COVID-19: July 20, 2020 Update from Representative Dykema

July 20 Coronavirus Update

Safely providing high-quality education to every student in Massachusetts continues to be a top priority for the state’s public health and reopening team. We still do not know exactly what education will look like in the fall, but the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education continues to work with educators, school districts, and communities to provide up-to-date information and guidance for every possible scenario.

On Friday, the Department released detailed guidance on protocols for schools responding to a number of COVID-19 scenarios which you can download in full here. Protocols covered include the possibility of students or staff getting sick at home, at school, or in transit. While specific protocols vary, there are some common elements for each possible COVID-19 scenario:

  • Evaluate symptoms
  • Separate from others
  • Clean and disinfect spaces visited by the person
  • Test for COVID-19 and stay at home while awaiting results
  • If test is positive:
    • Remain at home at least 10 days and until at least 3 days have passed with no fever and improvement in other symptoms
    • Monitor symptoms
    • Notify the school and personal close contacts
    • Answer the call from local board of health or Massachusetts Community Tracing Collaborative to help identify close contacts to help them prevent transmission
    • Secure release from contact tracers (local board of health or Community Tracing Collaborative) for return to school

Many of these steps may be familiar because they reflect up-to-date guidance from the state Department of Public Health and the CDC. The guiding principles behind this guidance are that hygiene, social distancing, and mask use are essential to prevention, that anyone who feels ill should stay home, and that if scenarios do occur, steps should be taken immediately and preparation should be in place to minimize learning disruption. Education, like many other fields, will be more complicated in our “new normal,” but our educators and communities alike are deeply invested in keeping our students and their families safe and healthy first and foremost.

New Updates

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Department of Public Health data
  • Today, the state saw 255 new confirmed and probable positive cases* of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 113,789 total cases and 2  reported deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • The average new cases over the last 7 days is 252, and the average number of deaths is 15.
  • The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 1.6%.
  • 483 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, a decrease of 15 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.

Heath Care

  • Hospital Capacity: As of 7/20, 39% of the Commonwealth’s 12,600 permanent and temporary hospital beds are available for new patients if needed. In the MetroWest region, 45% of the region’s 2,200 beds are available for new patients.
  • Long-term care: As of 7/20, there are 368 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 23,844 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 5,361 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.

*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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