COVID-19: September 25, 2020 Update from Representative Dykema
September 25 Coronavirus Update
One question I have already begun to receive from several constituents has been how we can have a safe and socially-distant Halloween. I know many families in our community, particularly those with young children, are wondering what to expect for this holiday.
Although circumstances may certainly change between now and the end of October, the Department of Public Health has released initial guidance for Halloween and holiday-related activities. You can read the full guidance online, but the general recommendation is that COVID-compliant mask use be observed at all times, and that those celebrating Halloween observe and respect all existing guidance and requirements for social distancing, gathering size, hygiene practice, and most importantly, staying home if you feel unwell.
You can also review information from the federal Centers for Disease Control on low, moderate, and higher-risk Halloween activities. The CDC recommends prioritizing trick-or-treating practices that minimize interpersonal contact, so-called “one-way trick or treating” involving leaving individually-wrapped treats or treat bags outdoors and away from people for individual pickup. As always, crowded indoor gatherings like haunted houses or parties are high-risk and strongly discouraged.
It should also be noted that statewide and federal guidance can always be superseded by decisions of a city or town to go above and beyond statewide requirements. Individual municipalities still have the authority to “cancel” Halloween.
We’ve also added to the information we provide in Friday newsletters, which includes data and information released and updated weekly. The information below now includes: provide weekly roundups of local case numbers, updates to the COVID-19 travel order, data from higher education, long-term care, and corrections facilities, and more.
Coronavirus Testing and Response
- Today, the state saw 454 new positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 127,317 total cases and 10 reported deaths as of today at 4pm.
- The average new cases over the last 7 days is 392, and the average number of deaths is 15.
- The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 0.9%.
- 389 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, an increase of 15 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 9/25, 29% 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 9/25, there are 383 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 24,828 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 6,019 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 and Regional 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 9/16):
- Holliston: 93 (+6)
- Hopkinton: 142 (+1)
- Southborough: 44 (+0)
- Westborough: 389 (+7)
- The weekly public health report now contains information on testing and positive cases in Massachusetts-based colleges and universities, which can be found here starting on page 37.
- 130 new COVID-19 cases associated with higher education testing have been reported since last week. 629 total cases have been reported associated with higher education testing.
- 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 40.
- 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.
Travel Order Update
- The state’s COVID-19 travel order, which requires testing or self-quarantine for all visitors and returning residents from all higher-risk U.S. states, is updated weekly based on new public health data from around the country. Information on the order can be found here and information on changes to the state risk designations can be found below.
- Lower-risk states: Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Vermont, Washington
- Added to lower-risk states: none
- Removed from lower-risk states: Oregon
- Important note: This Wednesday, the state of Maine announced that visitors and travelers from Massachusetts no longer have to quarantine or produce a negative test, essentially placing Massachusetts in Maine’s “lower risk” category. For more information on Maine’s travel policies, visit the Keep Maine Healthy FAQ.
- For those in need of mental health and wellbeing services, crisis counseling, or other related support services, please consider visiting MassSupport.org, a state- and federally-funded service through the Department of Mental Health or the Riverside Trauma Center. You can also call Mass 2-1-1 for a wide range of mental health, community care, and domestic violence services as well.
- Beginning Monday, updated guidance will go into effect for restaurants and other food service establishments, allowing for parties of up to 10 individuals in compliance with social distancing and bar seating in circumstances where servers and patrons can be appropriately distanced or otherwise protected.
- Long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, will allow indoor in-person visits beginning today, September 25, with health and safety guidance measures in place.
- Beginning Monday as well, the Department of Corrections will resume in-person visits at all facilities. Attorney visits remain ongoing, and personal visits, starting Monday, will be limited to one visit per prisoner per week, with up to two visitors at a time.
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.