COVID-19: June 22, 2020 Update from Representative Dykema
June 22 Coronavirus Update
Today, Massachusetts enters the second step of the “Cautious” Phase 2 of our reopening process. Public health indicators have shown consistent improvements in statewide tracking of the pandemic’s impacts, most notably in the form of a significant decrease in the percent of positive test results and the total number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19.
The major changes for this step of reopening is the reopening of restaurants for limited indoor table service, the reopening of close-contact personal services like nail salons, massage therapists, and personal training, and the reopening of office space to 50% capacity. You can review the safety guidance above, as well as general information on the state’s reopening plan here.
As always, questions and comments can be submitted to the Reopening Advisory Board. As you have noticed from following these updates, a number of state services have begun reopening and expanding in recent weeks as well, which I will continue to include in the newsletter updates below.
Coronavirus Testing and Response
- Today, the state saw 149 new reported positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 107,210 total cases and 17 reported deaths as of today at 4pm.
- The average new cases over the last 7 days is 217, and the average number of deaths is 33.
- The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 1.9%.
- 920 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, a decrease of 7 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.
- Hospital Capacity: As of 6/22, 38% of the Commonwealth’s 12,400 permanent and temporary hospital beds are available for new patients if needed. In the MetroWest region, 44% of the region’s 2,300 beds are available for new patients.
- Long-term care: As of 6/22, there are 369 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 23,104 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 4,956 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in long-term care facilities.
- The Executive Office of Health and Human Services has released a new COVID-19 testing portal at mass.gov/gettested. EOHHS is also opening a new round of applications for sites to become certified to conduct COVID-19 tests, with priority given to areas and populations with limited access to testing.
- As a reminder, the deadline for the special enrollment period for all individuals to get health insurance coverage through the Health Connector is tomorrow, June 23rd for those needing coverage by July 1st. To learn more or to enroll in coverage, visit https://www.mahealthconnector.org/covid-19.
- On Friday, the COVID-19 Health Equity Advisory Group released its recommendations for improving data collection and identify other ways in which the pandemic has disproportionately impacted people of color. The full list of recommendations and members of the advisory group can be found here.
- Today, the second step of Phase 2 begins, which allows restaurants to reopen indoor dining, as well as allowing close-contact services like and indoor fitting rooms to reopen using sector-specific safety standards. More information can be found at mass.gov/reopening.
- The federal government has delayed implementation of the REAL ID deadline by a year, so individuals looking to travel using their drivers’ licenses as identification for airport travel or for entering federal buildings now have until October 2021 for the REAL ID requirements to go into effect.
- To reduce in-person customer traffic for the coming, months, the RMV is encouraging all eligible customers to renew their standard Massachusetts driver’s license online any time between now and August 12, 2020, which will allow the driver to qualify for a free upgrade to a REAL ID credential in 2021. This offer is available to most customers who have an expired or expiring license or ID card dated between March 2020 and August 2021.
- The RMV has also reopened its portal for requests for road tests at open RMV locations across the Commonwealth, for previously-scheduled tests that were cancelled from March 16 to May 17. New road tests will be scheduled once cancelled tests are addressed.
- The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has begun accepting applications for the new, federally-funded Summer and Vacation Learning Program grants. These grants support local efforts to develop, expand, or enhance high quality, in-person, virtual, or hybrid (combination of in-person and virtual) summer (summer 2020) and/or school vacation learning programs during the 2020-2021 school year. Funds will be disbursed in roughly $10,000-12,000 grants and applications are due July 2nd. Learn more here.
- Today, the House and the Senate passed an interim budget that, when signed by the Governor, will continue to fund the essential services of the state government and provide level-funded local aid to cities and towns through July as the Legislature continues to adjust the state budget process to respond to the changing reality of COVID-19 recovery. The bill will be enacted by both chambers and sent to the Governor for his signature.
- The House is also preparing to take up a supplemental budget on Wednesday of this week that will authorize $1.1 billion in federal funds to be spent on COVID-19 relief services, as well as extending deadlines for state funding that carried over from FY20 with unexpended balances due to disruptions related to the pandemic.
- State campgrounds operated by the Department of Conservation and Recreation will reopen beginning July 1, and DCR has begun accepting reservations online through ReserveAmerica.com. You can find more information online here.
- Last week, the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security announced another application round for Emergency Supplemental Funding Program grants to local police and fire departments to support local public safety efforts to respond to COVID-19. $4 million total in new federal funding is available through this program to be distributed in competitive grants up to $50,000. Applications are open now and due July 10.
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 drop-off 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.