COVID-19: September 21, 2020 Update from Representative Dykema
September 21 Coronavirus Update
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education continues to work with K-12 school districts to provide updated information, guidance, and support as we enter our second week of instruction. Today, DESE released an additional set of frequently asked questions (download), which contains information on a common concern that has been raised as schools reopen:
Q: How do we know if we need to suspend in-person learning for our school or district?
A: (from DESE) There is no one threshold or metric that indicates a school or district should suspend in-person learning. District and school leaders can work closely with DESE’s COVID Reporting Unit (781-338-3500) when there is a positive case in their district to determine the appropriate next steps. These next steps can include implementing existing DESE protocols to notify close contacts for testing and isolation, conferring with local public health and/or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to determine if transmission is occurring in the class or school, or seeking advice on whether to suspend in-person learning for that class, grade, or school. It is important to note that these decisions need to be made based on local context, occur in collaboration with DESE and the local board of health, and may be based on the following factors:
- If there is a need for an extensive cleaning of the building or other facility mitigation
- If the mobile testing unit results, or other test results, suggest widespread transmission is occurring
- If there are widespread absences among students and staff due to illness
- If the school is in a district reported as “red” on the DPH health metric for the past three weeks, and risk of transmission to students and/or staff is increased
The school department and the local board of health may have other local factors that are important to consider when making this decision.
You can download the full guidance and all “On the Desktop” messages from the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education on the DOE website: doe.mass.edu/covid19. I will continue to share more information from our pre-K/child care, K-12, and higher education authorities as they become available and has we gather more data throughout the coming months.
Coronavirus Testing and Response
- Today, the state saw 244 new positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 127,723 total cases and 7 reported deaths as of today at 4pm.
- The average new cases over the last 7 days is 369, and the average number of deaths is 14.
- The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 0.8%.
- 367 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, an increase of 25 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 9/21, 37% of the Commonwealth’s 12,400 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 9/21, there are 382 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 24,777 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 5,980 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.
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
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.