COVID-19: May 29, 2020 Update From Representative Dykema

May 29 Coronavirus Update

As we wrap up the month of May, we are also coming to the end of Mental Health Awareness Month. Despite the end of the month, I hope we all continue to practice self-assessment and self-care and encourage those around us to do the same.

A few years ago I took a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course at the UMassMemorial Center for Mindfulness in Shrewsbury. For those of you who are familiar with mindfulness practice, you know that it’s well suited to managing stress caused by situations like the one we’re currently experiencing. 

The MBSR course is featured in a new film called My Year of Living Mindfully, which I had the chance to watch online with my daughter last night. The documentary is about the emerging science behind the benefits of mindfulness and features stories of those whose stress and anxiety have been reduced by it. You can watch the movie and Q&A here

Here are a number of other tools to help cope with stress:

If you are struggling and need more urgent care, please reach out to Call2Talk which is a mental health, emotional support, and suicide prevention program run by Mass211. It operates 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or (508) 532-2255.

New Updates

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Department of Public Health data
  • There are 95,512 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 617 new cases and 78 deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • The average new cases over the last 7 days is 661, and the average number of deaths is 70.
  • 6.5% of the 9,422 tests reported today were positive, with a 7-day weighted average positive test rate of 7.7%.
  • 1,991 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, a decrease of 121 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

  • Today, the Governor announced that the state will be determining a timeline for transition to Phase II of reopening by June 6th. To clarify, no timeline for advancement to Phase II has been announced yet, but data trends in the next week will allow the state to make a clearer determination on timing.  
  • Lodging: Hotels, motels and other lodging businesses will be allowed to expand their operations in Phase II. Lodging safety standards apply to all forms of lodging, including short-term rentals like AirBnb. Event spaces, like ballrooms and meeting rooms, will remain closed and other services will be limited or required to implement safety standards. Full guidance and safety standards.
  • Restaurants: Restaurants may provide outdoor table service at the commencement of Phase 2 of the Commonwealth’s Reopening Plan. Social distancing guidance, including spacing of tables 6 feet apart and limits on party size to 6 diners, will be required. Restaurants will be authorized at a later date to commence indoor table service if the public health data reflects continued positive progression. Full guidance and safety standards.
  • The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs has released detailed guidance for a variety of outdoor recreation activities, including boating, mountain biking, zoos, ecotourism, white water rafting, camping, drive-in movie theaters, and hunter education.

Health Care

  • Hospital Capacity: As of  5/29, 51% of the Commonwealth’s 16,900 permanent and temporary hospital beds are available for new patients if needed. In the MetroWest region, 48% of the region’s 2,700 beds are available for new patients.
  • Long-term care: As of 5/29, there are 349 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 20,828 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 4,180 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in long-term care facilities.

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 questions, which also includes information on furloughed or laid off workers returning to work.
  • The MetroWest Visitors Bureau is hosting the 7th Annual MetroFest, an arts and cultural festival highlighting the region’s many arts, music, food, and entertainment options, as a virtual event this year on Saturday, June 13 from 11am-1pm. You can sign up for a free ticket here.

Legislative Update

  • This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, which relaxes requirements for loan forgiveness for small businesses through the PPP. The legislation extends from eight weeks to 24 weeks the time PPP recipients have to spend their funds and lowers to 60% from 75% the portion of PPP funds borrowers must spend on payroll costs to qualify for full loan forgiveness. The bill now heads to the US Senate.

Additional Items

  • All four of our towns’ municipal elections will be held in June. For information on how to request an early mail-in voting ballot, visit each town’s page:

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 drop-off 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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