City of Quincy COVID-19 Update April 1, 2020

CITY OF QUINCY

COVID-19 UPDATE

April 1, 2020

  • Applications are now available for housing assistance programs sponsored by the City, one for hospitality workers being coordinated by the Quincy Chamber of Commerce and one for all other workers coordinated by the Quincy Community Action Programs.
  • The programs are being funded by an emergency appropriation from the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund at the request of Mayor Koch. The Affordable Housing Trust is a fund created by fees paid by developers of housing projects in the City. There will be no expense to local taxpayers for these programs.
  • Contact he Quincy Chamber of Commerce at  www.quincyhospitalitysupportfund.com, 617-471-1700 or info@thequincychamber.com for an application and details of the hospitality workers program
  • Contact Quincy Community Actions Program at www.qcap.org, 617-657-5377, or QuincyCovidRent@qcap.org for an application and details of that program.

 

Supporting Our Local Business Economy: A Message From The City of Quincy

The City of Quincy is working with the Federal & State Government to provide continued updates relative to resources available to the Business Community on COVID-19 information and alerts for funding/disaster business resources. This document will be updated regularly so please stay tuned….
The following is a list of resources for the business community: COVID-19 – Disaster Relief with helpful links for immediate connection to these agencies.
New Information as of April 01, 2020
Federal Stimulus Relief Programs
Cares Act: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
1) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans
  • This program provides cash flow assistance through 100% federally guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. Features include: loan forgiveness of up to 8 weeks of payroll based on employee retention and salary; no SBA fees, and 6 months deferral with max deferral of up to one year.
2) Small Business Debt Relief Program
  • This program provides immediate relief to small business owners already holding non-disaster SBA loans, specifically 7(a), 504 and microloans. The SBA will cover all loan payments on these loans including principal, interest, fees for 6 months. This relief is also available to new borrowers who take out loans within 6 months of the President signing the bill into law.
3) Economic Injury Disaster Loans & Emergency Economic Injury Grants
  • Emergency advance funding for up to $10K to small businesses and private non-profits within 3 days of applying for an SBA Economic Disaster (EDIL) Loan. To access the advance, a business must apply for EDIL, then request the advance. The advance does not need to be repaid under any circumstances, and may be used to keep employees on payroll, operating expenses, etc.
4) SBA Counseling and Training
  • Counselling and business assistance services provided through the Small Business Development Center, Women’s Business Center & SCORE.
***Click here for a summary of the CARES Act and Provisions.
SBA Financial Assistance:
Small Business Administration Economic Disaster Loan (EDIL) Program
* New streamlined application as of 4/1/2020
The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program has been activated statewide in Massachusetts.  Updated details about the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan and how to apply is available here:
  • If you apply for that Disaster Loan – you can ask for an “Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance” for up to $10,000 as part of the loan application. If approved, these funds can be used for payroll and other operating expenses and can be FORGIVEN.
  • To learn more and apply, go to: www.sba.gov/DISASTER
  • Customer Service Center can be reached at: 1-800-659-2955 or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov
  • No cost to apply, small businesses are urged to submit applications immediately.
  • NEW 12-Month Deferment period for the first payment was approved for EIDL program.
  • NEW Expedited Processing for loans under $500,000 where the submission of current tax return is not required for small businesses.
  • Loans are available to assist with working capital needs.
  • SBA EIDL loans are for small businesses and private non-profits (of any size) that were previously profitable, but whose revenues have been adversely impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19 (since January 31, 2020). Loans can be up to $2 million and have a long-term repayment schedule of up to 30 years.
  • The Small Business Administration is offering an Express Bridge Loan Program to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. This program authorizes SBA Express Lenders to provide expedited SBA-guaranteed bridge loan financing on an emergency basis in amounts up to $25,000 for disaster-related purposes to small businesses who have applied for and await long-term financing (including the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program). Small businesses who are already working with an SBA Express Lender may be eligible to apply to this streamlined program.
  • Read general information about this program here; guidance is available here. Interested businesses can use the SBA’s Lender Match Tool to find an Express Bridge Loan Lender and apply.
***Click hereto find your local SBA lenders here in Quincy.
Tax Extensions and Waivers for assisting Small Businesses
The Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) issued emergency regulation 830 CMR 62C.16.2(7), which grants extensions on remitting the room occupancy tax and the sales/meals tax and is aimed at assisting small businesses. Learn More
The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development
Resources for businesses and employees relating to employee benefits can always be found at the Office of Labor and Workforce Development’s website.
Programs include:
  • Updated information regarding unemployment resources can be found here.
  • TheWorkShare program, a tool to help employers avoid layoffs during a downturn – read more about WorkShare here.
  • The Rapid Response program, which works closely with companies to avert layoffs and keep a skilled workforce engaged in the existing regional economy or industry; read more about how the Rapid Response Team can help businesses at here.
The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development and the Department of Unemployment Assistance will be hosting virtual town hall meetings featuring a step by step process to achieve a successful unemployment claim. They will also take questions from claimants across the Commonwealth.
The current virtual town hall schedule is:
  • Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 2:10 PM
  • Friday, April 3, 2020 at 2:00 PM
Click here to sign up for a virtual town hall via phone or online. A web link to the daily visual presentation can be viewed here. You can also download the step by step presentation.
The Division of Insurance
Click herefor bulletin regarding flexibility in the issuance and administration of insurance during covid-19.
From the Governor
Governor Baker issued an emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers, and the public as of Tuesday, March 24th at noon until Monday, May 4th at noon.
  • Detailed list of the services and operations deemed essential.
  • Governor’s press release with additional updates here. The latest information and guidance regarding COVID-19 is always available at mass.gov/COVID19.
MA’s Emergency Operations Center’s Private Sector Hotline – The Hotline will be staffed Monday – Friday from 8am to 4pm. The hotline is 508-820-2094.
Please contact the City of Quincy:
Maureen Geary
Director of Business & Government Relations
617-435-1824
James Scribi
Business Relations
617-780-2247
Please reach out to our State Business Partners:
Margaret Laforest
Regional Director, Greater Boston
Massachusetts Office of Business Development
617-939-3097
1515 Hancock Street, Suite 402
Quincy, MA 02169
Sue Whitaker
Regional Director – Greater Boston
Massachusetts Office of Business Development
617-620-1005
susan.whitaker@mass.gov
1515 Hancock Street, Suite 402
Quincy, MA 02169

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.

Number Of COVID-19 Deaths, Cases In Quincy Up To 7, 89 Respectively

The number of COVID-19 cases and virus-related deaths in Quincy continues to climb with seven residents who have passed away from complications and a reported 89 cases in the city. Quincy also reports 22 residents with symptoms of COVID-19 have recovered as of Monday, March 30.

Statewide, there have been 56 deaths attributed to COVID-19 and 5,752 cases as of Monday, March 30. Counties with the highest number of reported coronavirus cases are Middlesex (1,114), Suffolk (1,115) and Norfolk (628)

The city also announced Monday that the due date for fourth-quarter property tax bills has been extended until June 1.

Deadlines for property tax exemptions and deferral applications are extended from April 1 to June 1.

The City of Quincy Park Department has also closed all basketball courts throughout the city due to a concern that people were not practicing proper social distancing.

Other information:

• 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

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.

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Federal Disaster Declaration for COVID-19 Response

In response to Governor Charlie Baker’s request for federal disaster assistance, the White House and FEMA announced March 28 that  President Donald Trump has issued a Major Disaster Declaration that will make federal disaster assistance available beyond what was included in the Emergency Declaration declared by President Trump on March 13.

Public Assistance Program – Under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program within the Major Disaster Declaration, affected local governments, state agencies and certain private non-profit organizations statewide will be reimbursed for 75% of their costs associated with response and emergency protective measures. The eligible emergency protective measures include non-congregate isolation and quarantine costs for homeless individuals and families as well as first responders as well as other types of properly documented costs.

Individual Assistance Program – Under FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program within the Major Disaster Declaration, Crisis Counseling Assistance will provide funding for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health to assist individuals and families in recovering from the psychological effects of the COVID -19 outbreak through electronic phone and chat technology.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency will provide webinars and other information about the process for applying for the Public Assistance Program to municipal and state officials and eligible non-profits. See here for more information.

President Trump Approves Massachusetts Disaster Declaration 

President Donald J. Trump has declared that a major disaster exists in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and ordered Federal assistance to supplement Commonwealth, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic beginning on January 20, and continuing.

The President’s action makes Federal funding available for Crisis Counseling for affected individuals in all areas in the State of Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Federal funding is also available to Commonwealth, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, for all areas in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts impacted by COVID-19.

Pete Gaynor, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named W. Russell Webster as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the Commonwealth and warranted by the results of further assessments.

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.

Baker Orders All MA Schools, Non-Emergency Child Care Programs Closed Until May 4

The Baker-Polito Administration announced Wednesday (March 25) new actions to support the ongoing COVID-19 response, including extending the closure of all public and private schools and non-emergency child care programs and steps to protect homeowners and low-income tenants from eviction and foreclosure. The Department of Public Health (DPH) also issued an order relative to pharmacies and grocery stores.

Schools and Non-Emergency Child Care Programs: Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order extending the closure of all public and private schools, and all non-emergency childcare programs, until May 4 in an effort to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.

  • This order expands on previous orders issued on March 15 and March 18 suspending normal educational operations at schools and non-emergency child care programs until April 6, and the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) established a process to approve Exempt Emergency Child Care Programs to serve vulnerable children and families of first responders and essential workers.
  • This closure extends one week beyond scheduled spring vacation week on most school district calendars.
  • The order does not apply to residential special education schools.
  • This extension will allow school administrators and educators added planning time to ensure students can complete course requirements, as well as provide teachers with time to expand remote learning opportunities.

Read the Orders here: K-12 School Order | Early Education School Order

Remote Learning and Education: During this time, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is requesting that educators continue to develop and assemble high-quality educational materials to provide students with effective remote learning resources through the month of April. The Department is also creating a model for districts to use and modify in collaboration with local stakeholders to fit their school district’s needs, and will continue to work with schools to identify best practices for implementing effective remote learning.

Remote learning encompasses a wide variety of learning methods, including both analog and online. While technology is an excellent tool, districts should also consider ways students can continue to learn offline.

This could include exploring nature, activities to support students’ local communities (with appropriate social distancing) and engaging in hands-on projects and artistic creations that stem from students’ experiences.

Additionally, through a new partnership between DESE and WGBH, educational resources will be posted on the department’s website, and middle and high school students can access WGBH and WGBY educational programming on WGBH and WGBY on the WORLD channel from noon to 5 p.m.

Housing Stability for Vulnerable Populations: The Baker-Polito Administration announced steps to keep vulnerable families in their homes, preserve the health and safety of low-income renters and homeowners, and prevent homelessness due to reduced or lost income. These steps include the following:

  • DHCD is moving to temporarily suspend terminations of federal and state rental vouchers under their purview.
  • MassHousing is transferring $5 million to the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for a COVID-19 Rental Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) fund to assist families facing rent insecurity.
  • The Division of Banks (DOB) has issued new guidance to Massachusetts financial institutions and lenders urging them to provide relief for borrowers and will advocate for a 60-day stay on behalf of all homeowners facing imminent foreclosure on their homes.
  • DHCD is issuing guidance recommending that all owners of state aided low-income housing, including Local Housing Authorities and private owners, suspend both pending non-essential evictions and the filing of any new non-essential evictions.
  • Affordable housing operators are urged to suspend non-essential evictions for loss of income or employment circumstances resulting in a tenant’s inability to make rent.
  • This guidance urges operators to establish reasonable payment plans, notify Section 8 or public housing residents about interim income recertification to adjust rent payments, and to consider offering relief funding for residents ineligible for income reassessment.

Read the DHCD Guidance Here:

Guidance to owners of state aided low-income housing

Guidance to affordable housing operators

Notices and guidance regarding federal and state rental assistance programs:

Read the DOB Guidance Here.

Pharmacies and Grocery Stores: Today, DPH issued a new order to support pharmacies and grocery stores and their employees during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This order will require grocery stores and pharmacies to:

  • Provide at least one hour per day of shopping for adults over 60-years-old.
  • Offer sanitation options, such as hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes, as available, to clean shopping carts and points of frequent contact.
  • Appropriate social distancing policies, including a marked “Social Distancing Line,” beginning six feet away from all checkout counters.
  • Close any self-serve food stations.
  • Instruct store employees who are ill to stay home, and for stores to accommodate employees who fall in the high-risk category with alternative assignments to limit exposure.

Read the Order Here.

The Administration will continue to update the public on further developments and individuals are encouraged to consult both the Department of Public Health and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites for the most up to date information.

The latest information and guidance regarding COVID-19 is always available at mass.gov/COVID19.