COVID-19: May 17, 2021 Update from Representative Dykema

May 17th COVID-19 Update

This morning, the statewide COVID-19 Command Center announced updates relative to the Commonwealth’s vaccine distribution and reopening timeline. We are currently on track to have over 4 million residents fully vaccinated by the end of May and our public health metrics for COVID-19 cases and hospitalization have decline precipitously over the past few weeks. This has allowed our public health officials to make the determination to accelerate elements of the state’s reopening timeline and other public health guidance.

Vaccine update

Effective today, individuals aged 12 to 17 are eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine as approved by the FDA. More information about eligibility and booking an appointment for individuals under 18 can be found here.

All Massachusetts adult residents and workers are eligible to receive the vaccine as well. You can find an appointment at vaxfinder.mass.gov, learn more information and get frequently-asked questions answered at mass.gov/covidvaccine, and receive a vaccination without pre-registering at six mass vaccination sites.

Reopening update

Today, the Governor announced that effective May 29, all industries will be permitted to open. With the exception of remaining face-covering requirements for public and private transportation systems and facilities housing vulnerable populations, all industry restrictions will be lifted, and capacity will increase to 100% for all industries. The gathering limit will be rescinded.

In line with updated CDC face covering guidance, the Administration will rescind the current face covering order and issue a new face covering advisory effective May 29. Non-vaccinated individuals are advised to continue wearing face masks and to continue distancing in most settings. The advisory will also recommend fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a face covering or social distance indoors or outdoors except for in certain situations. Face coverings will still be required for all individuals on public and private transportation, health care facilities and providers, and other care settings. Face coverings will also remain required indoors for staff and students of K-12 schools and early education providers.

The Governor plans to end the State of Emergency​ June 15th assuming current trends in hospitalization rates, cases, and vaccination rates continue. More information on these new policy updates can be found here or at mass.gov/reopening.

Thank you

This promising news will surely come as a welcome relief for many of us. We cannot forget that the lifting of public health restrictions has only been made possible because of the tireless work over the last year of our health care workers, first responders, local and state officials, educators, essential workers, and so many more who’ve sacrificed and adapted to care for us and keep us safe.

In addition, the work that you all have done to keep our communities safe and healthy by following gathering and industry guidance, staying home and social distancing when asked, wearing face coverings and practicing personal hygiene, and getting vaccinated as soon as you are able has made Massachusetts a national leader in COVID response. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank each and every one of you.

Moving forward, this newsletter will move from its current weekly format to periodic updates as new information becomes available. Past issues and additional resources can be found at carolyndykema.com/covid19.* You can also check my Facebook page for more up-to-the-minute updates and communications. Overall, the state Dept. of Public Health website is the best source of accurate and up-to-date information and contains a wide-range of information and a likely source of answers to many of your questions.  

News Updates

Below is a summary of the most recent efforts to respond to the wide range of needs in our communities. For a summary of previously issued guidance and state restrictions related to the coronavirus epidemic, visit mass.gov/covid19. For previous updates visit carolyndykema.com/covid19.

Coronavirus Testing and Response

  • Today, the state saw 281 new positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 657,119 total cases and 19 reported deaths as of today at 5pm.
  • The average new cases over the last 7 days is 498, and the average number of deaths is 10.
  • The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 1.0%.
  • 20,253 new molecular tests for COVID-19 were reported in the Commonwealth today.
  • 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 (as of 5/17)

  • Hospitalization: 336 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, a decrease of 1 from yesterday. The 7-day average of hospitalizations is 379.
  • Hospital Capacity: 21% of the Commonwealth’s non-ICU hospital beds are available for new patients if needed (33% of statewide ICU beds are available). In the MetroWest region, 15% of the region’s non-ICU beds are available for new patients (24% of regional ICU beds are available).
  • Long-term care: There are 425 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 35,282 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • 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.

Vaccine Distribution

  • Last week, 524,300 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered. To date, 6,907,827 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in MA.
  • 398,547 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were shipped to Massachusetts. To date, 8,215,860 doses have been shipped to MA.
  • For more information, you can review the weekly COVID-19 vaccine report on this page.

Local Update

  • Town-by-town numbers on positive cases in each community, as well as a color-coded risk assessment for each city or town, can be found below. This week’s numbers for the towns of the 8th Middlesex District can be found below, and city and town data is now included in the general COVID-19 daily dashboard, which can be found here.
  • Holliston: 799 (+7 from last week); moderate risk
  • Hopkinton: 930 (+12); moderate risk
  • Southborough: 504 (+5); lower risk
  • Westborough: 1,579 (+12); moderate risk
  • As of last week, here is where the four communities of the 8th Middlesex District stand in terms of vaccination rates. Town-by-town vaccination data can be found here.
  • Holliston: 71% have received a first dose; 54% are fully vaccinated
  • Hopkinton: 73% have received a first dose; 53% are fully vaccinated
  • Southborough: 74% have received a first dose; 55% are fully vaccinated
  • Westborough: 75% have received a first dose; 51% are fully vaccinated

Education

  • The interactive data dashboard now contains weekly information on testing and positive cases in Massachusetts-based colleges and universities, which can be found here.
  • 163 new COVID-19 cases associated with higher education testing were reported last week. 17,865 total cases have been reported associated with higher education testing.
  • The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education now reports student and staff positive cases reported by school districts within the last week. These reports count all positive cases among students participating in-person or hybrid learning models, and staff who have been in a school building within 7 days of a positive test. Last week’s report and reporting definitions can be found here.
  • Holliston: 1 student, 0 staff
  • Hopkinton: 0 students, 0 staff
  • Southborough: 0 students, 0 staff
  • Northboro-Southboro: 1 student, 0 staff
  • Westborough: 3 students, 1 staff

Travel

  • The state’s travel order has been replaced with a statewide travel advisory. More information, including answers to frequently asked questions, can be found at mass.gov/covidtravel.
  • Visitors to Massachusetts are still urged to quarantine or receive a negative test result within 72 hours of arrival unless they have been fully vaccinated over 14 days before arrival; however, reporting requirements and noncompliance penalties are no longer in effect.

Local and State Resources

Town Resources

All of the towns in the 8th Middlesex District have centralized COVID-19 resource pages with resources, updates, and alerts regarding town services.

Holliston | Hopkinton | Southborough | Westborough

Job/Income Loss Resources

COVID-19 is also 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

Department of Transitional Assistance

Statewide Information

Information on the state of emergency and related orders can be found here.

Reopening guidance can be found at mass.gov/reopening

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