May 2020 Update

Again, I wish you and all of your loved ones health and safety during these trying times.

 

1) New Way to Give Back Locally:

Last newsletter I updated you on Somerville's response to the COVID-19 crisis here in Somerville and recommended 3 ways you could give back to help those in need locally. I wanted to plug one more such opportunity, and it is an important one for me, being an immigrant myself- The Welcome Project Immigrant Assistance Fund. 

“We are going to give out money to immigrants who mostly will not get or do not qualify for unemployment in any way,” said Executive Director of The Welcome Project Ben Echevarria. “Like everyone else, they are worried about rent, utilities, paying bills, because these are people just like everyone else. We thought we’d try to look out for most vulnerable population at the moment, in terms of who will take the longest to recover from this.”

Please consider donating to the fund here. Thank you.

2) New Mandates from Mayor/City Government- Masks and Free Testing Access

Here was the latest news from City Government and Mayor Curtatone on Free testing, the Somerville Cares Fund applications and mandatory masks:

Latest news:
  • Somerville Cares Fund applications are now open. More details below.
  • New, free citywide COVID-19 testing available: Thanks to advocacy by Mayor Curtatone, our partners at Cambridge Health Alliance, and support from the State, COVID-19 tests are currently available to all Somerville residents by appointment. You do not need to be symptomatic or have health insurance to get a free test. To schedule a test, call 617-665-2928, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. The testing program will begin with drive-through testing outside Somerville Hospital, and will soon expand to walking and bicycling clients. A second testing site is also planned for East Somerville. The State provided 3,500 testing kits for this new testing program, and Mayor Curtatone and the Board of Health are advocating for more. More information HERE.
  • Testing is part of Somerville’s new COVID-19 Testing/Tracing/Safe Isolation Plan: All Somerville residents who test positive for COVID-19 will receive ongoing support from Somerville Public Health nurses to isolate safely, trace contacts, and access needed resources. Persons with COVID-19 who cannot safely isolate at home will be eligible for referral to an isolation hotel under the medical supervision of Mass. General Hospital.
  • Statewide stay-at-home advisory extended to May 18: Today Gov. Charlie Baker announced that the statewide stay-at-home advisory, as well as the closure of non-essential businesses, is being extended to May 18.
  • Deadline extended for two free months of Comcast’s Internet Essentials plan: Income-eligible households can receive two free months of Comcast’s Internet Essentials plan if they sign up by June 30. Currently, the Internet Essentials plan costs $9.95 per month after the initial free months. To sign up visit internetessentials.com or call 1-855-846-8376.
  • CDC adds six new symptoms to common COVID-19 symptoms list: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now advises that you may have COVID-19, and should contact a medical provider, if you have the following symptoms: “Cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing Or at least two of these symptoms: fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell.”

Today’s Assistance Tip: Somerville Cares Fund applications available now

Applications for support are now being accepted for the donation-funded Somerville Cares Fund jointly launched by Mayor Joe Curtatone, the United Way, and the Community Action Agency of Somerville (CAAS). The Somerville Cares Fund will provide emergency financial assistance to individuals and families during the COVID-19 public health crisis to meet needs such as food, housing, medicine, funeral costs, and other essential expenses.
 
The fund is hosted by the United Way and administered by CAAS. In most cases, accepted applicants may receive up to $250 per person and up to $1,000 per family. There is no requirement to share immigration status (undocumented residents are eligible).

Funding is available for:
  • Somerville residents
  • Persons who work in Somerville (including those recently laid off due to the pandemic)
  • Families with children enrolled in Somerville Public Schools
Applications will be prioritized and funded on the basis of need; not on a first-come, first-served basis.

The application and more information can be found at somervillema.gov/SomervilleCaresFunding. If you would like to donate to the Somerville Cares Fund, visit somervillema.gov/somervillecares.

Today’s Public Health Tip: Face covering safety

Starting tomorrow (April 29), anyone over the age of two must wear a clean face mask or face covering when in any indoor or outdoor space that is open to the public. Here are some tips to make sure you’re wearing your face covering safely and protecting those around you as much as possible:
  • Wearing a face covering is not a substitute for social distancing. Whenever possible, stay at least six feet from anyone not in your household.
  • Face coverings and masks should cover both your mouth and face and fit snugly on the sides.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before putting on or taking off a face covering.
  • Don’t touch your face when wearing a face covering and avoid your eyes, nose, and mouth when putting it on or taking it off.
  • Keep your mask or face covering clean. The more you wear it, the more you should wash it.

Mandatory masks- My Thoughts- 

Mayor Curtatone issued an enforceable Order requiring all of us to wear masks when in public, both indoors and outdoors, whether walking, running, or cycling, for the duration of this State of Emergency. The Administration has emphasized repeatedly that the focus will be on education and distributing free masks to those in need, and that issuing a fine is reserved only as a last resort for those who willfully refuse. The City Council was unanimous in our support of this policy. 

I first want to say that I support this important public health measure for Somerville, but I expressed deep concerns about the fine and enforcement of such a fine. I am particularly worried about how this will be enforced by police on communities of color and working class people in the city who might have less access to masks or feel unsafe wearing masks for fear of profiling (in the case of communities of color). I also worry not having a mask could keep people from going out in public to take care of essential tasks for their health and well-being. I have worked closely with the Somerville Chief of Police and got assurances that his police force would distribute free masks to anyone they see without them that needs them, rather than fine them. I would love to hear from anyone in the community if there is any problem with this new policy or if you need access to free masks (I will put you in touch with the right resources to get you some- no proof of need or paperwork required).

3) Weekly Public Health and Safety Hearing

Tomorrow, May 4th at 6pm we will hold our weekly public health and safety hearing (Agenda Here). I have several items on the agenda to keep equity and our most vulnerable residents in Somerville at the forefront of our conversations. You can watch live by clicking this link HERE.

4) Some City Council Updates- Supporting Equity

I have been hard at work with my colleagues looking to pass board resolutions that promote and keep equity at the forefront- you can check out a few I was proud to pass below.

-That the Administration update this Council on what is being done to help communities of color during this COVID-19 pandemic.

- House bill 5036 and Senate bill 2916, An Act to Provide Equal Stimulus Checks to Immigrant Taxpayers

-That the Administration update this Council on what is being done to help the homeless, who are most at risk during this COVID-19 pandemic

- That the Mayor consider increasing the minimum age for mandatory wearing of face masks to children over 5 years of age

 

Thank you for your continued support and please stay safe! We are in this together!

 

Your Public Servant,

Will Mbah

Always feel free to reach out over email to ask questions/voice concerns at aldermanmbah@gmail.com or call me at 508-718-8126.

You can donate to our campaign by clicking here

 


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