COVID-19 Update – April 27, 2020 From Representative Dykema
April 27 Coronavirus Update
As we enter a new week and near the end of the month, I think it’s important to take stock of the “big picture” of this crisis. The recent data indicate that our statewide trends in terms of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalization rates, and deaths may be stabilizing but have not begun to decline meaningfully or consistently. This means that we are well-positioned to weather the “surge” without overwhelming our health care system, but we are not yet out of the woods.
Coronavirus Testing and Response
- There are 56,462 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 1,524 new cases and 3,003 deaths as of today at 4pm.
- Overall, over 244,000 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.
- Hospital Capacity: As of 4/26, 55% of the Commonwealth’s 18,300 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 943,000 pieces of PPE distributed in the MetroWest region, including 206,000 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 417 visits and conducted 18,368 tests as of 4/26.
- Today, the administration authorized additional funding for long-term care facilities, up to $130 million, to support increased virus response and control efforts. Facilities that receive funding must comply with a number of requirements, including mandatory testing of staff and residents and undergoing a 28-point infection control audit. In addition, 120 temporary clinical response staff are being deployed in teams of 10 to areas of high infection rates and staffing needs to support facility staff with control efforts. More information on this initiative can be found here.
- The administration also authorized an additional $44 million in funding for residential congregate care facilities, providing support for infection control and response efforts in state facilities that house vulnerable children, families, individuals with behavioral health and intellectual and developmental disabilities, and survivors of domestic and sexual violence. More information can be found here.
- UMass Memorial Health Care has extended its cancellation of non-essential appointments and services through May 8th. In general, if you have an upcoming appointment with your health care provider and are unsure if it is still scheduled to proceed, contact your provider directly.
Unemployment and Worker Assistance:
- The Department of Unemployment Assistance continues to hold daily virtual town halls for those seeking help with applying for unemployment assistance, and these town halls now also include information on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for individuals not eligible for typical unemployment benefits. More information, including a schedule and link to sign up, can be found here.
- Today, the Small Business Administration began accepting new loan applications for the Paycheck Protection Program. It is my understanding that there have been some technical difficulties with the website for those seeking to apply today, and my office will continued to provide updates as they become available. The program’s FAQ was updated as of 4/26 with new information following the signing of the latest federal stimulus package.
- For Massachusetts businesses, the MA Growth Capital Corporation provides technical assistance and support for Paycheck Protection Program applicants, including multilingual translation.
- Many businesses impacted by COVID-19 may qualify for two new tax credits, one for those with employees on leave and one for those who work to retain employees during periods of closure. More information on these tax credits can be found on the IRS website.
- FEMA has announced that $100 million will be available for the FY2020 Assistance to Firefighters Grant – COVID-19 Supplemental Program to help provide personal protective equipment to firefighters and first responders who are managing emergencies during the coronavirus pandemic. The application period will be open from Tuesday, April 28th at 8am to Friday, May 15th at 5pm. Interested applicants can begin preparing applications by reviewing program requirements and guidance materials here.
- No matter the circumstances, we all need help sometimes. The Office of the Child Advocate has begun a public awareness campaign to make Massachusetts residents aware of the resources available to residents experiencing challenges related to family support, mental health, substance use, and many other common struggles that the stresses of this crisis may exacerbate. The 2-1-1 hotline is a free, confidential, multilingual source for a variety of resources and can be accessed at any time. More information can be found here.
- The federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) has increased its work to investigate reports of fraud associated with COVID-19 and specifically with respect to implementation and expenditures of federal legislation designed to respond to the pandemic. The independent agency has an online fraud reporting system as well as a dedicated COVID-19 response page.
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