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.

35 Deaths From COVID-19 In MA; Positive Cases State-Wide 3,240

For the second day in a row, 10 new deaths from COVID-19-related illness were announced by state public health officials on Friday (March 27th), as the number of people tested in Massachusetts grew to over 29,000.

There were 823 new positive cases reported in the state in 24 hours, bringing the total number of positive cases to 3,240 in Massachusetts.

In Quincy, four residents have died from complications due to COVID-19 as of March 26. The city also reported 62 confirmed and presumptive cases of the virus. Twelve Quincy residents have recovered from the virus according to the city.

The 10 new deaths were men and women who ranged in age from their 60s to their 90s and who lived in Bristol, Barnstable, Middlesex, Franklin, Berkshire, and Norfolk counties.

They are:

  • Male, 60s, Berkshire County, preexisting conditions, hospitalized
  • Female, 80s, Norfolk County, unknown preexisting condition, hospitalization unknown
  • Female, 80s, Norfolk County, unknown preexisting condition, hospitalized
  • Female, 80s, Norfolk County, preexisting conditions, hospitalization unknown
  • Female, 90s, Berkshire County, unknown preexisting condition, hospitalized
  • Male, 60s, Norfolk County, unknown preexisting condition, hospitalization unknown
  • Female, 90s, Franklin County, unknown preexisting condition, hospitalization unknown
  • Male, 80s, Middlesex County, preexisting conditions, hospitalization unknown
  • Male, 90s, Barnstable County, unknown preexisting condition, hospitalized
  • Female, 90s, Bristol County, preexisting conditions, hospitalization unknown

Thirty-five Massachusetts residents have now died from COVID-19 related illness, up from 25 deaths March 26.

A total of 29,371 Massachusetts residents have been tested for COVID-19 by the State Public Health Laboratory, commercial and clinical labs, a jump of 5,750 tests since yesterday. The DPH daily online dashboard reflects testing results for 20 clinical and commercial labs performing testing in Massachusetts, in addition to results from the State Public Health Laboratory.

Expanded testing capacity in Massachusetts continues to be a focus of the work of the COVID-19 Response Command Center, and the effort to increase testing capacity across the state will continue.

COVID-19 activity is increasing in Massachusetts. At this time, if people are only mildly symptomatic, they should speak to their healthcare provider about whether they need to be assessed in person. If not, they should stay at home while they are sick. Asymptomatic family members should practice social distancing and immediately self-isolate if they develop symptoms.

In the United States, there have been 85,356 cases of COVID-19 and 1,246 deaths, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Jurisdictions reporting cases include all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands.

In Massachusetts and nationwide, the public is being asked to avoid crowds, stay 6 feet away from others, not shake hands or hug, and call/Facetime and online chat with friends and loved ones rather than meet face to face.

To keep updated regarding COVID-19 in Massachusetts, residents can text “COVIDMA” to 888-777 to receive COVID-19 text message alerts straight to their phone.  More information about COVID-19 can be found at www.mass.gov/covid19. For general questions, a 24/7 hotline is available by calling 2-1-1.

State Public Health Commissioner Tests Positive For COVID-19

State Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH, announced March 27th that she has tested positive for COVID-19.

In an statement emailed to the news media, Bharel said:

“I want to notify the public that I have tested positive for COVID-19.  I was tested Thursday night and received the results back today from the State Public Health Laboratory. As the public health commissioner and an essential state employee, I have been vigilant about practicing social distancing from my colleagues and members of the public. My symptoms so far have been mild. I have notified my appropriate close contacts and will rest and recuperate at home, while continuing to carry out my work responsibilities remotely. The Department of Public Health offices will be thoroughly cleaned over the weekend.

“I hope everyone will continue to take seriously the threat of COVID-19.”

COVID-19 Claims The Lives Of 3 Quincy Residents; Number Of Cases Here Now 43

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of three Quincy residents and the number of cases – including presumptive and confirmed – in the city has increased to 43, according to an update released by the City of Quincy March 26.

One of the new cases in Quincy is reported to be a Quincy firefighter.

Nine residents have recovered from the coronavirus.

The number of cases state-wide stands at 2,417 as of March 26. The state also announced March 26 that 25 people have died from COVID-19 including 10 new deaths – the largest number of deaths in Massachusetts reported in a single day, as the number of tests grew by 3,827 people since March 25.

What You Need to Know:

  • Governor Charlie Baker has issued an executive order to further extend the closure of all Massachusetts schools and all non emergency child care programs until May 4, 2020.
  • A temporary emergency order has been issued that prohibits the use of reusable bags until further notice. Retailers will provide bags free of charge during this time.
  • Governor Charlie Baker ordered all non-essential businesses to close no later than noon on Tuesday, March 24. The order does not apply to grocery stores, pharmacies and many other services deemed essential. For a full list of essential services included in the Governor’s order, please click here.
  • The Governor also reduced the maximum number of group assemblies to 10 people, down from 25. Additional guidance on that order, can be found here.
  • A Wollaston Elementary School Grade 5 teacher, who was last in school on March 12, has tested positive for COVID-19. In a letter to Grade 5 parents, Superintendent Richard DeCristofaro asked that children in the class self-isolate in their home until March 26 as a precaution, based on the recommendation from Health Commissioner Ruth Jones.
  • All day-care facilities except Exempt Emergency Childcare Centers to serve families of first-responders and front-line medical personnel are closed.
  • City offices are closed to the public. The City will still operate and offices will still be staffed, but residents will be required to conduct business via telephone, the Internet or through the mail. No emergency services will be impacted. For a full list of department phone numbers and contact information, please click here.
  • All playgrounds in Quincy are closed, but park spaces are open.
  • Students can pick up “Grab and Go” meals at North Quincy High School, Quincy High, Snug Harbor and Lincoln-Hancock. Meals will be available from 11 AM to noon. Additional details are available on QPS website.  To visit the site, please click here.
  • All restaurants and bars in Quincy are not allowed to serve food or beverages on site.
  • Any gathering should maintain “social distancing” meaning people stay further six feet away from each other at all times.
  • All public regulatory boards are postponed until at least April 7.
  • All public facilities will continue to undergo aggressive environmental cleaning on a daily basis.
  • Mayor Koch will use $1 million from the City’s Affordable Housing Trust to assist workers in the City’s hospitality industry and maintain their housing during prolonged closures. The full details of the program will be developed in the coming days.

Best Practices

  • Residents in potentially vulnerable populations, such as seniors and those with underlying medical conditions, are advised to stay home.
  • Many of the things you do to help prevent colds and the flu can help protect you against other respiratory viruses such as Coronavirus:
    • Avoid large gatherings.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
    • Stay home if you are sick. If you are ill call your healthcare provider for instructions before going to a clinic, office or emergency room.
  • There are currently no vaccines available to protect against this novel coronavirus infection. It is not recommended that people wear masks when they are in public. Masks can be useful in some settings, such as a clinic waiting room, to prevent someone who has a respiratory illness from spreading it to others. There is no hard evidence that wearing a mask protects the wearer outside of the healthcare setting.
  • Don’t flush Disinfecting Wipes, Paper Towel or Flushable Wipes down your toilet.  They can clog sewer lines and cause plumbing issues in your home.

Need More Information?

  • Ruth Jones
    Health Commissioner
    (617) 376-1272
    rjones@quincyma.gov
  • City of Quincy COVID-19 Informational Hotline
    (617) 376-1288
  • Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services
    (617) 376-1500

MA DPH Announces 10 More Deaths From COVID-19; Number Of Cases 2,417

State health officials Thursday (March 26th) announced 10 additional deaths from COVID-19, the largest number of deaths in Massachusetts reported in a single day, as the number of tests grew by 3,827 people since yesterday.

These 10 people are:

  • Male, 50s, Essex County, preexisting conditions, hospitalized
  • Male, 80s, Essex County, preexisting conditions, hospitalized
  • Male, 80s, Middlesex County, unknown preexisting conditions, hospitalized
  • Male, 70s, Middlesex County, preexisting condition, hospitalization status under investigation
  • Male, 80s, Hampden County, unknown preexisting conditions, hospitalization status under investigation
  • Male, 90s, Suffolk County, preexisting conditions, hospitalized
  • Male, 80s, Worcester County, preexisting conditions, hospitalized
  • Female, 70s, Norfolk County, preexisting conditions, hospitalization status under investigation
  • Male, 80s, Franklin County, unknown preexisting conditions, hospitalization status under investigation
  • Female, 80s, Middlesex County, preexisting conditions, hospitalized

These deaths bring to 25 the total number of deaths from the novel coronavirus in Massachusetts.

As of 4 p.m. March 26, Massachusetts has 579 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 for a total of 2,417 cases.  A total of 23,621 Massachusetts residents have been tested for COVID-19 by the State Public Health Laboratory, commercial and clinical labs, a jump of more than 3,827 since yesterday. The DPH daily online dashboard reflects testing results for 20 clinical and commercial labs performing testing in Massachusetts in addition to results from the State Public Health Laboratory.

Expanded testing capacity in Massachusetts continues to be a focus of the work of the COVID-19 Response Command Center, and the effort to increase testing capacity across the state will continue.

The 25 people who have died ranged in age from 50s to 90s. They include residents from Middlesex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Worcester, Hampden, Berkshire, Essex, Barnstable, and Franklin counties.

COVID-19 activity is increasing in Massachusetts. At this time, if people are only mildly symptomatic, they should speak to their healthcare provider about whether they need to be assessed in person. If not, they should stay at home while they are sick. Asymptomatic family members should practice social distancing and immediately self-isolate if they develop symptoms.

In the United States, there have been more than 68,440 cases of COVID-19 and more than 994 deaths, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Massachusetts and nationwide, the public is being asked to avoid crowds, stay 6 feet away from others, not shake hands or hug, and call/Facetime and online chat with friends and loved ones rather than meet face to face.

To keep updated regarding COVID-19 in Massachusetts, residents can text “COVIDMA” to 888-777 to receive COVID-19 text message alerts straight to their phone.  More information about COVID-19 can be found at www.mass.gov/covid19. For general questions, a 24/7 hotline is available by calling 2-1-1.

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Federal Disaster Request, Other COVID-19 Response Efforts

The Baker-Polito Administration announced Thursday (March 26) a new request to the federal government for a Major Disaster Declaration, in addition to other actions to sustain the Commonwealth’s response to COVID-19.

If approved, this declaration would provide the Commonwealth additional federal assistance beyond what was included in the Emergency Declaration declared by President Trump on March 13. The disaster declaration request includes a request for FEMA’s Public Assistance Program, which would make financial assistance available to cities and towns, state agencies, and certain non-profits statewide. The disaster declaration request also requests FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program including Disaster Unemployment Assistance and Crisis Counseling Assistance to help support residents in need during this unprecedented incident.

Read the Letter.

  New Public Health Orders: The Department of Public health has issued three emergency orders to support the health care system’s response to COVID-19:

  • Pharmacy Practice: To ensure pharmacists are able to fully support the health care system’s response to COVID-19, this emergency order makes several changes regarding pharmacy practice, including expedited approval for pharmacists licensed in other states to practice in Massachusetts, and allowing the remote processing of prescriptions by pharmacy technicians. Read the Order
  • Determination of Need: This emergency order exempts health care facilities from the requirement that they submit a Notice of Determination of Need for certain activities that will support their response to COVID-19. Read the Order | Read the Guidance
  • Nurse Staffing: To ensure hospitals have the flexibility they need to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, this emergency order exempts hospitals from certain nurse-staffing requirements, while requiring that they must ensure that staffing levels remain adequate to meet patients’ needs, and staff is trained and competent to meet the needs of their patients. Read the Order

 Permit Order: Governor Baker today is issuing an emergency order that provides that a permit will not expire or lapse during the state of emergency for most permits issued by agencies within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. The order also pauses deadlines for these agencies to decide or hold hearings on permit applications. The clock on those deadlines will resume 45 days after the end of the emergency. It also ensures that no permit is automatically issued because an agency is unable to make a decision on a permit application during the emergency.

Ensuring Access to Personal Care Attendant Services: The Administration worked with the advocacy community and union partners to implement solutions to ensure access to Personal Care Attendant (PCA) services for individuals with disabilities and older adults during this public health emergency. MassHealth created a hotline through MassOptions for MassHealth members to call if they are in need of services, and updated its policies to streamline the hiring process and allow more flexibility for PCAs to work more hours.