COVID-19: June 24, 2020 Update from Representative Dykema

June 24 Coronavirus Update

Today, the House of Representatives met in a remote formal session to pass H.4802, a $1.1 billion supplemental budget bill that primarily authorizes state spending of federal CARES  Act funds to specific COVID-19 relief efforts and programs.

You may be wondering what formal legislative sessions look like these days. In May, we passed temporary House rules allowing for members to participate remotely in sessions. This isn’t as easy as setting up a 160-member Zoom call, because the Legislative session needs to be tailored to be consistent with process enshrined in our state Constitution. While a few individuals are physically present in the State House, including the Speaker, most of us are participating remotely through a conference call system that enables us to be recognized to speak, to act on amendments, and to vote in an orderly manner. We’ve held formal voting sessions almost every week since passing these rules, in addition to “informal” sessions where procedural matters and those that do not require roll call votes can advance

The legislation we passed unanimously today includes $350 million for personal protective equipment (PPE), $85 million for field hospitals, $36 million for emergency childcare, and $44 million for the state’s contact tracing program. It also includes $100 million in funding for various state programs like homelessness prevention, nutrition assistance, and community health centers that have seen rapidly increasing demand due to the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. Finally, one of the non-budgetary elements of the bill was an amendment filed by Rep. Bud Williams that I was proud to co-sponsor and vote to adopt that will designate Juneteenth as a state holiday.

The bill now travels to the Senate for consideration. You can read more about the legislation here, along with historical information about the history of Juneteenth.

New Updates

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Department of Public Health data
  • Today, the state has 107,611 total reported positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 172 new cases and 48 reported deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • The average new cases over the last 7 days is 209, and the average number of deaths is 29.
  • The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 1.9%.
  • 939 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, a decrease of 14 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 System

  • Hospital Capacity: As of 6/24, 32% 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 6/24, there are 369 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 23,297 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 5,007 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in long-term care facilities.

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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