COVID-19: August 13, 2020 Update from Representative Dykema
August 13 Coronavirus Update
Although we are still in in the “Vigilant” Phase III of reopening, some new changes to statewide policies have gone into effect this week. The Commonwealth’s reopening process, spearheaded by the Lieutenant Governor and the Reopening Advisory Board, is designed to provide maximum flexibility to quickly adjust policies and standards to reflect new information, a changing public health environment, and state and national best practices.
One important change is the clarification of operational standards for dining in restaurants, which took effect on August 11. These changes, which apply to both indoor and outdoor dining, require the purchase of food with any alcohol purchase and clarify that the food purchased must be prepared on-site. This clarification of the existing policy is designed to address bars and beer gardens masquerading as restaurants by offering pub snacks, but not food service. Other restaurant safety requirements, including social distancing of tables, mask requirements for waitstaff and customers not eating, and capacity constraints, remain in effect. The full updated sector-specific standards can be found here.
This change reflects a growing understanding of national trends where public health experts have repeatedly flagged reopening of bars and nightclubs as a possible driver of “second wave” outbreaks. If you have any questions, you can submit questions or comments to the Reopening Advisory Board here.
Coronavirus Testing and Response
- Today, the state saw 319 new positive cases* of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 113,517 total cases and 21 reported deaths as of today at 4pm.
- The average new cases over the last 7 days is 283, and the average number of deaths is 14.
- The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 1.5%.
- 401 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, a decrease of 21 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 8/13, 31% of the Commonwealth’s 12,400 permanent and temporary hospital beds are available for new patients if needed. In the MetroWest region, 33% of the region’s 2,100 beds are available for new patients.
- Long-term care: As of 8/13, there are 377 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 24,552 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 5,621 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. In order to better align with other state and national reporting patterns, the Department now reports confirmed case totals only as primary metrics. Testing information on antibody and antigen tests is included in daily dashboards, and definitions of “confirmed” and “probable” can be found on p.4.
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 (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.