COVID-19 Update #20 From Representative Dykema

April 6 Coronavirus Update

Today, the Governor and his wife announced the creation of the MA COVID19 Relief Fund to take donations from the public to provide financial support to safety net programs for our neighbors who are hardest hit by the pandemic. I just made a contribution and I hope that anyone who is able will consider doing the same. In times like these, we are reminded what it means to be a “Commonwealth.” We stand by each other for the greater good.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s newsletter, the CDC has released guidance recommending that all individuals wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as shopping. There are many helpful tutorials for making your own face covering available online, including the video available to the right from the U.S. Surgeon General.

The Surgeon General demonstrates how to create a face mask.

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: State House New Service
  • There are 13,387 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 1,241 hospitalizations and 260 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 76,000 tests have been conducted by the State Public Health Laboratory and private testing facilities.

Health Care

  • The Centers for Disease Control is now recommending that everyone wear a cloth face mask or covering, especially when out of the home, to prevent spread of the virus. Evidence is now showing that up to 25% of the population may be infected with COVID-19 without symptoms, unknowingly spreading the virus.
  • Steward Health Care, which operates 10 private hospitals in Massachusetts, announced plans Sunday night to open intensive care units solely for treatment of COVID-19 patients at most of its hospitals. Carney Hospital in Dorchester, Morton Hospital in Taunton, Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, and St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton will set up new COVID-specific ICU beds. St. Elizabeth’s, Good Samaritan and Holy Family Hospital in Methuen all have two ICU departments, and Steward Chief Medical Officer Joseph Weinstein said they would keep one COVID-free as long as possible to limit risk of transmission for patients with pre-existing conditions.
  • Mass. General Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health have collaborated to launch a research app designed to gather real-time data on symptoms in individuals with COVID-19 to quickly amass information that will allow researchers to study the virus. The free app is available to all, regardless of where you live.
  • Two new testing sites have been identified, one in Springfield and one in Lowell. The drive-through testing site in Lowell, which will be opening shortly in a partnership with CVS, is targeting 1,000 tests a day. Use of this site is by appointment only and will largely serve first responders and healthcare personnel.

Unemployment Assistance

  • As of today, there is no new information about when self-employed individuals can submit applications for unemployment assistance. I know that this new federal program is essential for many of my constituents. I am carefully monitoring the rollout of the initiative and will provide updates as soon as they’re available.

Small Business

  • The MetroWest Chamber of Commerce is offering a free webinar on business planning and recovery for area businesses who may be struggling with impacts of COVID-19. There are several sessions, the first of which is Thursday, April 9th, and you can sign up for a session online.

Legislative Action

  • bill is pending in the Legislature to address the requirement for schools to hold MCAS testing. The legislation is currently before the Senate. 
  • The House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means have scheduled a virtual economic roundtable with the administration at 10am tomorrow, April 7th, inviting key experts to discuss the economic impacts and fiscal implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Commonwealth. It will be streamed online here.
  • The Massachusetts congressional delegation has written to the FEMA administrator requesting the release and delivery of the full request of 1,700 ventilators for Massachusetts from the federal stockpile. You can read the full letter here.

Additional Updates

  • Today the Governor announced the creation of the MA COVID-19 Relief Fund. The goal of the fund is to support people in Massachusetts who have been hardest hit by the virus. Funds will be distributed through existing local non-profits and community organizations who will ensure that funds are used to maximum benefit serving those most in need. The Relief Fund launched today with $13 million in donations and anyone who is able is encouraged to contribute. 
  • The Dept. of Public Health is hiring up to 1,000 people to do “contact tracing.” Applicants should be fluent with technology and multi-lingual applicants are encouraged to apply. Volunteer for the new Community Tracing Collaborative by visiting this link
  • The Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women is conducting an online survey to better assess the impact that COVID-19 is having on women and girls in Massachusetts. You can fill out or share the survey at this link.

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. 

New: This page has been updated to reflect changes due to the passage of the federal CARES Act and to provide additional guidance based on frequently asked questions my office has received.

For your convenience, you can find a guide of resources and information at: https://carolyndykema.com/covid19-state-resources/.

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