COVID-19 Update # 14 From Representative Dykema
New Updates as of March 30th
Below is a summary of the most recent efforts to respond to the wide range of needs in our communities. For a summary of previously issued guidance and state restrictions related to the coronavirus epidemic, visit mass.gov/coronavirus. For previous updates visit carolyndykema.com/covid19.
Coronavirus Testing and Response
- There are 5,752 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 453 hospitalizations and 56 deaths as of today at 4pm. For a breakdown of cases by county and age, check here. This data is also now available in a dynamic model.
- Over 42,793 tests have been conducted by the State Public Health Laboratory and 21 private testing facilities.
- Massachusetts is expecting to receive 1,000 ventilators from the national stockpile in the coming weeks.
- Over the weekend, the state distributed 28,000 masks and 120,000 gloves to health care providers.
- Local shoe manufacturer New Balance, among others, has begun making medical masks to help meet the demand for protective equipment.
- The state’s new COVID-19 PPE Procurement and Donation Program online portal streamlines procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare providers. Procuring protective equipment for the front lines is a priority effort. If you are in a position to provide necessary supplies or know someone who is, please share this information.
Workforce and Employment
- The passage of the CARES Act over the weekend expanded unemployment assistance (UA) eligibility to most self-employed and independent contractor workers, but the state is still waiting on guidance from the federal Department of Labor relative to requirements for state implementation. For those who just became eligible as a result of the legislation, you are urged to wait to apply until further notice so that the system is prepared to process the requests. Filing before your name has been added to the system may cause delays. More details will be posted to the DUA COVID-19 site as soon as they’re available.
- The Attorney General’s office has released an FAQ for workers detailing employee rights and employer obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can view the guidance online and contact the Fair Labor Division with any questions.
- Eversource has announced that it will begin offering small businesses “extended payment arrangements” up to 12 months in duration, with no payment due before June 1. For more information on Eversource’s efforts to respond to COVID-19, visit here.
Federal CARES Act Stimulus Program:
- This weekend, FEMA announced that the
Governor’s request for a major disaster declaration has been approved and the following
supports will soon be available:
- Public assistance program: Affected local governments, state agencies and certain private non-profit organizations statewide will be reimbursed for 75% of their costs associated with response and emergency protective measures.
- Individual assistance program: Federal funds will be provided for the state Department of Mental Health to provide crisis counseling for individuals and families recovering from the psychological effects of the COVID -19 outbreak through electronic phone and chat technology.
- The federal Department of Education has announced that those with federal student loans may apply for an administrative forbearance to delay payment due to COVID-19-related hardship. For more information, review their online FAQ.
Additional items of note
- Today, the Senate passed S.2619, An Act to address challenges faced by municipalities and state authorities resulting from COVID-19. The bill, which gives municipalities additional flexibility in adjusting services and town operations to respond to COVID-19, still needs to be enacted by both chambers and sent to the Governor for his signature.
- As you may know, the 2020 U.S. Census is ongoing and April 1 marks “Census Day.” Although field operations are currently suspended due to COVID-19, mail-in and online operations continue. If you have not done so already, please ensure that your home fills out the paper or online questionnaire using the information you received in the mail. To participate or learn more, please visit https://2020census.gov/.
Resources for Residents Experiencing Job Loss or Loss of Income
COVID-19 is causing broad disruption to the economy which is affecting incomes of many residents and families. There are a number of state resources and supports available to support workers who may find themselves unemployed or otherwise income-constrained during this uncertain time.
For your convenience, you can find a broad list of resources and information at: https://carolyndykema.com/covid19-state-resources/.