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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates and Resources

Please note that Team Khan will be working remotely at this time.

The Massachusetts State House is currently closed to the public.

As the situation surrounding this infectious disease continues to evolve, the State House remains closed to the general public until further notice. Despite the closure, we remain operational in a remote capacity. I am here to help.

 

Should you need any assistance, have questions or would like to comment on the Massachusetts' response to the pandemic, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at Kay.Khan@mahouse.gov or call (617) 722-2011.

 

While the State House is closed, my staff and I are working virtually, regularly check our office voicemails, and are happy to help. If you planned to visit my office as part of a scheduled meeting or as part of a planned advocacy day, we will contact you to set up a conference call in lieu of the meeting or reschedule the meeting for a later date.

Recent Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency COVID-19 Response Command Center Situation Updates 

COVID-19 Hotlines

Text "COVIDMA" to 888-777 to receive COVID-19 text message alerts straight to your phone and stay up to date with the latest news and updates from the Commonwealth.

Get the answers you need by calling 2-1-1, the Massachusetts free, confidential, and multilingual hotline. www.mass211.org.

Buoy Health Care Tool

Residents can check their symptoms and connect with the next appropriate health care resource. This tool does not replace emergency medical care, but it may be used as a support for residents during the COVID-19 outbreak to connect them with appropriate health care resources if they display coronavirus symptoms.

 

Buoy Health’s online 24/7 tool is free for Massachusetts residents and uses current COVID-19 guidance from the CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health.  Visit www.buoyhealth.com.

Unemployment Assistance Town Halls

The Department of Unemployment Assistance has scheduled several upcoming online town halls for those seeking unemployment insurance benefits. Register here.

Sunday, March 29 at 12 PM

Monday, March 30 at 2:05 PM

Tuesday, March 31 at 1:45 PM

Wednesday, April 1 2 PM

Thursday, April 2 at 2 PM

Friday, April 3 at 2 PM 

Medical Personnel Updates and Volunteer Opportunities

Health Care Professional Volunteers: To support ongoing COVID-19 emergency response efforts, the Baker-Polito Administration has partnered with the Massachusetts Medical Society to match volunteers with our communities and health care providers based on skillsets and need. There is an immediate need for respiratory therapists and public health nurses, and the administration is asking health care professionals interested in volunteering to sign up at MAResponds.org.

 

Medical School 4th Year Students: Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders and DPH Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel have coordinated with Massachusetts medical schools to facilitate early graduation of their qualified fourth-year students to allow graduates to support the health care workforce during the COVID-19 response. This coordinated effort includes Boston University School of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Tufts University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School.

 

Emergency Limited Medical Licenses: The Board of Registration in Medicine will provide medical school graduates who have matched as an intern, resident or fellow with a Board-approved Massachusetts health care facility or training program with Emergency 90-Day Limited Licenses to practice medicine to ensure that our health care workforce is prepared during the COVID-19 public health emergency. To qualify, medical residents must fill out an application to be approved by the program or facility, and once approved, residents will receive the emergency license and be able to start when their program begins. This Emergency Limited License will allow medical staff to provide support while the regular screening progresses, and it is not a substitute for the regular Limited License process.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs): The administration has issued a public health order to provide APRNs in good standing with greater flexibility in their prescribing practices. This order includes the following updates:​

  • Authorizes APRNs who have at least two years of supervised practice experience to prescribe without physician supervision.

  • Authorizes APRNs with fewer than two years of supervised practice experience to prescribe with physician supervision, but without the normally required written guidelines.

  • Certified nurse midwives will be allowed to continue to prescribe as already authorized.

MassHealth Waiver: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved, in part, the Baker-Polito Administration’s 1135 waiver to fast-track MassHealth enrollment, streamline administrative requirements for providers and better deliver critically needed health care services during the COVID-19 public health emergency. CMS has approved the following items of the waiver:​

  • Enrollment of out-of-state providers and easing other provider requirements when enrolling in MassHealth.

  • Allowing providers to be reimbursed for care in alternative, unlicensed settings.

  • Suspension of prior authorization requirements and extending pre-existing prior authorizations through the emergency.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The state needs more PPE and the COVID-19 Command Center is working diligently to identify and obtain sources. If you have heard from companies who can assist, please contact me at Kay.Khan@mahouse.gov or (617) 722-2011.  

I will continue to update you as we learn more about this need.

Small Businesses Assistance

On Monday, March 16th the Baker Administration launched a $10M Small Business Recovery Loan Fund in partnership with Mass Growth Capital Corporation.

 

On Tuesday, March 17th, Governor Baker sent a letter to the US Small Business Association (US SBA) that petitions the federal agency to issue an economic disaster declaration for Massachusetts.

 

On Wednesday afternoon, the US SBA approved this request, which allowed the state access to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program for more resources, including subsidized loans, to help get capital to businesses in need. 

The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development modifications to the Unemployment Insurance (UI) will also help support businesses and employees as well as the tax relief measures for small local businesses put forth by Department of Revenue.

Students At Home 

Students should be doing as much learning as possible while they are at home, and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is working to make this easier. Staff in the Center for Instructional Support have assembled a list of resources that districts can add to their own, and DESE is working with public broadcaster WGBH and its partner station WGBY to provide other resources. Educators have free access to PBS LearningMedia and the stations’ newly created online distance learning center. In recognition of the fact that not every student has a computer and internet access, and in addition to existing programming, WGBH plans to expand its educational broadcasting from noon to 5:00 p.m. weekdays on the WORLD Channel. The WORLD Channel is a 24/7 WGBH channel that offers news and documentaries and which is now shifting some of its schedule to meet this urgent need. More information on where to find the WORLD Channel on WGBH and WGBY is available online.

Agency Updates

All early education centers and daycares in Massachusetts will close starting Monday, March 23. The state will set up a program to provide childcare for healthcare, first responders, and other critical employees who have to go to work. The Department of Early Education and Care says it will continue to pay subsidized rates regardless of whether or not a center is open – parents will not lose their subsidy. 

Federal and State Tax Day has been moved from April 15 to July 15. There will be administrative tax relief measures for small local businesses impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, especially in the restaurant and hospitality sector. This tax relief includes postponing the collection of regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes due in March, April and May. These taxes will now be due on June 20. For more information on taxes, click here.

The Attorney General’s Office promulgated an emergency regulation that takes effect today, Friday, March 20, 2020. The regulation addresses price gouging of necessary goods and services during the current public health crisis. The AG’s Consumer Protection Division encourages members of the public to call 617-727-8400 or file a complaint online about unreasonably high prices of consumer goods during this public health emergency. Visit the AG’s Office COVID-19 resources page for information.

There are a few Health Connector updates:

  • Health plans are required to cover testing and treatment for members affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • Do you need health insurance? An extended enrollment period is available through Apr 25 for qualified Massachusetts residents who are uninsured. If you need coverage that starts April 1st, the deadline to enroll is March 23rd.

  • If you are already a member and making less money than usual, you may be able to qualify for lower-cost health insurance. Update your income by March 23rd to see if you qualify for lower premiums for April 1st.

Eversource has announced that they are postponing disconnections for nonpayments for residential and business customers across their electric, natural gas, and water operations. Should you have any questions, customers are encouraged to call and speak with a customer service representative. Eastern Massachusetts: 800-592-2000

Please complete the Census online, by phone, or by mail. The Census has paused field operations for the 2020 Census until at least April 1. Learn more on this order here.

 

The Massachusetts Trial Courts are closed to the public, except for emergency through April 6th, 2020.

 

MassDOT is extending the expiration date of certain credentials to reduce the number of customers in service centers and AAA locations.

 

Mass Cultural Council has put forward five items they will be doing to help the cultural sector in managing financial disruptions.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation stated that with spring-like temperatures expected during this upcoming weekend, visitors of state parks and other outdoor properties should maintain social distancing of at least six feet, avoid gatherings of people, and to practice healthy personal hygiene, to aid in the prevention of spreading the COVID-19 virus. Furthermore, if visitors of state parks observe areas with high concentrations of people, the public is asked to leave the location and either visit a different park in the area or return at a later date or time. The state parks system has over 450,000 acres of property, and every region of the state has hidden gem state park locations to explore that may be less busy than more popular park locations. The DCR website provides visitors the ability to search state parks by both region and recreational activity.

A note on health and wellness at this time...

COVID-19 activity is increasing in Massachusetts. At this time, if people are only mildly symptomatic, they should stay home. If they become more ill, 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 Massachusetts and nationwide, the public is being asked to stay home unless they are seeking necessary services at a grocery store, pharmacy, or medical facility. If you do go outside, please stay 6 feet away from others, do not shake hands or hug, and call/Facetime and online chat with friends and loved ones rather than meet face to face. It is recommended that we social distance to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 to protect our most vulnerable populations.

Please be sure to take care of your mental and physical health while social distancing and taking other necessary steps to protect you and your family. Call to check in on loved ones and neighbors living alone. And please reach out should you need any help. For resources for individuals experiencing loneliness, activities for children, and more, please click here.

A special THANK YOU to all healthcare workers and emergency personnel who are on the COVID-19 front lines, exposed to the virus while social distancing from family. We are all so grateful for your critical and dedicated efforts.

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