COVID-19: October 15, 2020 Update from Representative Dykema

October 15th Coronavirus Update

As the weather cools down and the days get shorter, the unfortunate reality is that most public health experts expect our Commonwealth and the country to experience an increase in COVID-19 cases as we move into the fall and winter absence the introduction of a vaccine or effective treatment.

The good news is that Massachusetts has invested significantly in the infrastructure necessary to manage case increases, and we are in a very different situation in terms of our preparedness than we were in March and April. This week, the Governor and the COVID-19 Command Center provided an update on various elements of its pandemic response plan for the coming weeks and months. You can read the full announcement and view the Governor’s press update here.

Testing: This week, the administration announced the successful Stop the Spread Initiative, which provides free no-cost testing to all Massachusetts residents in 18 communities across the Commonwealth, has been extended through December. Average turnaround time for testing is 1.8 days, and the administration now projects that our lab testing processing capacity is close to 100,000 tests per day if demand necessitates it. Currently, the state conducts around 65,000 tests per day. More information about testing can be found here.

Contact Tracing: Massachusetts has created a widespread contact tracing operation known as the Community Tracing Collaborative, which is responsible for identifying and reaching out to individuals who have come into close contact with a positive case of COVID-19. Currently, the collaborative has almost 2,000 employees and has contacted more than 100,000 people. More information about contact tracing can be found here.

Personal Protective Equipment: To date, the Commonwealth has distributed millions of pieces of PPE to communities and facilities with the highest need, including health care providers, long-term care facilities, and schools. Our PPE stockpile is also far higher than it was at the beginning of the pandemic, with 1,200 ventilators and enough supplies to last through the end of 2021. In addition, many Massachusetts-based companies have transitioned their operations or begun producing PPE to increase our supply right here at home.

For more information on these initiatives as well as other preparedness efforts, click here.

New Updates

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Department of Public Health data
  • Today, the state saw 568 new positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 138,651 total cases and 23 reported deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • The average new cases over the last 7 days is 625, and the average number of deaths is 15.
  • The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 1.3%.
  • 503 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, an increase of 4 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 10/15, 33% of the Commonwealth’s 12,800 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 10/15, there are 389 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 25,246 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 6,236 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 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

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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