COVID-19: July 23, 2020 Update from Representative Dykema
July 23 Coronavirus Update
A large part of our public health and reopening plan hinges on the ability of individuals who need to get tested for COVID-19 to do so. To ensure that robust testing is available, we’ve worked on both the state and federal level to make testing available to all at no cost when ordered by a health care provider.
Yesterday, the Department of Public Health issued an order clarifying that no uninsured individual should be billed for a COVID-19 test. Federal COVID-19 relief legislation passed in March created a portal for provide to submit claims for uninsured individuals for reimbursement, but lack of clear guidance led to some uninsured individuals receiving bills for testing. This statewide order explicitly guarantees no-cost testing to uninsured individuals. You can download the order here.
For individuals with insurance, no-copay coverage is required for all individuals prioritized for testing, which includes symptomatic individuals, close contacts of those diagnosed with COVID-19, and certain asymptomatic individuals when identified by their health care provider, a state agency, or a local board of health. Most insurers will cover all testing without a copay, and free testing sites are available at many locations across the Commonwealth. Full testing prioritization guidance can be found here, and a map of test sites can be found here. If you have symptoms or are contacted by a contact tracer due to your exposure to a COVID-19 patient, please get tested.
Coronavirus Testing and Response
- Today, the state saw 327 new confirmed and probable positive cases* of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 114,647 total cases and 16 reported deaths as of today at 4pm.
- The average new cases over the last 7 days is 295, and the average number of deaths is 15.
- The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 1.8%.
- 351 individuals** are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, a decrease of 181 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 7/23, 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 7/23, there are 369 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 23,956 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 5,398 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.
*NOTE ON TODAY’S HOSPITALIZATIONS FROM DPH: Due to the recent change in federal reporting requirements and definitions which was went live July 22, data accuracy and integrity issues were experienced with today’s report. Given the importance of this particular metric, the state proactively validated the reporting of COVID-19 hospitalizations with nearly all acute care hospitals. Hospitals indicated that the decrease was partially driven by a more accurate accounting of which patients should be reported as “suspected” COVID patients. DPH and the reporting hospitals are making every effort to mitigate these reporting challenges.
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
Information on the state of emergency and related orders can be found here.
Reopening guidance can be found at mass.gov/reopening.
Information on COVID-19 testing can be found at mass.gov/gettested.
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.