COVID-19 Update # 21 From Representative Dykema

April 7 Coronavirus Update

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been in close touch with members of our federal legislative delegation as we all seek to understand and respond to the wide range of needs created by COVID-19. We are fortunate in Massachusetts to have engaged and responsive federal legislators who have been very helpful to my office by providing up-to-date information on federal resources and the new stimulus law. 

One important element of the federal stimulus law (the CARES Act), that will begin rolling out this week, is the distribution of Economic Impact Payments “stimulus checks” to qualifying individuals. With many people’s income affected by the pandemic, these checks are eagerly awaited by many. More information on these payments and who will receive them can be found on the IRS website

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Rep. Josh Cutler
  • There are 15,202 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 1,435 hospitalizations and 356 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 81,000 tests have been conducted by the State Public Health Laboratory and private testing facilities. Between 4,000 and 5,000 tests are being conducted every day.

Health Care

  • Today, the Governor announced an $800 million increase in MassHealth spending, to be distributed to hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care providers that treat COVID-19 patients. This spending includes $400 million for hospitals, $80 million dedicated to nursing facilities, $50 million for community health centers, and $30 million for personal care attendants.
  • The state National Guard and the Broad Institute at MIT continue to operate mobile nursing home testing units to quickly test individuals exposed to COVID-19. So far, the units have conducted over 1,300 tests at 80 facilities across the Commonwealth.
  • The state has partnered with CVS to launch a new rapid testing site in Lowell capable of conducting around 1,000 tests a day to replace the temporary pilot site in Shrewsbury. Patients must register online for tests at CVS.com.
  • DPH will begin reporting race and ethnicity data for Massachusetts residents with COVID-19 as positive tests continue to
    grow. This data will help state officials ensure that testing and treatment are reaching all residents of the commonwealth equally. 
  • 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.
  • Massachusetts received 443,000 masks from the shipment delivered by the Patriots and Robert Kraft. 127,000 of these surgical-style masks are being delivered to congregate-style facilities including nursing homes, group homes for the disabled, social service programs and other public programs.

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.

Small Business

  • The IRS has launched an Employee Retention Tax Credit for businesses impacted by COVID-19 who work to keep employees on payroll. More information on the credit can be found online.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration has also launched a Paycheck Protection Program to provide easily-forgiven loans to small businesses to keep their employees on payroll. More information can be found online.
  • 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.
  • The National Council of Nonprofits is conducting a free webinar on Thursday, April 7 at 3pm to provide information for nonprofit organizations on the new obligations and assistance created by the federal CARES Act. For more information or to register, visit here.

Legislative Action

  • The House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means has postponed its virtual economic roundtable due to technical problems accessing the livestream. The hearing was scheduled to host key economists and experts to discuss the economic impacts and fiscal implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Commonwealth and the upcoming budget process. The hearing is being rescheduled and I will provide more details as available.

Additional Updates

  • Today, the Governor announced that grocery stores are being limited to 40% occupancy to limit the congregation of customers in confined spaces. The full order can be reviewed here
  • The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners has worked to expand the availability of statewide online library resources, including e-books and education materials. For more info, visit https://mass.gov/libraries.
  • 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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