COVID-19 End of Week Update 6/14 + Police Licenses, Use of Force, Testing & Tracing, Inclusive P
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This week, we witnessed more powerful protests, heartbreaking violence, and the beginning of a true reckoning.
After almost 1.5 years of working with my colleagues in the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, the Governor announced he'll be filing legislation in the coming weeks to create a long-overdue police certification/license system, like many states already have, to bring forces in line with other trained professions where workers must be in good standing with an active license or certificate to operate in their official capacity.
On Thursday, I cosponsored my colleague Rep. Liz Miranda's bill that seeks to overturn many of the injustices baked into our current systems, most notably around the use of police force. As always, I will continue to stand with my colleagues in support of proposals that seek to make our systems work for everyone in an equitable manner.
Remember, we're still in Phase 2: Cautious of the state's 4 Phased Reopening Plan.
The first part of Phase 2 includes the opening of retail, childcare facilities, restaurants, hotels and lodging, warehouses, personal services without close physical contact, post-secondary, higher education, vocational-tech and occupation schools, youth and adult amateur sports, outdoor recreation facilities, professional sports practices, non-athletic youth instructional classes, driving and flight schools, outdoor historical spaces, and funeral homes. These businesses are operating under careful guidelines.
If you have questions, input, or comments regarding the Reopening Massachusetts plan, you can submit comments online. These comments can be used by the Administration to support efforts to methodically reopen the economy. And please do not hesitate to reach out, especially if you need food, housing or unemployment assistance, or anything else.
We can listen and help point you to the next best step.
State Rep., 11th Suffolk
6/7 - Governor Baker signed H.4672 An Act addressing COVID-19 data collection and disparities in treatment. Elder care facilities will now have to make daily reports on COVID-19 cases and a task force will be formed to recommend ways to address health disparities during the pandemic.
6/8 - Governor Baker did not hold a press conference today.
6/8 - The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released guidance for summertime special education services to school districts.
6/8 - Those who applied for MassHealth during the pandemic and are under the age of 65 can apply to have their coverage applied retroactively for up to 90 days to cover health services received no earlier than March 1st.
6/8 - The MA Department of Developmental Services has revised its visitation policy to allow for outdoor visitation with conditions at its residential programs.
6/8 - The reopening of bars without seated food service has been moved to phase 4 of reopening after being originally slated for phase 3.
6/9 - MBTA services will increase starting 6/21. Regular weekday service will operate on the Blue Line, increased weekday service will operate on the Red, Orange, Green, and Mattapan Lines; and service will increase for nearly sixty bus routes. Commuter rail service will increase and ferry service will resume on weekdays starting 6/22. Learn more here.
6/10 - Governor Baker did not hold a press conference today.
6/10 - Starting today, eligible customers will be able to complete the Class D (passenger) or Class M (motorcycle) Learner's Permit Exams online. To take the online test, customers must visit a Service Center to present their application. To visit an RMV service center, you must schedule an appointment.
6/10 - The USDA issued a waiver extension that will allow local partners that have been serving meals to children at meals sites across the state during the COVID-19 pandemic to continue doing so for the remainder of the summer!!!
6/11 - The Governor announced the availability of $41 Million in Support for food security programs to address urgent food insecurity for MA residents as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
6/11 - MassDOT and the Barr Foundation created the Shared Streets & Spaces program, which is funding a program to provide technical and funding assistance to cities and towns to help conceive, design and execute shared streets and spaces projects.
6/11 - The Commonwealth's COVID-19 Command Center provided House members with a Testing and Tracing Strategy Update.
6/11 - Starting 6/18, there will be a 14-day full closure of the Red Line between Braintree and Quincy Center Stations. Shuttle buses will be available for transportation between the two stations.
6/11 - During a press conference and tour of BIDMC, Governor Baker was joined by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. Secretary Azar provided an update that the federal government is aiming to have 300 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine ready for early next year, with no guarantees.
6/12 - Pride Flag Raising
On behalf of the LGBTQ+ Legislative Caucus, I was proud to help organize and join my colleagues on Friday 6/12 outside at a safe distance on the front steps of the MA State House to raise the INCLUSIVE "Chevron" Pride flag, with brown and black stripes to represent Black and Latinx queer people and blue, pink, and white stripes to represent the colors of the transgender flag.
This flag was raised at Boston City Hall earlier this Pride Month and made the front page of Saturday's Globe. We gathered to commemorate Pride Month and what would have been the 50th Annual Boston Pride Parade on Saturday, and the 4th Anniversary of the massacre at the Orlando Pulse Nightclub, and to stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
6/13 - The MA Trial Courts found that 6,661 requests for restraining and harassment orders have been made since 3/8, compared to 10,069 over the same 13-week period in 2019. You can currently request harassment protection orders by calling your local court clerk and filling out the relevant forms by PDF or by providing the information over the telephone. Orders are being sent by mail, and judges are holding hearings over Zoom. You can also find COVID-19 resources for abuse prevention orders and harassment prevention orders here.
6/13 - Governor Baker did not hold a press conference today.
Upcoming Items of Interest
BRIEFING ON POLICE LICENSING: Lawmakers in the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus and civil rights activists host a press briefing to discuss systems for licensing police officers and other accountability measures. According to a Boston Globe report, Gov. Baker is planning to propose legislation creating a statewide certification process for police. Participants include Reps. Russell Holmes and David Vieira, ACLU of Massachusetts Racial Justice Program Director Rahsaan Hall, Mass Police Reform founder Jamarhl Crawford, Saint Louis University School of Law professor Roger Goldman, Lawyers for Civil Rights Senior Attorney Sophia Hall, Strategies for Youth Executive Director Lisa Thurau, and Municipal Police Training Commission former executive director Dan Zivkovich. (Tuesday, 11 a.m. RSVP)
MATERNAL HEALTH: Rep. Liz Miranda is the guest for NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts' latest Pro-Choice Check-In and will discuss racial disparities in maternal health with the organization. NARAL said a Black woman is twice as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than a white woman in Massachusetts. Miranda is expected to detail legislation she has filed to address the disparities in maternal health. (Tuesday, 2 p.m., Register)
MASSHEALTH UPDATES: The Health Connector will be holding a live webinar titled "Get covered through the Health Connector: What you need to know if you've recently lost health insurance benefits" (Wednesday, 4-5 p.m. Register).
THE U.S. CENSUS: The Census is a constitutionally required nationwide survey conducted every 10 years by the U.S. Census Bureau to count the population of the United States.
The data collected by the Census:
Determines the number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and influence in the Electoral College.
Informs redistricting, defining congressional districts, state legislative districts, and local city council districts for the next ten years.
Directs more than $675 billion in federal funding to states and cities.
Census Day of Action 6/17 is a day meant to highlight the importance of participating in the 2020 Census. To help the ongoing COVID-19 relief efforts and catalyze the redistribution of resources into historically marginalized communities, you can take action by filling out the 2020 Census. Whether you’re living with your siblings, your parents, your grandparents, or friends—EVERYONE in your home should be counted on your 2020 Census. The whole point is to help direct the resources to our communities by responding. (Wednesday, all day - *CORRECTION: in a previous update, I incorrectly indicated Census workers would begin door knocking; this actually won't begin at the earliest until Aug. 12, 2020.)
LGBTQ YOUTH REPORT: Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth holds a virtual event to release its annual report, yearly policy recommendations and findings on the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on LGBTQ youth and young adults. Speakers include commission Chair Sasha Goodfriend, commission director Corey Prachniak-Rincón, and Rep. Jack Lewis. The commission will also present awards and swear in its 50 members. In addition to the live event, participants can also sign up to receive an on-demand recording. (Thursday, 10 a.m. Register)
Unemployment Town Halls & Fraud
Please tune in to this week's town halls if you need to better understand how the different programs work.
If you believe someone is using your identity to falsely claim unemployment benefits, learn how to report the fraud and what to do to protect yourself here.
At the end of May, I joined my colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature to pass a bill to make more information about COVID-19 cases publicly available, including cases at elder care facilities, soldiers’ homes, and houses of correction.
Notably, the proposal creates a task force to provide recommendations on how to mitigate health disparities for underrepresented and underserved communities in the wake of the pandemic. Many of my colleagues in the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus (BLLC) worked hard on the important data pieces in this bill, and I'm pleased they were included.
Requires the Department of Public Health to collect daily data on the number of individuals tested positive, hospitalized, deaths, and key demographic information, including cases and mortalities at elder care facilities;
Specifies details on the format of reporting data from local boards of health and elder care facilities;
Mandates that elder care facilities notify residents and their healthcare proxies if there is a new confirmed case or mortality due to COVID-19 or 3 or more residents or staff have symptoms;
Includes the Department of Corrections and each House of Correction among those facilities which must comply with the data collection and reporting provisions of the bill;
Creates a task force to study and make recommendations on addressing health disparities for underserved or underrepresented populations based on a variety of demographic factors;
Asks that the task force provide recommendations to improve safety for at-risk populations for COVID-19, remove barriers to quality and equitable health care services, increase access to medical supplies and testing, among other items.
Taken together, the provisions of An Act addressing COVID-19 data collection and disparities in treatment will provide the public with a greater understanding on how the virus is affecting those in locations hardest hit by the pandemic, including elder care facilities and urban areas. The task force, in turn, will make recommendations to alleviate disparities in infection and treatment among populations disproportionally impacted by the outbreak.
The Governor signed the bill into law on Sunday night 6/7, and filed an additional bill that seeks to make more changes around data collection.
Earlier this month, I joined my