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.
MA State Representative, 11th Suffolk
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
To donate goods for use in Massachusetts' response to the COVID-19 public health emergency: https://www.mass.gov/forms/covid-19-donation-program
To provide information about goods you are looking to sell to support Massachusetts' COVID-19 response efforts: https://www.mass.gov/forms/covid-19-procurement-program
To adapt your business to produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): https://masstech.org/M-ERT
To volunteer to assist in public health, health care, and emergency response https://www.maresponds.org/
Partners In Health is currently looking for Contact Tracers. This team will reach out to all MA contacts of COVID patients, counsel them on testing and quarantine, refer them for testing, and connect them to necessary resources throughout their quarantine. Apply here: https://jobs.crelate.com/portal/talentboost/job/3kyqki4zeqoyugdzsha5iynhce?fbclid=IwAR3U_FtIhZ8tqC6Mojp8jXOiMeHIkDEFO5zdHyM8N2dIp7KVBqJi6tqE1ss
Partners Healthcare are looking for staffing support for the BCEC Medical Center. Providers interested in signing up can go to: https://www.partners.org/careers/boston-hope.aspx
Helpful Legal Resources
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.
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 email@example.com
To submit an inquiry on your behalf, my office will need the following information:
Last 4 SSN:
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Audience Listen By Phone
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mayor continues to urge residents to stay home and avoid contact with others; respect the recommended curfew from 9pm to 6am, wear a face-covering whenever you leave home (City's new video on how to make your own mask at home); stay at least 6 feet from other people at all times; wash your hands and clean and sanitize surfaces frequently. The City of Boston is asking City and community leaders, local organizations, and non-profit partners to push this message out to their networks.
Numbers: As of Monday, April 13, in Massachusetts: 26,867 cases of coronavirus and 844 deaths. In Boston: 4,086 cases, 489 recovered, and 69 deaths.
Surge of coronavirus cases in Boston & MA: 52% of total cases in Boston came between April 5 to April 12 -- i.e., our cases more than doubled in a week. According to some models, the peak is now projected to arrive at the end of April. Distancing in the next two weeks is critical to flattening the curve and saving lives. Talk at the national level of reopening the economy on May 1 is irresponsible. Our priority must be public health.
Update on the Boston Hope Medical Center at BCEC: The Boston Hope Medical Center at BCEC opened on Friday, April 10. It has a total of 1,000 beds, including 500 to add capacity for our hospitals, and 500 specifically for homeless patients. As of Sunday evening, there are 45 patients at the Boston Hope Medical Center — including 16 individuals experiencing homelessness. The Mayor made a special appeal to look out for remaining unsheltered individuals during today’s storm. Both city agencies and nonprofit partners are doing active street outreach and daytime programs remain open. Call 311 for more information and 911 if someone appears to need emergency help.
Identifying and addressing inequities in the impact of the virus: The City of Boston has been collecting and sharing race and ethnicity data for cases in Boston, and encouraging other jurisdictions to do the same. Those numbers are updated daily on Boston.gov/coronavirus. This weekend, the Mayor hosted the first meeting of Boston’s COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force. This group is made up of leaders of color in the community, including doctors, faith leaders, and heads of community health centers. At their first meeting, they identified priority areas, including testing, data, community action, and understanding the economic impact
Access to screening and testing: The City is working with the Whittier Street Health Center in Roxbury to help make testing more accessible to residents. Starting today, the Center will be offering scheduled rapid result testing to all. Go to their website at wshc.org and please call ahead to schedule your testing. The Mayor also reminded people that Buoy Health has a free online screening resource, accessible at buoy.com/mass. This tool can help determine if you need to see a healthcare provider, and they can connect you to telehealth resources that are fully covered by health insurance.
Financial assistance for residents and small businesses: The City created a Rental Relief Fund for tenants who fall behind on rent because of the crisis and don’t have access to enough federal relief or unemployment benefits to make it up. The first round of funding is closed. Yesterday (4/13), the Department of Neighborhood Development held a lottery for over 5,500 applicants who qualified in this round. Going forward, the City will work with partner agencies to process the applications. The goal is to distribute the funds by the end of the month. Boston residents can fill out a form at Boston.gov/rentalrelief to be contacted when the next round of funding is open.
The City’s Small Business Relief Fund is for local businesses at risk of shutting down permanently due to the crisis. The City received almost 3,000 applicants. While this round of funding has closed, they will make an announcement if and when more funds become available. If businesses need guidance, they can review the City’s Financial Relief Handbook or reach out to the Economic Development team at Boston.gov/smallbusiness.
Update on the Boston Resiliency Fund: Since March 16, the City has raised over $24.4 million in the Fund, from more than 3,500 donors. So far, the City has distributed $10.4 million to 38 organizations across three priority areas, including food access, healthcare for vulnerable populations, supports for healthcare and other front-line workers, and technology for at-home student learning. This week, the City will announce a third round of funding, and it will continue to accept donations at Boston.gov/BostonResiliencyFund.
One Boston Day: Wednesday, April 15 is the 7th anniversary of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. It is also the 6th annual One Boston Day, a citywide day of reflection and service. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the City won’t be able to host in-person events or volunteer projects for One Boston Day this year. The Mayor emphasized that this year’s One Boston Day is as important as ever. He urged people to do everything they can to support their fellow Bostonians, especially through physical distancing and wearing a face covering every time they leave the house.
The Mayor announced that he will be proclaiming April 15, 2020, a Citywide day of reflection, prayer, and unity. The City will share opportunities to connect online with Boston’s faith community, with secular organizations, and with our local arts community so that everyone has a chance to slow down, reflect, and share some meaningful time with their fellow Bostonians. The Mayor is also calling on everyone to spread goodwill through acts of kindness you can safely do from home, and inviting people to share their reflections on the meaning of One Boston Day on social media with the hashtag #OneBostonDay.
Behavioral Health Friendly Reminder
Thanks to my colleague, Rep. Decker of Cambridge, the House Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery, for sharing this helpful information about the 5 stages of grief.