COVID-19: August 12, 2020 Update from Representative Dykema

August 12 Coronavirus Update

This week, many of the conversations around our COVID-19 response will focus on ongoing dialogue between communities, educators, families, and state public health experts on the best and safest ways to provide high-quality education to our students as we prepare for the fall.

Following yesterday’s announcement of the Commonwealth’s new risk assessment and designation metrics for communities based on their COVID-19 case numbers, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released guidance for communities and school districts seeking to interpret risk designations within the context of providing safe learning environments. In short, “red” communities and some “yellow” communities are expected to operate with fully remote learning, “yellow” communities and some “green” and “white” communities are expected to operate with hybrid learning, and the remaining communities with low case rates will be expected to provide full-time in-person learning. You can download the full guidance here.

School districts have until August 14 to submit their final reopening plans to the Department. On Monday, the Commissioner highlighted some common themes and innovative learning strategies in his weekly email. Any decisions about reopening plans will be continually evaluated in the context of the latest local and statewide public health numbers, and the most recent town-by-town numbers and designation (updated today, 8/12) can be found here.

To receive this newsletter in your inbox, sign up here. Past issues and additional resources can be found at https://carolyndykema.com/covid19.* You can also check my Facebook page for more up-to-the-minute updates and communications. Overall, the state Dept. of Public Health website is the best source of accurate and up-to-date information and contains a wide-range of information and a likely source of answers to many of your questions.  

While the State House is closed to the public, my office continues to operate remotely. The best way to reach me or my staff at this busy time is via email at carolyn.dykema@mahouse.gov. We are also available by phone if necessary at 617-722-2680. 

New Updates

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Department of Public Health data
  • Today, the state saw 229 new confirmed and probable positive cases* of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 121,936 total cases and 18  reported deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • The average new cases over the last 7 days is 328, and the average number of deaths is 16.
  • The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 1.5%.
  • 422 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, an increase of 35 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 8/12, 32% of the Commonwealth’s 12,400 permanent and temporary hospital beds are available for new patients if needed. In the MetroWest region, 35% of the region’s 2,000 beds are available for new patients.
  • Long-term care: As of 8/12, there are 377 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 24,542 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 5,602 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.

*NEW NOTE ON DATA: The DPH data dashboard no longer reports “probable” cases (those with positive antibody or antigen tests) as an individual metric. Testing information on antibody and antigen tests is included in daily dashboards, and definitions of “confirmed” and “probable” can be found on p.4. Moving forward, we will adjust our data reporting in this newsletter to reflect only confirmed cases.

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

Statewide Information

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 (updated)

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.

Southborough’s Community Fund has supported local COVID-19 response efforts and families impacted by the pandemic, as well as other charitable organizations in Town. 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

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