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In this Issue:
COVID Update
Happening in our Community
Legislative Update
Statewide Updates
Office Hours

 

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Wishing you all the best in the New Year!  And that includes keeping you and your family safe from COVID-19 in all its variants. Covid did not take a vacation over the holidays, and we are all facing a difficult dilemma to keep schools open and businesses running even as the infection numbers rise.

Despite the high COVID numbers, the vast majority of vaccinated people are staying out of the hospital and recovering. As of Wednesday Jan. 5, the CDC has approved booster shots for children ages 12-15, and has reduced the time between second shot and booster from six months to five. With COVID cases spreading through schools, this should help reduce the severity of illness that our children face. 

 COVID Update 

Testing
In the past few weeks, we’ve seen a huge demand for COVID testing. At-home (antigen) tests are delivered to local drugstores daily; keep checking. Below is a short list of local PCR testing sites; for a longer list, visit the Mass.gov site, Find a COVID-19 Test.  Because there is a surge in demand, check with the test site first; an appointment may be required. Many sites are closed due to the snowstorm today.

 

Local Sites:

AFC Urgent Care North Andover 
129 Turnpike St. (978) 470-0800
Open 8:00am-6:00pm Monday-Sunday.
See their FAQ page for types of testing and fees, and book an appointment here. Due to the current surge in demand for testing, appointments are necessary.

Greater Lawrence Family Health Center (Methuen) 
147 Pelham St, Methuen (978) 685-7663
Walk-up to the white tent in the parking lot. Testing is free.
Monday-Friday: 1:00-6:00 pm CALL FIRST ABOUT SNOW CLOSURES
Saturday: 9:00 am-1:00 pm

LGH Lawrence Community COVID-19 Testing Center
70 General Street, Lawrence  (978) 946-8409
This is primarily a drive-up testing site.
No appointment needed, but the wait can be one hour or longer
Normal Hours:* Mon-Fri 8:00am - 4:30pm, Sat & Sun 8:00 am - 1:00 pm
*Please note that the testing line may close much earlier depending on the length of the line and/or weather conditions.

See more testing sites at the end of this newsletter.

 

Good news for local cities and towns: the state has contracted with three COVID test manufacturers for municipalities and eligible entities to bulk order at-home rapid antigen test kits at state-negotiated prices. Our towns can take advantage of this program to stock up on tests for staff, seniors, schools, and more.




Vaccines

As of Wednesday, the FDA and the CDC have approved Pfizer boosters for children 12-15 who had their second dose more than 5 months ago.

Boosters are approved for all people 15 and up who had their second Pfizer or Moderna dose more than 5 months ago, or who have had the Johnson&Johnson vaccine more than 2 months ago. For adults, CDC allows for “mixing and matching” of different COVID-19 booster doses. To view more information from the CDC, visit here.

Booster appointments can be made through https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/. 

Or you can call the COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Line (M-F 8:30am-6:00pm, Sat/Sun 9am-2pm) by calling 2-1-1. The Vaccine Resource Line is available in English and Spanish and has translators available in approximately 100 additional languages.

Locally, GLFHC clinics in Methuen, Lawrence and Haverhill are offering COVID vaccines for anyone 5+ and also boosters. Make your appointment here:  https://glfhc.org/covid-19-vaccine-signup-form/ 

I have also had success booking an appointment at Walmart.

Additional vaccine locations can be found at the end of this newsletter.

Children 5-11 are able to receive the Pfizer Pediatric COVID-19 vaccine at 500+ locations, including pharmacies, primary care practices, regional collaboratives, local boards of health, community health centers, hospital systems, state-supported vaccination sites and mobile clinics.Call your child’s primary care provider, or visit vaxfinder.mass.gov for a full list of hundreds of available locations.  

All state supported vaccination clinics will offer low-sensory vaccinations for children with disabilities. Visit www.mass.gov/covidvaccinekids for more information. 

 

 

Food and Drug Administration authorizes antiviral pills to treat COVID-19
The FDA has authorized antiviral pills to treat COVID-19 at home. Paxlovid made by Pfizer, is taken twice per day for five days in combination with a second medicine called ritonavir, a generic antiviral. Early results from a Paxlovid study showed a 70% reduction in hospitalization risk among several hundred people at lower risk for severe disease. 
 

Mask Advisory
On December 21, the Department of Public Health released an updated mask advisory, recommending that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask or face covering in indoor, public spaces.

DPH particularly urges this recommendation for individuals who have a weakened immune system, or are at increased risk for severe disease because of age or an underlying medical condition, or if someone in their household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated.

All people in Massachusetts (regardless of vaccination status) are required to continue wearing face coverings in certain settings, including transportation and health care facilities.  Please see here for a complete list of venues where face coverings have remained mandatory since May 29, 2021.

The Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education will make a decision next week as to whether to extend the mask mandate for all K-12 public school students beyond the current deadline of mid-January. Exceptions are made for students who can’t wear masks for medical or behavioral reasons, and for children under age 5. Schools that have reached an 80% threshold of vaccination among students and staff can submit a request to waive the mask requirement. 

The MIAA requires that masks be worn for winter indoor sports, including basketball, hockey, cheerleading, and more. 

There is an indoor mask mandate for all buildings in Boxford. Andover’s indoor mask includes all public buildings (this does not apply to businesses and restaurants). North Andover has an indoor mask mandate at all municipal buildings. Tewksbury’s Senior Center is requiring masks in the building.

 

Elective Surgery Guidance

On December 21, DPH released updated guidance to hospitals concerning nonessential, elective invasive procedures. To preserve health care personnel resources, all hospitals are directed to postpone or cancel all nonessential elective procedures likely to result in inpatient admission in order to maintain and increase inpatient capacity. Patients are reminded to still seek necessary care at their hospital or from their health care provider. To read the guidance, click here.

 

National Guard Activation

Governor Baker activated up to 500 members of the Massachusetts National Guard to address the non-clinical support needs of hospitals and transport systems. Up to 300 of these Guard members will support 55 acute care hospitals, as well as 12 ambulance service providers across the Commonwealth. 

 

COVID Data

On December 21, the Department of Public Health (DPH) released COVID breakthrough data showing that 97% of COVID breakthrough cases in Massachusetts have not resulted in hospitalization or death. Unvaccinated individuals are five times more likely to contract COVID than fully vaccinated individuals and 31 times more likely to contract COVID than individuals who have a booster. To explore the state’s dashboard, updated daily, visit here.

Schools are required to report positive COVID-19 cases among students and staff members here. From 12/23-Jan 5, school districts, education collaboratives, and special education schools across the State reported a total of  51,000 cases of COVID-19 among students and staff, according to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Of those, 38,887 were students and 12,213 were staff. Cases rose astronomically in our district: Andover (302 students, 45 staff), Boxford (30 students, 9 staff), North Andover (354 students, 37 staff), and Tewskbury (251 students, 59 staff). This is a rise of 6-10 times over the numbers reported in mid-December. 


Happening in our Community

Andover 375’s First Night

I was honored to join the Andover Thrives at 375 Committee at First Night. The committee of Melissa Litton, Thomas Adams, Cipriano Apicelli, Joe Halpern, Richard Padova, Buzz Stapczynski, Joann Michalik, Bill Pennington, Susan Pokress, and Ann Ormond worked hard all year to create wonderful events to celebrate Andover's 375th, and this year’s New Year’s Eve celebration was definitely a memorable closing ceremony. Kudos to the amazing volunteers who make our town so special. And Happy New Year to all!

Wreaths Across America

Since 2014 on the second or third Saturday in December, the Wreaths Across America organization coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at more than 1,600 additional locations in all 50 US states.

Through the generous donations of the Andover Community, we had fresh evergreen wreaths for laying at the base of Andover’s veteran graves at Spring Grove Cemetery. Thank you to VSO Comeiro & Andover Patriotic Holiday Committee for organizing this and inviting the State Delegation. We also appreciate the many volunteers and families for joining us.


Cub Scout Visit

I was pleased to speak with Pack 49 Cub Scouts in Tewksbury to explain my role in our government and how they can be more involved, especially as they grow up. It was great to help them earn their Build a Better Community badges. Thank you to Cub Scout leader Eamonn Casey for inviting me.

 

Ability Assistance Roundtable

I was honored to join the North Andover Ability Assistance Legislative Roundtable with Rep. Christina Minicucci, Sen. Bruce Tarr, Sen. Diana DiZoglio to discuss pending legislation designed to provide services and necessary accommodations to people with disabilities. These programs can help make life for people with disabilities more equitable and inclusive, which benefits the entire Commonwealth. Many thanks to Phyllis Jones and Stacey Leibowitz of North Andover’s Commission on Ability Assistance for organizing the event and North Andover CAM's team for filming.
Watch it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Hv5BfvsBQU
Or watch it on PodBean: https://www.podbean.com/pu/pbblog-5pea2-d01b5


New Schedule at Greater Lawrence Tech

At Greater Lawrence Technical School, student dismissal will be at 1:00 PM Tuesday 1/4/2022 until Friday 1/14/2022 in order to avoid unmasked student contact during lunchtime. Students will be provided with a bagged lunch to take home. The schedule will be adjusted to ensure all classes will meet each day. 

 

Coming up: Martin Luther King Day Events

The Merrimack Valley branch of the NAACP is hosting a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Virtual Breakfast on Monday January 17 at 9am. For more information, visit https://www.naacpmvb.org/
 

The Andover Baptist Church will hold their annual MLK Day celebration during their Sunday Zoom service, Sunday January 16 at 10am.  Carole Copeland Thomas will be the keynote speaker, and brother Ralph Bledsoe will do a short recitation of one of Dr. King's speeches. For more information, check here

 

Job Opening at Ipswich River Watershed Association

Ipswich River Watershed Association is doing important work protecting the Ipswich River and advocating for clean water. They have grown to need a full-time Manager of Planning and Resiliency Programs. You get to work with nature, and with the people who care about it – how great is that? See the job description, and for more information, contact Executive Director Wayne Castonguay: https://www.ipswichriver.org/contact/

 

Free Rides Coming to Merrimack Valley Transit

Starting in March the MVRTA will suspend fare collection on its regular service from March 2022 until March 2024. This will be extremely important for the poor, the elderly, those with disabilities, and other vulnerable communities who rely on the MVRTA for transportation. Visit https://www.mvrta.com/ for more information and for bus routes and schedules.
 

Small Business Help

The Town of Andover is excited to partner with the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission and Mill Cities Community Investments on getting small businesses the help they need.  Merrimack Valley Strong is a FREE resource for small businesses. Get paired with local business advisors who can help you get the tools you need, at no cost to you.  Visit WeAreMV.com to get started.


There IS such a thing as a free lunch
The USDA has approved free meals for ALL students through June 30, 2022. The Andover, North Andover, and Tewksbury school districts have announced that all meals, including breakfast and lunch, will be served at no cost for the entire 2021-2022 school year. For more information, visit Andoverschoolnutrition.com, North Andover Public Schools, or Tewksbury Public Schools.  Masconomet has a free lunch option available to all enrolled students; other lunch choices are available for purchase.
 

Legislative Update

Bringing ARPA Funding Home

 

 

The Governor has now signed the $4 billion American Rescue Plan spending bill into law! I am thrilled to have worked with our delegation to bring over $830,000 in funding back to our district for health and safety projects, including community health programs in Andover and North Andover, sidewalks and safe pedestrian crossings in Tewksbury and Andover, community gardens in Boxford, substance use recovery programs in Tewksbury, food insecurity programs in North Andover, and more!

We were also able to secure $320,000 to address CSOs in the Merrimack River, $100,000 for Lazarus House, $100,000 for Essex County Habitat for Humanity, and $20,000 for the Merrimack Valley Prevention and Substance Abuse Project.

Many thanks to my delegation partners: Reps Christina Minicucci, Frank Moran, and Dave Robertson, and Senators Barry Finegold, Bruce Tarr, and Diana DiZoglio for their zealous advocacy. This funding will help our communities recover from the pandemic and build back stronger and safer.

 

Statewide Updates

 

Minimum Wage is now $14.25

Your employer must pay you at least $14.25 per hour. Tipped workers must make a minimum of $6.15 per hour provided that tips bring them to at least $14.25. If not, employers make up the difference.

 


Resources for Behavioral Health
Worried about your child’s mental health? Not sure where to start or who can help? Visit HandholdMA.org, a new family-friendly website with mental health tips, tools, and resources created especially for parents. 

 





Health Insurance Open Enrollment is NOW

2022 Open Enrollment ends on January 23! Now is the time for members to shop and compare plans for the best price. Get started at www.MAhealthconnector.org



3G Phaseout
If your cell phone is an older model, it may not work when 3G Cellular networks are shut down.  Please plan ahead, and upgrade your phone to a more recent model.  See this alert on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website

AT&T will retire 3G service in February 2022.
T-Mobile Sprint will finalize 3G shutdown on March 31, 2022.
Verizon will sunset 3G by the end of 2022.

According to the FCC, the transition will also impact many other industries and technologies. A failure to upgrade technology in advance of the shutdown may affect home and commercial security systems, monitored fire alarms, personal emergency alert devices, and vehicle SOS systems, among other advanced technologies. Visit the FCC website for more information about the 3G phase out, suggested next steps for consumers, and resources to help stay connected.

Free Training for Construction Careers
Associated Builders and Contractors of Massachusetts (ABC)
through their joint venture Building Mass Careers, is offering the opportunity for free training for those who may be interested in a career in construction. This free training will be held in Woburn. The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development provided the funding for this program through its “Diversity in Construction” program. This program is a concerted effort to bring more diversity into the construction industry. Upon completion, all of these pre-apprenticeship construction credits will be transferable to a full registered apprenticeship.

 

Home Energy Help
Home energy prices are rising this winter due to global demand. The Massachusetts Attorney General's office just released information to help out customers who may be struggling to pay. Visit the Massachusetts Attorney General’s website for more information: www.mass.gov/ago/fuelassistance

If you're struggling to make payments, call your provider today to discuss flexible payment options or balance forgiveness. Be wary of electric suppliers that try to lure you in with deceptive deals.Visit the AGO website for up to date information and assistance to stay warm this winter.

Don't delay in applying for income-eligible assistance--contact your utility to apply for an income-eligible rate for a discount on your bill. You may also qualify for the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP eligibility is evaluated by your gross household income for the past four weeks. Contact your local community action agency for more details on how to apply to LIHEAP.

www.masscap.org/heatinghelpma  

www.mass.gov/hed/fuel  

Cold Relief Hotline: 800-632-8175

If you don't qualify for income-based assistance, you still may be eligible for other funds. If your household income is 60-80 percent of the state median income, you could be able to receive help from the Good Neighbor Energy Fund: www.magoodneighbor.org/assistance  

 

Office Hours

 

Given the spike in COVID cases, we feel it’s prudent to continue to hold virtual office hours for the foreseeable future. Virtual hours will be held on the first Friday of the month 10-11am, and the third Tuesday 5-6pm. Make an appointment at https://calendly.com/teamtram/officehours and we’ll send you a Zoom link.  The next office hours are coming up on Tuesday, January 18; be sure to sign up by noon on Monday 1/17. Looking forward to discussing the issues that are important to you!

Sincerely,

Tram T. Nguyen, Esq.
State Representative, 18th Essex District

 

 

COVID Testing/Vaccine Locations

Vaccine Locations:

Mass.gov Vaxfinder site: https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/

Opening October 26th, the Danvers Vaccination & Booster Clinic has capacity to administer 300 doses daily and can ramp up to capacity for 1,000 doses daily. The clinic will offer Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson boosters, as well as primary series doses. Appointments can be booked by visiting vaxfinder.mass.gov with walk ins also accepted. Language translation services will be available on site. Transformative Healthcare will serve as the provider for this clinic.

Greater Lawrence Family Health Center (GLFHC) locations in Haverhill, Methuen and Lawrence: https://glfhc.org/covid-19-vaccine-signup-form/

Lawrence General Hospital: https://home.color.com/vaccine/register/lawrencegeneral

Lowell General Hospital: https://www.lowellgeneralvaccine.com/

CVS Booking Site: https://www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine

Walgreens Booking site: https://www.walgreens.com/findcare/vaccination/covid-19


Testing Sites

 

Pentucket Medical ExpressCare

370 Merrimack St, Lawrence, MA 01843

617-724-7000

8:00am-5:00pm Mon-Fri

8:30am-2:00pm Sat-Sun

 

AFC Urgent Care North Andover

129 Turnpike St, North Andover, MA 01845

978-470-0800

8:00am-8:00pm Monday- Sunday (walkin 2-6pm)

https://afcurgentcarenorthandover.com/telemedicine-urgent-care/ 

 

CVS - Main Street North Andover Covid-19 Testing Site

109 Main St, North Andover, MA 01845

978) 682-0941

By appointment only MinuteClinic  

 

Walgreens - Waverley Road - North Andover

800 Waverly Rd, North Andover, MA 01845

978-681-1530

By appointment only COVID-19 Testing | Select Location 

 

Lawrence Community COVID-19 Testing Center - All Drive-through and Walk-up Testing

70 General St, Lawrence, MA 01840

978-946-8409

Hours vary - Visit Website https://www.lawrencegeneral.org/about-us/covid-19-testing 

 

Circle Health Urgent Care - Tewksbury

1574 Main St, Tewksbury, MA 01876

978-323-5945

8:00am-8:00pm Mon-Sun 

Book an Appointment to Urgent Care

 

CareWell Urgent Care Tewksbury

345 Main St, Tewksbury, MA 01876

978-851-4683

8:00am-8:00pm Mon-Sun 

Tewksbury

 

CVS - Tewksbury - Main St Poct Covid - 19 Testing

1900 Main St, Tewksbury, MA 01876

978-851-6856

By appointment only MinuteClinic 

 

Walgreens - Main Street - Tewksbury

2341 Main St, Tewksbury, MA 01876

978-988-5534

By Appointment Only

 

Greater Lawrence Family Health Center (Methuen site)

147 Pelham St, Methuen, MA 01844

978-685-7663

3:00pm-6:00pm Mon-Fri / 9:00am-12:00pm Sat

 

AFC Urgent Care Methuen

380 Merrimack St, Methuen, MA 01844

978-975-0700

8:00am-8:00pm Mon-Sun

 

CVS - Wilmington - Main St Poct Covid-19 Testing Site

222 Main St, Wilmington, MA 01887

978-658-3377

By appointment only MinuteClinic 

 

Middleton Family Medicine

147 S Main St, Middleton, MA 01949

978-774-2555

Hours vary - Visit Website

 

CVS - Maple Street Middleton Covid-19 Testing Site

220 Maple Street, Middleton, MA 01949

978-774-1061 

By appointment only

 

Walgreens - S Main Street - Middleton

235 S Main Street, Middleton, MA 01949

978-762-8522

By appointment only

 
 

For more information, visit https://www.mass.gov/info-details/about-covid-19-testing#should-i-be-tested?-

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