COVID-19: July 21, 2020 Update from Representative Dykema

July 21 Coronavirus Update

Massachusetts residents have consistently stepped up to the challenge whenever our statewide leaders and public health experts have asked us to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We’re fortunate to live in communities where the overwhelming majority of residents comply with social distancing and mask use policies, and the effects of those efforts are seen in our improving public health numbers.

Wearing a mask or face covering is critical, and as we gather more data over time, we have more and more evidence to support the prevention effects that widespread mask use can offer. The CDC recently renewed its call for wearing masks and shared updated medical information supporting mask use, including a fascinating case study in Missouri. I wanted to share the excerpt below from the CDC, which indicates just how effective masks can be:

COVID-19 prevention in a Missouri hair salon

When two stylists at a Missouri hair salon tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, researchers from CoxHealth hospitals, Washington University, the University of Kansas, and the Springfield-Greene County Health Department worked together to trace contacts, investigate the cases, and publish their findings in the MMWR.

One of the stylists developed respiratory symptoms but continued to see clients for eight days. The other, who apparently became infected from her co-worker, also developed respiratory symptoms and continued to see clients for four days.

The salon in which they worked had a policy requiring both stylists and their clients to wear face coverings, consistent with the local government ordinance. Both stylists wore double-layered cloth face coverings or surgical masks when seeing clients. The median appointment time was 15 minutes and ranged from 15 to 45 minutes. More than 98% of clients wore a face covering-47% wore cloth face coverings, 46% wore surgical masks, and about 5% wore N-95 respirators.

When customers were asked whether they had been ill with any respiratory symptoms in the 90 days preceding their appointment, 87 (84%) reported that they had not. None of the interviewed customers developed symptoms of illness. Among 67 (48%) customers who volunteered to be tested, all 67 tested negative for the virus that causes COVID-19. Several family members of one of the stylist’s subsequently developed symptoms and received a diagnosis of COVID-19.

Wearing a mask is inconvenient, but essential to our recovery. Thanks to all of our residents for continued patience and diligence.

New Updates

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Department of Public Health data
  • Today, the state saw 244 new confirmed and probable positive cases* of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 114,033 total cases and 17  reported deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • The average new cases over the last 7 days is 272, and the average number of deaths is 16.
  • The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 1.7%.
  • 513 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, an increase of 30 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 7/21, 37% of the Commonwealth’s 12,500 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 7/21, there are 369 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 23,872 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 5,374 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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