COVID-19: July 14, 2020 Update from Representative Dykema

July 14 Coronavirus Update

One of the most pressing questions that many families are facing as we prepare for our “new normal” is what education will look like in the fall. School districts and our state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education are working to develop flexible plans that respond to local circumstances and evolving health guidance.

In previous newsletters, I have provided detailed information on planning for childcare programs and higher education, as well as news on the planning and preparation efforts for K-12 schools. On Monday, the Governor also announced an additional $16 million in funding to support efforts of residential special education programs to continue providing instruction in a safe manner for staff and students.

Although DESE, in conjunction with the Return-to-School Working Group, has recommended that in-person instruction be prioritized if improvements public health metrics continue, the Department is asking school districts to prepare for a variety of scenarios that can account for different public health conditions as we get closer to the fall. Until we have more information on the trajectory of the pandemic, DESE is asking school districts not to make any final determinations about in-person or remote instruction, but the Department has released a detailed list of frequently asked questions and answers about the recommendations and guidance for reopening that it has released. As more information becomes available, I will be sure to provide additional updates.

New Updates

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Department of Public Health data
  • Today, the state reported 303 new probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 112,130 total reported positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth & 10 reported deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • The average new reported cases over the last 7 days is 256, and the average number of deaths is 18.
  • The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 1.6%.
  • 560 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, a decrease of 10 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 7/14, 35% of the Commonwealth’s 12,200 permanent and temporary hospital beds are available for new patients if needed. In the MetroWest region, 43% of the region’s 2,100 beds are available for new patients.
  • Long-term care: As of 7/14, there are 368 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 23,733 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 5,282 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in long-term care facilities.

NOTE ON DATA: The DPH data dashboard now breaks out confirmed vs. probable cases, with “probable” cases representing those with positive antibody tests. This is why data reported on p. 1 of the dashboard doesn’t appear to “match” the data displayed in the chart above.

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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