Dear Neighbors and Friends,
Happy September! I hope you enjoyed your summer. We have been busy and are still working to improve bus access (the picture above is from a protest in Fenway last Sunday). As many of you know, there are recent changes to COVID-19 protocols to keep the Commonwealth safe and healthy. Please find information regarding these updates, and information regarding unemployment, housing, design changes on Cambridge Street, and the upcoming elections below. As always, please contact our office if you have any other questions.
UPDATED MASK MANDATE
As of Friday, August 27th, face masks are required in all indoor public settings in the City of Boston, as part of a Five-Point Plan for the Delta Variant. The city has implemented this proactive public health plan to mitigate community transmission of the Delta variant, in response to the arrival of more than 50,000 college students and 50,000 Boston Public Schools students who will return to school.
Beginning today, September 3rd, The City of Cambridge issued an emergency order requiring that face masks or coverings be worn indoors. It applies to everyone over the age of two years old, with exceptions in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines.
The Delta variant continues to create an additional challenge for stopping the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and wearing masks indoors will offer more protection to all residents, including children under 12 and those who are not able to get vaccinated. All people in Massachusetts (regardless of vaccination status) are required by law to wear face masks in certain settings, including transportation and healthcare facilities.
SCHOOL MASK MANDATE
On August 25th, a statewide mask mandate for Massachusetts schools officially went into effect. As of October 1st, the mandate can be lifted for middle and high schools students if the school has a vaccination rate of at least 80%, but unvaccinated students will still be required to wear masks. The mandate has exceptions for students under the age of 5 and for those that cannot wear a mask for medical or behavioral reasons.
On August 23rd, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine has been known as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, and will now be marked as Comirnaty, for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.
On Wednesday August 25th, Moderna announced that it has completed its submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for full approval of its COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 18 and older. Moderna is currently available under emergency authorization for people 12 and older in the U.S.
Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine continues to be available to those 18 years and older under emergency authorization.
If you have not yet been vaccinated, you can find a vaccination site near you HERE. Getting vaccinated is the best protection against the new Delta variant and has never been easier.
In mid-August, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended the emergency use authorizations (EUA) for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna to allow an additional dose of their COVID-19 vaccines for certain immuno-compromised people. President Biden’s administration has also recommended that all Americans should receive a third dose of their Pfizer or Moderna vaccine eight months after their second dose, starting as soon as September 20th.
Johnson & Johnson also recently said that it has evidence that people who received its one-shot COVID-19 vaccine should benefit from a booster shot after six months. Johnson & Johnson is planning to submit the results of their study to the Food and Drug Administration for authorizing a booster for everyone who received the company’s vaccine.
Booster vaccines are just another dose of a vaccine you already received. Most children receive routine vaccinations, including boosters, for illnesses such as chickenpox, tetanus, diphtheria, measles, and rubella, among others. Getting an extra dose is recommended to get longer lasting protective immunity.
On the week of September 4th, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) will end.
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) and the Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) has resources available in 5 languages on food and cash assistance, and additional resources for those who will lose unemployment. Please use this link HERE to access them.
MLRI and GBLS are also hosting a free training on SNAP and TAFDC cash assistance on September 9 at 10:30 AM. Register by clicking here.
RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
The U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration's order extending the federal eviction moratorium towards the end of August. In response, Mayor Kim Janey and health officials banned evictions in the city of Boston. The Boston Public Health Commission will keep the moratorium in place as long as necessary, according to Janey’s office. Under the ban, landlords will be prohibited from pursuing eviction proceedings, though details of how it will be enforced are not yet clear.
If you need rental assistance, there are different types of options in Massachusetts. The 3 largest are: The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP), the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), and the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP). You can also contact our office for additional assistance.
- Apply for a rental voucher here.
- Apply for emergency housing payment assistance here.
- Access a guide for obtaining housing assistance here.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns.
CONNECT DOWNTOWN - CAMBRIDGE STREET
As a result of the Mass General development process and the community outcry regarding needed improvements to Cambridge and Blossom Streets, Boston Transportation Department has just started a public process regarding Cambridge Street and soon will start one regarding Blossom Street. For Cambridge Street, BTD announced office hours at the intersection of Cambridge Street and Joy Street during the following times, and find out more information about the project here.
- Tuesday, August 31, 7:45 - 9am
- Thursday, September 9, 3:30 - 6pm
- Saturday, September 18, 11 - 1:30pm
- Thursday, September 23, 7:45 - 9am
- Tuesday, September 28, 3:30 - 6pm
- Thursday, October 7, 3:30 - 6pm
It is election season! You can check your voter registration status and get more details on the rules around registering to vote here.
Key election dates:
Right now, there are eight candidates in Boston’s Mayoral Election, which will be cut down to two after the September 14th election. You can get to know the candidates better here.
There are also several competitive Boston City Council races this year. All four City Council-At Large seats are up for grabs. You can get to know the candidates better here.
Cambridge’s City Council race is also on November 2nd, where there are 19 candidates running for 9 seats. You can find more information here.
Vote By Mail:
Once you receive your ballot package, you should follow the enclosed instructions. It is important to sign the yellow ballot affidavit envelope. Unsigned ballot affidavit ballots will be rejected. To return ballots by U.S. mail, make sure to apply sufficient postage. While ballot package weight can very, two First Class stamps are generally sufficient. To be counted, ballots must be received by the Boston Election Department or in a ballot drop box by the close of polls on Election Day.
- The deadline to register to vote in Boston’s preliminary election was August 25th, but if you voted in a previous election as a Boston resident, you should already be registered. You can check your registration status here.
- Deadline to submit application for mail-in ballot: Wednesday, September 8th at 5pm
- Boston’s preliminary municipal election: Tuesday September 14th (Polls close at 8pm, that is also when all mail-in ballots must be received by the city elections department)
- To find your polling location, go here.
- The city’s early voting dates: Saturday, Sept. 4 through Friday, Sept. 10 (except for Labor Day)
- Boston’s general municipal election: Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021
Tracking Your Ballot:
You can track your ballot through the state’s website here.
Voting on Election Day:
Polling locations for the Boston Preliminary Municipal Election will be open from 7am to 8pm on Tuesday, September 14th. Ballots will be available in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese. Language assistance will also be available on Election Day.