Dear Friends and Neighbors:
I hope this finds you and those you love well on this first sunny weekend of May.
Our hospitals have somewhat stabilized for now and our testing capacity has increased some, but we're not out of the thick of this yet, and we must continue to prevent the virus from spreading.
On Friday, the Baker-Polito Administration ordered all residents over the age of two to use a face covering or mask in public places where maintaining proper social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is not possible. This statewide order goes into effect on this coming Wednesday, May 6, and supersedes previously issued guidance relative to mask use. Of course, I encourage you to begin this practice of covering your face, if you haven't already.
*This order applies to all workers and customers of businesses and other organizations that are currently open to the public and permitted to operate as COVID-19. Essential Businesses, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retail stores. Residents are also required to wear a mask or face covering at all times when using any means of transportation service or public mass transit.*
Click HERE or see below to WATCH new DPH PSA on How to Safely Cover Your Face Outside of Home.
A face covering may include anything that covers the nose and mouth, including a mask, scarf, or bandana. Health care masks (such as surgical or N-95 masks) should not be used and should be preserved for health care workers and first responders. Cloth masks should not be worn by young children under the age of two, persons with difficulty breathing, or those who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
Instructions on how to make a cloth mask are available from the CDC.
In times of despair and difficulty, I believe it is still within us to feel joy. Towards this end, usually, assisting others helps a lot. And we know taking action can also help to lower anxiety levels, so consider taking breaks from t.v. and the news, and making a mask for yourself and maybe others, too.
If you don't know where to start, please consider requesting a mask or volunteering to make masks through the Boston Area Mask Initiative, a Boston based grassroots organization of makers and volunteers who provide handmade fabric masks to medical and essential workers and at-risk populations affected by the COVID-19 crisis. They’re helping to generate and distribute reusable, nonmedical face coverings and holding their first town hall (via Zoom) this Thursday, May 7, 7-8 PM.
SAVE THE DATE - This Friday, May 8 at 9 AM, just like we typically would on the 2nd Friday of the month, we're going to attempt our first virtual office hours for residents of the 11th Suffolk District (Ward 11, Ward 12: Precincts 7, 9, Ward 14: Precinct 3, Ward 19: Precincts 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13).
This is a pilot test run and we appreciate your patience in advance as we shift our ongoing casework assistance dialogue with you to online platforms. If you know folks who cannot participate due to lack of access to technology, as always, we can communicate via phone 617-722-2380, x2 or email email@example.com. PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR MORE INFO. LATER THIS WEEK.
Finally, for those of you who've lost someone to the virus, my heart and prayers are with you. If you are or know someone who is struggling to access available services, please reach out to my office. Additionally, let us know if you need assistance with unemployment, health care enrollment, or housing.
MA State Representative, 11th Suffolk
To read 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
Helpful Legal Resources
If you or someone you know is at risk for sexual and domestic violence, service providers are still accessible. You can also call SafeLink, the statewide domestic violence hotline, at 1-877-785-2020. SafeLink can provide resources and support services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
To file an unemployment claim, visit here. If you have trouble filing a claim, please contact my office for assistance.
To receive, your federal economic impact payment: check out the tool kit for congressional offices.
To apply for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits call Project Bread’s Food Source Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 (M-F from 8am-7pm & Saturday from 10am-2pm.)
The WIC (Women, Infants, & Children Nutrition) program provides families with healthy foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and referrals to healthcare and other services for families.
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.
Text COVIDMA to 888-777 to receive daily text updates from MA Dept. of Public Health.
US Census - Boston Counts 2020
Boston depends on your household to respond so that our communities get their fair share of federal funding and representation for the resources we need.
Much of the funding that comes from the Census count helps the most vulnerable among us. It provides, for instance, health care (Medicare and Medicaid), public education (grants for special education and Boston Public Schools), food and nutrition programs (SNAP and free school breakfast/lunch programs), affordable housing (Section 8 vouchers), and child care (Head Start) for low-income families.
The Census has never been more accessible. You can respond to the 2020 Census online (my2020census.gov), over the phone, or by mail. You can respond to the 2020 Census online or over the phone in 13 different languages.
Responses to the 2020 Census are safe, secure, and protected by federal law. Your answers can only be used to produce statistics and cannot be used against you by any government agency or court. The Census Bureau can’t share your personal information with DHS, law enforcement, or your landlord until 72 years have passed. It won’t affect any public benefits you receive.
Whether you rent or you own your home, whether you were born here or you just got here, whether you are a senior citizen or a newborn baby, you count equally in our democracy and we need to make sure you and everyone in your household is counted in the 2020 Census.
The 2020 Census is a way to directly increase community power. It will impact our daily lives for the next 10 years. Many of Boston’s communities are at risk of an undercount. We need a complete and accurate count because all of Boston deserves to be seen, heard, and invested in.
City Guides for Small Business
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) became live Monday 4/20, 10 days ahead of schedule. See Mayor's Office of Economic Development FAQ for Job Seekers and Unemployment Insurance
The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) continues to offer virtual town halls that provide information on how to apply for unemployment assistance. These town halls take place every day and will take you through the step by step process of applying for unemployment.
If you're expecting a call from the DUA, PLEASE ANSWER calls from 617-626-6800 up until 8 PM 7 days/week.
Residents with a valid resident permit sticker will be allowed to park in a metered or two-hour parking space, without having to adhere to the time limit or pay a meter fee, within their specific neighborhood.
For cars without the relevant resident permit parking sticker, standard time limit and meter requirements remain in place.
Inspection Stickers and Registration
To support the medical community, BTD has identified facilities offering free, reduced rate or reserved parking for medical professionals. To receive discounted parking, medical staff will need to present a hospital ID. See the list of participating facilities.
4/27 - The Administration will be increasing funding by $44 million for residential congregate care service providers. This funding builds on $95 million in funding announced in March and will be used to support increased staffing costs (such as hazard pay), infection control, and personal protective equipment for the 238 residential service providers that serve over 20,500 individuals
4/27 - The Administration announced an additional $130 million in funding for nursing facilities to support COVID-19 response efforts over the next two months. This funding will support staff costs, infection control, and personal protective equipment if facilities are able to demonstrate adherence to accountability measures.
4/27 - The Commonwealth will also offer temporary staffing assistance for all nursing home needs. This includes clinical response teams of nurses and CNAs deployed in groups of 10 during emergency situations. These efforts will be supported by a centralized infection control performance improvement center established by the Massachusetts Senior Care Association. I heard from nursing homes in the 11th Suffolk, advocated on their behalf, am grateful this is the state’s response so far, and recognize more needs to be done.
4/27 - Attorney General's office released guidance on protecting the rights of people with disabilities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
4/28 - Governor Baker extended his emergency order requiring non-essential businesses to keep their physical workplaces and facilities closed until May 18. This order also extends the ban on gatherings of more than 10 people until May 18.
4/28 - The Department of Public Health announced that the stay-at-home advisory will continue to remain in effect. Residents are encouraged to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel. Those that are considered high risk should limit social interactions with others as much as possible.
4/28 - The Governor announced the formation of the Reopening Advisory Board, which will be co-chaired by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kenneally. This board, which is composed of public health officials, members of the business community, and municipal officials from across Massachusetts, is charged with advising the Administration on strategies and developing a plan to reopen the economy in phases based on health and safety metrics.
4/28 - Following the Legislature’s action to allow for the modification of high school graduation requirements, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to temporarily modify the competency determination requirement for current high school seniors during the COVID-19 emergency. Read more here.
4/28 - The Small Business Administration resumed accepting applications for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). ***If you're a small business or non-profit, you can apply for free legal technical assistance to help navigate the relief available to you: https://www.covidreliefcoalition.com/en/sources-of-relief
4/28 - The Children’s Trust of Massachusetts is now providing free parenting resources during the COVID-19 outbreak, including its digital, evidence-based parenting resource, All Babies Cry.
4/28 - Comcast announced they’ll extend their comprehensive COVID-19 response policies to June 30, 2020. This includes no disconnects and waiving late fees, Xfinity WiFi free for everyone, pausing their data plan and extending their internet essentials offer.
4/29 - Partners Healthcare announced that they will be running a COVID-19 diagnostic test on every admitted patient at its acute care hospitals. Partners will also be testing for emergency room admissions and patient transfers. Those that have been tested can expect results within one to three hours. Following the Legislature’s action to allow for the modification of high school graduation requirements, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to temporarily modify the competency determination requirement for current high school seniors during the COVID-19 emergency.
4/30 - The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is hiring temporary employees to assist with disaster relief efforts. Many positions are virtual and bilingual language skills are a plus. Jobs include call center customer service representative, document preparation/legal review/loan closing, and loan processing/credit analysis/mortgage underwriting.
5/1 - Quest Diagnostics and the Mass League of Community Health Centers announced they will expand their COVID-19 testing at additional centers throughout the Commonwealth, bringing the total to 18 community health centers, including: Lynn Community Health Center, North Shore Community Health Center, South Boston Community Health Center, Holyoke Health Center, and Community Health Center of Franklin County.
4/29 - Governor Baker stated that assessments that the total death toll of COVID-19 are undercounted in the state are likely correct and that the Administration is working to correct this. This is in response to CDC data that shows overall death rates have been higher in MA.
4/29 - Starting today, the COVID-19 Command Center is making its raw data, used to create its daily COVID-19 dashboard, available. You can download this data in a zip file here.
4/30 - About 5,000 people have been contacted by the state's Community Tracing Collaborative program. The state and Partners in Health are conducting contact tracing to identify people who have come into contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive. If you have been in contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive, you will receive a call from a number with an 857 or 833 area code, and the caller ID will say "MA COVID Team." Learn more about the Community Tracing Collaborative here.
4/30 - The Attorney General reminded us all regardless of your immigration status, you should not hesitate to seek medical care if you are injured, sick, need routine care, develop COVID-19 related symptoms, or have been exposed to the virus. Call your doctor or community health center. They are open and here for you. For those of us who want to help, there are many great organizations in MA stepping up to support the most vulnerable during this crisis, including our immigrant communities. If you are able, please consider making a contribution to support their efforts. You can find a list of organizations and how to contribute here.
5/1 - The RMV announced it extended its cancellation of passenger and motorcycle road tests through Monday, May 18, 2020, as per the Governor’s stay-at-home order.
5/1 - Governor Baker signed an executive order requiring residents over the age of 2 to use face coverings in public places where they cannot socially distance. This order will go into effect May 6.
5/1 - The Attorney General's office created flyers with information on access to healthcare, financial assistance, and other protections. Thousands of these flyers will be distributed in communities that are disparately impacted and in need of immediate assistance and information about their rights. You can also find it online in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Haitian Creole, Cape Verdean Creole, French, Arabic, and Russian here.