Effective today, Friday, April 30th, Governor Baker is relaxing his Face Covering Order. When outdoors, face covering will only be required when it is not possible to socially distance, or when it is required by sector-specific guidance. Face covering will still be required at all times in indoor public places.
After more than a year of sending you COVID-19 updates and months of vaccination updates, last week was my turn to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s hard to describe the mix of emotions while I was receiving the vaccine: gratitude to the scientists and health professionals who made this happen; sadness for those who didn’t make it to see this day; and an overwhelming hope that we might be able to soon defeat this terrible disease and get back to work, school, and family gatherings safely.
As we roll into April, one year and one month after the beginning of the pandemic state of emergency, we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. 1,370,079 Massachusetts residents have been fully vaccinated, with another 989,000 having received their first dose of Pfizer or Moderna.
This coming Monday, April 5, those 55+ or those with one comorbidity become eligible for the vaccine. If you haven’t already pre-registered at Mass.gov, please do so, or sign up through some of the regional centers listed below.
On April 19, all Massachusetts residents age 16 and up become eligible. I recommend that you pre-register now, to avoid the rush on that day.
The past two weeks have brought a great deal of news about the state’s vaccine rollout. The Pre-Registration system that we advocated for was implemented last Friday, with over 200,000 residents signing up on the first day. We encourage you to pre-register; when an appointment becomes available at one of the state’s mass vaccination sites, you will receive a call or text.
March has roared in like a lion with plenty of news to share. On top of all of our minds are the changing messages about Covid-19. We celebrate that many of our residents have been vaccinated, but there is still much about the vaccine rollout in Massachusetts that needs to be addressed. Vaccinations are going to end this deadly pandemic, and we need to do everything we can to make it as easy as possible for everyone who is eligible to sign up and get vaccinated.
Over the last two weeks our legislative office has fielded hundreds of phone calls and emails from our local municipal leaders, public health directors, first responders, and other experts, as well as worried constituents and their families about the vaccine program. They have expressed extreme frustration with the anemic rollout of the vaccination program and the lack of clear and consistent communication about the effort. We hear the frustrations and share the concerns, and we will continue to urge the Governor and his Covid team to make the vaccination rollout process more robust and responsive to the needs of our residents.
As a reminder, we can continue to care for one another by taking the Covid-19 pandemic seriously and following all of the safety measures and guidelines, which are known to help stop the spread of the virus. These include wearing a face covering in public, keeping a safe distance from others, practicing good hygiene, staying home when sick, getting tested and vaccinated if eligible, and working with our contact tracing program if they call.
I hope you’re doing well and staying healthy as we approach the beginning of the New Year. While the holidays this year will need to be different from our traditional ones due to the pandemic, we should still find ways to safely celebrate and observe. Whether that is spending time with your family at home or connecting virtually with loved ones and friends, I wish you the best possible festivities filled with joy and love. We will get through these difficult times together and next year’s holidays will be all the more memorable.
I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during Phase III of the reopening. Please remember that our community and neighbors are still impacted by Covid-19. Our need to wear a face covering, observe a safe distance from others, practice good hygiene, and stay home when feeling sick to stop the spread of Covid-19 will continue until there is a vaccine or other treatment.
I hope everyone had a safe and joyous Fourth of July weekend. My colleagues and I continue to work on many ways to help address the impact that Covid-19 is having on the Commonwealth. One of the things we are seeing right now is how important it is to get federal funding to support crucial services that were needed before Covid-19, but are especially vital right now to help our economy and people facing hardships recover.
We will be moving into Phase III (“Vigilant”) of the four-phase reopening plan on Monday, July 6th. It will last considerably longer than the previous phases, because we do not plan to advance to the final phase until there is a Covid-19 vaccine or treatment.
We are still in Phase II, “Cautious”, of the four-phase reopening plan. Slowly, we have been seeing more businesses reopen their doors and more people either working from home or at their workplace while observing safety protocols.
Today, Governor Baker announced that step two of Phase II of the reopening plan will start on Monday, June 22nd. This will allow for restaurants to offer indoor dining, close contact personal services (nail salons, massage therapy, etc.) to re-open, and offices to increase from 25% to 50% of capacity.
I hope everyone is doing well this week and finding or intentionally spending time to practice self care. One thing I have been doing is continuing to find ways to give back to our great community.
First, I want to thank you for continuing to do your part to slow the spread of Covid-19. It is thanks to you that last week we saw the end of the surge that began in late April. I am sure that our healthcare community is grateful for your help as we were able to ensure that we didn’t exceed our hospital capacity to care for those who got sick.
It has been almost two weeks since our Commonwealth began Phase 1 of the reopening plan. As businesses continue to evaluate their ability to safely reopen a physical space, I want to remind everyone that this is a slow, steady, and cautious reopening.
On May 18th, the Reopening Advisory Board released a four-phased approach to reopening, with each phase lasting a minimum of three weeks. This week, the Governor announced the start of Phase 1 of that plan and issued a “safer at home” advisory.
First, I want to clear up some misunderstanding and questions that my colleagues and I have been hearing from a variety of sources about Gov. Baker's plan to reopen. There will not be a full-scale reopening on Monday, May 18th. Instead, on that date the Reopening Advisory Board will submit its full report about reopening the economy.
I hope everyone is staying positive while at home and practicing physical distancing. The great news is that our collective efforts are working: the average person who tests positive for Covid-19 only has two close contacts that need to be followed up with.
Happy May 1st, everyone! It feels like April has flown by, and we have quickly arrived at May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month. It is a time for us to refocus on our mental health and wellbeing. This is especially important during the current coronavirus pandemic; a time when we can feel lonely, depressed, worried, and stressed in addition to many other feelings people are experiencing.
If ever there was a week for our resolve to begin to weaken, this was that week. Against the advice of public health officials and medical experts, governors in several states took the illogical decision to open their states. We can only hope that this will not lead to an increase in Covid-19 diagnoses, particularly in children, in those areas.
As we continue to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, I want to give you an update on the current situation and actions we've taken in government, as well as resources that are available to support residents and our community.
Together, our collective efforts will help protect our public health. Please continue to practice physical distancing and follow the Commonwealth's stay at home advisory for residents and temporary closure of non-essential businesses.
I want to check in with updates on a few things. First and foremost, I hope you are coping during these very difficult and extraordinary times. Be sure to be gentle with yourself and as possible, continue to do the things that bring you comfort. I know so many of us are making sacrifices during this time. We are ALL in this together and we will get through it.
I wanted to check in with an update on a few things. First, I hope you are healthy,
and weathering this “new normal”. I feel as though the new normal is coming into
focus and that a routine for the next few weeks will fall into place for all of us.
Today: Gov. Baker has directed the Department of Public Health (DPH) to issue a
stay-at-home advisory that will be in effect until at least Tuesday, April 7th. All
non-essential businesses are required to operate remotely effective Tuesday at
Recently, Massachusetts declared a state of emergency over the ongoing
COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.