COVID-19: June 26, 2020 Update from Representative Dykema

June 26 Coronavirus Update

Source: Mass.gov

We already know that the impacts of COVID-19 extend far beyond the devastating effects on individuals and families who’ve been directly impacted by the virus. The economic impact of this global crisis has already been felt by businesses and workers across the Commonwealth, and those impacts are sure to continue even as we work to reopen sectors of our economy.

Today, the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies held a virtual hearing on legislation introduced by the Governor to provide $275 million in funding to support equitable economic recovery and growth across the Commonwealth. The proposal represents a targeted package of investments across three core areas: housing, community development, and business competitiveness. Additional funding has been provided specifically to programs supporting neighborhood stabilization and grants to “micro businesses,” two areas most impacted by the economic impacts of the pandemic. You can read more about the proposal here.

This effort follows legislation supporting changes and providing relief to the restaurant industry passed by the House earlier in June, as well as a series of grant programs, large expansions to our unemployment assistance and other social safety net programs, and regulatory changes designed to support workers and small business to the greatest extent possible in our “new normal.” 

New Updates

Coronavirus Testing and Response

Source: Department of Public Health data
  • Today, the state saw 233 new reported positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 108,070 total cases and 50 reported deaths as of today at 4pm. 
  • The average new cases over the last 7 days is 203, and the average number of deaths is 31.
  • The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 1.9%.
  • 791 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, a decrease of 31 from yesterday.
  • The Department of Public Health regularly releases 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.

Heath Care

  • Hospital Capacity: As of 6/26, 32% of the Commonwealth’s 12,400 permanent and temporary hospital beds are available for new patients if needed. In the MetroWest region, 39% of the region’s 2,300 beds are available for new patients.
  • Long-term care: As of 6/26, there are 369 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 23,362 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 5,051 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in long-term care facilities.
  • For information on COVID-19 testing and guidance on whether you should get tested, how to get tested, and where to get tested, visit the COVID-19 testing portal at mass.gov/gettested
  • The independent investigative report on failures and recommended improvements on the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home can be found online here.

Local Updates

  • You can find this week’s DPH report on town-by-town COVID-19 testing and case numbers here, as well as counts of COVID-19 cases at long-term care facilities across the Commonwealth. Our towns’ numbers are below (through 6/24):
    • Holliston: 56
    • Hopkinton: 121
    • Southborough: 41
    • Westborough: 336
  • In compliance with the new statewide data collection law, DPH has also begun reporting COVID-19 testing and infection rates at all state facilities, including state hospitals and congregate care facilities. You can find that report here.
  • The weekly report to the Supreme Judicial Court of COVID-19 testing and positive cases at jails and corrections facilities can be found here.

Workers and Small Business

  • The federal Department of Labor has released an online eligibility tool and Q&A for families and workers to better understand the expansions to sick leave policy authorized under federal legislation passed in March. The Q&A can be accessed here and the online eligibility tool can be accessed here.
  • The IRS has updated its  Economic Impact Payment FAQ (stimulus checks) to reflect common questions that have come up, particularly with respect to tax filing as it impacts EIP eligibility.
  • Unemployment fraud continues to be a major concern for the Department of Unemployment Assistance and the IRS. To report unemployment fraud on the state level, use this form. To report fraud that uses your Social Security Number, visit https://identitytheft.gov/.
  • The Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation, MassINC, and several other MA-based organizations are conducting a survey of Massachusetts-based small businesses evaluating impacts of COVID-19. Those who wish to participate can do so here.

Transportation

  • RMV customers whose driver’s licenses expire between now and August 2021 are encouraged to renew their IDs online in coming months to avoid an in-person visit to the RMV to get a REAL ID. When those individuals do upgrade to REAL ID licenses, the upgrade fee will be waived. More information on COVID-19 updates related to the RMV can be found here.

Education

  • This week, the administration released initial guidance on reopening schools in the fall. This guidance is contingent on current trends in coronavirus containment, testing, and treatment continuing in coming months and is not a final determination on schools reopening. The guidance can be downloaded here.
  • The Department of Early Education and Care updated its child-care program reopening guidance, initially released on June 1, with new guidance and changes. An updated and annotated guidance document can be found here.

Legislative Update

  • This week, the House unanimously voted to pass a supplemental budget that authorized $1.1 billion in federal funds to be spent on COVID-19 relief services and extended deadlines for state funding that carried over from FY20 with unexpended balances due to disruptions related to the pandemic. The bill, when signed, will also designate Juneteenth as a state holiday. It now travels to the Senate for consideration.
  • This week, the Legislature passed an interim budget extending FY20 funding levels through the summer. This will allow the changing budget process to continue while ensuring fiscal stability as we move into Fiscal Year 2021. The legislation is now on the Governor’s desk.
  • The Senate also passed legislation expanding use of telehealth and addressing other concerns related to out-of-network billing this week. The legislation now travels to the House for consideration.

Local Resources

All of the towns in the 8th Middlesex District now have centralized COVID-19 resource pages with resources, updates, and alerts regarding town services.

HollistonHopkintonSouthboroughWestborough

The Department of Public Health also releases weekly reports on town-by-town COVID-19 case numbers and rates, which can be found online here.

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. 

Guide for job/income loss resourceshttps://carolyndykema.com/covid19-state-resources

Department of Unemployment Assistancehttps://www.mass.gov/orgs/department-of-unemployment-assistance

Department of Transitional Assistancehttps://www.mass.gov/dta-covid-19-resources-and-support

How You Can Help

Holliston Youth and Family Services requests your support of the Community Action Fund, which provides emergency assistance to those affected by COVID-19. Learn more or donate here.

The Westborough Rotary Club has launched a COVID-19 Community Relief Fund to provide assistance to those affected by COVID-19. Learn more or donate here.

The American Red Cross is asking for blood donations, the need for which is significant due to blood drive cancellations. The need is dire due to the cancellation of hundreds of blood drives. People can donate at the Worcester American Red Cross Donor Center, 381 Plantation St. Worcester or call 1-800-RED CROSS. Some local donor sites, including the Natick Senior Center, are available for appointments as well.

Information on our local food pantries can be found below. The most pressing need right now is cash donations to ensure that food drop-off and delivery do not inadvertently contribute to the spread of the virus.

Holliston Pantry Shelf | Project Just Because | Southborough Food Pantry | Westborough Food Pantry

Current Statewide Advisories

Safer at Home: As of May 18, the statewide stay-at-home advisory is now the  Safer at Home advisory. In many ways, this advisory remains in the same spirit as previous policies: You should practice social distancing and limit your non-essential interactions as much as possible. 

Face Covering: As reopening continues, the statewide face covering advisory remains in effect for public indoor and outdoor spaces in situations where social distancing is not possible. The full advisory and detailed guidance can be found online.

Reopening Guidance: For more information on the state’s phased reopening plan and particular industry-specific guidance, visit mass.gov/reopening. For questions about business reopening timelines, visit this page.

A list of all executive orders in place during the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 state of emergency can be found here.

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