COVID-19: July 31, 2020 Update from Representative Dykema

July 31 Coronavirus Update

Tomorrow (Saturday, August 1st), the statewide travel order goes into effect in Massachusetts. This travel order seeks to prevent interstate spread of COVID-19 by requiring common-sense safety measures of those traveling to the Commonwealth from states that are not considered low-risk by DPH-approved data.

Visitors and travelers returning to Massachusetts will be subject to testing and quarantine requirements, and those staying at short-term lodging including hotels and AirBnBs will be required to certify their test results or commitment to quarantining before arriving at their reservation. Travelers from “lower-risk” states, which currently include the 7 Northeast states and Hawaii, are not subject to travel restrictions or quarantine requirements.

Visitors and returning travelers have three options:

  • Self-quarantine: Quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or for the duration of your stay.
  • Test before you travel: Receive negative results of a molecular COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of your planned travel to Massachusetts.
  • Get tested in MA: Quarantine until obtaining a negative COVID-19 test result in Massachusetts.

There are several exceptions to these requirements, including traveling for medical care or essential first responder work, which can be found online. 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 514 new reported positive cases* of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 117,612 total cases and 14 reported deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • The average new cases over the last 7 days is 375, and the average number of deaths is 16.
  • The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 2.1%.
  • 347 individuals* are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, a decrease of 20 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 7/31, 31% of the Commonwealth’s 12,400 permanent and temporary hospital beds are available for new patients if needed. In the MetroWest region, 30% of the region’s 2,000 beds are available for new patients.
  • Long-term care: As of 7/31, there are 376 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 24,184 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 5,486 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.
  • This week, the administration announced an expansion of the Stop the Spread initiative, which initially offered free mobile testing in 8 communities and now will include an additional 8 communities. The towns where free testing is offered are: . You can learn more at mass.gov/stopthespread.

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 (+0)
    • Hopkinton: 133 (+1)
    • Southborough: 44 (+0)
    • Westborough: 345 (+1)
  • 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

  • This week, the administration announced that Chapter 70 education aid and general local aid will be held level for Fiscal Year 2021, which began in July. In addition, the administration will be providing an additional $107 million statewide to help schools cover inflation and enrollment costs and $50 million in federal COVID-19 funding to schools and colleges, which includes $25 million directly for COVID-19-related reopening costs. Our towns’ local Chapter 70 apportionments are below:
    • Holliston: $7,936,216
    • Hopkinton: $7,302,215
    • Southborough: $2,986,051
      • Algonquin Regional HS: $3,168,064
    • Westborough: $8,309,490
  • School districts will be submitting their three preliminary reopening scenario plans to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education by the end of this week for review. DESE is expected to release additional guidance and recommendations on reopening next week.

Workers and Small Business

  • Last week (ending July 25), workers receiving unemployment benefits will no longer receive their weekly $600 supplementary payments to their standard UI or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits. The federal government can extend this program but has not yet passed legislation to do. You can read the notice from the Department here.

Legislative Update

  • The Governor is expected to sign a $16.5 billion temporary budget to continue state government operations through October while the Legislature finalizes a FY21 budget in an unprecedented fiscal environment. To help facilitate this process, as well as allow the Legislature to address other extraordinary circumstances, the House and Senate have voted on a historic extension to the 2-year legislative session, which typically concludes on July 31 of each second year. The session is extended to the end of 2020. 
  • Earlier this week, the House unanimously voted to pass health care legislation expanding telehealth coverage, limiting out-of-network billing for emergency services, and guaranteeing coverage for COVID-19 care. Having previously passed the Senate, both chambers will now work to finalize bill language to send to the Governor.
  • This week, the House also passed economic development legislation legalizing sports betting in Massachusetts and authorizing roughly $460 million in local and state economic development bonding. The Senate debated and passed a version of the bill yesterday, and both chambers will no work on finalizing language to send to the Governor.
  • Currently, the House is debating sweeping climate legislation that will set a target of net-zero emissions by 2050 and expand equity and access to clean energy for vulnerable populations. We are currently in formal sessions finalizing the bill, and expect it to be finished later this evening.

Additional Items

  • Today, the administration announced the #MaskUpMA Initiative, a public service campaign designed to get the word out about the importance of wearing masks and other face coverings to stop the spread of COVID-19. You can learn more or view the Mask Up videos at Mass.gov/MaskUp.
  • This week, the administration announced $4 million in MassTrails grants to be awarded by the Department of Conservation and Recreation to 55 local trails projects across the Commonwealth, including Hopkinton, which will receive $189,000 for a trail connecting Hopkinton High School, Middle School, and Marathon Elementary. More details about the program can be found here and a list of awards and projects can be found 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 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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