COVID-19 RESPONSE COMMONWEALTH'S COMMAND CENTER SITUATION REPORTS 

 

 

 

COVID-19 MALIA STATEMENT

March 16, 2020

 

Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

 

During this global pandemic, to protect the wellness of our communities, I ask that we in the 11th Suffolk district work together and do our part to stay healthy and well-informed. 

 

Please adhere to the physical distancing and personal hygiene measures concerning the COVID-19 virus. We all need to be serious about swiftly implementing and maintaining these measures. Given the data from other countries, the faster we all comply, the better off we’ll all be in the coming weeks and months. 

To visually understand how your daily actions will either help to slow or to accelerate the spread of the virus, watch these Washington Post simulations. We must do our part to avoid overwhelming our local health care systems so that those affected get the help and care they need. 

To speak directly with someone about real-time COVID-19 information including:

  • testing

  • prevention

  • symptoms

  • treatment

  • guidance around planning or returning from travel

 

Please DO NOT call 9-1-1 to request testing. Instead, please DO CALL your primary care provider. If you do not have one, call the Mayor’s Health Line 617-534-5050 or the MA Dept of Public Health at 2-1-1, the state’s 24/7 hotline (operators fluent in Spanish and more than 150 other languages supported through an interpreter services line). *Your cooperation here will help to free up the state’s infectious disease emergency line 617-983-6800 for providers.*

To meet fear with facts regarding COVID-19, below are the regularly updated global, federal, state and local resources to continue checking as this global pandemic continues to evolve. 

Global: World Health Organization

Federal: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

State: Department of Public Health 

City: Boston Public Health Commission

In the coming days and weeks, stay tuned for updates from my office and the resources above regarding various assistance programs that will be made available, especially for the most vulnerable among us. 

 

In the meantime, please, please, please do your part to help curb the spread of this highly contagious virus. 

Sincerely, 

LIZ MALIA 

MA State Representative 

11th Suffolk District

COVID-19 E-UPDATES

March 18, 2020 

Dear Friends, 

 

I write to provide you with relevant COVID-19 updates from today and the week so far. 

 

Meals for Students

On March 12, 2020, the USDA approved the MA waiver request for schools with 50% or more students on free and reduced lunch to continue serving meals to students during a COVID-19 related closure (also applies to Summer Food Service Programs). This waiver allows flexibility for distributing food, such as grab-and-go. The City will continue to provide free breakfast and lunch meals to all Boston Students. View map of meal sites: https://www.boston.gov/departments/food-access/map-meal-sites-boston 

 

Unemployment Assistance 

Governor Baker announced emergency regulations that will allow those impacted by COVID-19 to collect unemployment insurance. Emergency legislation is being filed that will waive the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits. Apply even if you think you’re not eligible. In the coming days, depending on how the state and federal governments work this out, you’ll either be told you qualify or you’ll be directed to other relevant resources: https://www.mass.gov/unemployment-insurance-ui-online

 

Unemployment Benefits: Today, Governor Baker signed S.2599 to provide unemployment assistance to workers impacted by COVID-19. This legislation will allow new claims to be paid more quickly by waiving the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits. 

 

At federal level, U.S. Department of Labor Announces Availability of Up to $100 Million In National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grants in Response to COVID-19 Outbreak. Dislocated Worker Grants temporarily expand the service capacity of dislocated worker programs at the state and local levels by providing funding assistance in response to large, unexpected economic events that cause significant job losses.

 

Small Business Recovery Loan Fund  

Governor Baker announced the creation of a $10 million small business recovery loan fund for businesses of a certain size, including nonprofits. This fund will provide emergency capital up to $75,000. Loans will be available to eligible businesses immediately, and no payments will be due for the first six months. The MA Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) will receive and process all applications for this fund. To learn more about qualifications and complete the application, visit: https://www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org

 

State Tax Relief for Small Businesses 

On March 18, Governor Baker, in conjunction with the legislature, announced measures to provide administrative tax relief for small local businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, in particular in the restaurant and hospitality sectors. For small businesses (defined as those who paid less than $150,000 in the year ending in February 29, 2020 in sales, meals, or room occupancy taxes) the collection of those taxes will be postponed for March, April, and May. Those taxes will now be due on June 20, 2020. All penalties and interest that would otherwise apply will be waived. The Department of Revenue is currently drafting emergency regulations to implement these administrative relief measures, and they are expected to be finalized before Friday, March 20, 2020.

 

Small Businesses - please complete this City of Boston survey, so they can hear what you need 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScL9t3RKiUUZ8EmCo2QNDI6be0EwG-bt6BoG8XZVWpJxM9Quw/viewform  

 

Guidance: City and State (working lists)  

 

In Boston, what you need to know: 

All Boston Public Library locations are closed until further notice.

All Boston Centers for Youth & Families pools, gyms, and fitness centers are closed. 

By Wednesday, March 18, all BCYF programming will be suspended. Only select BCYF centers will be open for youth meal distribution during school closures.

Starting on March 17, the MBTA reduced its services. 

Starting on March 17, the City suspended all regular activity at construction sites in Boston. 

The 2020 Boston Marathon has been postponed until Monday, September 14, 2020.

 

Three days ago, on March 15, the Baker Administration announced a series of new state guidance and legislation in response to COVID-19. For full details, visit https://www.mass.gov/news/baker-polito-administration-announces-emergency-actions-to-address-covid-19

 

The main highlights include: 

  • Elementary & Secondary Schools: suspend educational operations from March 17 until April 6. 

(NOTE: All Boston Public Schools are closed from March 17-April 27. City’s press release).

  • Early Education and Care: follow EEC/DPH guidance regarding closure based on actual cases

*3/18 update: all MA early education and family child care providers must close in five days (March 23) and will be replaced by emergency centers focusing on the needs of families on the front line of coronavirus response.

  • Higher Education: continue to move towards remote learning

  • Gatherings & Restaurants: beginning March 17 and effective until April 6, limit gatherings to 25 individuals and prohibit on-premises consumption of food or drink at bars and restaurants; takeout is allowed 

  • Health Care: 

    • All assisted living residences are to ban visitors to protect the health of residents and staff. This is in addition to the federal guidance issued on Friday, March 13, 2020 that bans visitors to nursing homes and rest homes.

    • Hospitals must cancel non-essential elective procedures effective Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

    • All hospitals operated or licensed by the Dept. of Public Health or the Dept. of Mental Health are to screen all visitors and restrict visitation if individuals show any indication of illness.

    • Licensed pharmacies are authorized to create and sell hand sanitizer over the counter.

  • Health Insurance: 

    • All commercial insurers and the Group Insurance Commission are required to cover medically necessary telehealth services in the same manner they cover in-person services.

    • Insurers must cover COVID-19 related treatment and testing without requiring cost-sharing of any kind – such as co-pays and coinsurance – for testing and treatment.

    • Insurers cannot require prior authorization for these services.

  • Registry of Motor Vehicles: extend the renewal timeline of certain credentials to reduce the need for customers to physically visit an RMV service center for in-person transactions.

 

New Info: 

DCR 3/18 update: playgrounds temporarily shutdown; state parks still open  

 

Emergency Resident Protections (so far) 

 

Department of Public Utilities

3/13/20 issued moratorium on gas and electric shut-offs for residential customers of all utilities operating in MA

 

Housing

  • A self-imposed moratorium on evictions in Boston was agreed to by the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, the MA Apartment Association, the MA Association of Community Development Corporations and Mayor Walsh.

  • House Housing Committee Chair Honan (D-Brighton) and Rep. Connolly (D-Cambridge) filed legislation to initiate a state moratorium on evictions, and I cosponsored it. 

 

Local Volunteer Opportunity

 

Many of you have reached out to ask, what can I do locally to help? 

 

While I’m (1) heartened to see so many grassroots efforts organically arising in the neighborhoods (2) extremely hesitant to suggest doing anything beyond adhering to the strict social distancing and personal hygiene guidance we’ve all been given, there is an upcoming opportunity I’d like to bring to your attention: on Saturday, March 21, Mayor Walsh will be hosting a citywide distribution of important information related to the coronavirus. 

 

Of course, the health and safety of everyone is first priority. Volunteers MUST be aware of their own health before signing up to help. If you do not feel well or have a temperature, please do NOT sign up to volunteer. They will be providing hand sanitizer and gloves for volunteers to use while distributing materials.

 

To be clear, volunteers will NOT be asked to knock on doors or interact with the public in any way, but rather leave helpful and important information in doorways or in another publicly accessible place for residents at their homes. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdpaYnTZ-Otia8xBLvEomCRX9Y1Vpgw4Wmq9necxDCKMg0gOg/viewform?edit_requested=true 

 

Other Helpful Information 

 

All Stop & Shops will be offering Senior Citizen shopping hours from 6-7:30 AM starting Thursday, 3/19. During this time, only customers age 60 and over will be served. You can learn more here: https://stopandshop.com/news-and-media/article-03-13-20/.

 

Global: World Health Organization

Federal: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

State: Department of Public Health or 211

City: Boston Public Health Commission or 311 

 

I will continue to be in touch with information as I receive it. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at liz.malia@mahouse.gov with any questions or concerns. 

 

Warmly, 

Liz 

Evening Update 

March 19, 2020 

Dear Friends, 

 

I write to provide you with some relevant COVID-19 updates from today.  

 

Federal Updates 

 

  • Do Not Travel Advisory: The U.S. Department of State advised Americans to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and told Americans already abroad to "arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period." The department issued a "Level 4: Do Not Travel" advisory Thursday (3/19/20) afternoon, a step that comes after the federal government had already limited travel between the United States and Europe, and closed the Canadian border to non-essential travel. "Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice. Airlines have canceled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or canceled trips. If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe," the advisory said.

  • Congress Passes Bill With $1B For MassHealth: The state's Medicaid program is in line to receive an additional $1.08 billion under a coronavirus relief package that cleared Congress on Wednesday, March 18. The package would provide relief to MA as it braces for a possible surge in the number of people enrolling in MassHealth. The more than $1 billion in increased reimbursements would pad a budget of more than $16 billion at an agency that provides health coverage to nearly 2 million low-income and disabled residents. The federal share of the MassHealth budget is typically over $8 billion.

  • SBA Disaster Declaration: MA business owners will have until Dec. 18, 2020 to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan through the U.S. Small Business Administration after the agency approved Gov. Baker's request for a disaster declaration and assistance. SBA assistance will be available throughout the state and in contiguous counties of neighboring states. Small businesses, private nonprofits, small agricultural operations and small aquaculture enterprises that have taken a financial hit since Jan. 31 as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic may qualify for the loans of up to $2M. The loans carry an interest rate of 3.75% for small businesses, and 2.75% for nonprofits. (Separately, the state launched a $10M recovery loan fund for small businesses.)

  • 'Stern Warning' For Scammers: U.S. Attorney for MA, Andrew Lelling, issued a self-described "stern warning" to anyone who might seek to exploit the coronavirus pandemic for their own financial gain. "As our communities take extraordinary measures to confront the coronavirus outbreak, some may view this as an opportunity to prey on the public's fears and anxieties. The Department of Justice is now focused on cybercrime, sale of counterfeit goods, treatment scams and other healthcare and investment scams arising from the pandemic. My office will aggressively prosecute anyone engaged in this kind of activity". Any resident who thinks they might be the victim of fraud or any other criminal activity related to the pandemic should contact Lelling’s office at USAMA.victimassistance@usdoj.gov or by calling 1-888-221-6023. Members of the public can also contact the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center by visiting www.IC3.gov 

  • The Census has paused field operations for the 2020 Census until at least April 1. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2020/operational-update.html You can still send in your response by mailing back the paper questionnaire sent to your home or you can complete the Census online by visiting https://my2020census.gov/ or over the phone by calling  844-330-2020 (or visiting https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond/responding-by-phone.html to get the number associated with your preferred language). 

 

State Updates 

 

  • This evening (3/19/20) just before 6 pm, the Governor activated the MA National Guard, which will bring new supply chain resources on board to respond to state and local requests for equipment, logistics, warehousing, and other duties. 

  • The MA Trial Courts are closed to the public, except for emergencies through April 6.  https://www.mass.gov/alerts/supreme-judicial-court-restricts-court-appearances-to-emergency-matters#undefined

    • As of today (3/19/20), an emergency order will permit judges serving on after-hours judicial response to issue emergency restraining orders, harassment prevention orders, and extreme risk protection orders for ten days (rather than making the orders returnable to court the day following issuance). For updates regarding the court's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit their website: https://www.mass.gov/guides/court-system-response-to-covid-19  

  • MassDOT is extending the expiration date of certain credentials to reduce the number of customers in service centers and AAA locations. https://www.mass.gov/info-details/rmv-covid-19-information

  • The Mass Cultural Council put forward five items they will be doing to help the cultural sector in managing financial disruptions. https://massculturalcouncil.org/blog/an-update-to-our-response-to-covid-19/

  • Bottle Deposit Redemption: State is suspending enforcement of requirements around retailers accepting empty bottles that have a deposit (due to retailers being overwhelmed with demand right now). Customers are encouraged to hold on to their redeemable bottles to turn in at a later date, or recycle them.

  • MassPort: No more dine-in options; only grab-and-go options for passengers and employees. Logan Express Shuttles running for employees (Braintree & Chelsea, for example). Closed a Logan garage for employee parking only, so people can drive directly to work. 

  • MA Department of Public Health  - orders issued within the last 48 hrs: 

    • LOCAL BOARDS OF HEALTH & EMS: 3/18/20 regarding the sharing of critical information with first responders: ORDER

    • PHARMACISTS & OPIOID MISUSE DISORDER MEDICATION: 3/18/20 regarding the administration of certain medications for the treatment of opioid misuse disorder: ORDER

    • PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS: 3/18/20, regarding the flexible reassignment of Physicians Assistants: ORDER

    • EMS CARE: 3/17/20 relative to Emergency Medical Services Care: ORDER

    • EMERGENCY CREDENTIALING: 3/17/20 implementing emergency credentialing and licensed staff transfer procedures for medical facilities in the Commonwealth: ORDER

    • MA ATTORNEY GENERAL 3/19/20 noon ~ "You can rest assured that the People’s Law Firm – the Attorney General’s Office – is here for you. Our employees are working remotely, but we will never stop working for the people we serve. I’ve included several important resources below to help answer any questions you have as we navigate this new reality. You can find more information on the office’s newly launched Coronavirus Resources hub. The office will be updating this page as the situation develops. We are here for you. We will get through this together. Be safe and stay vigilant."

      • Earned Sick Time. Most workers are entitled to up to 40 hours of sick time per year. Massachusetts workers must earn at least one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. If your employer is violating the law, call our fair labor hotline at 617-727-3465 or file a complaint online. More information can be found here, including multilingual options. You can also read our new Fair Labor Division FAQs for employee rights and employer obligations during the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

      • Scams. Bad actors are attempting to exploit this crisis for their own monetary gain. We’re not going to let them. Be on the lookout for high-priced or low-quality products, Coronavirus scams, false or misleading information, and fraudulent charities. Please report scams immediately by filing a complaint or calling our consumer hotline at (617) 727-8400.

      • Health Care. The MA Health Connector opened a special enrollment period until April 25 for uninsured residents to sign up for health care coverage. Learn more here. You can also get your health care questions answered by the AG’s Health Care Division.

      • Immigrant Rights. The Trump Administration recently clarified that accessing COVID-19 testing and treatment will not make an immigrant a “public charge.” The full notice can be read here. I will continue to fight for the complete withdrawal of the rule. 

 

Boston Updates 

 

  • The City of Boston launched a new daily text service with updates and information regarding #COVID19. This is a free service with the latest developments and information related to the #coronavirus. Text the keyword BOSCOVID to phone #99411 to opt-in.

  • The City’s Economic Development team created a website dedicated to information sharing. Please use as a guide to help small business with takeout options: https://www.boston.gov/news/economic-development-update-coronavirus-covid-19  

  • With schools closed to students until April 27 (unless otherwise determined), the City will continue to provide free breakfast and lunch meals for pick-up to all Boston students. View a map of meal sites for children and youth. Sites and meal times are subject to change. Please check back to confirm information before you head to the meal pickup site.

    • They are providing Chromebooks to BPS students who do not have consistent access to a computer at home. To make sure the process keeps everyone safe and does not create large crowds, BPS is scheduling appointments for at-home delivery of Chromebooks. Some principals have delivered them to their students directly. They expect to have the remainder delivered by Friday, 3/27. Families received an email with a link to fill out a request form on March 17. After filling out the form, they will receive an email and text message to schedule an appointment. Distribution of Chromebooks will take place over several days. Parents can fill out the survey at www.bostonpublicschools.org/laptop

  • While the City is continuing with street cleaning, they are no longer ticketing or towing for street cleaning. Other parking rules are in effect to ensure public safety (e.g. no parking in front of a hydrant or a pedestrian ramp), to ensure public access to business districts (e.g. parking meters), or to ensure parking access close to home (e.g. resident parking). The City will continue to review these policies.

  • On March 16, the City announced it would temporarily pause some non-essential construction. This is done to stem the current public health crisis and support the health of workers in the City. On a case-by-case basis,

    • City will review requests for exceptions to the temporary construction moratorium. These may be granted by the Commissioner of Inspectional Services for building-related work or the Commissioner of Public Works for street-related work. These will be granted if they support increased public health and safety. This policy is effective as of March 17 and will be reviewed at regular intervals. New projects cannot be started at this time unless they meet the criteria above. Any currently permitted and active construction project must be in a secure situation by Monday, March 23. This policy only applies to projects permitted by the City of Boston.

 

Other Relevant Updates 

 

  • Eversource announced they are postponing disconnections for nonpayments for residential and business customers across their electric, natural gas, and water operations.

  • The newly formed MA Life Sciences Emergency Supply Hub launched yesterday (3/18/20) to help coordinate efforts to try and bring additional supplies and resources to our state’s healthcare institutions so they can continue to test and treat patients with COVID-19. 

 

Local Food Options for Seniors 

 

3/19/20 2:30 pm ~ From our reliable friends at Ethos in JP

“Here are some of the ways that Ethos is mobilizing to support our older neighbors: Consistent, daily delivery of Meals on Wheels (Globe article featuring our beloved Val Frias)

  • “Grab and Go” meals available daily at 31 community locations across Boston

  • Informational mailings and robocalls with up-to-date information on COVID-19 and safety precautions

  • Wellness checks and assistance with grocery shopping

  • Medication delivery and medical transportation

  • Homemaking and home health services, which support home sanitization and personal hygiene

  • Mental health support

Our seniors are at higher risk because many depend on services and supports provided in their homes or in the community to maintain their health and independence. On average, one in four older Bostonians is living in poverty and facing food insecurity. Further, nearly two out of three seniors are experiencing four or more chronic conditions, making them even more susceptible to COVID-19.” 

 

Be Conscious, Wise & Strategic 

 

Unless you are essential/critical response personnel, please stay home. If you are sick, stay home and call ahead before seeking medical care. If you show symptoms and desire testing, please contact your PCP. If you don't have a PCP, call the Mayor's hotline 617-534-5050 or the MA Dept of Public Health at 2-1-1, the state’s 24/7 hotline (operators fluent in Spanish and more than 150 other languages supported through an interpreter services line). 

 

Repeatedly hearing about the pandemic can be upsetting. To stay emotionally healthy, listen to the experts and do your best to do what they say: take breaks from following news stories or scrolling through social media, take deep breaths, stretch, meditate, eat balanced meals, get enough sleep, avoid alcohol and drugs, and take walks outside. When you return home, wash your hands. 

 

Anyone feeling overwhelmed with sadness, anxiety or stress, or who wants to harm themselves or others, can access the mental health, emotional support, and suicide prevention program Call2Talk by dialing 2-1-1. Call2Talk is also available by calling 508-532-2255 or by texting C2T to 741741.

 

Global: World Health Organization

Federal: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

State: Department of Public Health or 211

City: Boston Public Health Commission or 311 

 

We are all in this together. If you have a problem that you think is urgent, reach out and we'll do our best to try to help. 

PLEASE continue to comply with social distancing guidance. It will help to slow the spreading of the highly contagious virus. I will continue to be in touch with information as I receive it. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at liz.malia@mahouse.gov with any questions or concerns. 

Evening Update 

March 23, 2020 

Dear Friends, 

 

I write to provide you with relevant COVID-19 updates from over the weekend and today.  

 

Overall, the state Dept. of Public Health website is the best source of accurate and up-to-date information, which contains a wide range of information and a likely source of answers to many of your questions. 

 

While the State House is closed to the public, my office continues to operate remotely. The best way to reach me or my staff at this busy time is via email at liz.malia@mahouse.gov We are also available by phone if necessary at 617-722-2380. 

 

Thank you for all you're doing to help flatten the curve during this difficult time. 

 

LIZ MALIA

State Representative (11th Suffolk)

Assistant Vice Chair, House Ways & Means

State House Rm 238

617-722-2380

liz.malia@mahouse.gov 

www.replizmalia.org

 

CALL TO ACTION: "Stay at Home" Advisory Ordered - Due to evolving spread of COVID-19 in MA, Governor Baker directed the Department of Public Health to issue a stay at home advisory. Residents are advised to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel and other unnecessary activities for a two-week time period beginning tomorrow (March 24) at noon and ending April 7 at noon. Residents over 70 years of age or with underlying health conditions, who are considered at high risk when exposed to COVID-19, should limit social interactions with other people as much as possible. Although Massachusetts residents are not confined to their homes, gatherings of over 10 people are prohibited and residents, particularly high-risk individuals, are encouraged to stay at home and limit non-essential travel and social interactions. If you do go out, avoid crowds and stay 6 feet away from others. 

 

The Baker administration also issued an order relative to essential services and workplaces and released a detailed list of workers and services considered essential: COVID-19 Essential Services List

 

Categories of COVID-19 Essential Services:

  • Health Care & Public Health

  • Law Enforcement, Public Safety & First Responders

  • Food & Agriculture

  • Critical Manufacturing

  • Transportation 

  • Energy

  • Water & Wastewater

  • Public Works

  • Communications and Information Technology

  • Financial Services

  • Defense Industry Base

  • Chemical Manufacturing & Hazardous Materials

  • Other Designated Community Based Essential Function & Government Operations

  • News Media

 

Businesses with questions can email covid19.biz@mass.gov and businesses not covered under the order can request "essential" designation through an online form.

 

CALL TO ACTION: Supplies Needed - If you are a business of any kind which produces, distributes, or has supplies of testing or medical equipment including N-95 masks, gloves, gowns, ventilators, test supplies or other needed personal protective equipment that  can be used by front line medical staff and healthcare providers, please engage with the Mass Life Sciences Emergency Supply Hub.

 

Like you, I've heard from many frontline health care providers in my district who don't have enough supplies at work to keep them safe. As the Governor said today, his administration has made progress in securing some additional personal protective equipment for health care workers who had reported having to reuse masks and other gear. 

 

He stated he has had conversations with federal officials in which they've made commitments for additional equipment from the federal stockpile, and that the state has also successfully put in confirmed orders through U.S.-based manufacturers for millions of masks and swabs. The state is also working with organizations to source equipment from manufacturers in other parts of the world. 

 

CALL TO ACTION: Donate Blood or Platelets If You Are Healthy And Able - The American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during the COVID-19 outbreak. There is an urgent blood donation need now for patients with chronic conditions and trauma, as well as for ensuring an adequate blood and blood product supply going forward. 

 

The Governor deemed “Blood and plasma donors and the employees of the organizations that operate and manage related activities” as an essential service. Donating blood is safe and people should not hesitate to give. In addition, there is a need for community blood drive sites in the eastern part of the state. To schedule a new blood drive: contact Bill Forsyth at (617) 699-3808 or William.Forsyth@redcross.org.

 

Those who are healthy, feeling well, and eligible to give blood or platelets are urged to make an appointment by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). 

 

Additional State Updates 

 

  • MBTA Discourages All Non-Essential Travel: As part of the MBTA’s process of monitoring ridership and making corresponding service adjustments, the T continues to strongly discourage all non-essential travel. Effective Wednesday, March 25, the MBTA will modify the Commuter Rail’s Reduced Service Schedule to allow for five (5) trains to arrive in Boston prior to 7 A.M. These schedule revisions are being made to address the demand for travel by medical professionals and other emergency responders. The specific intent of these changes is to allow essential workers to travel with enough time to meet to shift changes at hospitals and other medical facilities. The complete Reduced Service Schedule including these adjustments is available at mbta.com/coronavirus. ***Remember, if you're part of the workforce traveling customers should board at the rear doors of buses and street-level trolley stops (effective March 21). Seniors and people with disabilities can still board at the front door if needed. Stations and vehicles are being cleaned and sanitized with increased frequency. Service levels have been adjusted to accommodate ridership levels on each line. The MBTA will continue to monitor this situation and may make further revisions in service based on guidance from public health professionals to support social distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19. 

  • The list of childcare facilities open statewide to care only children of essential services. Services are only available for emergency, back-up, drop-in care. Priority will be given to people including but are not limited to: health care workers, essential state and human service workers, COVID-19 health workers, grocery store employees, emergency response personnel, law enforcement, transportation and infrastructure workers, sanitation workers, DCF-involved families, and families living in shelters. To slow the spread of the coronavirus, all families should keep children out of group care settings to the greatest extent possible.

  • The Department of Unemployment Assistance continues to offer online and call-in Town Hall meetings to assist workers filing unemployment benefits as a result of COVID-19. You can sign up here. The next Town Hall on Tuesday, March 25 at 9AM is in Spanish.

  • The MA Department of Agricultural Resources launched a COVID-19 response page for all agriculture workers that provides information and resources relative to food safety, farmers' markets, and animal care.

  • The Governor supported the legislation the MA House and Senate passed Monday giving municipalities the flexibility to postpone their spring elections, and said he wanted to talk further with Democratic leaders about a renter-homeowner protection bill that House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka said was in the works. 

  • Conversations have been initiated with deans of the public health schools in MA, as well as the medical schools whose resident physicians don't start their rotations until June, to have students assist the state with contact tracing to identify people who may have come in contact with people known to be infected with COVID-19.

 

Boston Updates 

 

  • CITY OF BOSTON COVID19 LITERATURE DROP: On Saturday, March 21, 1,000 volunteers distributed pamphlets with information about the coronavirus to homes across the City in an effort to reach all households. The main priority was to reach seniors, residents with language access needs and particularly those who may not have access to the internet. Volunteers were instructed not to interact with residents and all pamphlets were left at doorsteps. The pamphlets outlined key details about COVID-19, a list of preventative measures to mitigate the spread, and a compilation of city resources, in seven different languages: English, Spanish, Haitian Kreyol, Simplified Chinese, Cape-Verdean Creole, and Russian. This pamphlet and an additional four languages were made available online at boston.gov/coronavirus and at each individual language webpage.

  • CITY OF BOSTON OPERATIONS: All essential City of Boston services such as public safety, public health and maintenance operations including street cleaning, trash and recycling pick up, etc will continue to be in operation. While City Hall is still open and running for critical operations, we discourage anyone from coming in unless they have an urgent need for services that cannot be done by phone or online. If you have questions, call the City's hotline at 3-1-1 to get connected to a department. Residents are asked not to call 9-1-1 unless you are experiencing a medical emergency. All COVID-19 questions should be directed to the Mayor's Health Line at 617-534-5050 or 311. The City and BPHC will continue to provide updated information on bphc.org and boston.gov/coronavirus.

  • BOSTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS: The City of Boston, in partnership with Project Bread, YMCA of Greater Boston, Boston Centers for Youth and Families, and other community organizations, will provide free meals to all youth and teens at various locations and times across the City. Learn more about meal distribution locations by clicking here. As part of our efforts to continue serving our students, Boston Public Schools are providing Chromebooks to students who do not have consistent access to a computer at home. Parents can fill out this application and email their school principal to receive an appointment time to pick up their student's device to avoid creating crowds.

  • BUSINESSES: Restaurants, bars, and other establishments that sell food and beverage products to the public are encouraged to continue to offer food for take-out and by delivery if they follow the social distancing protocols set forth in Department of Public Health guidance. On-premises consumption of food or drink is prohibited. 

  • The Office of Small business has put out a 2nd survey to help us identify ways to support small businesses through this crisis. Please give us your feedback here

  • The City of Boston has launched a website for residents to find local restaurants that remain open for take-out and delivery service during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. *If your business is open for delivery and want to let the public know, be sure to sign up on Support Boston Restaurants.

  • The Boston Transportation Dept. is creating temporary pick up zones in front of restaurants that have transitioned to takeout only or businesses that have increased delivery needs. If you would like to request a take-out/delivery zone in front of your business, please visit Boston.gov/takeout-zones

  • RECOVERY: We recently updated Boston.gov/recovery with online recovery support resources. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use, you can call 311 (or (617) 635-4500) to access recovery services.

 

Federal Updates

 

  • An estimated $1.08 billion in Medicaid will be directed to Massachusetts in the recently-passed federal coronavirus stimulus package. This package included a 6.2% increase in the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for Medicaid.

  • The full Massachusetts congressional delegation urged the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to include funding for Community Development Block Grants in any additional coronavirus stimulus package. This funding helps mayors and local governments throughout Massachusetts provide vital services to their communities, and private matching allows each dollar of federal spending to generate over $4 in total local investment.

 

Be Conscious, Wise & Strategic: You Play a Key Role in Preventing the Spread 

 

HOW YOU CAN HELP COVID19 EFFORTS

 

  • Stay home if possible. If you must go outside, practice physical distancing from others (6 feet apart); avoid crowded places.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol; avoid shaking hands

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes; clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces; and avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • If you think you might be sick, please call your doctor or 311 to be connected to the Mayor's Health Line 617-534-5050.

  • Donate supplies to first responders here

  • Donate to the City of Boston Resiliency Fund here

  • Fill out the 2020 Census. The 2020 Census is happening now and only 16.7 percent of households have responded. The Census informs how billions of dollars in federal funds will be allocated by state, local and federal lawmakers annually for the next 10 years. It’s more critical than ever to ensure that all Bostonians are counted. 

 

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at liz.malia@mahouse.gov with any questions or concerns. If you have a problem that you think is urgent, reach out and we'll do our best to try to help. I will continue to be in touch with information as I receive it. We are all in this together. Thank you for doing your part.

Global: World Health Organization

Federal: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

State: Department of Public Health or 211

City: Boston Public Health Commission or 311   

###