not only does it help focus attention on facilities and communities that are impacted susceptible to the virus, but it helps us target resources to areas of highest need.

You’ll hear Governor Baker and Health and Human Services Secretary Sudders talk about following “data, not dates” when it comes to our reopening timeline, since the trends of key public health metrics will be the primary source of information when decisions are made about how and when to reopen.

One sector where data collection is important is nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Due to the vulnerability of residents in these facilities, the administration and the Legislature have both worked to increase the state’s data collection and reporting in these facilities in particular. The Department of Public Health’s weekly reporting on local numbers now includes expanded information resulting from the state’s Nursing Home Infection Control audits.

More information on the information included in this new reporting format can be found here. As a reminder, if you have questions or concerns about a nursing facility, the Nursing Home Family Resource line is available 7 days a week, 9am to 5pm, at 617-660-5399.

New Updates

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Department of Public Health data
  • There are 94,895 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 675 new cases and 93 deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • The average new cases over the last 7 days is 687, and the average number of deaths is 70.
  • 6.6% of the 10,179 tests reported today were positive, with a 7-day weighted average positive test rate of 8.1%.
  • 2,112 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, an increase of 6 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.

Health Care

  • Hospital Capacity: As of  5/28, 52% of the Commonwealth’s 16,900 permanent and temporary hospital beds are available for new patients if needed. In the MetroWest region, 50% of the region’s 2,800 beds are available for new patients.
  • Long-term care: As of 5/28, there are 349 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 20,607 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 4,123 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in long-term care facilities.
  • The updated weekly local data dashboard for local COVID-19 response now includes expanded information on nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, including a site-by-site assessment of whether facilities have complied with testing requirements for residents and staff, with a “baseline” of 90% testing. 350 of 360 facilities identified for testing requirements have complied so far.
  • The weekly report from the Supreme Judicial Court on the number of inmates and staff tests and positive cases of COVID-19 in Department of Corrections facilities and county jails is available here. Mobile testing at all DOC facilities continues.
  • Local town-by-town numbers were released through 5/27. Our town counts are below, and those seeking detailed town-by-town case data should visit the COVID-19 pages in the Local Resources section.
    • Holliston: 56 positive cases of 699 tested
    • Hopkinton: 115 positive cases of 974 tested
    • Southborough: 39 positive cases of 477 tested
    • Westborough: 323 positive cases of 1,475 tested

Economy and Workforce

  • As reopening continues, many workers who have become unemployed or reduced their work time may have questions about re-entering the workforce. The Department of Unemployment Assistance provides detailed FAQ for both employees and employers about COVID-19-related unemployment quesitons, which also includes information on furloughed or laid off workers returning to work.
  • As more and more businesses open up and implement new safety standards, questions and concerns will inevitably emerge. Questions and comments for the Reopening Advisory Board can be submitted here, and concerns about worker safety and conditions can be reported to the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division here.
  • We are increasingly hearing reports of those taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to file fraudulent unemployment claims. The Department of Unemployment Assistance has set up a dedicated online reporting system for reporting fraud. If you have reason to suspect your identity or business is being used to commit unemployment fraud, please contact the department immediately.

Gatherings and Graduations

  • In response to questions raised about the gatherings guidance issued by the Governor as part of the Phase 1 reopening, the Division of Local Services has issued a clarification on outdoor gatherings. Gatherings of 10 people or more are prohibited, but gatherings over 10 people in unenclosed outdoor spaces are still allowed (with certain high-density exceptions like festivals, sporting events, and concerts.) The full updated guidance can be found here.
  • As many schools and families are hoping to celebrate high school and college graduations during this time, the Commissioner of Education has provided specific guidance on safe graduation ceremonies. The full guidance can be found here but it should be noted that all graduation ceremonies held on or before July 18th must still be virtual in nature.

Legislative Update

  • This week, the House of Representatives and Senate enacted final language on legislation updating the statewide requirements for COVID-19 data collection and reporting. The bill now travels to the Governor for his signature.
  • Today, the House also created a special committee on the COVID-19 economic response and recovery efforts and policy. The order creating the committee and establishing its purview can be found here.

Additional Items

  • Today, the Boston Athletic Association announced that the 124th Boston Marathon, originally scheduled for April 2020 and postponed to September 2020, will be held as a virtual race. The Marathon holds a special importance to the Hopkinton community and while it is unfortunate that public health circumstances will not allow for a traditional race this year, this decision  ultimately puts the safety of runners and communities first.

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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