COVID-19: November 16, 2020 Update from Representative Dykema
November 16th COVID-19 Update
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted every aspect of our lives, including state finances. Since the pandemic began, my colleagues in the House of Representatives and I have focused crafting policy that protects public health while addressing economic disruption caused by the pandemic.
As a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, I was glad to play a role in the effort to pass a full FY21 budget this past week. Despite revenue projections dropping by 6.8%, the House produced a spending bill that responds to the most pressing needs and maximizes benefits across the state.
To offset impacts of reduced revenues, the House budget relied on the “rainy day” funds to produce a balanced budget without tax increases and with only modest impacts to most programs. During our recent years of strong, sustained growth, the legislature has worked with bipartisan agreement to build up the rainy-day fund, more than doubling its size from $1.3 billion in Fiscal Year 2017 to $3.5 billion today. The budget, which was just approved, utilizes 43% of the fund, unlike the last two major recessions when we relied on 50-60%.
Some areas of the budget were significantly increased to address urgent needs including $50 million for rental assistance, $43 million for food security, and $50 million for students impacted by COVID-19. It also authorized an additional $20 million to increase provider rates in early education, one of the sectors hit hardest during our shutdown. MassHealth spending for low-income residents increased by 10% to $1.8 billion, continuing the Commonwealth’s commitment to providing high-quality health care to every resident.
The budget passed the House on a vote of 143-14 and now travels to the Senate, which will begin debate this week. Until we have a final budget, the Legislature and the Governor have worked together to pass temporary funding to ensure continuity of key programs and services. Learn more about the House budget here.
Coronavirus Testing and Response
- Today, the state saw 1,967 new positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, with 184,511 total cases and 12 reported deaths as of today at 4pm.
- The average new cases over the last 7 days is 2,369, and the average number of deaths is 25.
- The 7-day weighted average positive test rate in Massachusetts is 3.2%.
- 53,265 new molecular tests for COVID-19 were reported in the Commonwealth today.
- 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.
- Hospitalization: 781 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, an increase of 44 from yesterday.
- Hospital Capacity: As of 11/16, 32% of the Commonwealth’s 11,000 non-ICU hospital beds are available for new patients if needed (47% of statewide ICU beds are available). In the MetroWest region, 33% of the region’s non-ICU 1,800 beds are available for new patients (33% of regional ICU beds are available).
- Long-term care: As of 11/16, there are 395 long-term care facilities with at least one case of COVID-19 and 26,298 staff and residents in facilities who have tested positive for COVID-19. 6,600 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.
Local and State Resources
All of the towns in the 8th Middlesex District have centralized COVID-19 resource pages with resources, updates, and alerts regarding town services.
Job/Income Loss Resources
COVID-19 is also 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 resources: https://carolyndykema.com/covid19-state-resources
Information on the state of emergency and related orders can be found here.
Reopening guidance can be found at mass.gov/reopening.
Information on COVID-19 testing can be found at mass.gov/gettested.