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.
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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