COVID-19 Updates + Virtual Budget Hearing TODAY at 10AM 4/14/20

 Dear Friends and Neighbors,

 

I hope this finds you well, staying healthy and at home.

 

The Governor reminded us on Friday that between 20-40% of infected people have no symptoms and could easily transmit the virus to someone more vulnerable. “We are about to enter what will probably be the most difficult period we are going to face in dealing with this particular virus at this particular time, ” he said. That’s why our collective priority remains to prevent the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus and why everyone in our communities must continue to stay 6 feet apart from one another and wear non-medical cloth masks. 

 

As more testing becomes available, the ask to the general public is to continue to assume you've been infected and act accordingly by remaining physically distant from others. That way, our front line workers can access the testing first to prevent the virus from spreading unnecessarily. 

 

If you need a mask, you can make one at home without sewing!

 

To our front line workers in our health care institutions, in our grocery stores and everyone in between, all we can continue to say is, thank you, thank you, thank you.

 

Finally, if you celebrated on Sunday, Happy Easter, and if you haven’t yet, especially now during these next two weeks, rediscover the strength of friends and family and reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while -- even if it's only been a couple days.

 

Warmly, 

Liz Malia

MA State Representative, 11th Suffolk 

liz.malia@mahouse.gov

 

To read the Commonwealth’s Command Center daily updates and my previous updates: www.replizmalia.org  

To subscribe to these updates: https://www.replizmalia.org/newsletter-sign-up

 

Take Action 

 

Helpful Legal Resources

https://www.masslegalhelp.org/ 

https://www.masslegalservices.org/covid-19

 

State Updates 

 

4/7 - The Administration and CVS announced the launch of a new rapid testing site in Lowell, which will enable on-the-spot COVID-19 testing and results at no cost. The new CVS site in Lowell will use the new Abbott ID NOW™ COVID-19 test. With the launch of this site, MA is the 3rd state where CVS has launched rapid testing sites, joining Georgia and Rhode Island.

 

4/8 - COVID-19 text alerts are now available in Spanish. Text “COVIDMAESP” to 888-777 to receive them.

 

4/8 - DPH released further guidance to promote social distancing at grocery stores. The new guidance requires that each grocery store limit occupancy to 40% of its maximum permitted occupancy level (except stores with a maximum occupancy of less than 25 people). It also sets out procedures by which staff should monitor occupancy levels. 

 

4/8 - COVID-19 testing for MA public safety personnel will be available at a second location beginning April 9 doubling the number of free, drive-through tests available for first responders and other emergency management workers. A mobile testing site at the Big E fairgrounds in West Springfield began operations April 9 and will supplement a site at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. 

 

4/8 - The Administration released Crisis Standards of Care guidelines for the Commonwealth’s health care facilities. Upon the request of leaders in the health care system, DPH convened a Crisis Standards of Care Advisory Committee that included medical experts and ethicists from across the Commonwealth, representing both large academic medical centers and community hospitals. Their recommendations helped inform ethical, equitable and transparent guidelines for providing acute care during a crisis. 

 

4/9 - Governor Baker signed an executive order that will require the Board of Medicine to allow graduates of International Medical Schools with at least two years of postgraduate medical training in an accredited U.S. or Canadian program to apply for a license and will expedite the approval process for them.

 

4/9 - Nursing students and graduate students who are in the final semester of their program will be allowed to practice nursing in advance of receiving their license so long as they are directly supervised by a licensed medical professional.

 

4/9 - An executive order was signed that will require insurers to cover all of the medically required costs of COVID treatment in out of network hospitals and medical facilities without charge to the patient, including co-pays, deductibles, or co-insurance payments. 

 

4/9 - The state launched a website with job opportunities for health and human services professionals at temporary care sites that will be updated frequently with new opportunities.  

 

4/10 - In accordance with new CDC guidelines, the Governor announced DPH will officially recommend the use of face masks or face coverings when individuals travel outside of the home and cannot safely socially distance particularly when they go to the grocery store or pharmacy.  

 

4/10 - The Administration and the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security expanded access to the free, priority COVID-19 testing sites for first responders to now include grocery store and supermarket workers. Beginning Saturday, April 11, the men and women who provide critical access to food and other necessities may schedule an appointment to receive COVID-19 testing at the sites located at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro and the Big E fairgrounds in West Springfield. All appointments must be made in advance by the worker’s supervisor or manager, and personnel do not need to be symptomatic to be eligible.

 

4/10 - The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) announced it would ban over the holiday weekend vehicles and allow pedestrians and bicyclists on William J. Day Boulevard between Farragut Road and Shore Drive in South Boston, Francis Park Drive between Perkins Street and the Arborway in Jamaica Plain, and Greenough Boulevard between Arsenal Street and North Beacon Street in Watertown. DCR will re-evaluate the policy after the weekend to see if it is viable long-term, but officials hope that allowing bicyclists and pedestrians to spread out into the roads will prevent sidewalk crowding that violates social-distancing guidelines. The department also said it would start cutting down parking at state parks on Saturday to prevent crowds from forming.

 

4/11 - After much legislative advocacy and a swift response from the Administration, the unemployment insurance application is now available in Spanish and is adapted for use on mobile devices. The application will be available in Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Chinese, Vietnamese and other languages in the coming days. 

 

4/13 - The Administration announced the launch of the Manufacturing Emergency Response Team which will support manufacturers making changes to their production to produce personal protective equipment and other devices that are critical in responding to COVID-19. There is $10.6 million in funding to help manufacturers make these changes. Companies can learn more and apply for funding here: https://masstech.org/manufacturing-emergency-response-team-funding-program

 

4/13 - Attorney General Maura Healey issued guidance stating that federal stimulus money is exempt from seizure from debt collectors. The Attorney General also signed onto a multistate letter asking the U.S. Department of Treasury to ensure that federal stimulus money is not subject to garnishment by creditors or debt collectors. You can read the guidance here and the letter here

 

Unemployment Updates 

 

On 4/9, the Administration announced details for the initial implementation of federal unemployment benefits in the CARES Act, the federal based COVID-19 relief package. Understanding the great urgency of Commonwealth residents to access these benefits, DUA has issued new guidance to instruct all qualifying residents of what actions they can now take to access CARES Act benefit programs. 

 

These new unemployment benefit programs include: 

  • The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program will provide an additional $600 per week for those collecting benefits starting now. This benefit is retroactive and applies to benefits received between March 29-July 31. Those currently receiving unemployment insurance do not need to do anything extra to receive the additional $600 per week. 

  • The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program will provide 39 weeks of benefits to those who are not traditionally covered under unemployment insurance like independent contractors and those employed in the gig economy. DUA is currently working with a contractor to build a platform for applications. It will be available on or around April 30.

  • The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program will provide 13 weeks of unemployment insurance to those who have exhausted their unemployment insurance benefits. The Department of Unemployment Assistance is waiting for federal guidance on the implementation of this program. These benefits are not available yet. 

 

Applying for unemployment continues to be frustrating for many. The Mayor's of Economic Development has a very helpful FAQ for Job Seekers and Unemployment Insurance (google doc)  

 

If you live in the 11th Suffolk district (check here: wheredoivotema.com), and you've already done everything you've been asked to do, and you still cannot seem to secure a successful application, please send an email to liz.malia@mahouse.gov 

 

To submit an inquiry on your behalf, my office will need the following information:  

 

INFO NEEDED

Full name:

Address:

Phone:

Email:

Last 4 SSN:

Last Employer: 

Claim ID:

Details:

ASK:

 

Remember, the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) will continue to hold daily virtual town hall meetings to walk filers through a step-by-step process that will result in a successful unemployment claim and to take questions from claimants. 

 

COVID-19 and Unemployment Benefit Legal Resource Guide

Produced by Greater Boston Legal Services/MA Law Reform Institute 

 

Remember to apply for other benefits, too: 

SNAP Food Assistance - Workers who lost hours or job due to COVID-19

COVID-19 and MassHealth and Health Insurance

 

COVID-19 Eviction Court Updates 

 

Produced by Greater Boston Legal Services

Reviewed April 6, 2020

https://www.masslegalhelp.org/covid-19/eviction-court-updates

 

If you or someone you know receives a 14-day notice to quit, know that you cannot be evicted without a judge’s order. Call our local tenancy advocacy group City Life Vida Urbana to receive the facts about your rights and assistance with writing to your landlord or bank. 

English 617-934-5006

Español 617-397-3773    

 

Recent Legislative Actions 

 

The state’s priorities and actions will continue to shift and grow in response to this crisis. 

 

Last Wednesday (4/8), the Governor filed legislation to provide health care workers and facilities protections from civil liability while they are on the front lines of the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 response. The legislation would protect health care professionals, including doctors, nurses, and emergency medical technicians, as well as certain health care facilities from liability and suit when the care that they provide is impacted by the COVID-19 emergency. The bill would also provide protections for the health workers staffing the unique Field Medical Stations being stood up at the DCU Center, Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and other locations. 

 

On Friday (4/10), Governor Baker signed a bill to suspend MCAS testing requirements for this school year. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will modify or waive graduation requirements and district improvement plan due dates will be pushed back.

 

Hopefully, we’ll see this week a housing security bill reach Gov. Charlie Baker's desk. The House and Senate last week passed different versions of an eviction moratorium bill, which is now being reconciled by a conference committee. 

 

State Budget Virtual Hearing - Tuesday, April 14 at 10 AM 

 

Virtual Economic Roundtable

Hosted by Senate and House Chairs of Ways & Means and the Secretary of Administration & Finance

https://malegislature.gov/Events/SpecialEvents/Detail/351

4/14 at 10 AM (video to begin at 9:30 AM) 

Virtual roundtable discussion on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Commonwealth’s fiscal health and economy.

 

Upcoming Items of Interest 

 

An unequal crisis: Addressing the intersectional dimensions of COVID-19

4/14 12-1 PM

Crises are not experienced equally. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on, and worsened, existing inequities. Inequitable structures and policies are endangering our most vulnerable populations. Caregivers, frontline workers, immigrants, and hourly wage workers—who are often people and women of color—are particularly vulnerable. Join us for this online event as we explore the intersections of race, gender, and the COVID-19 pandemic. We will look at COVID-19 responses in Massachusetts and discuss how community members and leaders can be supportive during this time.

 

Virtual Event: Ensuring Small & Minority Businesses Aren’t Left Behind

4/14 1-2 PM

The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce hosts a virtual panel discussion focusing on supporting small and minority-owned businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Panelists are Quincy Miller of Eastern Bank, Malia Lazu of Berkshire Bank, Juan C. Morales of Surfside Capital Advisors, and Gregorty Minott of DREAM Collaborative. 

 

City of Boston’s Small Business Conference Call

4/14 3 PM 

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is joining to discuss existing financial relief opportunities through the Federal Government and explain the process for callers.

Event URL: https://goto.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1304461&tp_key=aa426f8eed

OR

Audience Listen By Phone

+1 877-770-3647

Passcode: 89599919#

OR

Facebook Live

 

COVID-19 Crisis Management with Juliette Kayyem: The Response So Far and What to Expect in the Months Ahead

4/16 11 AM 

Security and crisis expert Juliette Kayyem will discuss the COVID-19 crisis management response by the federal government and Massachusetts so far, what to expect in the months ahead, and what employers and the business community should be tracking to manage and navigate this crisis.

 

Virtual Event: A Conversation with Mayor Marty Walsh

4/16 1-2 PM

This is an opportunity to hear directly from Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for an update on the city's COVID-19 response. Mayor Walsh will join Chamber CEO Jim Rooney for a discussion, followed by your questions.  Please submit questions to us ahead of time through