COVID-19 End of Week Update 7/12/20
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Change isn't easy, yet it's constant and creates opportunities for growth.
We are all feeling challenged in many ways by this invisible virus, which has exacerbated pre-existing economic and racial inequities and injustices. The Mayor reminded us on Friday that as the City enters the state's Part 1 of Phase III, we are only able to do so because we've all been doing our part: wearing a face covering whenever in the public, keeping six feet distance from other people, avoiding large crowds, washing hands often with soap and warm water, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces.
However, the current Rt for the coronavirus in the Commonwealth -- a measure of a virus's average transmission rate at a given point in time -- is estimated at 1.07, according to the website Rt.live. The Rt value is essentially the number of people that one infected person transmits the virus to. Since hitting the low end of the scale around 6/22, the transmission rate of the virus in Massachusetts has been steadily inching upwards.
We are all in this together and only as strong as our most vulnerable. To prevent any further increase, please, when you must be out and about, cover your nose and mouth and continue to operate with intention, compassion, and patience.
Submit questions and comments about Reopening Massachusetts
Purchasing Hygienic or Protective Supplies for the Workplace
COVID-19 Response Reporting
11th Suffolk District
7/6 - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released regulations that state international students who attend U.S. colleges cannot remain in the U.S. if their school is offering only online classes this fall. There are nearly 77,000 international students in Massachusetts.
7/13 - U.S. District Court Judge Allison Burroughs holds a hearing to consider a lawsuit that Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology filed attempting to halt a federal policy that would order international students to leave the U.S. if their college or university offers online-only classes in the fall. The new rules unveiled by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency prompted immediate upheaval in the higher education landscape both in Massachusetts, where tens of thousands of students would be affected, and nationally. Harvard and MIT argue in their lawsuit that the policy is arbitrary and capricious and that it violates the Administrative Procedures Act. The hearing will be conducted by video conference, and the media and public can request access. Registration (Tuesday, 3 p.m., John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse, Courtroom 17)
7/15 - Wednesday is the deadline for Massachusetts residents to file both federal and state 2019 income tax returns, postponed from the normal April 15 deadline because of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The later deadline falls in the new fiscal year and questions remain around how much revenue the state will ultimately take in for fiscal 2020, which ended on June 30.
7/13 - Massachusetts state courthouses will physically reopen to the public for limited purposes on Monday, with most business still conducted virtually. Entry will be limited to persons attending in-person proceedings, persons conducting business with a clerk's, register's or recorder's office, persons meeting with probation, and persons conducting business at other open offices in the courthouses, according to the Supreme Judicial Court. Anyone wishing to enter a courthouse will be subject to a screening process including having their temperature taken with a contactless thermometer and answering questions. Everyone over the age of 2 will be required to wear masks or cloth face covering, and all must practice physical distancing. A second phase of the courts' reopening is slated to begin on Aug. 10.
7/10 - The Governor did not hold a press conference today.
7/9 - The Governor did not hold a press conference today.
7/9 - The Black Economic Council of Massachusetts on Thursday announced a donation of 10,000 face masks, in partnership with UniFirst Corporation and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. Donated by the Wilmington-based company UniFirst, the masks will be distributed by members of the council, the Black Mass Coalition, the Boston chapter of Black Lives Matter and Violence in Boston, in historically Black communities including the Boston neighborhoods of Roxbury, Mattapan, Hyde Park and Dorchester. The Black Economic Council on Thursday also held a press conference at Roxbury's Twelfth Baptist Church "to discuss the urgent need for personal protective equipment (PPE) for Black communities and small businesses in Boston.
7/8 - WinnCompanies announced this week it would extend its own moratorium on tenant evictions for financial hardship through the end of the 2020.
7/8 - Governor Baker announced the launch of the Stop the Spread initiative, a strategic testing program which will support the testing of those who are asymptomatic in the following communities which have seen a higher number of residents testing positive for COVID-19: Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Marlborough, and New Bedford. Testing will be available at no cost to all residents of these communities between July 10-August 14.
7/7 - The Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced Massachusetts received more than 58,000 fraudulent unemployment claims between the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and the traditional unemployment insurance system.
7/7 - Governor Baker provided an update on the state's efforts to combat the EEE virus. He warned residents that it is a dangerous virus, and that due to an outbreak last summer, the 2020 season is expected to have a high number of EEE cases
7/6 - Governor Baker signed into law mail in voting legislation that will allow all voters who wish to cast their ballot by mail to do so without having to qualify for an absentee ballot. The Secretary of State's office must send applications for mail-in primary election ballots to all voters by July 15.
The components of the new law are as follows:
Implements an early vote-by-mail system: An application to receive an early voting ballot for the primary will be mailed to all registered voters by July 15, 2020. The Secretary will then mail another application for the general election by September 14, 2020. Both applications and ballots will have postage costs already paid for.
Ballots postmarked on or before November 3, 2020 will be counted until Friday November 6, 2020 at 5.PM. Applications for early voting and absentee voting must be received 4 business days before the election, by Wednesday August 26 2020 (for the primary) and Wednesday Oct. 28 2020.
Creates early voting for the primary and expands early voting periods: For the first time in Massachusetts, early voting will be available for the state primary, and will take place from Saturday, August 22, 2020 through Friday, August 28, 2020. Early voting for the general election is scheduled to take place from Tuesday, October 17, 2020 to Friday, October 30, 2020.
Makes in-person voting safer and more efficient: The bill allows municipalities, with proper notice, to consolidate polling places and eliminate the check-out table at these locations, allowing for a more efficient process and fewer poll workers. It also expands who is eligible to serve as a poll worker, knowing that many current volunteers are seniors who may feel less comfortable working in public during COVID-19.
Provides tools to assist clerks: Acknowledging the increased burden these options may place on municipalities and clerks, the bill also provides for several accommodations to make the logistics of processing votes easier. The legislation allows for tabulating ballots prior to election day, and it offers pre-addressed envelopes to voters, so their applications go directly to their clerk’s office.
Tasks the Secretary of State with creating an online portal and promoting voting options: To make it as easy as possible for people to apply for general election early voting, the bill requires Secretary Galvin’s office to create an online portal not later than October 1, 2020. Electronic applications for early voting will be available for the general election, and if feasible, for the primary election.
The bill also requires the Secretary of State to conduct a public awareness campaign to inform and notify voters of the many options available to cast a vote in upcoming 2020 elections.
7/6 - Updated guidelines for youth and amateur adult sports were released by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. These guidelines outline limitations on recreational activities and facilities and categorize different sports and recreation activities into categories of risk, including low, moderate, and higher risk activities.
7/6 - Today was the first day of Phase III of the state's reopening plan. If you have thoughts or concerns about reopening in Massachusetts, you can submit questions and comments via online form or share them with Governor Baker via email.
7/6 - Governor Baker did not hold a press conference today.
7/3 - Governor Baker did not hold a press conference today and State offices were closed in observance of July 4.
7/2 - Applications are available for the Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance and Residential Assistance for Families in Transition programs through Metro Housing Boston. The same application will be used for both programs.
7/2 - Governor Baker announced Step 1 of Phase III of the state's reopening plan will begin on July 6. This will not start until July 13 in the City of Boston.
The following businesses will be eligible to reopen in Step One of Phase III, subject to industry-specific rules concerning capacity and operations:
Movie theaters and outdoor performance venues
Museums, cultural and historical sites
Fitness centers and health clubs
Certain indoor recreational activities with low potential for contact
Professional sports teams, under the authority of league-wide rules, may hold games without spectators
Full guidance and list of businesses eligible to reopen in Step 1 of Phase III: www.mass.gov/reopening. Businesses and sectors set to begin opening in Phase III are subject to compliance with all mandatory safety standards.
7/2 - Governor Baker also announced a revised gatherings order:
Indoor gatherings are limited to 8 people per 1,000 square feet and should not exceed 25 people in a single enclosed, indoor space.
Outdoor gatherings in enclosed spaces are limited to 25 percent of a facility's maximum occupancy, with a maximum of 100 people.
The order does not apply to outdoor, unenclosed gatherings if proper social distancing measures are possible.
7/2 - Health care providers may now provide certain group treatment programs and day programs that were not allowed in Phase II, including adult day health, day habilitation programs, and substance use disorder services day treatment and outpatient services. Certain human services programs can reopen in Phase III, including community based day services for adults with intellectual and cognitive disabilities and psychosocial rehabilitation clubhouses.
7/2 - Visitation guidelines have been updated for 24/7 congregate care facilities and programs overseen by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.
7/2 - MassHealth will extend current telehealth flexibility through at least the end of the year.
7/1 - Metro Housing Boston set a record in June for the distribution of housing assistance and directed more than $1 million to those enrolled in the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program.
7/1 - The Group Insurance Commission is deferring $190 million in premium payments for dozens of cities and towns, which will give cash-flow flexibility to school districts, cities, and towns that are enrolled in GIC health plans flexibility.
7/1 - Governor Baker spoke at the Huntington Avenue YMCA in Boston and provided an update on ongoing food security initiatives including a collaboration between the T, City of Boston, YMCA, and Greater Boston Food Bank. The Ride drivers have made more than 8,000 food deliveries to more than 1200 Boston Public School students over the course of the pandemic.
6/30 - The MA House of Representatives met in a formal session to pass H.4818 An Act to Reduce Racial Disparities in Maternal Health, to accept a conference committee report on H.4820 An Act relative to voting options in response to COVID-19, and to enact H.4803 An Act financing improvements to municipal roads and bridges.
6/30 - Governor Baker announced updated travel restrictions that will take effect 7/1. All travelers arriving in Massachusetts, including residents who are returning home, are instructed to self-quarantine for 14-days. This does not apply to those travelling from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York or New Jersey and workers designated by the federal government as essential critical infrastructure workers. Any travelers displaying COVID-19 symptoms are instructed not to travel to Massachusetts.
6/29 - MassDevelopment opened applications for the Collaborative Workspace Program, which provides grants of up to $100,000 to established coworking spaces for new equipment or building improvements, including adjustments to help spaces adhere to COVID-19 social distancing and health and safety standards.
6/29 - Governor Baker did not hold a press conference today.
7/15, 7/16, 7/17 - MA House members have been advised of a "potential" full formal session with roll calls starting at 1 p.m.
7/16 - The Senate plans to hold a formal session to consider S 2813 a $16.9 billion multi-year transportation bond bill. The House approved its version of the bill in March. Amendments due 7/13 by 5 p.m.
7/14 - Veterans and Federal Affairs Committee holds a virtual hearing at 1 p.m. on Gov. Charlie Baker's bill to reform oversight of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home, filed after an investigation detailed a series of missteps leading up to the deaths of at least 76 veterans with COVID-19. Testimony sign-up is via Google Form and written testimony can also be submitted to the committee's research director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
7/14 - MA Senate Democrats plan to meet virtually in a private caucus.
7/14 - There will be a briefing for members of the House of Representatives with Commissioner Riley from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education regarding schools reopening in MA.
7/13 - The House holds an informal session. Both branches have approved different versions of an appropriations bill allocating more than $1 billion for COVID-19 spending, and the next move on that bill belongs to the House.
7/9, 7/10, 7/11 - For the third time in as many days, Senate Republicans prevented debate on a wide-ranging police reform bill, but it appears the Senate could launch into its debate on Monday 7/13. The bill would create an independent oversight and investigatory body to hold police accountable and create a system to certify law enforcement officers. Police officers would also be required to intervene if they witness police misconduct and undergo racism training. Language in the legislation bans choke holds, places restrictions on the use of tear gas, and limits qualified immunity.
7/9 - The House of Representatives passed H.4841 An Act relative to accountability for vulnerable children and families, which would require DCF to create or update case management policies, establish a foster parents' bill of rights, strengthen the integrity of the Child Advocate, improve data reporting, and require DCF to report on and analyze the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable children. The House also passed H.2757 An Act to Mitigate Arbovirus in the Commonwealth which gives the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board more power to run a statewide mosquito control response and creates a commission to evaluate the state's mosquito control practices.
7/8 - A special committee of House members met to begin poring over some of the bills that lawmakers filed to help workers through the pandemic and as the economy reopens, but many members of the committee cautioned that it would be foolish to embrace new programs or benefits before they have a better idea of just how ugly the state budget picture is.
6/30 - The House of Representatives met in a formal session. The House passed H.4818 An Act to Reduce Racial Disparities in Maternal Health, accepted a conference committee report on H.4820 An Act relative to voting options in response to COVID-19 relative to voting options in response to COVID-19, and enacted H.4803 An Act financing improvements to municipal roads and bridges.
6/30 - Gov. Baker announced the near-doubling of resources available to families impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis and are behind on their rent or mortgage payments.
With the launch of the Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) program, which builds upon the popular and effective Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program, Metro Housing and our regional partners across the state now have resources to help families with incomes up to 80 percent of the area median. For a family of three in the Boston region that level is $86,650. The previous limit with RAFT was 50 percent of area median income.
To make the process smoother, applicants for both ERMA and RAFT will use the same application. The previous "pre-application" process for RAFT has been replaced with a streamlined online form.
Links for more information, the application, and overviews in English and Spanish are below.
Find next week's Unemployment Town Hall schedule here.
Due to the sophisticated fraud (report here if your SSN was used NOT by you to file for unemployment benefits), PUA claimants need to provide the following to verify their identity:
1. Photos of social security card (front and back)
2. Photo ID (front and back)
3. A photo of self holding photo ID
4. Photo of a supporting document physical address (a lease, a bill, etc.)
Q: Where you able to upload all these documents at once? If not, that's likely the hold up.
A: If you're a constituent in need assistance reaching the DUA or PUA, my office will need to following information to reach out on your behalf: Full name: Address: Phone: Email: Last 4 SSN: Last Employer: Claimant ID: Details: ASK:
Health Connector is hosting a live webinar to help Massachusetts residents who have lost employer-sponsored health insurance learn about their health coverage options through the Health Connector.
Wednesday, July 15, 4:00-5:00 p.m.
Free Zoom Webinar
CORI & Re-Entry
Mass Citizens Congress on Poverty & Greater Boston Legal Services Community Briefing
Learn from attorneys who are experts in CORI law:
How to seal criminal records•how to expunge CORI
How to fix records that are wrong
How to get your own CORI report and see who got yours
Learn about bills pending to change the law and decarcerate prisons, stop exploitive prison phone rates, and change the culture of jails re: visits
Tuesday, July 14 at 2pm
Date: Tuesday, July 14
Time: 12:00 pm or 6:30 pm (the same information will be shared at both meetings)
Join the 12 pm meeting
By computer, tablet, or smartphone: bit.ly/franklinparkactionplan-12p
Call in: +1 646 558 8656 | Webinar ID: 865 7279 6032 | Password: 773401
Join the 6:30 pm meeting
By computer, tablet, or smartphone: bit.ly/franklinparkactionplan-6p
Call in: +1 646 558 8656 | Webinar ID: 868 6847 5992 | Password: 374068
7/10 - Boston Housing Authority (BHA) announced the moratorium on nonessential evictions for BHA residents has been extended through the end of 2020. Any BHA resident or voucher holder who is unable to pay current rent during the pandemic should notify their housing manager or landlord through text, email or printed letter and establish a plan for repayment. Although there is an eviction moratorium currently in place, it is temporary, and tenants are still required to perform their contractual obligation to pay their rent. Residents or voucher holders facing a financial hardship must reach out to their voucher provider or BHA to re-certify their income and reduce their monthly payment. Statewide financial assistance for rent is available through RAFT.
7/10 - Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) announced online registration is open for City-operated summer youth programs and classes, all of which are designed and will be operated in accordance with current public health guidelines. All BCYF community centers have been closed for in-person programming and recreation due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, with the exception of select locations that have served as meal sites only. Some summer teen programs were transitioned to be offered virtually.
These programs are in addition to a variety of expanded BCYF programming for teens which began on Monday, July 6 and includes over 600 youth jobs through the Mayor's Summer Jobs Program. Job applications are still available for youth between the ages of 15 and 24 in the City of Boston.
BCYF community centers will also continue to distribute meals to youth throughout the summer as part of the Boston Summer Eats program. The complete list of meal locations can be found here: https://meals4kids.org/find-summer-meal-site
7/7 - Mayor Walsh and the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture announced the City of Boston created a $1 million Arts and Culture COVID-19 Fund for organizations that have been impacted by COVID-19. Applications are due by July 31, 2020
Mayor Walsh's Press Briefing 7/7
As of today in Massachusetts: 110,338 cases and 8,213 deaths.
Also as of today in Boston: 13,578 cases, 710 deaths, and 9,568 recoveries. No new deaths were reported today.
Phase 3 in Boston:
The Mayor reminded everyone that while Phase 3, Step 1 of the statewide reopening plan began yesterday, it will begin in Boston on Monday, June 13. The City requested this extension because Boston has unique needs, stemming from the size and density of our population, workforce, and commercial and cultural sectors. He thanked the Governor and the Advisory Board for being flexible in recognizing those concerns.
The City has been developing additional guidelines and supports that take time to implement correctly. At the same time, the City is monitoring local health data and watching for any impacts that come from Phase 2. Taking extra time also allows the City to continue addressing the racial and ethnic inequities in the health impact and economic impact of the virus.
For Phase 3, the City has been developing guidance in multiple languages for indoor fitness, museums and cultural spaces, and outdoor events. Boston will also be hosting online workshops: for indoor and outdoor events, performance venues in arts and culture, and tours and activities in the tourism industry. The City will begin posting material by the end of this week.
A note about Boston’s relief and resiliency funds:
The Mayor described the three crises Boston is facing at the same time: the health crisis in the COVID-19 pandemic; the economic impact of that pandemic; and the ongoing impacts of systemic racism. Boston’s response to all three of these crises have been collaborative, comprehensive, and equity-driven, and the City has prioritized meeting the most urgent needs of vulnerable residents and small businesses.
The Mayor noted how the City’s relief and resiliency funds have been part of a broad strategy, and played an essential role in Boston’s response and recovery. He provided examples of their impact, including:
Supporting COVID-19 testing at Community Health Centers across our neighborhoods.
Helping hundreds of families pay their rent.
Helping thousands of small businesses recover and reopen safely.
Bringing food and care to seniors who have been isolated by the virus, and to families who are in quarantine.
These funds are emergency responses to a life-threatening situation, and have saved lives. The Mayor said he was proud of how Boston has come together to support vulnerable residents and businesses, and he’s grateful for both the City’s emergency budget resources and the Resiliency Fund donors.
The City is committed to building on this work to create a more equitable recovery.
The Small Business Relief Fund has now given $6.1 million to nearly 1,700 businesses, across every neighborhood in Boston. 50% of those businesses are owned by people of color. They are in industries most affected by COVID-19, such as restaurants and stores, hair and nail salons, child care and personal care.
The Reopen Boston Fund has gotten $1.5 million out to nearly 800 businesses with 15 or fewer employees. These are grants for PPE, cleaning products, and construction materials for a safe reopening. The fund is still taking applications and can be found at boston.gov/reopening.
New supports for Boston restaurants and customers:
Since outdoor dining began, the City has granted over 300 restaurants a temporary license to provide on-street dining. In that time, the City’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities has been working with other City departments to ensure that these new spaces are accessible and that sidewalks are not obstructed.
To increase accessibility, the City is now providing restaurants with portable mobility ramps. Ramps are already being provided on a rolling basis, along with a toolkit with information on setting it up, a sign with information that restaurants can display, and best practices on providing service to people with disabilities.
Restaurants permitted for outdoor dining can request a portable ramp by emailing ADA@boston.gov. The Mayor thanked Commissioner Kristen McCosh and her team for leading this work. He also noted that later this month, we will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act—a groundbreaking piece of legislation that changed the country for the better.
The continued importance of following public health guidance:
The Mayor asked everyone to think about the impact their actions have on others, especially people with medical vulnerabilities that are risk factors for COVID-19. He noted that if people are not wearing a mask or properly distancing, that sends a message to many people that a public area may not be safe for them. That means fewer places that they can go, creating an inequity.
As numbers of cases continue to climb in other parts of the country, the Mayor noted that this is not the time to let up—either in collective risk management or personal precautions. He reminded everyone to:
Wear a face covering outside the home.
Maintain 6 feet of space from other people.
Stay away from any crowd or gathering where physical distance is not possible.
Wash hands regularly and wipe down surfaces with disinfectant.
Addressing the violence over Fourth of July weekend:
The Mayor noted how every act of violence causes waves of lasting trauma throughout a community, and every loss of life is heartbreaking. He said we can never accept any level of violence as normal, and we cannot rest until we eliminate it from our city.
The City will continue to keep working on the root causes and engaging young people and adults with opportunities this summer—including jobs, learning, enrichment, mentoring, and second chances. The Mayor noted the City still has open summer jobs for young people.
Against the backdrop of an uptick in violence affecting cities across the nation, the City of Boston is leading with a coordinated focus on outreach, prevention, and services.
The Mayor described the many partners who have been working together, having a positive impact, and preventing further violence: street workers from the SOAR team; counselors on the Neighborhood Trauma Teams; the City’s Office of Public Safety; the Bureau of Community Engagement in the Boston Police Department; and many community partners.
This is a coordinated effort to engage, connect, and intervene in the cycles of trauma and violence. The Mayor said that if a person is in an impacted neighborhood and contacted by a member of this team, their goal is to support them and connect them to services and opportunities.
The Mayor urged anyone who is negatively impacted by violence or concerned about a young person to reach out to the Neighborhood Trauma Team at 617-431-0125 or call 311.
7/7 - Mayor Walsh and the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture announced the City of Boston has created a $1 million Arts and Culture COVID-19 Fund for organizations that have been impacted by COVID-19. Throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, the City of Boston in partnership with Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) have also awarded grants totaling over $280,000 to 515 artists as part of the Boston Artist Relief Fund, which was established to support artists whose creative practices and incomes were adversely impacted by the pandemic. Applications are due July 31 at 5 PM.
7/2 - Mayor Walsh announced the second funding round of the Childcare Entrepreneur Fund, which will provide cash grants and business skills workshops to 25 family childcare entrepreneurs in Boston this summer and 25 more in the fall. As the City transitions through a safe, phased reopening, access to childcare is critical for parents and guardians returning to workplaces, and the early educators who provide it need additional support. Applications are available starting July 2 through July 22, 2020 at www.boston.gov/childcare-fund. Mailed applications must be postmarked by the closing date.
Virtual sessions will be held to provide information about the program and the application process to all interested residents. They will take place on the following days on the Women's Advancement Facebook page:
Thursday, July 9, 2020 6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
Wednesday July 15, 2020 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m. (in Spanish)
Saturday July 18, 2020 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Please direct all translation requests to email@example.com.
7/1 - Mayor Walsh announced the City of Boston July Drive-In Movie Series, organized by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department and the Mayor's Office of Tourism, Sports, and Entertainment and made possible by support from the Highland Street Foundation, in partnership with the Age Strong Commission, and host sites, Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and Wentworth Institute of Technology. The Drive-in Movie Series will include double-feature showings on select Wednesday nights in July, as well as a special matinee viewing with the Age Strong Commission. This series is free, family-friendly, and open to residents of Boston. All event attendees must pre-register by car through an RSVP on Eventbrite which can be accessed through boston.gov/drive-in-movies.
6/30 - Mayor Walsh announced summer food resources and programs.
Summer Eats 2020 to provide 97 youth meal sites: On July 6, 97 youth meal sites will open through the City of Boston