Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Baker-Polito Administration Extends Non-Essential Business Closures to May 18th, Announces Reopening Advisory Board

Baker-Polito Administration Extends Non-Essential Business Closures to May 18th, Announces Reopening Advisory Board
Gatherings of 10 or more prohibited until May 18th, Stay at Home Advisory Remains in Effect

BOSTON – Today, the Baker-Polito Administration extended the essential services emergency order to May 18th and launched a Reopening Advisory Board that will produce a plan to the Governor by May 18th. The Administration also announced that the Department of Public Health’s Stay At Home Advisory remains in effect and gatherings of 10 or more people remain prohibited until May 18th

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 18th. 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 extends the existing ban on gatherings of more than 10 people until May 18th.

Stay at Home Advisory: Governor Charlie Baker announced that the Department of Public Health’s stay-at-home advisory will remain in effect. Residents are strongly urged 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.

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 18th.

Reopening Advisory Board: Today, Governor Baker announced the formation of the Reopening Advisory Board, which will be Co-Chaired by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. The Board brings public health officials together with leaders from the business community and municipal government from across the Commonwealth. This group is charged with advising the administration on strategies to reopen the economy in phases based on health and safety metrics. It will meet with key stakeholders and solicit input from a variety of constituencies over the next three weeks to develop a report by May 18th that will include DPH approved workplace safety standards, industry frameworks and customer protocols and guidelines, including enforcement mechanisms and coordination with municipal leaders. This report is due on the 18th, but the administration has made clear that public health data and guidance from health care experts will dictate the timeline of the re-opening process.

The 17-member Advisory Board is composed of three public health officials, including Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel, three municipal officials, and eleven leaders from the business community, including MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. Members of the Advisory Board bring a range of perspectives to the table, such as an understanding of workplaces and workforces and insights into key areas like financial markets, education, manufacturing and transportation.

Reopening Advisory Board Members:

·         Aron Ain, CEO, Kronos Inc & Ultimate Software

·         Carlo Zaffanella, Vice President and General Manager, Maritime & Strategic Systems, General Dynamics Mission Systems

·         Corey Thomas, CEO, Rapid 7

·         Daniel Rivera, Mayor, City of Lawrence

·         Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, Massachusetts General Hospital

·         Girish Navani, CEO and Co-Founder, eClinicalWorks

·         Joe Bahena, Senior Vice President, Joseph Abboud Manufacturing

·         Kathryn Burton, Chief of Staff, City of Boston

·         Laurie Leshin, Ph.D., President, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

·         Linda Markham, President, Cape Air

·         Mark Keroack, President & CEO, Baystate Health

·         Monica Bharel, Ph.D., Commissioner, Department of Public Health

·         Nicole LaChapelle, Mayor, City of Easthampton

·         Pamela Everhart, Head of Regional Public Affairs and Community Relations, Fidelity Investments 

·         Stephanie Pollack, Transportation Secretary and CEO

·         Steve DiFillippo, CEO, Davios Restaurants

·         Wendy Hudson, Owner, Nantucket Book Partners





Your Mental Health Matters - "There Are Things You Can Do"

For many, this is a very stressful time with the potential for uncertainty and anxiety to develop into something unhealthy.

I want to share with you access to a guide recently published by NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They are the largest grassroots mental health organization in the country and they exist to help support millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

In the guide, found at- https://www.nami.org/covid-19-guide, it says "Recognizing how you’re feeling can help you care for yourself, manage your stress and cope with difficult situations. Even when you don’t have full control of a situation, there are things you can do."


Monday, April 27, 2020

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Further Support, Resources, and Accountability Measures for Nursing Facilities, Funding for Congregate Care Facilities During COVID-19

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced a second round of funding up to $130 million for nursing facilities to support COVID-19 response efforts over the next two months, as well as increased funding of $44 million for residential congregate care service providers. This funding will support staffing costs, infection control and personal protective equipment (PPE). In addition to increased financial support, the administration has implemented required testing for staff and residents of nursing facilities.

Additional Support Services: The Commonwealth will offer support for temporary staffing assistance for all nursing homes in need. This includes clinical response teams of 120 nurses and CNAs deployed in teams of 10 during emergency situations, crisis management support and deployment of the Massachusetts National Guard. These efforts will be supported by a centralized infection control performance improvement center established by the Massachusetts Senior Care Association.

Increased Financial Support for Nursing Facilities: The administration is releasing a second round of funding for two months for nursing homes that meet specific requirements and accountability measures. The funding is dependent on required COVID-19 testing of all staff and residents, regular infection control audits, appropriate allocation of funding and the public release of facility performance and funding use.

Further details about this second round of funding available for nursing facilities include:

Required Testing: Facilities must test all staff and residents, and report results to the state. Facilities are also encouraged to identify and pursue testing avenues with area hospitals, EMS or other providers. The state’s mobile testing program is available for those facilities unable to set up testing.

In-person Clinical Audits: All nursing facilities will be regularly audited in-person for infection control and accountability, and each will receive a baseline audit during the first two weeks of May. These clinical audits will be conducted using a 28-point Infection Control Checklist, based on DPH, CDC and industry guidance. This checklist includes infection control, PPE supply and usage, staffing, clinical care, and communication requirements.

Facilities will be scored into three ratings: in adherence (green), in adherence but warrants inspection (yellow) and not in adherence (red).

Funding Accountability: Funding release is dependent on accountability measures, including audit ratings and appropriate funding allocation. Facilities must use this funding for staffing, infection control, PPE and other supports that directly benefit staff, including hotels for staff retention and infection control.

Staffing Supports: The Commonwealth will provide temporary staffing assistance to all nursing homes during the COVID-19 public health crisis, including clinical rapid response teams to provide urgent, short-term staffing for facilities in need, crisis management experts, and the deployment of the Massachusetts National Guard to aid with logistical, environmental and other supports. The state will also contract with staffing agencies to support facilities that are otherwise unable to access staffing agencies.

Infection Control Performance Improvement Center: The Massachusetts Senior Care Association and Hebrew Senior Life, in coordination with other industry providers, will lead an infection control performance improvement center to ensure accountability and provide assistance to facilities that are struggling with infection control capability. The performance improvement center will provide infection control protocols and trainings and PPE supply chain and management support, as well as identify, triage and provide infection control specialist support and intervention.

Public Reporting: All performance measures and funding use will be publicly reported using a mandatory reporting template, and the Commonwealth will provide consolidated information in the testing completion status by facility, COVID-19 case counts and mortality of staff and residents, and audit results. These reports will be due shortly after June 30, and the Commonwealth will then compile and deliver a public report.

Increased Support for Residential Congregate Care Service Providers: The administration is providing a second phase of increased funding – $44 million – across purchase of service residential congregate care service providers during the COVID-19 outbreak. This funding builds on the $95 million in increased funding announced on March 30, bringing the total funding for these providers to $139 million, and will support increased staffing costs, infection control and PPE.

To mitigate many residential congregate care service providers’ expenses related to the COVID-19 surge, Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) agencies will increase the monthly reimbursement for May and June services for an additional 15%, in addition to the previously announced 10% increase. Further support to address provider needs during the surge include mobile COVID-19 testing expansion and coordination with MEMA to provide PPE to providers.

EOHHS agencies work with 238 residential service providers throughout the Commonwealth to ensure the health and well-being of over 20,500 individuals reflecting diverse populations, including children, youth and families, and individuals with physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioral health, intellectual and developmental disabilities and survivors of domestic and sexual violence.


Temporary Closures on the Rocks Village Drawbridge Haverhill and West Newbury

Haverhill and West Newbury, April 27

MassDOT Scheduled Temporary Closures on the Rocks Village Drawbridge
Closures are needed to facilitate bridge repairs; traffic detours will be in place

HAVERHILL/WEST NEWBURY – The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is announcing bridge repairs will begin on the Rocks Village Drawbridge over the Merrimack River that spans East Main Street in Haverhill and Bridge Street in West Newbury. The work is scheduled to begin on Monday, April 27, and will continue for the next six weeks.

The work will require temporary single lane closures or full closure of the Rocks Village Bridge and detours as follows:

Monday, April 27, through Friday, May 1 - One lane on the bridge will be closed and there will be alternating traffic.
Saturday, May 2, through Sunday, May 17 - Both of the lanes on the bridge will remain open, as prep work will be performed off of the bridge.
Monday, May 18, through Wednesday, June 3 - The bridge will be closed to vehicular traffic and all traffic will be detoured. The movable span will not be operational during this period.

From the Rocks Village Bridge on the West Newbury side of the Merrimack River

Right onto Church Street in West Newbury
Right onto Main Street in West Newbury (Route 113 westbound) which becomes Main Street in Groveland (Route 113 westbound)
Right onto Route 113/Route 97 across the Bates Bridge over the Merrimack River onto Groveland Street in Haverhill
Right onto East Broadway in Haverhill, left onto Kenoza Street in Haverhill
Right onto Middle Road in Haverhill, right onto Amesbury Road in Haverhill (Route 110 eastbound)
Right onto Amesbury Line Road in Haverhill
Left onto East Main Street in Haverhill and ending at the bridge on the Haverhill side of the Merrimack River

From the Rocks Village Bridge on the Haverhill side of the Merrimack River

Left onto East Broadway in Haverhill
Left onto Groveland Street in Haverhill, then across the Bates Bridge over the Merrimack River
Left onto Main Street in Groveland (Route 113 eastbound) which becomes Main Street in West Newbury (Route 113 eastbound)
Left onto Church Street in West Newbury and ending at the bridge on the West Newbury side of the Merrimack River

The overhead truss on the movable span was struck and damaged by over-height vehicles on July 5, 2019, and January 13, 2020. The damaged structural steel members will be repaired. Cost recovery will be pursued under the Accident Recovery Program.

Those traveling through the area should expect delays, reduce speed and use caution.

Appropriate signage is in place to guide users through the area.


Friday, April 24, 2020

Baker-Polito Administration Files Medicaid Waiver For MassHealth Flexibility, Provides Update On Launch Of New Unemployment System

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced new federal waiver requests to provide the state’s MassHealth program with more flexibility to respond to COVID-19, and provided an update on Massachusetts’ successful implementation of the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

MassHealth Waiver Requests: Massachusetts is filing two waiver requests with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that will give the state and its Medicaid program, MassHealth, more flexibility to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency. If allowed, the waivers will build upon the two previously submitted waivers and enable MassHealth to deliver the most effective care to its members and support health care providers.

Through these waiver requests, the Commonwealth is seeking flexibility to address key areas of need:

Expand Medicare telehealth coverage to include services provided by phone and video, to increase access to health care for seniors and individuals with disabilities without readily accessible video technology. This expansion is consistent with telehealth coverage currently provided by MassHealth and commercial plans.

Allow MassHealth to waive the requirement that certain applicants and members spend down to qualify for coverage in cases of financial hardship.

Extend retroactive coverage for individuals who qualify for MassHealth to allow individuals to be covered up to 90 days prior to submitting their application.

Provide flexibility for federal provider payment limits to enable MassHealth to provide critical stabilization funds to health care providers.

Ease provider requirements that could result in unnecessary administrative burdens or barriers to care.

PUA Unemployment System Launch: Earlier this week, Massachusetts became one of the first states in the nation to successfully implement the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program established by the federal CARES Act. This program provides benefits for individuals who do not qualify for traditional unemployment benefits, but have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.

The platform launched on April 20, 10 days ahead of the previously scheduled launch date. Since then, the PUA system has so far processed well over 100,000 claims, and benefit checks, which include an additional $600 as part of another federal CARES Act benefit implemented by the administration, are already being issued.


Wednesday, April 22, 2020


Boston- The state Senate today gave approval to a proposal to authorize notaries to use electronic video conferencing. Based on a bill first proposed by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), the bill allows documents to be notarized using video in light of the social distancing requirements of the coronavirus pandemic,

Under existing law documents must be signed and witnessed in face-to-face meetings.

“There is a criticality to this bill that cannot be overstated because it enables remote notarization of documents that are vital to our lives and are particularly important at this challenging time in which we live,” Tarr said in the Senate Chamber. “It is incumbent on us to advance a bill that grants relief for people needing notarization for things like wills, trusts, real estate documents like mortgages.”

The bill, Senate 2645, An Act Providing For Virtual Notarization To Address Challenges Related To Covid-19, will authorize the use of video conferencing to validate documents provided that all participants are located within the borders of the state.

Notaries are state-licensed and perform an official function of affirming that a document is authentic. The notary serves an anti-fraud mechanism, making sure that the transaction and documents can be trusted, are authentic and there is a certified record of the transaction.

Senator John Keenan, Senator William Brownsberger, and Senator Barry Finegold were instrumental in developing the bill in its final form.

Only a notary who is a licensed attorney or a paralegal under the direct supervision of a state-licensed attorney may execute the service.

Tarr noted that the bill permits real-time video conferencing for any document in the course of closing a transaction involving a mortgage or other conveyance of title to real estate, any will, nomination of guardian or conservator, caregiver authorization affidavit, trust, durable power of attorney or health care proxy.

“The times we now live where people need to prepare wills and health care documents very quickly compels us to act; it's the right thing to do and I appreciate the support and actions of the Senate,” said Tarr.

The bill now moves to the House of Representative where it must first be approved before votes of enactment and advancing to Governor Charlie Baker. This legislation will sunset three days after the state of emergency is lifted.


Monday, April 20, 2020

Implementation Of CARES Act Unemployment Benefits For Self-Employed, Gig Economy And Other Workers

Residents Can Now Apply For Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program 

 The Baker-Polito Administration announced today 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 January 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.

Please note that, 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.


Thursday, April 16, 2020

Liability Protections For Healthcare Workers and Facilities

The Senate Ways and Means Committee voted favorable to report out, in part, S.2635: An act to provide liability protections for health care workers and facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic ,

A summary of the legislation is as follows: 
  • Effective March 10, 2020, and for the duration of the COVID19 emergency, provides immunity from suit and civil liability to health care professionals and facilities for alleged COVID19 related damages, if the health care services were provided in good faith and damages were not caused through gross negligence, recklessness or conduct with an intent to either harm or to discriminate based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. 
  • Provides that health care facilities and professionals remain subject to consumer protection actions brought by the Attorney General and false claim actions brought by or on behalf of the Commonwealth.
  • Effective March 10, 2020, and for the duration of the COVID19 emergency, provides volunteer organizations providing use of its facility or facilities to support the Commonwealth’s response to COVID-19, with immunity from suit and civil liability for alleged COVID-19 related damages, so long as damages were not caused through gross negligence, recklessness or conduct with an intent to harm.


An Act Authorizing The City of Gloucester To Use Certain Lands for Municipal School Purposes

From: Senator Bruce Tarr and Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante
Regarding: Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government soliciting testimony on S.2628-An Act Authorizing The City of Gloucester To Use Certain Lands for Municipal School Purposes

In lieu of a public hearing, the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government is soliciting electronic testimony only on S.2628-An Act authorizing the city of Gloucester to use certain lands for municipal school purposes. The text of the bill S.2628 can be found here: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/S2628.

Testimony should be addressed to House Chair James O'Day and Senate Chair Becca Rausch. Testimony can be submitted in the following manner:
· Google form: https://bit.ly/3cd14Ku (preferred); or
· Emailing Senate Chair Becca Rausch at Becca.Rausch@masenate.gov and House Chair James O’Day at James.O'Day@mahouse.gov

The committee will be accepting testimony until 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 23rd.


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito Tour Field Medical Station at Joint Base Cape Cod, Announce Further COVID-19 Response Reporting Data

BOURNE – Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito today joined Massachusetts National Guard Adjutant Major General Gary W. Keefe to tour the ongoing work to establish a new Field Medical Station at Joint Base Cape Cod in Buzzards Bay. The administration also announced expanded COVID-19 response efforts reporting data to include statewide hospital capacity and PPE distribution.

Cape Cod Field Medical Station: The Joint Base Cape Cod Field Medical Station supports the Administration’s strategy to increase hospital bed capacity for COVID-19 patients across the Commonwealth through the development of five regional medical facilities. Cape Cod Healthcare serves as the field hospital’s local health care partner and will manage the facility, which will house 94 beds and expects to admit patients beginning next Monday, April 20.

Medical stations, like the one being deployed to Cape Cod, are required to set up in facilities of at least 40,000 square feet to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and include beds, supplies and a cache of medicine for basic care. Alternate medical sites are in place to support existing hospital capacity in the region and do not provide care for walk-in patients.

Expanded COVID-19 Response Reporting: To support ongoing preparations for a surge in COVID-19 cases, Baker-Polito Administration today announced the expansion of COVID-19 response reporting to include statewide hospital capacity and PPE distribution data.

Testing: Daily test reporting data, including number of positive cases, can already be found at 4:00 PM each day.

Hospital Capacity: Also at 4:00 PM each day, the Command Center will report hospital bed occupancy and availability as reported by Massachusetts hospitals.

PPE Distribution: Additionally, PPE distribution reports will be posted each day by 4:00 PM.


State Revenue Forecast Session

A virtual roundtable discussion on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Commonwealth’s fiscal health and economy.

Senate Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues, House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz and Administration and Finance Secretary Michael Heffernan, the virtual roundtable is scheduled to include Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, Boston Federal Reserve President Eric Rosengren, Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Eileen McAnneny, Beacon Hill Institute President David Tuerck, Mass Budget and Policy Center President Marie-Frances Rivera, UMass Dartmouth Public Policy Professor Michael Goodman, Northeastern University economist Alan Clayton-Matthews, Standard & Poors chief U.S. economist Beth Ann Bovino, Evan Horowitz, the executive director of the Center for State Policy Analysis at Tufts University, and Moody's government consulting director Dan White.

Here is a link to watch the session live on the Web -  https://malegislature.gov/Events/SpecialEvents/Detail/351


Monday, April 13, 2020

Manufacturing Emergency Response Team To Support Supply Production

The Baker-Polito Administration today announced a new initiative and over $10 million in funding to support manufacturers’ efforts to pivot production operations to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) and other critical devices, such as ventilators, sanitizers, and thermometers. To make this announcement, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito today were joined by the Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kenneally, MassTech Collaborative CEO Carolyn Kirk and Brenna Schneider, CEO of 99Degrees, a Lawrence-based performance activewear manufacturing firm that has begun manufacturing gowns for health care workers.

Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (M-ERT): The M-ERT is a coordinated response by the Baker-Polito Administration and leading academic and industry stakeholders to support the Commonwealth’s manufacturers in their efforts to produce much-needed supplies for front-line workers and the health care system. Members of the M-ERT include representatives from: Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), MIT, MIT Lincoln Labs, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP), Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM), and other industry partners.

The M-ERT is being launched alongside $10.6 million in new funding to help manufacturers scale their operations to produce PPE and other critical items. Companies can apply for grants through an online form for equipment, materials, supplies, workforce training and other needs. A Review Committee will process applications based on criteria including production timeline and recommend grant awards.

MassTech and AFFOA (Advanced Functional Fabrics of America), a member of the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation Institutes based in Cambridge, will administer $5.6 million in funds through the existing Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Institute (M2I2) program. Another $4 million has been made available through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), with an additional $1 million for workforce training contributed by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development and the Commonwealth Corporation through the existing Workforce Training Fund Program (WTFP).

In addition to this funding, the M-ERT will offer other assistance to manufacturers, including:
  • Understanding what PPE and COVID-19 related materials are of highest priority to produce;
  • Regulatory compliance, including insight into FDA guidance;
  • Addressing specifications and testing that is necessary, and identifying in-state test centers;
  • Retraining workers on new production lines and standards; and
  • Sharing design and CAD files for critical items.


Storm Update And Current Power Outages


The strong, damaging winds associated with this storm are currently impacting the region resulting in electric customer outages. The Department of Utilities (DPU) and electric distribution companies (EDC) continue to monitor the weather forecast. Based upon the most recent National Weather Service (NWS) forecast, the area for highest wind gusts, while still uncertain, is expected to be interior southeast MA including the city of Boston. The peak period of wind and rain is forecast until 8pm this evening.


Sunday, April 12, 2020

In these challenging times, we justifiably ask questions about the world around us and all of the things we are experiencing.

But on this Easter Day, and during Passover, my hope is that we will take advantage of the opportunity to reflect on the importance and strength we derive from our family and friends, our traditions of faith, and our ability to support each other whenever possible.

In this season when we focus on the renewal of life and spirit, may we be fortified by a sense of revitalization, hope and recommitted to working together to face the challenges of today and those that may lie ahead.


Saturday, April 11, 2020

Legislation Enacted on MCAS, SOA Plans, and Regional School District Budgets

Governor Baker signed legislation yesterday that addresses many concerns municipalities and school districts have related to this year’s MCAS testing and the competency determination, the deadline for Student Opportunity Act plans, and the process for regional school districts to approve their annual budget.

From a letter to School Superintendents and Charter School Leaders from DESE Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley. MCAS:

We previously requested and received a waiver from the federal requirement for annual statewide student assessment. Now, with the state legislation enacted, the MCAS testing requirement is waived for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

As a result of these federal and state actions and in light of the on-going health crisis, I am cancelling this spring’s regular administration of grade-level MCAS tests for students in grades 3-10.

In addition, the legislation allows the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, upon my recommendation, to modify or waive the requirements of the competency determination for high school graduation in order to address disruptions caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 or the state of emergency. I am considering various options, and further guidance will be forthcoming.

Student Opportunity Act

The legislation that the governor signed today gives me the ability to move the deadline for the three-year plans required by the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) to May 15, 2020 or later. I appreciate the work that several dozen districts did to submit plans in time for the original April 1 deadline. I recognize how challenging it is for school districts to complete the SOA district planning work right now. I will announce a new deadline soon.

Regional School District Budgets

Approving budgets for regional school districts can be particularly challenging during a time of social distancing. The legislation that the governor signed today states that, if a town’s or city’s vote on the approval of a fiscal year 2021 regional school district budget is delayed beyond June 30, 2020 as a result of COVID-19 and the state of emergency, the district should notify DESE. At that point, we will certify an amount sufficient for the operation of the regional district starting July 1, 2020, in an amount not less than one-twelfth of the regional district’s total annual budget in FY20. The Department will set similar sums for each successive month as needed. We expect to issue guidance on FY21 regional school district budgets in the near future.
Jeffrey C. Riley


Spanish Language Unemployment Application Launched by Baker-Polito Administration

Mobile friendly portal will help Spanish speaking claimants access benefits 

The Baker-Polito Administration today launched a Spanish language online, mobile-friendly, unemployment benefits application for those who need to apply.

The new, secure application for Spanish speakers is available through mass.gov/desempleo, the Spanish language website for unemployment in Massachusetts.

The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) will make language applications available in Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Chinese, Vietnamese and additional languages in the coming days.

The new Spanish language UI form is the latest effort from the Commonwealth to deliver crucial COVID-19 information to non-English speakers, including:

Yesterday, the Administration announced that its COVID-19 text message alert system is available in Spanish All of Mass.Gov (including Mass.Gov/COVID19) is available in 13 different languages The Commonwealth’s non-emergency help line for COVID-19, 2-1-1 is available in over 150 languages

Several agencies, including the Department of Public Health, offer additional fact sheets available in multiple languages
The Department of Unemployment Assistance is focused on supporting workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to process claims as quickly as possible. The new Spanish mobile-friendly application is among several efforts to reach and assist all individuals who are eligible for unemployment benefits and provide the financial assistance they need. Other efforts include: Rapidly updating the DUA website with the latest information that claimants and employers need to know, what the latest federal legislation means for them, and a step-by-step guide to filing a claim available in multiple languages.
The unemployment contact form to reach a DUA agent is also available in multiple languages.

Hosting daily town halls in both English and Spanish, which have been attended by over 100,000 constituents. Individuals can sign up to attend a virtual town hall at mass.gov/unemployment/townhall or at mass.gov/desempleo.

Deploying over 600 new remote employees to keep pace with the increased volume of unemployment insurance claims, and adding language capacities in the call center to better serve residents across the state.

Legislation proposed and signed by Governor Baker waiving the one-week waiting period to collect an unemployment claim payment. 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 (COVIDMAESP for Spanish language alerts).


State Parks System New Measures

To expand pedestrian and cyclist access, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will open segments of three parkways in the Greater Boston Metro Area for recreational use starting today, Saturday, April 11, 2020 at dawn. These segments will close to vehicular traffic on Friday, April 10, 2020 at dusk, and after the weekend, DCR will evaluate the effectiveness of the measure. Additionally, the agency will work to reduce parking capacity at state park properties statewide starting Saturday, April 11, 2020, which will continue indefinitely.

Importantly, the measures will reduce close contact of park users, and aid in the reduction of large concentrations of people on adjacent sidewalks and paths.

Parkways that will open to pedestrians and cyclists include: William J. Day Boulevard between Farragut Road and Shore Drive in the City of Boston (South Boston); Francis Parkman Drive between Perkins Street and the Arborway in the City of Boston (Jamaica Plain); and, Greenough Boulevard (Little Greenough) between Arsenal Street and North Beacon Street in the Town of Watertown.

While visiting state park properties, the public should visit locations that are located near their homes, limit their excursions to short periods of time, and only participate in recreational activities that are transitory in nature, such as walking, jogging and biking. This will allow access to the outdoors while continuing to ensure social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19.

DCR continues to stress that if a park is crowded, visitors should visit a different location 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 contains multiple parks to explore that may be less busy than others in the area. DCR also advises visitors of state parks to stay within solitary or small groups, avoid gatherings of ten or more people, 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.


Energy New England Provides Remote Home Energy Assessments for Municipal Light Plants

Energy New England (ENE) is pleased to offer an alternative Home Energy Assessment experience to the customers of participating Municipal Light Plants (MLP). ENE provides Residential Conservation Services to 21 MLPs in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Due to the Coronavirus all in-home energy assessments were suspended mid-March. ENE quickly transitioned over to a remote home energy assessment experience, piloting the concept in 20 homes by the end of March. Homeowner response was overwhelmingly positive. In addition to the engaging experience, homeowners appreciated the convenience and personalization they received.

By using the video feature on iPhone or Android phones, ENE Advisors can capture information about the home needed to create a comprehensive Home Energy Assessment Report. A follow up call is scheduled to review the report and prioritize a short- and long-term savings plan. LED bulbs and other energy saving measures normally installed at the time of the audit are either delivered at a later time or mailed. “ENE’s transition to a virtual audit experience will ensure that these important programs continue to help residents reduce their energy bills, provide opportunities for contractors, and make progress toward the Commonwealth’s energy goals,” said Patrick Woodcock, Commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

With the state Stay-at-Home Advisory issued by the Governor, homeowners and renters may see an increase to their monthly utility bills. This program offers a convenient, accessible solution to provide education and assistance for short- and long-term energy saving investments for your home.

“When the State of Massachusetts declared an emergency due to the COVID-19 crisis, ENE knew this would have an impact of the home energy assessment program and the scheduled audits that were upcoming. ENE quickly shifted to a virtual format to deliver an assessment to the customers who still wanted to get recommendations on energy savings. Using the technology available, ENE continues to offer these services, and will continue to provide this service to the customers who want to participate in the home energy assessment program,” said John G. Tzimorangas, President and CEO of ENE.

Remote Home Energy Assessments are available to customers of participating Municipal Light Plants. Customers of participating utilities can schedule an appointment by calling 888-772- 4242 or going the ENE energy efficiency website, www.ee.ene.org.

About Energy New England (ENE): ENE, is the largest wholesale risk management and energy trading organization serving the needs of municipal utilities in the northeast. ENE works with numerous businesses, residents and utilities to help promote the principles of conservation, efficiency, and environmental stewardship, and advances the many benefits available through integrated sustainability planning. ene.org

Participating Utilities
Belmont Municipal Light Department
Concord Municipal Light Department
Danvers Electric Department
Georgetown Municipal Light Department
Groveland Municipal Electric Department
Hingham Municipal Lighting Department
Hudson Light & Power Department
Littleton Electric Light and Water Department
Mansfield Municipal Electric Department
Merrimac Municipal Light Department
Middleborough Gas and Electric Department
Middleton Electric Light Department
North Attleborough Electric Department
Norwood Municipal Light Department
Pascoag Utility District Reading Municipal Light Department
Rowley Municipal Lighting Department
Taunton Municipal Light Plant
Wellesley Municipal Light Plant


Friday, April 10, 2020

Coronavirus Update on North Shore 104.9 FM Friday

Up next this hour on North Shore 104.9 w Donnie & Erika, we have Joe Bevilacqua President & CEO, of Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce. Joe will share what the Chamber is doing during the #Covid19MA emergency.


Thursday, April 9, 2020

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

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced 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, 2020, will be administered by states. Today’s 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.


Wednesday, April 8, 2020

With Passover commencing this evening, I would like to wish all of my Jewish friends and constituents a happy and joyous holiday. Even if you can't be in the company of family and loved ones, I wish you, and them, peace, happiness, and wellness.

Chag Sameach!


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Massachusetts RMV-Approved Defensive Driving Courses

Due to coronavirus concerns, to ensure the health and wellbeing of our instructors and students, the National Safety Council and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (MA RMV) have canceled all MA classroom driver safety classes through May 4. This includes the 8-hour Driver Retraining Program, 4-hour Driver Attitudinal Retraining Program and the 4-hour State Courts Against Road Rage (SCARR) Program.

The MA RMV has temporarily approved an alternative way to deliver the statutorily required content in the form of a 4-hour online class. For a limited time, participation in the online course will fulfill your in-person class requirement. The process is easy and convenient, and the online course can be completed right from your own home.

Find detailed information and sign-up https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/services/state-programs/massachusetts



Expansion Of Rapid COVID-19 Drive-Through Testing In Massachusetts Announced by Baker-Polito Administration, CVS

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.

“The continued expansion of testing, along with our new efforts around community tracing, will enable the Commonwealth to better track and slow the spread of this virus,” said Governor Charlie Baker.

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. The rapid COVID-19 testing will take place in the parking lot of the Showcase Cinemas located at 32 Reiss Avenue, in Lowell, and no testing will take place at CVS Pharmacy or MinuteClinic locations. Patients will need to pre-register in advance online at CVS.com in order to schedule a same-day time slot for testing.

Massachusetts has dramatically increased COVID-19 testing capacity and output. In addition to the Department of Public Health’s State Public Health Laboratory, more than 22 public and private labs are completing testing. 76,429 patients have been tested, with 4,492 tested yesterday alone.


Help Prevent COVID-19 While Outdoors

Visitors of parks and outdoor spaces should:
  • Stay within solitary or small groups, and avoid gatherings of ten or more people, 
  • Practice social distancing, 
  • 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.


Coronavirus Update on North Shore 104.9 FM Tuesday

Today in the 9 o'clock hour on North Shore 104.9 with Donnie & Erika, we have Sue Gabriel, Executive Director of Beverly Bootstraps. This non-profit organization was founded in 1992 as a Food Pantry. They have grown to be a leading social service agency on the North Shore. They provide their clients with opportunities to be embraced by the community, become educated about resources available and empowered to improve their own lives.

Sue will share with us what Beverly Bootstraps is doing to assist people during the pandemic.
#Covid19MA #Mapoli


Monday, April 6, 2020

Coronavirus Update on North Shore 104.9 FM Monday

Lynn, Massachusetts Tom McGee-Mayor of Lynn joins Erika & Donnie, & I this hour on North Shore 104.9 to talk about the city's response to the #Covid19MA crisis.


Sunday, April 5, 2020

Contact Tracers For Massachusetts - A First-In-The-Nation Plan

Everyone has a role to play in slowing the spread of COVID-19. Soon, that may mean helping inform contact tracers.

Massachusetts has quickly ramped up testing to now have the 3rd highest COVID-19 testing capacity and output in the nation. To further the effort of combatting this illness, the Baker administration has launched a first of its kind in the nation initiative which will focus on tracing the contacts of confirmed positive COVID-19 patients.

Contact tracing will be combined with the state’s efforts to increase testing and will provide support to people in quarantine in order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. This will engage the deployment of nearly 1,000 tracers working in unison.



Friday, April 3, 2020

DCR Recreational Advisory: Postponement of Shoreline Fishing Within Watershed Properties

To prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is postponing the start of shoreline fishing at Quabbin Reservoir, Sudbury Reservoir, and Wachusett Reservoir from Saturday, April 4, 2020 until Saturday, May 9, 2020. Additionally, the opening of the boat launch areas for fishing within the Quabbin Reservoir is also postponed until Saturday, May 9, 2020.

Quabbin Reservoir
Sudbury Reservoir
Wachusett Reservoir


Payback Protection Program is Available Starting Today

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a loan program designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep workers on the payroll. Loans are up to $10M, with a 0.5% interest rate and a 2-year maturity; there are no payments for the first six months.

Who can apply? Businesses, non-profits, Veterans organizations, Tribal concerns, sole proprietorships, self-employed individuals, and independent contractors, with 500 or fewer employees.

When can you apply? The Paycheck Protection Program will be available beginning on Friday, April 3rd. Applications must be submitted by June 30, 2020.

How do you apply? You can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any participating federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, or Farm Credit institution. Ask your local lender if it is participating in the program.

What else should you know? The SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. The program will be available retroactive from February 15, 2020, so employers can rehire their recently laid-off employees through June 30, 2020.

Read more here: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/paycheck-protection-program-ppp#section-header-4

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance is a Loan Advance of $10,000 that is available to applicants who have been approved for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan; it does not need to be repaid, so you can think of the Advance as a grant for business expenses.

Who can apply? If you have applied or intend to apply to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, you can also apply for a Loan Advance.

When can you apply? The Loan Advance is available now. How do you apply? Visit the SBA’s website to submit an application for the Economic Disaster Injury Loan and Loan Advance.

What else should you know? Please note that you should submit an application at the above link, even if you’ve previously submitted an EIDL application prior to the Loan Advance being available. Read more here: https://www.sba.gov/page/disaster-loan-applications#section-header-0

The SBA is also offering Debt Relief to small businesses. Under this relief, the SBA will pay the principal and interest for six months beginning March 27th, 2020 for qualifying new and current holders of 7(a) loans.

Who can apply? Businesses who already have a covered 7(a) SBA loan or receive a 7(a) SBA loan prior to September 27, 2020. When can you apply? This relief is applied for covered loans beginning with payments due after March 27, 2020.

How do you apply? Reach out to your SBA lender to discuss how this debt relief applies to your SBA loan.

What else should you know? This debt relief is available only to 7(a) loans and not to loans made under the Paycheck Protection Program, 504 loans, or microloans.

Read more here: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources#section-header-4


Unemployment Assistance Resource:

My office has fielded many questions regarding unemployment benefits. I am sharing a link to the state's Department of Unemployment Assistance's frequently asked questions. As always, I will share updated information as it becomes available.



Coronavirus Update on North Shore 104.9 FM Friday AM

Chief Russell Stevens,Hamilton MA Police Dept & past President of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association joins Erika & Donnie, & I in the 9 o'clock hour on North Shore 104.9 to talk about public safety in the #Covid19MA crisis.


Thursday, April 2, 2020

Tonight, The Massachusetts Legislature Passed A Bipartisan Bill to Provide Immediate Relief to Municipalities and Others During the Ongoing COVID-19 Crisis.

This legislation responds to a number of vitally important needs; it allows cities and towns across the Commonwealth to execute fundamental governance procedures including budgeting and permitting, it adds mechanisms to empower food and beverage providers to meet consumer needs, and it aligns our tax schedule with the federal extension. It is the product of bicameral and bipartisan collaboration fueled by our ardent efforts to support those impacted by this pandemic.

The bipartisan legislation extends the state income tax filing deadline for residents; addresses disruptions in tax collections and the permitting application process for municipalities; and allows licensed restaurants to sell certain alcoholic beverages for take-out and delivery, among other provisions.


Baker-Polito Administration Outlines COVID-19 Surge Modeling, Response Efforts To Boost Hospital Capacity

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration’s COVID-19 Response Command Center today outlined projections related to the anticipated surge of COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth. The projections are the result of the Command Center’s work with medical experts to complete modeling of the outbreak in Massachusetts. The Administration also detailed its efforts to respond to this surge, including a significant increase in hospital capacity, staffing, and equipment.

COVID-19 Surge Planning:

Modeling and Projections:
The Administration’s COVID-19 Response Command Center has been working with its Advisory Board of medical experts and epidemiologists from Harvard University, University of Guelph and Northeastern to refine models related to the expected surge of COVID-19 cases. These efforts include modeling the surge’s timing, number of cases, necessary bed capacity, and work to find facilities that will meet overfill capacity. The model’s projections are based on the experience of Wuhan, China, but Massachusetts’ trajectory could differ due to lower population density, lower smoking rates, and earlier social distancing measures. The Command Center has also been comparing to experience in other states and around the world.

The model’s latest projections estimate that the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts could range from 47,000 to 172,000 (or 0.7% to 2.5% of the total population of Massachusetts). The models show hospitalizations would potentially peak between April 10-20. The current fatality rate in Massachusetts is lower than other areas – it is approximately 1.5% of those infected. The Command Center is monitoring this statistic closely.

The COVID-19 Response Command Center is working with hospitals to provide them with flexibility to expand ICU capacity. The Commonwealth is asking academic medical centers and teaching hospitals to work to significantly expand their ICU capacity. But after hospitals execute on their surge plans, the model estimates there could be a remaining gap in ICU capacity of more than 500 beds.

Response Efforts:
In response, the Administration is aiming to find or build an additional 750 - 1000 beds in field medical hospitals and other alternate care sites to reduce strain on hospitals as much as possible. Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito visited the first of these Field Medical Stations at the DCU Center yesterday.

The Administration has identified additional possible sites for Field Medical Stations including the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Joint Base Cape Cod, Springfield’s Mass Mutual Building and other smaller locations. The Administration has secured a contractor who can build out sites once a healthcare partner has been finalized.

The Command Center is also securing 1000 beds in capacity for step-down care options in nursing facilities for stabilized COVID-19 positive patients who can be transferred out of the hospital to make room for those with higher medical need.


Additional Steps to Encourage Social Distancing at State Parks and Beaches Announced by Baker-Polito Administration

Coastal State Beach Parking Areas Will Temporarily Close; Select Seasonal State Parks to Open Early

BOSTON — Governor Charlie Baker today 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 12:00 PM on Friday, April 3, 2020, 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 rinks, visitor centers, campgrounds, playgrounds, fitness 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.


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Extends Renewal Deadlines for Motor Vehicle Registrations

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is continuing to take several important steps following Governor Charlie Baker’s declaration of a State of Emergency the week of March 9th and to complement the work that has been underway for weeks across state government to keep residents safe and healthy.

 Effective today, April 1, 2020, all of the passenger plate registrations that have expired in March or will be expiring in April have been extended for 60 days. Registrations that expired in March have been extended until May 31st and registrations that expire in April have been extended until June 30th. Registration renewals can continue to be performed online at Mass.Gov/RMV during this time. Customers seeking to do so in-person will not be able to make an appointment and should delay their visit to a Service Center at this time.

In addition, the RMV recently has implemented key changes to service delivery and organizational protocols as follows:
  • Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the RMV has implemented a strict no walk-in policy at a limited number of Service Centers that remain open to the general public. Service for necessary in-person transactions is available by appointment only. Customers should visit Mass.Gov/RMV to make a reservation at an open Service Center or find information on over 40 transactions that can be conducted online, by phone, or by mail. 
  • All Driver’s Licenses, ID cards, and Learner’s Permits, including Commercial Licenses & Permits, that have expired or are expiring between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020, have had a 60-day extension applied to the current expiration date and do not need to be renewed at this time. This does not apply to customers whose end of stay in the United States is the same as the expiration date on their Driver’s License, ID card, or Learner’s Permit. CDL Medical Certificates that expire on or after March 1st until April 30th will be extended until June 30th to prevent license downgrades and elective medical visits, as well as alleviate demand on medical providers. 
  • The annual motor vehicle safety and emissions inspection stickers that expire on March 31 and April 30 have been extended 60 days and all motorcycle inspection stickers originally set to expire on May 31 must be inspected by June 30. The RMV is also extending the time during which newly registered vehicles must be inspected based on the purchase date. 
  • In addition, the RMV has suspended all road tests through April 12th. Class D and M Learner's Permits knowledge exams have been suspended indefinitely. Commercial Learner’s Permit tests are available to be taken at the Milford and Wilmington RMV Service Centers during normal business hours and commercial road tests continue to occur.

Taking care of your emotional health and well-being during this time is important. Decreasing stress can help bolster your immune system and can help keep you and others around you healthy.


COVID-19: Essential Services Effective Today

Learn about businesses and organizations defined as providing "COVID-19 Essential Services" under Governor Baker's March 31, 2020 Order.

Governor Charlie Baker has 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. These businesses are encouraged to continue operations remotely. This order has been extended until May 4.

Here is a link to the full order: https://www.mass.gov/doc/march-31-2020-essential-services-extension-order


North Shore 104.9 Update with Council on Aging Director Terri Marciello

Up in the 9 O'clock hour on North Shore 104.9 is Terri Marciello, Wilmington Director of Elderly Services at the Buzzell Senior Center. Terri joins me and show hosts Donnie and Erika. The well being for our seniors continues to be a concern during the Covid-19 pandemic and we will discuss steps that municipal senior center are taking.

Tune in live here -https://streamdb4web.securenetsystems.net/cirrusencore/WBOQ

 #MaCovid19 #MaPoli