COVID-19: June 29,2020 Update from Representative Dykema
June 29 Coronavirus Update
As you know, the science around understanding, identifying, and treating COVID-19 is a new and quickly evolving field. Because the threat of the pandemic is so great and the need is so urgent, many creative solutions are being pursued for every possible tool in our belt that will help us predict and understand the path of the virus moving forward.
One creative tool we are using to try to identify the trajectory of the pandemic is our water system. The Massachusetts Water Resource Authority, which serves 3.1 million Massachusetts residents, has entered into a pilot program that will use testing at sewage treatment plants to assess the presence and level of COVID-19 in the Massachusetts population. Data from a study conducted in March found that assessing COVID-19 levels from the sludge in sewage treatment plans could help predict the level of COVID-19 cases about 7 days earlier than those cases are confirmed. More recent data from June tells us that our positive trajectory in falling case numbers appears to be on track, even as more industries reopen.
You can read more about the pilot program in this presentation. As we prepare for the possibility of an increase of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts in the coming fall and winter, data like this will help us model, prepare, and anticipate the possible path of the virus, which can be essential in improving our pandemic response, reducing the risk of a second surge down the road.
Coronavirus Testing and Response
- Today, the state saw 101 new reported positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 108,768 total cases and 35 reported deaths as of today at 4pm.
- The average new cases over the last 7 days is 223, and the average number of deaths is 32.
- The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 1.9%.
- 762 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, an increase 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.
- Hospital Capacity: As of 6/29, 37% of the Commonwealth’s 12,300 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 6/29, there are 369 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 23,409 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 5,111 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in long-term care facilities.
- For information on COVID-19 testing and guidance on whether you should get tested, how to get tested, and where to get tested, visit the COVID-19 testing portal at mass.gov/gettested.
- The Reopening Advisory Board has released additional resources for businesses seeking additional information or supplies for employee and business hygiene and personal protective supplies.
- The administration has released guidance for health care services and procedures, including non-essential elective procedures, as they apply to Phase 2 of reopening.
- As always, you can submit questions or comments to the Reopening Advisory Board here.
Small Business and Workforce
- The U.S. Small Business Administration has released a revised PPP loan forgiveness application to make it easier for borrowers to receive loan forgiveness. Eligible borrowers are self-employed, did not reduce employee wages by more than 25% and did not reduce employee hours, or did not reduce employee wages by more than 25% and experienced a reduction in business activity.
- UMass Amherst has announced that it will be allowing students to return to campus in the fall, but will be offering classes and student services remotely. More information on the university’s reopening plan can be found here.
- The House and Senate have agreed on final language on early and mail-in voting legislation and both chambers plan to vote this week to send the bill to the Governor’s desk.
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 advisoryremains 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.