Massachusetts - COVID-19 Covered

Massachusetts

Total Cases: 100,805 (June 2)
Tests Administered: 592,853 (May 31)
Fatalities: 7,035 (June 2)
Testing:
  • Governor Baker announced the expansion of “self-swab and send testing sites” at ten CVS pharmacy drive-thru locations in Massachusetts. (May 14)
  • Nearly $16 million in federal aid will be distributed to 40 Massachusetts health centers to assist in COVID-19 testing expansion. (May 7)
  • The Baker administration announced an expansion of COVID-19 testing sites at community health centers, bringing the total to 18 health centers offering testing. (May 1)
  • The Baker Administration announced additional funding for nursing home facilities that meet specific requirements, including testing all staff and residents and reporting the data to the state. (April 27)
  • In an initiative to expand COVID-19 testing, Governor Baker announced testing will now be available at Community Health Centers in Boston, Brockton, Lowell, Quincy, Fall River, Provincetown, and Worcester. (April 22)
  • The Baker administration expanded free, priority COVID-19 testing to include grocery stores and supermarket workers. (April 10)
  • The Massachusetts Department of Health released “Crisis Standards of Care,” including guidelines for how hospitals can navigate “tragically difficult decisions,” such as rationing ventilators and beds during the coronavirus pandemic. (April 8)
  • Governor Baker announced the second free, drive-through COVID-19 testing site reserved for first responders and emergency workers. The mobile site will open at the Big E fairgrounds. (April 8)
  • Governor Baker and CVS announced a new COVID-19 rapid testing site in Lowell. The site will be able to process up to 1000 patients per day. (April 7)
  • Governor Baker announced a Nursing Home Mobile Testing Program to allow for rapid, on-site testing of residents in long-term care facilities. (April 7)
  • Boston Heart Diagnostics will begin antibody testing to check individuals’ immunity to the coronavirus. They expect to run approximately 5,000 tests per day. (April 5)
  • The Broad Institute at Harvard and MIT can provide test results within 24 hours and will soon be processing 2,000 tests a day. (March 26)
  • The state launched a text alert system for residents to receive the latest news regarding the coronavirus. People can text “COVIDMA” to 888777 to sign up. (March 24)

ECONOMIC RESPONSE

Essential Service Designations:

  • Beginning May 7, Massachusetts golf courses can resume operations if they maintain strict social distancing guidelines. (May 7)
  • Massachusetts updated its essential services guidance to allow certain retailers to open on a remote basis, including flower shops, bookstores, and jewelers. The updated guidelines allow for “no-contact delivery,” and require the stores to abide by strict public health guidelines. (May 5, gov)
  • Governor Baker issued guidance directing Boston and other communities to end moratoriums on construction activity, deeming the work essential. (March 25)
    • Boston Mayor Martin Walsh refused to heed the guidance and instead extended the shutdown of construction services “until further notice.” (March 26)
  • In conjunction with Governor Baker’s order to close all non-essential businesses, he issued a list of those that qualify as essential services: health care/public health/human services, law enforcement, public safety, first responders, food and agriculture, energy workers, water and wastewater workers, transportation and logistics workers, public works employees, communications and IT, community-based and government operations, critical manufacturing, hazardous materials and chemicals, financial services, and defense employees. (March 23)

Labor & Workforce Guidance, Standards and Regulations:

  • Effective immediately, certain businesses may reopen workspaces to workers to conduct reopening preparations. (June 1)
  • Pursuant to Phase Two of Massachusetts’s reopening plan, summer camps and childcare facilities are expected to reopen June 8. (June 1)
  • Restaurants and hotels are slated to begin reopening in mid-June in accordance with strict social distancing guidelines. (May 29)
  • As part of Phase One of “Reopening Massachusetts,” manufacturing facilities and construction sites may open May 18. (May 18)
  • “Under a staggered approach,” certain sectors may reopen effective May 15, including lab space, office space, hair salons, and certain retail establishments. (May 18)
  • The Baker Administration has partnered with leading employers in Massachusetts to commit to “continuing work from home for the foreseeable future” as the state plans a phased reopening process. (May 15)
  • Governor Baker announced a four-phase reopening plan to restart the Massachusetts economy which will include “Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards” that all businesses must adhere to as they reopen. (May 11)
  • Governor Baker announced the creation of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, which provides unemployment benefits for individuals who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits, including “self-employed workers, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and those with limited work history.” (April 20)
  • Governor Baker announced over $10 million in funding to assist manufacturers in transitioning operations to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) and other critical devices, such as ventilators and sanitizer. (April 13)
  • The Baker administration launched a Spanish language online unemployment benefits application for those who need to apply. (April 11)
  • Governor Baker announced the implementation of new federal unemployment benefits resulting from the CARES Act, including an additional $600 a week in unemployment compensation, as well as a 13-week extension on benefits. (April 9)
  • Governor Baker signed an executive order directing the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to provide financial relief to its providers of critical health care and social services, including rate adjustments, supplemental payments, and new payment methodologies that reflect new services required by providers. (March 30)
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved Massachusetts’s request for a Section 1135 Medicaid Waiver, enabling the state to provide flexibilities in Medicaid provider screening and enrollment. (March 26)
  • Governor Baker issued guidance directing Boston and other communities to end moratoriums on construction activity, deeming the work essential. (March 25)
    • Boston Mayor Martin Walsh refused to heed the guidance and instead extended the shutdown of construction services “until further notice.” (March 26)
  • Governor Baker ordered all grocery stores and pharmacies to set aside an hour when only seniors will be allowed to shop. (March 25)
  • Governor Baker signed legislation ( 2599) waiving the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits. (March 18)
  • A bill (2603/HD.4927) has advanced to committee requiring that any public safety official and first responder who require hospitalization or quarantine related to COVID-19 shall have their condition presumed to be work-related, shall not be required to use sick time, vacation time, or personal time to cover said period. (March 18)

Economic Stimulus & Relief:

  • The Baker Administration announced the launch of the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation through the federal CARES ACT. (May 21)
  • Governor Baker announced $56 million in aid “to combat urgent food security” for Massachusetts families who have been affected by COVID-19. (May 17)
  • The Baker Administration will distribute up to $502 million from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund to cities and towns in Massachusetts to aid in their COVID-19 response effort. (May 14)
  • Governor Baker filed a supplemental budget bill for Fiscal Year 2020 which would authorize $1 billion in spending to cover costs incurred during the coronavirus pandemic, including the cost of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), incentive pay for state employees, a statewide contact tracing program, emergency childcare for essential workers, among other expenses. (May 12)
  • The US Department of Health and Human Services has awarded more than $505,000 to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to support small rural hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. (April 22)
  • Governor Baker signed into law a bill (H.4647) protecting homeowners and tenants from eviction and foreclosure during the COVID-19 emergency. (April 20)
  • The federal government approved Governor Baker’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration for the state of Massachusetts, allocating additional federal funding for individuals and businesses, including reimbursements for emergency response costs, quarantine costs, and counseling costs. (March 28)
  • Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey filed emergency regulation prohibiting creditors from engaging in methods of debt collection that requires people to leave their home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The regulation is intended to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive debt collection practices. (March 27)
  • Governor Baker announced an agreement extending the 2019 state individual income tax filing and payment deadline from April 15 to July 15. (March 27)
  • The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is suspending terminations of rental vouchers, investing $5 million for a COVID-19 Rental Assistance for Families in Transition fund, and issuing guidance recommending all owners of state-aided low-income housing suspend both pending non-essential evictions and the filing of any new non-essential evictions. (March 25)
  • The Division of Banks issued new guidance to Massachusetts financial institutions and lenders urging them to provide relief for borrowers and will advocate for a 60-day stay for all homeowners facing foreclosure. (March 25)
  • Governor Baker ordered the Department of Public Utilities to prohibit utility companies from shutting off gas, electric, and water utility service to any customer for failure to pay a bill until the State of Emergency is lifted. (March 25)
  • Governor Baker announced that MassHealth and the Health Connector will protect coverage for all individuals who have Medicaid coverage as of March 18, 2020, and for all individuals approved for coverage during the national emergency. (March 23)
  • The Boston Housing Authority has notified the Boston Housing Court it will not pursue “non-essential eviction actions” as long as the state of emergency lasts. (March 14)

Business Support & Resources:

  • Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced the city will set up a $6 million fund to support the city’s small businesses as they reopen. The Reopen Boston Fund will supply grants to Boston businesses with fewer than 15 employees to promote safety measures, including purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) and the installation of plexiglass partitions. (May 26)
  • Governor Baker announced $800 million in “critical stabilization funding” to support health care providers in Massachusetts as they respond to COVID-19. The funding will specifically support hospitals, nursing facilities, primary care providers, behavioral health providers, and long-term service and support providers. (April 7)
  • Governor Baker announced an online portal where individuals and companies can donate or sell personal protective equipment and volunteer to support the COVID-19 outbreak in Massachusetts. (March 29)
  • Governor Baker announced tax penalty relief to support small businesses, waiving any late-filed or late-pay penalties for certain taxes. (March 23)
  • The US Small Business Administration has approved a Massachusetts Disaster Declaration, allowing small businesses in the state suffering “substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus” to seek low-interest, federal disaster loans to provide them with working capital. (March 18)
  • Governor Baker also announced a $10 million small business recovery loan fund to provide financial relief to those affected by COVID-19. The fund will provide emergency capital up to $75,000 to Massachusetts-based businesses with under 50 full- and part-time employees, including non-profits. (March 16)

SOCIAL RESTRICTIONS

Shelter-In-Place Orders:

  • No records found as of May June 1.
  • Effective May 18, Massachusetts will transition from a Stay at Home Advisory to a “Safer at Home” Advisory which instructs citizens to stay home “unless they are headed to a newly opened facility or activity.” (May 18)

Curfews:

  • No state-wide records found.
  • The city of Lynn has instituted a curfew between 9 pm and 6 am. (April 12)
  • Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced a curfew for non-emergency workers from 9 pm to 6 am. (April 5)

Social-Distancing Guidelines:

  • As part of Phase One of “Reopening Massachusetts,” gatherings of ten people or more continue to be prohibited. (May 18)
  • Governor Baker signed an executive order requiring all coastal beach reservation parking areas to close effective 12 pm on April 3. (April 2)
  • Beginning March 27, all travelers arriving in Massachusetts are instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days. (March 27)
  • All visitors are banned from assisted living residences, as well as nursing homes and rest homes. (March 15)

Delivery Services:

  • Restaurants can begin outdoor dining as part of Phase Two of Massachusetts reopening plan. (June 1)

SCHOOL CLOSURES

K-12:

  • Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order closing all public and private schools through the end of the school year. (April 21)

State Higher Education:

  • Colleges and universities, both public and private, are encouraged to move towards remote learning and pursue strategies that reduce the need for students to be on campus, including suspending in-person classes and implementing institution-wide programs to shift to remote learning. (March 20)

Giving Oportunities

April 20, 2020

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is requesting surgical/procedure masks, N95/N99 masks (respirators), face masks with integrated shield, PAPRs, goggles, gloves, protective suits/gowns, booties/shoe covers, head covers, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes.

Produced by Marathon Strategies, an independent PR firm that delivers intelligent communications and research solutions. For information, email Phil Singer at COVID-19@marathonstrategies.com