COVID-19 Evening Updates 3/25/20
Today's message: it is us humans vs. the virus.
Below are a few highlights from yesterday and today, plus the Baker-Polito Administration comprehensive press release that outlines the latest state action in response to COVID-19.
To link to the Commonwealth COVID-19 Command Center's daily situation reports (sent at end of day), visit https://www.replizmalia.org/covid-19-response
We are all in this together. Please do your part to continue social distancing, practicing good hygiene, and taking good care of yourself and your loved ones during these trying times.
Today, the City of Boston launched two new dashboards to provide statistics on COVID19 cases in Boston and throughout MA.
Yesterday, the state launched a new “Alerts MA” texting service to allow MA residents to receive the latest updates and information about COVID-19 from trusted sources. To sign up, text “COVIDMA” to 888-777.
Supporting Our Health Care Workers
The City is working with commercial parking garages across Boston who are offering lower rates for medical staff. A comprehensive list of participating garages can be found here.
BlueBikes will offer a 30-day, unlimited trip pass for $0 for hospital staff. Please note that bikes are disinfected regularly including high-touch areas such as handlebars and seat posts.
You can now apply online for Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC), visit DTA Connect. And click here for instructions on how to download the DTA Connect app.
The FoodSource Hotline (800-645-8333) continues to have the most up-to-date information on food resources, including new school sites, food pantries, and federal programs. They can help callers with SNAP applications over the phone 8am-7pm, Mon-Fri and 10am-2pm on Saturdays throughout the crisis. To better help families access food resources during this time, they created a master list and map of all meal sites currently serving students and families.
Animal Food For Those In Need
We know families will give pets their own food and go without (or with less) when things get tight, and we want to prevent that type of food insecurity if possible. Locally, the MSPCA can assist by delivering pet food to any food pantries that are already existing, if possible. Individuals with urgent needs for their pets are welcome to contact directly. CONTACT: Alyssa Krieger, firstname.lastname@example.org Community Outreach Coordinator, MSPCA Boston, 617-524-5690
Know Your Rights
The Attorney General's Community Engagement Division is offering webinars on scams and identity theft, landlord and tenant rights, and more. Click here to sign up for a webinar on the date and time of your choice.
Wellness Calls to Seniors
My office is conducting wellness calls to seniors in the 11th Suffolk and then helping to connect folks to resources. If you're interested in joining the effort, some of our district city councilors are coordinating locally as well.
Baker-Polito Administration Announces Extension of School and Non-Emergency Child Care Program Closures and Steps to Ensure Housing Stability To Support COVID-19 Response
All schools, child care programs will remain closed through May 4
BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration today announced new actions to support the ongoing COVID-19 response, including extending the closure of all public and private schools and non-emergency child care programs and steps to protect homeowners and low-income tenants from eviction and foreclosure. The Department of Public Health (DPH) also issued an order relative to pharmacies and grocery stores.
Schools and Non-Emergency Child Care Programs: Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order extending the closure of all public and private schools, and all non-emergency childcare programs, until May 4 in an effort to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.
This order expands on previous orders issued on March 15 and March 18 suspending normal educational operations at schools and non-emergency child care programs until April 6, and the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) established a process to approve Exempt Emergency Child Care Programs to serve vulnerable children and families of first responders and essential workers.
This closure extends one week beyond scheduled spring vacation week on most school district calendars.
The order does not apply to residential special education schools.
This extension will allow school administrators and educators added planning time to ensure students can complete course requirements, as well as provide teachers with time to expand remote learning opportunities.
Remote Learning and Education: During this time, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is requesting that educators continue to develop and assemble high-quality educational materials to provide students with effective remote learning resources through the month of April. The Department is also creating a model for districts to use and modify in collaboration with local stakeholders to fit their school district’s needs, and will continue to work with schools to identify best practices for implementing effective remote learning.
Remote learning encompasses a wide variety of learning methods, including both analog and online. While technology is an excellent tool, districts should also consider ways students can continue to learn offline.
This could include exploring nature, activities to support students’ local communities (with appropriate social distancing) and engaging in hands-on projects and artistic creations that stem from students’ experiences.
Additionally, through a new partnership between DESE and WGBH, educational resources will be posted on the department’s website, and middle and high school students can access WGBH and WGBY educational programming on WGBH and WGBY on the WORLD channel from noon to 5 p.m.
Housing Stability for Vulnerable Populations: The Baker-Polito Administration announced steps to keep vulnerable families in their homes, preserve the health and safety of low-income renters and homeowners, and prevent homelessness due to reduced or lost income. These steps include the following:
DHCD is moving to temporarily suspend terminations of federal and state rental vouchers under their purview.
MassHousing is transferring $5 million to the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for a COVID-19 Rental Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) fund to assist families facing rent insecurity.
The Division of Banks (DOB) has issued new guidance to Massachusetts financial institutions and lenders urging them to provide relief for borrowers and will advocate for a 60-day stay on behalf of all homeowners facing imminent foreclosure on their homes.
DHCD is issuing guidance recommending that all owners of state aided low-income housing, including Local Housing Authorities and private owners, suspend both pending non-essential evictions and the filing of any new non-essential evictions.
Affordable housing operators are urged to suspend non-essential evictions for loss of income or employment circumstances resulting in a tenant’s inability to make rent.
This guidance urges operators to establish reasonable payment plans, notify Section 8 or public housing residents about interim income recertification to adjust rent payments, and to consider offering relief funding for residents ineligible for income reassessment.
Pharmacies and Grocery Stores: Today, DPH issued a new order to support pharmacies and grocery stores and their employees during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This order will require grocery stores and pharmacies to:
Provide at least one hour per day of shopping for adults over 60-years-old.
Offer sanitation options, such as hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes, as available, to clean shopping carts and points of frequent contact.
Appropriate social distancing policies, including a marked “Social Distancing Line,” beginning six feet away from all checkout counters.
Close any self-serve food stations.
Instruct store employees who are ill to stay home, and for stores to accommodate employees who fall in the high-risk category with alternative assignments to limit exposure.
The Administration will continue to update the public on further developments and individuals are encouraged to consult both the Department of Public Health and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites for the most up to date information.
The latest information and guidance regarding COVID-19 is always available at mass.gov/COVID19.