COVID-19: September 29, 2020 Update from Representative Dykema
September 29 Coronavirus Update
Today, the Governor announced that consistently lower-risk communities will enter “Phase 3, Step II” of reopening on Monday, October 5th. As we gather significantly more public health data on a community level than we have before, we’re able to better tailor statewide guidance to a smaller scale. At the same time, reopening industries have adjusted their operations and we’ve learned much more about best practices for protecting public health and safety. Here’s what that means for us:
“Lower-risk” communities, for the purpose of advancing to this new step of reopening, are considered cities and towns that have not been a “red” community in any of the last three weekly Department of Public Health reports. In the 8th Middlesex District, that currently means Hopkinton, Southborough, and Westborough would be allowed to enter Step II of Phase 3.
Effective October 5, a limited number of sectors will be eligible to reopen with restrictions, in these communities:
- Indoor performance venues will be permitted to open with 50% capacity with a maximum of 250 people.
- Outdoor performance venue capacity will increase to 50% with a max of 250 people.
- For arcades and indoor and outdoor recreation businesses, additional Step II activities like trampolines, obstacle courses, roller rinks, and laser tag will also be permitted to open and capacity will increase to 50%.
- Fitting rooms will be permitted to open in all types of retail stores.
- Gyms, museums, libraries, driving schools, and flight schools will also be permitted to increase their capacity to 50%.
In addition, the statewide gatherings order has been modified, effective October 5:
- The limit for indoor gatherings remains at a maximum of 25 people for all communities.
- Outdoor gatherings at private residences and in private backyards will remain at a maximum of 50 people for all communities.
- Outdoor gatherings at event venues and in public settings will have a limit of 50 people in Step I communities, and a limit of 100 people in lower risk, Step II communities.
Coronavirus Testing and Response
- Today, the state saw 450 new positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 129,243 total cases and 8 reported deaths as of today at 4pm.
- The average new cases over the last 7 days is 482, and the average number of deaths is 13.
- The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 1.0%.
- 444 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, an increase of 26 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 9/29, 34% of the Commonwealth’s 12,600 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 9/29, there are 384 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 24,874 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 6,050 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.