COVID-19: June 1, 2020 Update from Representative Dykema
June 1 Coronavirus Update
Given recent events that have dominated the local and national consciousness, it may be easy to forget that we are very much still in the middle of a pandemic. In the coming days, please remember that COVID-19 prevention is still critical to your safety and those around you.
Here are some key reminders:
- If you are leaving the house and know you may not be able to maintain social distancing, wear a mask or cloth face covering.
- If you are high-risk, particularly for individuals over 65 or who have underlying health conditions, please try to stay home as much as possible.
- If you have symptoms or feel unwell, stay home and contact your health care provider. If you need to get tested for COVID-19, you can locate a test site here.
Today’s newsletter contains updated information on reopening plans and the state’s testing expansion plan, as well as new guidance on summer camps and childcare programs for the summer. You can read more below.
Coronavirus Testing and Response
- Today, the state saw 3,840 new reported* positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 100,805 total cases and 189 reported deaths as of today at 4pm.
- The average new cases over the last 7 days is 574, and the average number of deaths is 68.
- The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 6.8%.
- 1,747 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, a decrease of 77 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.
*NOTE: The numbers reported moving forward will reflect a change in the way the Department of Public Health reports cases because they will begin reporting both confirmed and probable COVID-19 positives in accordance with CDC guidelines. This will likely lead to an increase in certain metrics, and we will do our best to smoothly transition the data reporting in this newsletter in a manner that is clear, concise, and accurate. For more information, see below:
- The administration has released clarifying guidance on which businesses will open in which phase of reopening. You can review the full chart here. Business owners and workers for businesses opening in Phase 2 are now permitted to enter their establishments to make preparations for reopening while remaining closed to the public.
- Child care and day camps will be part of Phase 2 of reopening, a more detailed timeline for which will be available this weekend. The Department of Early Education and Care has released specific safety guidance for operation of child care programs and other youth-serving programs for families and providers in advance of reopening. Any child care or summer camp program reopening in Phase 2 must submit a screening and sanitization plan to the Department before reopening.
- As of today, office space in the City of Boston is allowed to reopen to 25% capacity (along with office space in other municipalities across the Commonwealth, which were allowed to reopen to capacity on May 25). Although office space is allowed to reopen, employers and employees are still being encouraged to work remotely whenever possible to reduce risk of transmission in shared spaces or on public transit. Full safety standards can be found here.
- Guidance has been released for retail establishments, restaurants and lodging, to be implemented in Phase 2 once a transition is announced. The timeline for transition is expected to become clear next week, but the Reopening Advisory Board has released safety standards in advance to give these industries and customers adequate time to review, comment, and prepare.
- Hospital Capacity: As of 6/1, 55% of the Commonwealth’s 17,200 permanent and temporary hospital beds are available for new patients if needed. In the MetroWest region, 52% of the region’s 2,900 beds are available for new patients.
- Long-term care: As of 6/1, there are 349 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 21,413 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 4,349 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in long-term care facilities.
- Over the weekend, the administration submitted a comprehensive testing plan to the federal government to increase testing capacity to 45,000 tests a day by the end of July and to prepare for increased testing in the fall in the event of a second surge in cases. The full plan is not yet available online but I will provide more information as soon as it becomes available.
Workers and Small Business
- The US Chamber of Commerce has released a step-by-step explainer video and Q&A on Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness. Businesses who receive PPP loans are able to receive forgiveness on the loans if they spend the bulk of their funding on payroll for employees impacted by COVID-19. More information on the PPP can be found here.
- This Wednesday, June 3, the House of Representatives will be meeting in formal session at 1pm to consider legislation to allow for expanded vote-by-mail options for fall statewide elections. The latest version of the legislation can be found here and live streaming for Wednesday’s session will be available on the Legislature’s website.
- Project Bread has published a very helpful webpage to assist families with activating and using Pandemic-EBT benefits. All families with children who normally receive free or reduced school lunches qualify for the special assistance program, and those with questions can call the EBT hotline at (800) 997-2555.
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.