COVID-19 Update #22 From Representative Dykema

April 8 Coronavirus Update

Yesterday was World Health Day 2020, and the World Health Organization along with its partners around the world are encouraging all of us to take time to #ThankHealthHeroes, particularly nurses. I encourage you to take a moment to watch this short video of nurses around the world sharing their stories of caring for COVID-19 patients and to thank the “health heroes” in your life for the work they do.

World Health Day 2020 – Nurses on COVID-19

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Rep. Josh Cutler
  • There are 16,790 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 1,583 hospitalizations and 433 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 87,000 tests have been conducted by the State Public Health Laboratory and private testing facilities. Between 4,000 and 6,000 tests are being conducted every day.

Health Care

  • The Department of Public Health has convened an advisory committee to make recommendations for Crisis Standards of Care and planning for the possibility of the “surge” creating difficult challenges for health care providers around prioritizing certain types of care and equipment to patients. Although all stakeholders are hopeful that the preparation currently underway to expand capacity will make this guidance unnecessary, this is an important part of the planning process for pandemic response and has been requested by the medical community. This guidance is based on standards created by the University of Pittsburgh and similar guidance has been adopted by other states. The full guidance can be found here.
  • There are now two mobile testing sites dedicated for public safety personnel, one at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough and one in West Springfield. These sites can test around 200 individuals a day each, 7 days a week, at no charge and appointments are scheduled through individual public safety departments and agencies.
  • Mobile testing for long-term care facilities, including nursing facilities, continues to operate across the Commonwealth. As of today, the mobile units have visited 126 facilities across the Commonwealth and conducted close to 2,000 tests.
  • DPH has also started a Nursing Home Family Resource Line for those with loved ones in nursing homes to get the latest information, resources, and answers to questions related to COVID-19. The number is 617-660-5399 and is open 7 days a week, 9am to 5pm.

Unemployment and Worker 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.
  • Economic Impact “stimulus checks” to individuals are expected to begin this week for those who received a 2019 tax return via direct deposit. For more information, the IRS has distributed online guidance as well as helpful graphics.
  • For many individuals, changing circumstances have lead to rapid changes in health care coverage needs and insurance status. The Massachusetts Health Connector is available to answer any questions and provide resources about health insurance options and has created a dedicated COVID-19 page to answer common questions and provide information about important deadlines.

Small Business and Small Non-Profits

  • The Associated Industries of Massachusetts will be conducting a free Q&A webinar for businesses to speak with experts on COVID-19 impacts tomorrow at 11am. If interested, you can register online.
  • The Massachusetts Cultural Council has opened applications for grants to artists and arts-related workers who have been impacted by COVID-19. Applications are being accepted online until April 22.
  • The Massachusetts Cultural Council is conducting an online survey of economic impacts on cultural organizations during the pandemic. The survey is open until April 14 and can be found here.

Early Education

  • In response to concerns raised by families across the Commonwealth, the Attorney General’s office has put together a list of resources for families with concerns about payments to private child care facilities and an online complaint form for any concerns. Both can be found here.
  • With the passage of the federal CARES Act, Massachusetts expects to see approximately $44 million to address childcare issues related to this emergency. This funding is flexible and the Dept. of Early Education and Care can use the federal funds to mitigate economic impacts on families and providers due to COVID-19. I’ll share more information as it’s available.

Legislative Action

  • The Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities has begun soliciting testimony on H.4622, An Act to provide short-term relief to families in deep poverty. Testimony can be submitted online and a live remote hearing will be held via Zoom on Monday, April 13 at 1:30p.m. Those wishing to participate can sign up online as well.

Additional Updates

  • As a reminder, grocery stores are now limited to 40% of maximum occupancy and required to manage lines and movement of foot traffic through stores in a manner that maximizes social distancing for customers and workers.
  • The Middlesex County Sheriff‘s office has created a dedicated web page for COVID-19 updates, including information on efforts underway to reduce the risk of spread in Middlesex Country jails.
  • 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.
  • For health care workers who work in the City of Boston, Mayor Walsh has announced that any parking violations levied on health care workers will be forgiven upon appeal with a valid health care ID. 

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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