COVID-19: July 24, 2020 Update from Representative Dykema

July 24 Coronavirus Update

As case numbers continue to rise in other parts of the country, the administration has established new guidelines for travel to Massachusetts from higher-risk states, effective August 1. Currently, the seven Northeast states that do not require quarantining are considered lower-risk, along with Hawaii.

Visitors and travelers returning to Massachusetts from all other states are required to complete a form certifying that they will either self-quarantine for 14 days or have received a negative test for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to arrival in-state. Individuals may also get tested upon entering the state, provided they quarantine until receiving a negative result. Violations of travel-related quarantine and testing requirements carry fines of $500 per day.

States considered lower risk must have an average daily case rate below 6 per 100,000 and a positive test rate below 5%, both measured as a 7-day rolling average.

Those exempt from travel-related quarantine include military personnel, people who regularly commute to work or school in a limited manner, patients receiving medical treatment, and workers providing critical infrastructure services as defined by the federal government. Travelers passing through Massachusetts through “transitory travel,” including connecting flights through an airport, driving through the state on interstate roads, and those taking interstate public transit, are not required to comply with these restrictions.

For all travel-related information and materials, you can visit Mass.gov/MATraveler or text “MATraveler” to 888-777. You can review or fill out the online form here, and more details on the advisory can be found here

New Updates

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Department of Public Health data
  • Today, the state saw 338 new reported positive cases* of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 114,985 total cases and 14  reported deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • The average new cases over the last 7 days is 301, and the average number of deaths is 14.
  • The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 1.7%.
  • 397 individuals* are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, an increase of 46 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.

*NOTE ON DATA: As previously included in these newsletters, reporting of both confirmed and probable COVID-19 case numbers continues, which is why these numbers may not “match” the numbers on p.1 of the daily dashboard. In addition, changing federal requirements for hospitalization numbers have impacted data reporting, which the Secretary of Health and Human Services addressed in her remarks today.

Heath Care

  • Hospital Capacity: As of 7/24, 31% of the Commonwealth’s 12,400 permanent and temporary hospital beds are available for new patients if needed. In the MetroWest region, 29% of the region’s 2,100 beds are available for new patients.
  • Long-term care: As of 7/24, there are 370 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 24,014 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 5,411 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.

Local Update

  • You can find this week’s DPH report on town-by-town COVID-19 testing and case numbers here, as well as counts of COVID-19 cases at long-term care facilities across the Commonwealth. Our towns’ numbers are below (through 7/15):
    • Holliston: 58 (+2)
    • Hopkinton: 132 (+1)
    • Southborough: 44 (+0)
    • Westborough: 344 (+8)
  • In compliance with the new statewide data collection law, DPH has also begun reporting COVID-19 testing and infection rates at all state facilities, including state hospitals and congregate care facilities. You can find that data on this page.
  • The statewide Department of Correction COVID-19 data can now be found in a new weekly report, which can be found here.

Reopening Update

  • In accordance with the new statewide travel order, the administration updated guidance for lodging, offices, manufacturing, construction, labs, performance venues and indoor and outdoor events. You can read updated sector-specific guidance here.
  • Lodging operators, including hotels, motels, and short-term rentals, are now required to notify guests of the statewide travel requirements when they make a reservation.

Education

  • This week, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released additional guidance for transportation and facility operations as part of school districts’ preparations for fall K-12 instruction. This guidance addresses school bus safety challenges, physical operation of school buildings and grounds, and additional health and safety measures districts should take to make schools and trips to school physically safer. The Commissioner’s message and attached guidance can be downloaded here.

Parks and Recreation

  • The Department of Conservation and Recreation, in an effort to promote social distancing and outdoor activities, has created a “find a park” interactive map for state-managed parks, beaches, and reservations. DCR also has guidance for safe practices when visiting state-owned parks, including staying 6 feet apart from other parties, wearing face coverings where social distancing is not possible, and avoiding crowded areas or planning for alternative locations when necessary. 

Housing

  • The Governor announced this week that the statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, which was passed by the Legislature in April, will be extended another 60 days through October 17th. You can read more about the extension and additional steps taken by the administration to promote housing security here.

Legislative Update

  • Today, the Governor signed the $1.1 billion COVID-19 relief package passed by the Legislature last week. The legislation authorizes spending of federal CARES Act money for state and local COVID-19 prevention, testing, treatment, and recovery efforts.
  • Now that the Senate has passed its version of transportation bond legislation, the House and Senate have appointed a conference committee to resolve differences among the bills 
  • This week, the Senate also passed legislation improving protocols for emergency transport of stroke victims to qualified facilities. The bill now travels to the House for consideration.
  • The Joint Committee on Housing has begun soliciting public testimony on H.4878, An Act to guarantee housing stability during the COVID-19 emergency and recovery, which can be submitted online. I have received feedback from many constituents on this bill and I encourage you to share your thoughts with the committee if you have input you believe would be valuable.

Food Resources

  • This week, the administration announced $3 million in food security grants to local food banks, schools, and community organizations who help provide nutrition assistance to those who are at risk of food insecurity. You can read more about grant recipients here.
  • The administration also added over 30 new vendors to the Healthy Incentives Program, which enables SNAP recipients to support local business and access healthy produce by matching benefits at participating farms and farmers’ markets. You can learn more at Mass.gov/HIP.

Additional Items

  • Tonight, the Boston Red Sox begin an abbreviated season with their opening game at Fenway Park, which will be held without fans and with significant safety precautions in place. You can read the MLB’s COVID-19 safety rules here

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 dropoff 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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