COVID-19 April 27, 2020 Update From Representative Dykema
April 28 Coronavirus Update
Today, the Governor announced an extension of orders governing the statewide stay-at-home advisory, closure of non-essential businesses, and large gathering bans through May 18th. The state is convening a working group of business, municipal, and public health stakeholders to create a framework for gradual reopening of the economy and public spaces and will make recommendations to the Governor in the coming weeks.
As I noted yesterday, we have seen a stabilization in key metrics but not a meaningful decline, and from both a safety and a policy perspective, it’s not consistent with public health to significantly reopen the economy until there are sustained and consistent positive trends. It is also important to note that, when we do start to lift statewide restrictions, life will not immediately “return to normal.” Any reopening plan will be multi-tiered and gradual in nature and will maintain many social distancing elements. I urge all residents to carefully follow the guidance we are receiving from trusted sources like the DPH and the CDC so we can keep ourselves and each other as safe as possible.
Coronavirus Testing and Response
- There are 58,302 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 1,840 new cases and 3,153 deaths as of today at 4pm.
- Overall, over 254,000 tests have been conducted by public and private sources.
- The Department of Public Health has regularly released a daily reporting dashboard containing detailed information on hospitalizations, demographic data, and county-by-county breakdowns of cases. To view the DPH dashboard, visit here.
Extensions of State of Emergency Orders:
- Orders that are extended through May 18th:
- As a reminder, the list of essential businesses can be found here and the request form for designation as an essential business can be found here.
- More information on the Reopening Advisory Board, including a list of members, can be found here.
- Hospital Capacity: As of 4/27, 54% of the Commonwealth’s 18,200 permanent and temporary hospital beds are available for new patients if needed. In the MetroWest region, 40% of the region’s 2,500 beds are available for new patients.
- Personal Protective Equipment: PPE distribution continues across the Commonwealth, with over 967,000 pieces of PPE distributed in the MetroWest region, including 210,000 N95/KN95 masks and 136 ventilators.
- Mobile testing: The MA National Guard mobile testing unit continues to visit and conduct test at the Commonwealth’s long-term care facilities, having made 433 visits and conducted 19,699 tests as of 4/27.
- Following yesterday’s announcement of supplementary nursing home funding, the administration released the 28-point infection control checklist that facilities will need to comply with to receive funding. Facilities must satisfy at least 24 points to be considered in compliance, and 6 of the control measures are considered “core competencies” required of all facilities that receive funding.
- Today, the Department of Public Health issued guidance expanding the list of entities that can make referrals to clinical laboratory testing for COVID-19. The order can be found here.
- The Board of Registration in Pharmacy has issued a new order governing best practices for infection control in Massachusetts pharmacies if staff test positive for COVID-19.
Unemployment and Worker Assistance:
- To assist individuals who may not be sure if they qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development has released a simplified eligibility checklist for individuals to check if they are covered by PUA.
- The MetroWest Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, is conducting as survey of small businesses impacted by COVID-19. If you are a local small business owner, you can participate online here.
- The administration released detailed guidance allowing farmer’s markets and farm stands to remain open for the duration of the crisis, but with specific social distancing limitations in place designed to limit virus spread and reduce the number of individuals in the same space at any given time.
- On Thursday, May 30th at 2pm, the Department of Public Health will hold a remote youth town hall for young people to speak to experts and each other about COVID-19 and ways to keep their communities safe. Interested participants can register online here.
- The House of Representatives is in the process of adopting temporary emergency rules to allow for full formal voting sessions to be conducted remotely during the state of emergency. Throughout the crisis, the Legislature has been holding regular “informal sessions” to advance legislation, where the body is able to pass bills by unanimous consent. I will provide more information about upcoming legislative action as it becomes available.
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 guide of resources and information at: https://carolyndykema.com/covid19-state-resources/.
Additional Guidance on Unemployment Assistance
- Updated Guidance for Self-Employed Individuals and those who have exhausted existing benefits.
- Massachusetts Employee Unemployment Benefits FAQ
- Department of Unemployment Assistance Virtual Town Hall Schedule and Sign-Up
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