COVID-19: July 22, 2020 Update from Representative Dykema

July 22 Coronavirus Update

As you may remember, in June the Legislature passed a law expanding options for early and mail-in voting for Massachusetts voters to ensure that all residents can participate in elections without risking their health and safety. This week, the Secretary of the Commonwealth began sending out mail-in ballot applications to all registered voters.

All voters can participate in no-excuse mail in voting in this year’s primary (September 1) and general (November 3) elections. The application for mail-in ballots allows voters to request mail-in ballots for either the primary or general election, or both. Ballot applications for the primary election must be postmarked by August 26, and applications for the general election must be postmarked by October 28. If you did not receive a ballot application or need a new one for any reason, you can download a copy and find additional information on the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website.

Allowing for expanded early and mail-in voting in these extraordinary circumstances will keep our residents, our municipal officials, and our poll workers, many of whom are seniors, safe and healthy while ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to exercise their civic duty. No one should have to choose between participating in our democracy and risking their safety. I’d like to extend a special thanks to our local Town Clerks who played a key role in developing the legislation and who will ensure that your vote, whether by mail or in person, is secure and accurately counted.

New Updates

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Department of Public Health data
  • Today, the state saw 287 new confirmed and probable positive cases* of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 114,320 total cases and 18  reported deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • The average new cases over the last 7 days is 282, and the average number of deaths is 14.
  • The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 1.8%.
  • 532 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, an increase of 19 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 7/22, 33% of the Commonwealth’s 12,600 permanent and temporary hospital beds are available for new patients if needed. In the MetroWest region, 41% of the region’s 2,200 beds are available for new patients.
  • Long-term care: As of 7/22, there are 369 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 23,900 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 5,387 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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