COVID-19: August 28, 2020 Update from Representative Dykema

August 28 Coronavirus Update

Good news from around the country today, as our state public health officials have received enough data to make a determination adding four states to our “lower-risk” travel exemptions.

Colorado, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware join the six Northeastern states previously on the list due to declining positive test rates and overall case rates. Visitors to the Commonwealth and residents returning from travel do not have to comply with self-quarantine and testing requirements associated with the COVID-19 Travel Order currently in effect.

Rhode Island remains on the “restricted” list of states, but the administration recently released guidance for limited exemptions for necessary travel to and from Rhode Island, primarily for nearby residents. More details on the exemption can be found here.

Information on the COVID-19 travel order, its requirements, and responses to frequently-asked questions can be found on the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 travel page. If you wish to get tested following travel to a restricted state, you can find test guidance here or at mass.gov/stopthespread.

New Updates

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Department of Public Health data
  • Today, the state saw 438 new positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 117,888 total cases and 16 reported deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • The average new cases over the last 7 days is 307, and the average number of deaths is 17.
  • The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 1.0%.
  • 312 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.

Heath Care

  • Hospital Capacity: As of 8/28, 33% 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 8/28, there are 379 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 24,597 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 5,781 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 Updates

  • 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 8/26):
    • Holliston: 69 (+4)
    • Hopkinton: 141 (+5)
    • Southborough: 44 (+1)
    • Westborough: 362 (+2)
  • The weekly public health report also contains facility-specific information on COVID-19 case rates on nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, which can be found here starting on page 24.
  • 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.

Education

  • Today, the Governor signed an executive order allowing for child-care programs that serve school-aged children to operate during school hours given remote learning conditions. The same order also directs the Department of Early Education and Care to provide guidance for additional programming to support remote learning efforts for both professional caregivers and parents. The full order can be read here.
  • As reopening plans continue to roll out in increasing detail, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education continues to update the information it provides to students, parents, and families about safe reopening for schools. You can review the updated frequently asked questions online.
  • DESE has also released updated information and resources on learning plans and reopening models for special education and students with disabilities. The updated guidance can be found here.
  • More information on the mobile rapid response testing efforts being rolled out as schools reopen was released this week. If schools experience certain conditions that suggest an increased risk of localized “cluster” spread, they will be able to access mobile testing resources for students and staff or access the Stop the Spread initiative through September 30.

Workers and Small Business

  • In concert with the Sales Tax Holiday this weekend, August 29 and 30, the state has launched an initiative called “My Local MA” to assist residents with safe, local shopping. You can learn more at FindMyLocalMA.com or by reading the announcement online.

Additional Items

  • Our statewide primary elections will be held next Tuesday, September 1. Although early voting ended today, you can still vote by mail or in-person on September 1. You can also drop off your mail-in ballot at your Town’s election office or to municipal drop boxes. Learn more about how to safely vote 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

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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