QHS Class Of 1974 Donates $500 To Quincy Relief Fund; Challenges QHS, NQHS Grads To Support Effort

The Quincy High School Class of 1974 has donated $500 from their class reunion fund to the Quincy Relief Fund. Grants from the fund are dedicated to members of the community and organizations in the most need during the COVID-19 pandemic and health emergency.

At this time, the QHS Class of 1974 is challenging other QHS and NQHS classes as well as individuals to do the same on behalf of their graduating classes.

Donations can be made at their website at:www.quincyrelieffund.com

Let’s go Quincy #Allinthistogether

CARES Act Unemployment Benefits For Self-Employed, Gig Economy, Other Workers Implemented

The Baker-Polito Administration announced April 20th that Massachusetts residents who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits can now apply online for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

The new federal PUA program provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits who are unable to work because of a COVID-19-related reason but are not eligible for regular or extended unemployment benefits. This includes self-employed workers, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and those with limited work history. Applicants can learn more and apply at www.mass.gov/pua.

“As a Commonwealth, we are committed to doing everything in our power, and moving as urgently as possible to get workers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis the benefits they deserve,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “With the implementation of this new federal benefit program, we can better support workers not normally covered by the unemployment system like those who are self-employed or work in the gig economy.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives of workers across the Commonwealth, and our Administration is doing everything we can to help,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “The implementation of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program in Massachusetts is another important step in our efforts to help those who are economically disrupted by this virus.”

To be eligible for this new program, individuals must provide self-certification that they are otherwise able and available to work but are prevented from doing so by circumstances relating to COVID-19, including their own illness or that of a family member.

Those able to telework with pay and individuals receiving paid sick or other leave will not qualify for PUA. Individuals receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits for less than their customary work week, however, may still be eligible for PUA. Also, those working fewer hours, resulting in a loss of income due to COVID-19, who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits may be eligible for PUA.

“It is vital that our workforce gets the resources and help they need during this critical time,” said Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta. “I’m proud of everything our team is doing to rapidly implement new programs, and ensure that as many eligible workers as possible get some relief.”

The federal CARES Act signed into law on March 27 created PUA, as well as another temporary federal program called Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) that provides an additional $600 weekly benefit for those receiving unemployment benefits or PUA. FPUC provides that additional benefit through July 25, 2020. The Commonwealth announced implementation of FPUC earlier this month.

All approved PUA applications will initially receive the minimum weekly benefit amount, plus the additional $600 FPUC weekly benefit. Once a worker’s wages are verified, weekly benefit amounts may increase. The amount of PUA benefits received is based on the individual’s reported previous income. PUA benefits may not be more than the state’s maximum weekly benefit rate for regular unemployment, which is $823 in Massachusetts.

Weekly benefits, including any increase to your weekly benefit amount, will be retroactive to Jan. 27, 2020, or the date when you became unemployed, whichever is more recent, as long as you became unable to work because of a COVID-19 related reason.

PUA Application Process:

To apply, individuals must provide their Social Security number or US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) number if not a citizen of the United States, and their wage records for 2019, which includes 1099 forms, pay stubs, or bank statements. Applicants will also need the Social Security numbers and dates of birth for dependent children and, if requesting direct deposit for payment, your bank account and routing numbers. A full list of required documents is available at www.mass.gov/pua.

Initially, the system can only pay benefits retroactively to the week ending March 14, 2020. Eligible workers will be able to certify for benefits, and will be able to request benefits retroactively to January 27, 2020, if their dates of unemployment make them eligible.

Individuals who are determined ineligible for PUA will receive a written disqualification along with information on how to pursue an appeal. Additional information about the appeals process will be separately posted at a later date. Please visit www.mass.gov/dua for the latest information.

Massachusetts Announces Initial Implementation Of New Federal Unemployment Benefits From CARES Act

The Baker-Polito Administration announced Thursday (April 9th) details for the initial implementation of federal unemployment benefits in the CARES Act, the federal based COVID-19 relief package. This federal program, enacted on March 27, will be administered by states.

The announcement reflects the first set of partial guidance that Massachusetts will immediately implement to support unemployed workers. The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is moving swiftly to implement the new benefit programs and awaits additional guidance from the federal government for the remainder of benefits authorized by the CARES Act.

Understanding the great urgency of Commonwealth residents to access these benefits, DUA issued new guidance to instruct all residents of what actions they can take now.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC): For Individuals Currently Collecting Benefits From Regular Unemployment Compensation:

Overview: An additional $600 per week for individuals collecting benefits from regular unemployment compensation is being implemented by DUA. The additional $600 will be added to unemployment benefits retroactive to March 29, 2020 and will begin being disbursed to claimants this week.

The FPUC program will provide an additional $600 per week to individuals who are collecting regular Unemployment Compensation (UC), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Extended Benefits (EB), Trade Readjustment Act (TRA), and Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DA). The Department has already begun implementing the FPUC program for regular UC claimants. The $600 will be added to all eligible weeks of benefits retroactive to March 29, 2020 and continuing until July 31, 2020. FPUC monetary disbursements will begin immediately in Massachusetts for those who are currently collecting benefits on regular UC claims. Those receiving PEUC, PUA, and EB will receive the additional $600 payments retroactive to March 29, 2020 as soon as their claims are processed and determined eligible.

  • Next Steps For Claimants: Eligible claimants who are already receiving UI do not need to do anything for the additional $600 to be added to their weekly benefit amount. This benefit will be available for all new claimants filing for regular Unemployment Compensation as well, which can be done at www.mass.gov/unemployment/covid-19

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): For Individuals Not Covered Under Traditional Unemployment Insurance (Self-Employed, Gig Economy Workers, Others):

Overview: A benefit will be available for individuals not covered under traditional unemployment insurance like the self-employed or gig workers or those who do not qualify for lack of wages. DUA is now working with a vendor to build a new platform to disburse those benefits. This platform is expected to begin processing claims on or about April 30, 2020.

PUA will provide up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are not working as a result of COVID-19 and are self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and others who otherwise would not qualify for regular UC or EB under state or federal law or PEUC. These individuals will not be able to claim benefits directly through the UI Online System in Massachusetts, as of this time. The Department of Unemployment Assistance has engaged a vendor to build a new platform to disburse PUA benefits. The platform is expected to begin accepting PUA claims by April 30, 2020. Eligible claimants under PUA will be retroactively compensated with this benefit beginning February 2, 2020, or the first week a claimant was unable to work as a result of COVID-19, whichever date is later. The last week this benefit is payable is the week ending December 26, 2020.

  • Next Steps For Claimants: Eligible claimants should continue to check for updates at www.mass.gov/unemployment/covid-19 on the new platform, which will be ready this month. Once the system is up and running, eligible claimants will receive this benefit backdated to February 2, 2020, or the first week a claimant was unable to work as a result of COVID-19.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): For Individuals Who Exhausted Previous UI Benefits:

Overview: A 13-week extension of benefits for individuals who exhausted their previous benefits – is not yet available as DUA continues to await federal implementation guidance.

The PEUC program provides up to 13 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits to individuals who have exhausted their previous unemployment benefits. The first week a claimant can be compensated on this benefit is the week beginning March 29, 2020, and the last payable week is the week ending December 26, 2020. The Department of Unemployment Assistance is awaiting additional federal guidance on how to implement and administer this program and the extended weeks of PEUC benefits are not yet available.

  • Next Steps For Claimants: No action at this time. Eligible claimants should continue to check for updates, which will be made available as soon as the state receives information from the federal government.

DUA is committed to moving as quickly as possible to get workers the benefits they deserve during these unprecedented times and will continue to communicate with the public about the status of these benefit programs.

YMCA Community Support Challenge Rallies Support For Local Restaurants, Retailers Providing Meals, Supplies For Food Pantry Participants

Chef Paul Wahlberg is delivering meals this week in the Wahlburgers food truck to guests at the Quincy YMCA emergency shelter, Father Bill’s & Mainspring shelter in Quincy, and to the South Shore YMCA’s two emergency childcare centers for essential and medical workers. Courtesy Photo


The South Shore YMCA is launching a weekly COVID-19 Community Support Challenge to rally support for local restaurants and retailers who are providing warm meals, supplies and a bit of joy for the Y’s food pantry participants, emergency shelter guests and kids and teachers at the Y’s emergency childcare centers.

The idea began with a longtime South Shore YMCA donor who saw an opportunity to simultaneously support the region’s most vulnerable people and area restaurants in danger of closing. Calling Julie and Mark Ellis at The Chef’s Table, she offered to pay for 300 meals to be delivered to senior housing residents. The Y supplemented the effort with 300 dinner rolls donated by Lombardo’s-to-Go.

“We recognized this project as an amazing opportunity to help local restaurants while also supporting the Y’s emergency efforts,” said Paul Gorman, president and CEO of the South Shore YMCA. “They need the business, and the Y needs warm meals, supplies and financial support for our food pantry, emergency shelter and emergency childcare centers.” The Y is currently seeking donors to the COVID-19 Community Support Challenge, inspired by the initial meals delivered by The Chef’s Table. Funds raised will pay local restaurants for meals that will be delivered to folks in need.

Chef Paul Wahlberg will step up to the challenge during the week of April 6 by delivering meals in the Wahlburgers food truck to guests at the Quincy YMCA emergency shelter, Father Bill’s & Mainspring shelter in Quincy, and to the South Shore YMCA’s two emergency childcare centers for essential and medical workers. Wahlberg’s other restaurant, Alma Nove, will supply prepared meals to isolated seniors at local senior housing. The South Shore Y is working to raise $10,000 from community donations to support this challenge. These dollars will also provide Easter baskets from local retailers to distribute to children through the Y’s food pantry.

“When I heard about the idea, my immediate reaction was, ‘Of course we’ll do this. We’ll figure out a way to make this work.’” said Wahlberg.

Other restaurant owners have raised their hands to step up for future challenges, including Eat Local’s Brian Houlihan, owner of The Tinker’s Son, Trident and the Galley of Scituate. “This is just about the best thing for local restaurants,” said Houlihan. “We all feel so helpless right now, and giving us this opportunity to step up and help the community with the Y is just awesome. Count us in!” George Montilio of Montilio’s Bakery has signed on as well.

“We are excited to see how the community joins us in this challenge,” said Gorman, “and we are so appreciative of our supporters like Paul Wahlberg, the Ellises, David Lombardo and all of the others. Closing a door at a YMCA, as we have been compelled to do, is devastating for a mission-based organization like ours. We are here to help people improve their lives. But with the backing of partners and donors like those who are participating in this challenge, our staff is meeting that mission.”

Patrick Murphy, Quincy YMCA Executive Director, who is helping to deliver those meals, echoes Gorman’s sentiments. “We literally cannot wait to see people’s faces when Paul Wahlberg pulls up the food truck to serve the guests at the emergency shelter here at the Quincy Y. To see that joy is why we do this work. It means so much.”

The South Shore YMCA’s The Taste of the South Shore springtime fundraiser, held annually at Lombardo’s in Randolph, has supported the Y’s social service work for the past 24 years. The event brings together more than 35 of the area’s premier restaurants, caterers, bakeries, breweries and wineries to donate their talents to support the YMCA and its causes. This year, the South Shore Y elected to postpone “The Taste” until Sept. 23, due to the COVID-19/Coronavirus crisis.

The generosity of these restaurants, food and beverage companies is what makes “The Taste” such a unique and impactful event. The COVID-19 Community Support Challenge will engage restaurants and retailers, including Taste restaurants, each week to meet basic needs on the South Shore. The South Shore YMCA is asking the community to join the challenge through donations.

“So many people in our community want to pitch in and help,” said Gorman, “but with social distancing in place, we simply cannot ask anyone to volunteer in person. These challenges offer the community a way to help and feel empowered through donations during a time when we cannot ask them to join us in person.”

For more information on the challenge and how you can help the South Shore YMCA, contact Mary Orne, morne@ssymca.org , 781-264-9453, or visit ssymca.org/covid19support to support the challenge through a tax-deductible donation.

Increased Resources For Health Care Providers, Expanded Support For Long-Term Care Facilities, COVID-19 Testing Initiatives

The Baker-Polito Administration announced Tuesday (April 7) a new financial package to support providers through the MassHealth program. The administration also announced new resources to support older adults living in long-term care facilities and their families, including a Nursing Home Mobile Testing Program and a Nursing Home Family Resource Line. Earlier Tuesday, the Administration and CVS announced a new rapid-testing site in Lowell.

 MassHealth Financial Resources: The Baker-Polito Administration has announced a new infusion of $800 million at MassHealth in critical stabilization funding to support health care providers impacted by and responding to COVID-19. Health care providers across the Commonwealth have stepped up in unprecedented ways in the past few weeks while experiencing a significant impact on their revenue and operations. This funding will support hospitals, nursing facilities, primary care providers, behavioral health providers, and long-term services and supports providers and will be distributed starting this month and through July. This funding is in addition to the $290 million in immediate cash relief and $550 million in accelerated payments to providers announced in March. The Executive Office of Health and Human Services will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation.

These resources include:

• More than $400 million to hospitals

The majority of this funding will support 28 safety net and high-Medicaid hospitals, to address lost revenue and increased costs for hospitals at the front lines of treating patients with COVID-19

This includes a 20% rate increase for COVID-19 care, as well as a 7.5% across-the-board rate increase for other hospital care

• More than $80 million for Nursing Facilities

$50 million will be dedicated funding for all nursing facilities across the state

Facilities and units within nursing facilities that are designated COVID-19 sites of care will receive approximately $30 million in additional funding to support their capacity to care for COVID-19 patients

• More than $300 million for other health care providers that are delivering medical care for COVID-19 or providing services that keep residents safe in their homes and out of the hospital, including:

    • More than $50 million for community health centers
    • Around $30 million for personal care attendants
    • Funding for ambulance providers physicians, community behavioral health providers, and Home Health Agencies
    • Funding for certain long-term services and supports day programs such as Adult Day Health or Day Habilitation programs that have converted from group programs to actively serving members via alternative means

Nursing Home Mobile Testing Program: Building on efforts to protect high-risk populations like older adults, the Baker-Polito Administration has launched a program to allow for safe, rapid on-site testing of residents of long-term care facilities like nursing homes and rest homes. The initiative is being completed as a partnership between the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Massachusetts National Guard and the testing being conducted by the BROAD institute. So far, the National Guard has been deployed to 80 facilities across the state and has completed more than 1,300 tests since this program started last week. Starting yesterday, DPH worked to expand the program by providing an option for places to use their on-site medical personnel to collect specimens and send them to the state lab for testing. Today, DPH issued new guidance to nursing homes and rest homes with recommendations aimed at protecting the health of residents and health care workers and mitigating the risk of transmission of COVID-19, both inside and outside of these facilities.

Nursing Home Resource Line: The Baker-Polito Administration also announced the launch of a new Nursing Home Family Resource Line, a dedicated telephone line that will connect family members of nursing home and rest home residents with the information and resources they need. This resource was created so that family and community members have one central contact that they can reach out to if they have questions or concerns about the care their loved one is receiving during the COVID-19 outbreak. The line is staffed from 9 AM – 5 PM, seven days a week. Staff will coordinate across state agencies to help callers find answers to their questions.

Families and community members can call the line at (617) 660-5399.

New CVS Rapid Testing Site: Earlier today, the Baker-Polito Administration and CVS announced the launch of a new rapid testing site in Lowell, which will enable on-the-spot COVID-19 testing and results at no cost. The new CVS site in Lowell will use the new Abbott ID NOW™ COVID-19 test. With the launch of this site, Massachusetts is the third state where CVS has launched rapid testing sites, joining Georgia and Rhode Island. CVS Health will be transitioning its efforts to support COVID-19 testing in Mass. to the Lowell location, which allows for up to 1,000 patients to be tested per day and receive results on-site so they can properly quarantine or seek treatment as appropriate. As a result, the company will be halting COVID-19 testing at the original Shrewsbury pilot testing site. Similar to the CVS rapid COVID-19 test sites in Georgia and Rhode Island, testing at the Lowell site will be overseen by licensed health care providers from MinuteClinic, the retail medical clinic of CVS Health. Patients will need to pre-register in advance online at CVS.com in order to schedule a same-day time slot for testing.

Read More

The Baker-Polito Administration will continue to update the public on developments related to COVID-19. Residents can visit www.mass.gov/covid19 for the latest information, call 2-1-1 with questions, and text “COVIDMA” to 888-777 to subscribe to text-alert updates.

$2 Million Awarded To City For Seawalls Damaged During March 2018 Storms

U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), along with Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA-08), announce the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded the City of Quincy just over $2 million to fortify the seawall at Adam’s Shore and Houghs Neck, which was damaged during the March 2018 Nor’easters.

“This long-overdue FEMA funding is terrific news and will make a big difference for Quincy as it works to rebuild its seawall, and for other South Shore communities that are still recovering from storm damage,” Warren said. “I’ll keep working with the congressional delegation and local officials to ensure the federal government supports our cities and towns as they mitigate and respond to natural disasters.”

“It’s been two years since the City of Quincy’s Adam Shore and Houghs Neck neighborhoods were devastated by strong coastal storms and flooding,” Markey said.  “This FEMA funding to repair the seawall damage accrued during those storms has been a long time coming, but it will have a positive and immediate impact on the residents of this diverse coastal community. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Congressional delegation, state officials, and Mayor Koch to ensure that Quincy, and all of our Commonwealth’s communities, have the resources they need to mitigate the impacts of our changing climate.”

“While we continue to work with FEMA to process Massachusetts’ request for ventilators and PPE, I am pleased to see the City of Quincy receive this $2 million in critical funding to help safeguard the Adams Shore and Hough’s Neck neighborhoods and repair its seawall,” Lynch said. “I will continue to work with Mayor Koch, Governor Baker and Senators Warren and Markey to protect our coastal communities. ”

“This seawall project is absolutely vital to our coastal resiliency efforts, providing a substantial new layer of protection to our neighborhoods most affected by rising sea levels,” said Mayor Thomas Koch. “I am deeply grateful for the work of Senator Warren, Senator Markey, Congressman Lynch and their teams to make this grant a reality.”

“Upgrading our coastal defenses has been a priority since the 2017 storms,” said state Rep. Tackey Chan.  “Working together with Senators Markey and Warren, Congressman Lynch, Mayor Koch and (Ward 1) Councillor (David) McCarthy, we were successful in advocating for funding.  The FEMA grant will greatly advance the much needed rebuilds of the seawalls in these neighborhoods”

In March 2018, the Massachusetts congressional delegation wrote to FEMA to request assistance with the state’s assessment and recovery processes following the damage caused by the storms.

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation Partners with ConvenientMD Urgent Care to Open Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing Site In Quincy

ConvenientMD and the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation are partnering to open a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site starting at noon on Friday, April 3rd at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care’s Quincy headquarters’ parking lot, located at 1600 Colony Dr.

“This creative partnership with ConvenientMD is designed to help provide timely, easy and critical access to COVID-19 testing in our communities, where our communities need it most,” said Michael Carson, President and CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and chair of the Foundation’s board of directors. “This testing service will assist public health efforts in the growing need to identify COVID-19 positive patients, as well as enable hospital emergency rooms and health care workers on the frontline to focus their resources and efforts on patients in the greatest need of immediate care.”

All Massachusetts insurance companies are covering COVID-19 testing with no member cost sharing.  Additionally, insurers are also covering telemedicine services. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and other insurance companies are waiving all patient costs for ConvenientMD virtual urgent care visits to be evaluated for COVID-19.

Here are the guidelines for accessing the COVID-19 testing site:

  • In advance of visiting the COVID-19 testing site at Harvard Pilgrim in Quincy, all Massachusetts’ patients will need to be evaluated by ConvenientMD’s face-to-face Virtual Urgent Care service by calling (617) 303-6400.

  • After the virtual evaluation, a medical provider will determine eligibility for testing, and if needed, will refer the patient to the COVID-19 testing site.

  • Patients will be tested in their vehicle by a member of ConvenientMD’s medical staff.

  • Patients of any age can utilize the ConvenientMD Virtual Urgent Care service, however any patient under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian present at the time of service.

  • Individuals do not have to be Harvard Pilgrim members to utilize this service.  This service is available to the general public.

“The safety of our patients, employees, and the medical community are of utmost importance during this time and we will continue to take proactive steps to navigate this pandemic as it continues to evolve” said Dr. Mark Pundt, president and chief medical officer of ConvenientMD. “With the help of the Harvard Pilgrim Foundation, we’re expanding outpatient COVID-19 testing at the Quincy location for patients who may be experiencing signs and symptoms of COVID-19.  Our goal is to continue the mission of reducing the spread of this virus as much as possible. Anyone in Massachusetts now can speak with a provider in a virtual face-to-face visit in the safety of their home, who will evaluate and, if indicated, refer them for COVID-19 testing while remaining in their vehicle.”

ConvenientMD is providing Virtual Urgent Care and COVID-19 evaluation services from 8 a.m.- 8 p.m., seven days a week. COVID-19 testing services via this drive-thru testing site are available by appointment between the hours of 9 a.m.- 4 p.m., seven days a week, only after an evaluation.  To be evaluated for COVID-19, call (617) 303-6400.

On average, results for COVID-19 testing will take 5-7 days. ConvenientMD will follow up with all patients directly regardless of test results and whether or not they have a PCP.

ConvenientMD is a leading provider of urgent care and walk-in medical services in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.


Baker-Polito Administration Announces Additional Steps To Encourage Social Distancing At State Parks, Beaches

Governor Charlie Baker Thursday (April 2) issued an emergency order requiring all coastal beach reservation parking areas managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to close effective 12:00 PM on Friday, April 3, 2020 to reduce large concentrations of people at beaches during the COVID-19 outbreak. Additionally, effective at noon on Friday, April 3, DCR will open select seasonal state parks early and expand access at other parks to provide additional open space opportunities for residents to enjoy and alternatives to popular state parks throughout the Commonwealth.

Coastal parkways that provide access to state beaches will also be closed to both parking and dropping off passengers. State beaches will remain open and available to pedestrians for transitory use only (walking, jogging, biking, solitary fishing, etc.). A link to find specific parking and traffic restrictions can be found here.

State parks and associated parking areas remain open at this time; however, the public is asked to visit state parks and other open space properties that are located near their homes to ensure social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, DCR’s agency-owned ice rinksvisitor centers, campgroundsplaygroundsfitness areas, athletic fields, athletic courts, golf courses, and bathroom facilities will remain closed until Monday, May 4, 2020.

DCR will also be limiting the amount of parking spaces available at certain high-visitation state parks. DCR continues to stress that if a park is crowded, visitors should consider visiting a different location or returning at a later date or time. The state parks system has over 450,000 acres of property, and every region of the state contains multiple parks to explore that may be less busy than others in the area. DCR advises visitors of state parks to:

·       Stay within solitary or small groups, and avoid gatherings of ten or more people;

·       Practice social distancing of at least six feet between individuals;

·       Participate in only non-contact recreational activities;

·       Practice healthy personal hygiene, such as handwashing for at least 20 seconds; and,

·       Stay home if ill, over 70, and/or part of a vulnerable population.

To centralize COVID-19 updates that impact the state parks system, DCR recently developed a Massachusetts State Parks COVID-19 Updates webpage. Prior to visiting a state parks property, members of the public should review the contents of the webpage. Furthermore, for information about the Baker-Polito Administration’s ongoing efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, please visit the Department of Public Health’s (DPH) website.

Baker-Polito Administration Extends Non-Essential Business Closures To May 4th

The Baker-Polito Administration announced Tuesday (March 31) several updates related to the COVID-19 outbreak including extending the non-essential business emergency order and guidance for Executive Branch employees until May 4.

The Department of Public Health’s Stay-At-Home Advisory remains in effect. The Administration also updated the “COVID-19 Essential Services” categories for businesses and other organizations that provide essential services and workforces related to COVID-19 that are permitted to operate brick and mortar facilities during the emergency.

Essential Services Order: Governor Charlie Baker’s emergency order requiring that all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers and the public will be extended until May 4. Businesses and organizations not on the list of essential services are encouraged to continue operations through remote means that do not require workers, customers, or the public to enter or appear at the brick-and-mortar premises closed by the order. This order also prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people until May 4th.

The Administration updated the “COVID-19 Essential Services” list today, which is based on federal guidance that was updated earlier this week. The new list will go into effect tomorrow, April 1, at noon.  While these businesses are designated as essential, they are urged to follow social distancing protocols for workers in accordance with guidance from the Department of Public Health (DPH).

Some of the updates to the essential services list include:

  • Clarity around the supply chain that supports other essential services
  • Adding health care providers like chiropractors and optometrists
  • Expanding the types of workers providing disinfectant and sanitation services

Click here for the essential services extension order.

Click here for the full list of categories of “COVID-19 Essential Services.” (PDF)

Click here for COVID-19 Essential Services FAQs created by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

Hotel/Motel Guidance: As part of the updated essential business list, DPH issued new guidance today around hotels, motels, inns, beds and breakfasts and other short-term residential rentals. Based on this new guidance, hotels, motels, and short-term rentals may only be used for efforts related to fighting COVID-19, like front line health workers or individuals, or for Massachusetts residents who have been otherwise displaced from their residences.

Click here for the Hotel/Motel Guidance.

Stay at Home Advisory: Last week, Governor Charlie Baker directed DPH to issue a stay-at-home advisory, and the Governor announced today that the advisory will remain in effect. Residents are advised to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel and other unnecessary person to person contact during this time period. Residents who are considered at high risk when exposed to COVID-19  should limit social interactions with other people as much as possible

Click here for the Stay-At-Home Advisory.

Executive Branch Employee Guidance: The Baker-Polito Administration today also extended the guidance issued to Executive Branch employees on protocol during the COVID-19 outbreak to ensure state government can continue to provide key services while protecting the health and safety of the public and the Executive Branch workforce. Under the guidance, all employees performing non-core functions who are able to work remotely should continue to do so until May 4. Full guidance will be sent to Executive Branch employees later today

Some Executive Branch services and walk-in offices remain open, but residents are encouraged to use online services when available. For the status of in-person Executive Branch office locations, please click here.

Field Medical Station Announcement: The Commonwealth, through MEMA, has requested and received approval for a Field Medical Station that will provide additional medical care capacity as the state plans for a surge in cases. The federal Strategic National Stockpile has approved a 250-bed field medical station that will be deployed to the DCU Center in the City of Worcester this week. This temporary facility will be managed by UMass Memorial and staffed by a partnership including the City of Worcester and others. The temporary field medical center will be used to treat lower acuity patients who still need monitoring.

Nursing/Rest Home Program: The Commonwealth is implementing a pilot project that allows for safe, on-site testing of symptomatic residents of nursing and rest homes with a quick turnaround. The pilot will operate under the auspices of the Massachusetts National Guard in partnership with the Department of Public Health and Broad Institute of Cambridge, and samples will be collected by trained personnel from the Massachusetts National Guard. Prior to this launch, the only way for nursing home residents to be tested would be to be transported to a hospital or physician’s office.

Members of the public should continue checking www.mass.gov/covid19 for the latest information on impacts from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Baker-Polito Administration Announces New Actions To Expand Health Care Workforce, Other Actions To Support Providers, Business During COVID-19

The Baker-Polito Administration announced Monday (March 30th) new actions that will support efforts to expand the Commonwealth’s health care workforce by expediting licensing for certain health care workers and onboarding for health care volunteers who have signed up through the Administration’s new online volunteer portal.

The Administration also outlined a Department of Public Health order that will support continuing steps being taken to expand care capacity for older adults infected with COVID-19, in addition to other actions designed to support providers and businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Expedited Onboarding Of Health Care Volunteers: Last week, the Administration launched an initiative to recruit volunteer medical professionals to support hospitals as the Commonwealth continues to expand medical capacity. Since launching the initiative, more than 1,800 volunteers have already signed up, reflective of the Commonwealth’s world-class health care workforce. To support expedited onboarding of these volunteers, the Department of Public Health has issued an order authorizing the Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management to perform a CORI check on any volunteer who registered through the volunteer portal without a notarized CORI acknowledgement form. The Order requires any entity performing a CORI check pursuant to the Order to implement sufficient compensating controls to reasonably verify an individual’s identity, including inspection of a photographic form of government issued identification via teleconference.

Read the Order.

On-Demand Licensing For Health Professionals: To further support the Commonwealth’s health care workforce, the Department of Public Health has issued an order designed to provide on-demand licensing and re-licensing for certain health care professionals. The Order expedites licensing for professionals with licenses in good standing in other states, and professionals who have allowed their Massachusetts licenses to expire within the past 10 years while in good standing. This order applies to a wide range of health professionals: registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, advanced practice registered nurse, dentist, dental hygienist, dental assistant, pharmacist, pharmacy technician, nursing home administrator, physician assistant, respiratory therapist, perfusionist, genetic counselor, community health worker and emergency medical technician.

Read the Order.

Expanding Care Capacity: As part of its efforts to expand existing health care capacity, the Administration’s COVID-19 Response Command Center is working with long-term care facilities to establish dedicated skilled nursing facilities to care for individuals infected with COVID-19. The initiative offers an alternative location where individuals who are stable but still need medical care can be transferred to recover, relieving pressure on hospitals and opening up hospital beds for the treatment of patients with the greatest medical need. The transfer of existing residents out of participating facilities will be handled with the utmost care. The Administration has received federal approval from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for this initiative.

The Department of Public Health has issued an order waiving certain MassHealth regulations regarding the transfers and discharge of long-term care facility residents, for the limited purpose of safely transferring and discharging all residents living in a long-term care facility that is intended to be used as a designated COVID-19 facility. The Command Center has worked with the Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center in Worcester to start this effort, which will help bring 300 skilled nursing facility beds online in central Massachusetts. The Command Center will continue to work with long-term care facilities to add care capacity for older adults.

Read the Order.

Read the letter to providers outlining the program.

Financial Relief For Care Providers: Governor Baker today issued an order providing the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) administrative flexibility to extend financial relief to providers of critical health care and social services that serve EOHHS clients, including members of MassHealth. The financial relief may be in the form of temporary rate adjustments, supplemental payments, and new rate and payment methodologies that reflect the modified ways services are being delivered. These measures will be subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Executive Office for Administration and Finance. This will allow EOHHS to extend critical financial support to:

  • Providers that are facing extraordinary demand due to the COVID-19 emergency, while, at the same time, have lost significant revenue because they have had to cancel other procedures and appointments;
  • Providers that are necessary to keep vulnerable individuals safe in their homes or residences and out of more acute settings like hospitals; and
  • Human service providers that have been forced to respond to the unanticipated circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic by altering the way they deliver services and the hours and scope of these services.

Read the Order.

Shareholder Meeting Requirements: Under Massachusetts law, public companies can permit shareholders and their proxies to participate in annual or special shareholder meetings by remote communication, but they are also required to hold a meeting in a physical space that shareholders can attend in person. Given the challenges of meeting such requirements while non-essential workers are required to stay home and gatherings are limited to 10 people, Governor Baker today issued an order adjusting this meeting requirement. The Governor’s order permits public companies to hold annual or special shareholder meetings completely by means of remote communication, until 60 days after the end of the state of emergency. Additionally, if a public company has already sent written notice to its shareholders of an annual or special meeting to be held in a physical location, this order allows that company to notify its shareholders that the meeting now will be held solely through remote communication without mailing another notice, provided they issue a press release, send email notice where possible, and take other reasonable steps to notify their shareholders of the change.

Read the Order.