COVID-19 Update From Representative Dykema

March 17th Coronavirus Update

Dear Neighbor, 

I know that we’re all eager for news and information as our families and communities face the many challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic. As your elected representative in state government, I am carefully monitoring federal and state actions, working with our municipal officials, and advocating for policy and programs needed by our communities. These needs are wide ranging, including public health, public safety and healthcare as the first priorities, but also include the needs of our workforce and businesses, social service safety net programs, education, and municipal governance.

I will send this email daily as a way to update you on the most recent news and information from the State House and other reliable sources. Please encourage others who live in the district to sign up here. You can also check my Facebook page for more up-to-the-minute updates and communications. Additionally, the state Dept. of Public Health website is the best source of accurate and up-to-date information and contains a wide-range of information and a likely source of answers to many of your questions.  

Most important, please stay home and away from gathering places, and encourage friends and family to do the same. The number of residents still out in the community is concerning. Distancing ourselves from others is the most important thing we can do to protect ourselves and others, including those we love.

While the State House is closed to the public, my office continues to operate remotely. The best way to reach me or my staff at this busy time is via email at carolyn.dykema@mahouse.gov. We are also available by phone if necessary at 617-722-2680. 

Sincerely,

From the Coronavirus Command Center, March 17, 2pm

This afternoon at 2pm, legislators participated in a call with Secretary Marylou Sudders, the Director of the newly established Coronavirus Command Center in Boston. Below is a summary of information provided on today’s call. For a summary of previously issued guidance and state restrictions related to the coronavirus epidemic, visit here.

  • In addition to the state testing lab, several commercial labs are now authorized to perform COVID-19 testing. Additional possible test sites are being actively explored.
  • The state is actively working on expanding childcare dedicated to the needs of first responders, front line personnel, and essential workers. I’ll provide more information about this program once it’s available.
  • The state stockpile of necessary supplies for hospitals and first responders is being used to bridge the current needs while increasing manufacturing capacity and delivery of these products. Please contact my office if you know of a business that has emergency supplies available for state purchase, including N-95 masks, gloves, and sanitizer.
  • Up-to-date information on changes to unemployment insurance related to coronavirus can be found here.
  • It was confirmed that an executive order requiring expansion of telehealth access applies to behavioral and mental health care as well as physical health care.
  • The foster parent support line is now open 24 hours for foster families seeking assistance.
  • USDA has approved a federal nutrition waiver for communities with greater than 50% student population qualifying for free or reduced lunch to allow for programs to operate during school closure and as “grab and go.” The Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education has been in direct touch with municipal districts to coordinate the establishment of these out-of-school nutrition programs.
  • The Dept. of Corrections has temporarily suspended visits to state correctional facilities, while instituting additional phone calls for inmates. This restriction does not apply to attorneys.
  • The RMV has granted a 60-day extension on some license renewals due to be renewed between March 1 and April 30. For more information visit here.
  • MBTA has limited service on transit lines and the Hull and Hingham ferry line has been suspended. For more information on schedule changes visit mbta.com
  • A new state loan program is available to small businesses. Visit here for more information.
  • The administration is working with homeless shelters on protocols for social distancing and hygiene and other measures to prevent transmission. MEMA is conducting a search for possible additional shelter locations for individuals and families.
  • The state Division of Local Services is exploring the possible extension of local building permits and tolling periods.
  • Utilities are under order not to turn off utility service for residents. The Dept. of Public Utilities is working with the utility companies on possible relief programs for businesses.
  • An initial appropriation of $5 million in financial assistance is in the process of being distributed to municipal Boards of Health to support community prevention and response efforts.

You Play a Key Role in Preventing the Spread of Coronavirus

Practice social distancing: Stay home. If you must go out, avoid others if possible and keep a minimum distance of 6′ from others at all times.

Work remotely, stay home and conduct business via phone/email. Most employers are working with employees to allow for remote work, if possible. 

Limit contact with high-risk populations to remote means such as phone or video. These populations include elders over 60, those with medical conditions, pregnant women, and close family members of anyone in these groups. 

Make a plan to meet your food and household needs while severely limiting time in stores. Do not stockpile so we can ensure that everyone retains access to essential items.

If you are able, continue to support local business remotely through online shopping, gift card purchase, or curbside pickup and delivery.

If you are concerned that you may be getting sick, contact your health care provider for further guidance.

Holliston:

Hopkinton:

Southborough:

Westborough:

Press Release

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