The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, as of Thursday, February 25th, has announced 545,624 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, and 32,117 estimated active cases. There are 853 current hospitalizations and there have been 15,657 reported deaths. Additional data are included in DPH’s online data dashboard, which is now interactive.
Senator Markey sent a letter today urging the U.S. Census Bureau to collect much-needed data regarding American households’ experiences with paying utility and delivered fuels bills during the COVID-19 pandemic. Electric and natural gas arrearages were estimated to reach $32B nationwide by the end of 2020, with 15-20% of residential customers at least 60 days behind on their utility bills. As seen in Texas this month, more frequent and more severe weather events fueled by climate change are significantly affecting the energy grid and can cause dramatic and unexpected spikes in utility bills. In order to formulate a response at the appropriate scale, the federal government must have comprehensive, nationwide data on the extent of these problems. Read the lawmakers’ full letter here.
Senator Markey today sent a letter to the Departments of Transportation (DOT), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Homeland Security (DHS), urging these agencies to convene a joint task force on air travel during and after the coronavirus pandemic. This task force – advised by aviation, security, and public health experts – would develop recommended requirements, plans, and guidelines to address the health, safety, security, and logistical challenges for air travel moving forward. Read the Senators’ letter here.
The Massachusetts Congressional Delegation is urging FEMA to support the Commonwealth’s request for consideration as a pilot program under the FEMA Vaccination Center Pilot Partnerships program. This program would support vaccination efforts in underserved communities across the state as part of an ongoing effort to reach vulnerable populations, and would provide the necessary resources and support to complement the targeted outreach initiative in 20 municipalities across the state announced earlier in February. Read the delegation’s letter to FEMA here.
Select Federally Qualified Health Centers in Massachusetts have been invited by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to receive a direct supply of COVID-19 vaccine. This program will be an incremental effort as more vaccine becomes available, and will complement vaccine supply already allocated to Massachusetts by providing vaccine doses directly to targeted HRSA-funded health centers that specialize in caring for disproportionately affected populations. More information about the Federal Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program is available here.
- Boston Health Care for the Homeless | Boston
- East Boston Neighborhood Health Center | Boston
- Fenway Community Health Center | Boston
- South Boston Community Health Center | Boston
- South Cove Community Health Center | Boston
- Codman Square Health Center | Dorchester
- Whittier Street Health Center | Roxbury
- Charles River Community Health Center | Brighton
- Brockton Neighborhood Health Center | Brockton
- Holyoke Health Center | Holyoke
- Greater Lawrence Family Health Center | Lawrence
- Lynn Community Health Center | Lynn
- Greater New Bedford Community Health Center | New Bedford
- Caring Health Center | Springfield
- Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center | Worcester
Senator Markey and several members of the Massachusetts Federal Delegation have urged the Baker Administration to adopt a centralized pre-registration system for vaccine appointments. This type of system would allow residents to pre-register, confirm eligibility, and receive a notification when an appointment becomes available at a convenient location. As the pandemic and economic recession disproportionately devastate communities of color and immigrant communities, the lawmakers expressed concern about the disjointed and cumbersome sign-up process, and further concern that without a centralized pre-registration system the vaccine distribution rollout may become increasingly slow and inequitable. Read the full letter here.
ICYMI: Last weekend, Senator Markey hosted a discussion on the need for greater equity and accessibility in vaccinations with Senator Warren, Congresswoman Pressley, State Representative Nika Elugardo, President of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers Michael Curry, and Reverend Miniard Culpepper. Watch here.
The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), a bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce, will provide federal assistance to support innovative projects that promote and seek to ensure the growth and resolve the challenges faced by minority business enterprises. A total of $14.3M will be made available in this funding opportunity. MBDA anticipates awarding approximately one individual cooperative agreement funded at approximately $410,000 in Massachusetts. Eligible applicants must submit completed applications by Wednesday, March 17, 2021. MBDA will conduct a pre-application conference call on March 1st at 2pm(register here). Visit www.mbda.gov/grants for more information.
The Massachusetts Executive Office for Administration and Finance has launched a website to detail the expenditure of federal funds provided to the Commonwealth to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The website includes information about the five (current) sources of federal funding, including the CARES Act (March 2020) and the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act (December 2020). Learn more at www.mass.gov/federalfunds.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced FY2021 Community Planning and Development awards for eligible municipalities in Massachusetts. These awards include the CDBG program, Emergency Solution Grants (ESG) to assist homeless and housing insecure populations, the HOME program to expand supply of affordable housing to low- and very-low income families, and HOPWA to provide housing assistance for low-income persons diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. See the list of awards to Massachusetts here.
For coronavirus resources and additional helpful information please visit Senator Markey’s coronavirus resource page.