COVID-19: July 27, 2020 Update from Representative Dykema

July 27 Coronavirus Update

As you may know, identity theft related to pandemic-related unemployment claims has been a serious issue faced by the Department of Unemployment Assistance in recent months. It’s an unfortunate reality that state and federal efforts to support individuals who have temporarily or permanently lost their jobs due to COVID-19 have been undermined by individuals hoping to take advantage of the new systems in place, but the Department has worked hard to ensure that eligible workers can still receive benefits.

To support this effort, today the Department announced new updates to the identity verification process for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program to make claim filing easier for those who are eligible. Some claimants who have already been denied for identity verification issues will be receiving a link to allow them to correct issues on their claims, and possibly get benefits without having to attend a hearing. 

New claimants for PUA will receive a new fact-finding instruction checklist, providing necessary information to verify claimants’ identities without creating undue burdens or delays. For additional details on the new identity verification process for PUA benefits, claimants can visit this page. As always, for general information on filing unemployment claims, you can visit the Department’s COVID-19 website or review the resources at the bottom of this newsletter.

New Updates

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Department of Public Health data
  • Today, the state saw 289 new confirmed and probable positive cases* of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 115,926 total cases and 7 reported deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • The average new cases over the last 7 days is 305, and the average number of deaths is 15.
  • The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 1.9%.
  • 350 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, a decrease of 14 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 7/27, 38% of the Commonwealth’s 12,500 permanent and temporary hospital beds are available for new patients if needed. In the MetroWest region, 43% of the region’s 2,100 beds are available for new patients.
  • Long-term care: As of 7/27, there are 371 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 24,059 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 5,437 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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