Friday, May 29, 2020

Tobin Bridge/Chelsea Curves Rehabilitation Project Updates from Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Construction Look-Ahead: May 31 – June 13, 2020 

This is a brief overview of construction operations and traffic impacts for the Tobin Bridge/Chelsea Curves Rehabilitation Project. MassDOT will provide additional notices as needed for high-impact work, temporary ramp and street closures, and changes to traffic configurations beyond those described below.

ROUTE 1 TRAFFIC IMPACTS
ROUTE 1 NORTHBOUND: Approaching the Tobin Bridge from Boston, the work zone begins in the left lane. 2 of 3 travel lanes will be open during daytime hours (5 a.m.–10 p.m.)
ROUTE 1 SOUTHBOUND: Approaching the Chelsea Curves from the North Shore, the work zone begins in the left lane before the Carter Street off-ramp. 2 of 3 travel lanes will be open during daytime hours (5 a.m.–10 p.m.)

CARTER STREET RAMP WEEKEND CLOSURES
The Carter Street off-ramp will be closed on Saturday, 6/13. Work will begin at 7 a.m. and end at 7 a.m. Traffic will be detoured to the Route 16 West exit towards Everett to take Revere Beach Parkway to Everett Avenue.
SILVER LINE ALTERNATING SINGLE LANE BUS TRAFFIC
The Silverline busway will continue to have single lane bus traffic where the Line passes through the Silverline Gateway underneath the Chelsea Viaduct. This single lane bus traffic will help to facilitate safe bridge construction.
Silverline service will be maintained without interruption or delay using alternating direction bus traffic. The alternation of direction will be controlled by MBTA police and flaggers. The single, alternating lane condition is projected to be in place through Friday, 6/12.

LOCAL STREET CLOSURES
ARLINGTON STREET: Arlington Street under Route 1 will be closed on 6/1 (7 a.m. – 11 p.m.). Signed detours and police details will guide drivers around the work zone via Spruce Street and Everett Ave. ORANGE STREET: Orange Street under Route 1 will be closed on Saturday 5/30 at 10 p.m. until Monday 6/1 at 5 a.m. 5th STREET: 5th Street under Route 1 will be closed on 6/11 during the nighttime (9:00 p.m. – 5 a.m.)

WORK HOURS Most work will occur during daytime working hours (7:00 a.m.–3:30 p.m.) on weekdays. Some work will take place on a 2nd shift (2 p.m.–1 a.m.) and overnight hours (9 p.m.–5 a.m.) and on Saturdays (7 a.m.–7 p.m).

DESCRIPTION OF SCHEDULED WORK
ROUTE 1 NORTHBOUND: Bridge deck and gutter repairs continue in the left lane over the Tobin Bridge. We will continue to remove bridge deck and install new bridge deck through the Chelsea Curves.
ROUTE 1 SOUTHBOUND: Removal of existing bridge deck and installation of new bridge deck will continue through the Chelsea Curves.

UNDERNEATH ROUTE 1: Crews will replace and paint steel; power wash and paint columns and support beams; excavate, erect steel; place new concrete columns; and deliver steel beams from the new bridge deck. For more information about the Tobin Bridge/Chelsea Curves Rehabilitation Project, please visit the project website: https://www.mass.gov/tobin-bridgechelsea-curves-rehabilitation-project.

North Washington Street Bridge Replacement Project
Traffic Impacts: May 31 – June 13

N. WASHINGTON STREET INBOUND: Off-peak daytime lane reductions across the bridge and additional lane reductions at Keany Square will continue. One lane across the bridge and all turn movements will be available from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. on weekdays.

N. WASHINGTON STREET OUTBOUND: Off-peak daytime lane reductions will continue across the bridge to City Square. One lane across the bridge and all turn movements will be available from 7 a.m.–2 p.m. on weekdays. For more information about the North Washington Street Bridge Replacement Project, please visit: https://www.mass.gov/north-washington-street-bridge-replacement

TRAVEL TIPS
Drivers should take care to pay attention to all signage and move carefully through the work zone. Police details, lane markings, temporary barriers, traffic cones, signage, and other tools will be used to control traffic and create safe work zones

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Phase II of Re-opening Plan Outlined by Baker-Polito Administration

Guidance for Restaurants and Lodging 

Today, the Baker-Polito Administration provided an update on the Reopening Massachusetts plan and preparations for Phase II. The Administration will determine the start of Phase II on June 6th.

On Monday, Governor Charlie Baker will issue an executive order with a detailed list of sectors that fall into each phase. The order will allow Phase II businesses to bring back employees in preparation for re-opening. Through this order, professional sports teams can begin practicing at their facilities in compliance with the health and safety rules that all the leagues are developing. Facilities remain closed to the public.

Learn more about the reopening process: www.mass.gov/reopening

Restaurant and Lodging Guidance: The Administration today issued workplace safety standards for restaurants and lodging. These workplace specific safety standards are organized around four distinct categories covering Social Distancing, Hygiene Protocols, Staffing and Operations and Cleaning and Disinfecting.

Restaurants: Outdoor dining will begin at the start of Phase II. Indoor dining will begin later within Phase II, subject to public health data. Even when indoor seating is permitted, use of outdoor space will be encouraged for all restaurants.

Social distancing guidance includes spacing tables six feet apart with a maximum party size of six people. The use of bars, except for spaced table seating, will not be permitted. For hygiene protocols, utensils and menus should be kept clean through single use or with strict sanitation guidelines, reservations or call ahead seating is recommended and contactless payment, mobile ordering or text on arrival for seating will also be encouraged.

Restaurants will be expected to follow cleaning and disinfecting guidelines, in accordance with CDC guidance. This includes closing an establishment temporarily if there is a case of COVID-19 in an establishment.

Lodging: Hotels, motels and other lodging businesses will be allowed to expand their operations in Phase II. Lodging safety standards apply to all forms of lodging including hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts, short term residential rentals including Airbnb and VRBO.

Event spaces, like ballrooms and meeting rooms, will remain closed. On-site restaurants, pools, gyms, spas, golf courses and other amenities at lodging sites may operate only as these categories are authorized to operate in accordance with the phased re-opening plan. Lodging operators also must inform guests of the Commonwealth’s policy urging travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days when arriving from out-of-state.

On May 18th, the Baker-Polito Administration released Reopening Massachusetts, the Reopening Advisory Board’s report, which details a four-phased strategy to responsibly reopen businesses and activities while continuing to fight COVID-19.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Nationwide Unemployment Scam Targets Massachusetts Claimants

Criminal enterprises in possession of stolen personal information from earlier national data breaches have been attempting to file large amounts of illegitimate unemployment claims through the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) system. This is part of a national unemployment fraud scheme.

The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) has begun implementing additional identity verification measures that will temporarily delay the payment timeframe for many unemployment claims in Massachusetts. As a result of these measures, certain unemployment claimants may be asked to provide additional identity information in order to verify the validity of their claim.

“Protecting the integrity of the unemployment system and ensuring benefits are going only to valid claimants is the top priority of the Department of Unemployment Assistance,” said Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta. “While the program integrity measures we are taking will unfortunately mean that some claimants will experience temporary delays in payment, we believe these steps are necessary to respond to this unemployment scam. We are working rapidly to respond to this scheme and urge individuals who may have had a false unemployment claim filed in their name to contact the Department.”

Individuals who believe they may have had a false unemployment claim filed using their identity are urged to utilize the Department of Unemployment Assistance fraud contact form at mass.gov/unemployment-fraud or to call the DUA customer service department at 877-626-6800.

Additional updates related to this criminal activity will be posted at mass.gov/unemployment as soon as they are available.

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Friday, May 22, 2020

Legislature Passes Bill to Provide Relief and Improve Access to Unemployment Benefits

The Massachusetts Legislature on Thursday May 21, 2020, passed a bill that will provide additional Unemployment Insurance (UI) relief to low-income families, non-profit institutions and employers. The legislation now moves on to the governor.

An Act Providing Additional Support to Those Affected by the Novel Coronavirus Through the Unemployment Insurance System builds on UI legislation already signed into law that waived the one-week waiting period to receive benefits.

“From the outset of this public health pandemic, our focus has been on easing the burdens felt by working families, and this thoughtfully crafted bipartisan legislation exemplifies that commitment,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “With this legislation, we are taking steps to ensure Massachusetts workers and employers can maximize the benefits available to them through state and federal actions. I am thankful to my Senate colleagues as well as Speaker DeLeo and his members for their work in moving this legislation one step closer to becoming law.”

“This bill protects employers, including non-profits, and workers as we deal with the economic crisis in the wake of COVID-19,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “I thank Chair Michlewitz, Chair Ferrante, Vice Chair Hay, Senate President Spilka, and my colleagues in the House and Senate for their work on this important UI Bill.”

“With the passage of this bill, the Senate is building on its commitment to support the workers and business owners of the Commonwealth who are struggling with the financial impacts of COVID-19,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D- Westport), Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Ways & Means. “I applaud my colleagues in the Senate and the House for continuing to work collaboratively to provide relief to the state’s most vulnerable citizens during this challenging time.”

“Unemployment benefits are a critical lifeline in an economic storm and the pandemic has brought into sharp focus the importance of having a sound unemployment insurance system that responds effectively to people depending on it,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester). "The measures contained in this bill will go a long way to strengthening our system and helping individuals and families when they need it most.”

The legislation builds off the legislature’s ongoing efforts to address the COVID-19 public health crisis and its impact on workers and follows the passage of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which significantly increased UI benefits and expands eligibility during the coronavirus pandemic.”

"Clearly, Covid-19 has presented many challenges to the Commonwealth. Chief among them are protecting residents from a potential life threatening virus, financial ruin and hunger. In Massachusetts and across the country, we have seen unparalleled levels of unemployment,” said Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante, Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies (D-Gloucester). “As our residents try to navigate an enormously difficult health care and economic crisis, this unemployment legislation allows the Commonwealth to work more effectively with the business and non-profit communities by streamlining unemployment regulations and mitigating costs while simultaneously tending to the needs of residents, who may require additional time to return to work."

“The economic fallout from the COVID-19 global pandemic has been devastating, with over one million Massachusetts residents filing for unemployment and businesses struggling to survive. This bill takes additional steps to assist residents and employers impacted by the pandemic,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading). “It allows for a four-week extension in benefits if new unemployment claims filed in any week exceed 100,000, and lays the groundwork for lifting the dependency cap. It also protects employers from being penalized and hit with rate increases if they are forced to lay off workers due to the pandemic. This bill will help families and businesses as we continue to navigate through this unprecedented public health crisis.”

The components of the bill are as follows: Protection for Employers. Employers who participate in UI pay contributions based on their layoff experience. Like other forms of insurance, employers that are more likely to have workers use unemployment compensation are asked to pay more in the system. The system does not anticipate a situation where employers across a number of sectors have been forced to significantly reduce their workforces due to situations outside of their control. This bill prevents layoffs related to coronavirus from negatively impacting employer’s future UI contributions.

Extending Unemployment Benefit Period. The number of weeks of unemployment compensation available in Massachusetts is tied to unemployment rates around the state. This trigger did not anticipate a situation, however, in which unemployment grows rapidly in a very short period of time. This bill ensures that the 30-week benefit period is triggered by a significant uptick in weekly unemployment claims.

Lifting the Cap on Dependency Allotment. This bill eliminates the 50% cap for the dependency allotment providing additional benefits to low-income families. This increase will be in addition to the $600 per week benefit add-on provided for in the CARES Act for all workers eligible for state or federal benefits. This provision is effective for 18 months after the end of COVID-19 emergency and the end of enhanced federal benefits.

Currently, UI recipients are entitled to an additional $25 per week for each child in the family, capped at 50% of a recipient’s base allotment. The result is that workers with particularly low allotments, such as low wage workers, can easily be capped out of receiving these additional amounts.

Non-Profit Contribution Grace Period. Presently, many non-profits self-insure for unemployment claims. This means that when layoffs in the sector occur, non-profits pay the cost of those benefits dollar for dollar at the next billing period. This bill provides a 120-day grace period for non-profits to make these contributions. This delay will allow the state to review additional changes that are warranted to mitigate the impact on non-profits. The CARES Act provides 50% reimbursement for self-insured benefit payments during the Coronavirus crisis.

An Act Providing Additional Support to Those Affected by the Novel Coronavirus Through the Unemployment Insurance System now moves to the governor for consideration.

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Massachusetts Implements Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)

Finalizes Implementation of all CARES Act Benefits For Unemployment Claimants in Massachusetts

The Baker-Polito Administration announced today that Massachusetts residents who are eligible for the federal CARES Act and qualify for having exhausted their regular unemployment compensation may now receive the new Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). The launch of this program marks the third and final benefit available for the Commonwealth through the CARES Act.

PEUC provides up to 13 additional weeks of benefits to an individual who has exhausted all rights to any regular unemployment compensation and who meets other eligibility requirements of the CARES Act. PEUC will automatically begin for individuals who have been receiving regular standard unemployment benefits on an active claim and those benefits are exhausted, and those individuals do not have to take any further action.

If an individual’s standard unemployment claim has expired, they must file a new standard claim. If the individual is monetarily eligible on the new standard claim, regardless of the benefit rate amount, they will receive benefits from that new claim. Otherwise, the individual will be eligible for PEUC on the prior claim and it will be automatically implemented.

Individuals who exhausted their standard benefits but were receiving benefits through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) must apply to claim weekly benefits. Residents should apply through the standard unemployment benefits portal available here.

Those receiving PEUC will also receive $600 weekly through the week ending July 25, 2020, provided by the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program established by the CARES Act.

The CARES Act signed into law on March 27, 2020, established the PEUC, PUA and FPUC public benefit programs that expanded unemployment eligibility, temporarily increases weekly benefits for all claimants and allows additional categories of people to claim unemployment benefits. This is the largest expansion of assistance for the Commonwealth’s workforce since the Great Depression.

More information about Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation can be found at mass.gov/peuc.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

UI Benefits

The state's Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development and the Department of Unemployment Assistance have informed me that UI claimants who are eligible for extended benefits under Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) will be able to claim through the UI Online system beginning tomorrow.

I will be able to post links tomorrow once the information is fully available.

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Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito Highlight Workplace Implementation of New COVID-19 Safety Standards at Symmons Industries in Braintree

Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito today toured Symmons Industries, an 80-year-old Massachusetts manufacturer that has implemented the new Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards as manufacturing operations scale back up.

Symmons Industries manufactures precision plumbing fixtures for both commercial and residential use, and has been producing critical personal protective equipment (PPE) to support the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 response.

On May 11, the Baker-Polito Administration announced new Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces. Developed by the Department of Public Health, the COVID-19 Command Center and the Reopening Advisory Board, these standards detail new policies for social distancing, hygiene, staff and operations, and cleaning and disinfecting that all workplaces must follow.

The Reopening Advisory Board also released new Sector Specific Protocols that describe policies, procedures and best practices that particular industries should follow to decrease the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Businesses self-certify that they are complying with new rules by developing a COVID-19 control plan and displaying a signed attestation poster in a place on premises visible to employees and visitors. In addition to new protocols for manufacturing, the Baker-Polito Administration also released guidelines for other industries opening in Phase 1, including construction, laboratories, hair salons and barbershops, car washes, pet grooming and office spaces.

“The safety of our employees and customers is the most important priority for Symmons Industries,” said Symmons Industries CEO Tim O’Keeffe. “The materials produced by the Baker-Polito Reopening Advisory Board were informative, easy to use and specifically tailored to the manufacturing sector. We were able to quickly implement additional policies and procedures to meet the new safety standards, which will help us prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in our workplace.”

These safety standards and protocols serve as critical components of “Reopening Massachusetts,” the Administration’s comprehensive plan to safely and responsibly reopen the Massachusetts economy, and all businesses must adhere to and implement them by no later than May 25.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

AA REOPENING SELECT MASSACHUSETTS OFFICES TODAY; RMV SERVICES AVAILABLE TO MEMBERS BY APPOINTMENT ONLY

AAA Northeast is reopening select branch offices in Massachusetts today, while following strict social distancing procedures and CDC guidelines for the protection and benefit of employees and AAA members. Members should visit aaa.com/branches and enter their zip code to find the nearest open office. Everyone will be required to wear a face covering to enter and conduct business at AAA branch offices, and will be asked to socially distance. There will be a strict limit on the number of members allowed in AAA branches at any given time.

Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles services will be available by appointment only to members who complete an online reservation ahead of their visit, and members can schedule appointments up to two weeks in advance. AAA membership, insurance, travel and financial services will be available, either in person or through a virtual meeting. In some cases, curbside service will be available. Due to staffing issues, some branches may remain closed or close on certain days, so members are urged to check the web site at aaa.com/branches or call the branch prior to visiting.

“In strict adherence to the Governor’s guidance, we are pleased to be reopening Massachusetts offices with the goal of helping and serving during this challenging time,” said John Galvin, AAA Northeast President and CEO. “We’re also eager to resume Registry services, though they will be by appointment only for the foreseeable future,” he added.

Office hours will be Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. To make an RMV appointment, visit aaa.com/appointments.

AAA’s 24-hour Emergency Roadside Assistance has been and continues to be available throughout the entirety of the COVID-19 shutdown.

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Monday, May 18, 2020

A new and detailed economic reopening plan was released today by Governor Baker. The report adds important details to a four-phased proposal that will start with Phase I - Start. 

 http://www.mass.gov/reopening












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Sunday, May 17, 2020

Reopening Advisory Board Report

The Reopening Advisory Board chaired by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy is expected to be released by Governor Charlie Baker on Monday.


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Baker-Polito Administration Invests $56 Million to Combat Food Insecurity in Massachusetts

Funding helps implement Food Security Task Force’s actionable next steps

The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $56 million to combat urgent food insecurity for some Massachusetts families and individuals as a result of COVID-19. This funding is consistent with findings of the Food Security Task Force, which was convened by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Command Center in response to increased demands for food assistance. The task force is comprised of a broad group of public and private members charged with ensuring food insecurity and food supply needs are addressed during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

“These funds jump start some of the recommendations to address urgent needs and food supply chain issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic for communities across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “While COVID-19 has had a statewide impact, some of our communities and residents who have historically experienced food insecurity have been even more disproportionately impacted.”

“Our Administration has always been focused on supporting residents and families dealing with food insecurity, especially now during the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We thank the Food Security Task Force for their work on these important issues, and are glad to make these crucial investments.”

The Administration will continue to utilize the Food Security Task Force and work with the Legislature to address food security issues going forward.

“Longstanding food assistance programs including the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infant and Children’s Program (WIC) are experiencing significant increases in assistance applications. In addition, community-based food banks are seeing skyrocketing demand and local grocers and farmers are struggling to meet the needs of consumers,” said COVID-19 Command Center Director and Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders. “I am appreciative of the task force’s practical recommendations to meet immediate needs as well as the longer-term solutions.”

“We are pleased to provide new funding to a wide array of programs and initiatives in order to help ensure individuals and families have access to affordable, nutritious food during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael J. Heffernan. “This funding builds upon other critical COVID-19 resources which are being distributed by the Administration in partnership with the Legislature, including the $502 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Funds which will support important municipal initiatives, such as food assistance, during this public health crisis.

“Increasing food security is essential to protecting the health of Massachusetts residents, and the funding and recommendations made available through the Task Force will help meet greater demand for nutritional assistance among vulnerable populations and those struggling with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides. “The ongoing crisis has also highlighted the importance of reinforcing our local food supply chain, and this investment from the Baker-Polito Administration will provide needed capital to the farmers, fishermen, food banks, and distributors that are helping the Commonwealth respond to this unprecedented public health emergency.”

In less than a month, the Food Security Task Force, which was convened on April 22, synthesized and prioritized more than 80 recommendations into the following four key actionable categories:

Develop and implement an emergency food program

Fortify the food bank system

Maximize federal resources for food and nutrition

Reinforce and redeploy the food system infrastructure

As the task force continues its work going forward, today the Administration announces:

A $36 million COVID-19 Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program with a goal of ensuring that individuals and families have access to food. Eligible services include:

Increasing capacity for food direct delivery;

Increasing capacity of food banks and food pantries;

Increasing capacity of local food distribution partners;

Innovative solutions to enable those receiving SNAP and WIC benefits to receive food more easily;

Farms, retailers, fisheries and other food system businesses to help them adapt to the disruptions and to allow them to provide greater access to local food.

$5 million increase for the Healthy Incentives Program to meet increased demand for local produce and to increase access points that process SNAP and HIP benefits.

$12 million for the provision of 25,000 family food boxes per week through a regional food supply system. Each family food box contains 30 to 35 meals. Food boxes would be distributed throughout the state to food pantries.

$3 million in funding as an immediate relief valve to food banks.

The work of the task force builds on Massachusetts’ initiatives to increase access to food, including establishing emergency food distribution sites and school meal sites for food distribution, implementing Pandemic EBT to provide food to 500,000 youth who usually receive free or reduced priced lunch, distributing additional SNAP benefits to households, requesting online EBT purchasing approval from the federal government, and streamlining food benefit program administration.

Additionally, the Commonwealth recently released funding from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund to local cities and towns of up to $502 million and highlighted food insecurity as an eligible program.

Reporting up to the COVID-19 Command Center and Secretary Sudders, the work of the Food Security Task Force will continue as a private-public partnership, chaired by Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides, Department of Transitional Assistance Commissioner Amy Kershaw and Jill Shah, President of the Shah Family Foundation

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Thursday, May 14, 2020

A bill to authorize $1 billion in state spending to respond to Covid-19 costs - An Act Making Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2020 to Authorize Certain COVID-19 Spending in Anticipation of Federal Reimbursement has been filed by Governor Charlie Baker.

The Governor has filed a supplemental budget bill to leverage that we need to in advance of federal financial support, including aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The expenses include payments for many of the areas where the state has been spending during the pandemic: personal protective equipment, rate adjustments for human service providers, incentive pay for state employees on the front lines at certain facilities, costs of temporary field hospitals and shelters, National Guard pay, costs associated with the state's contact tracing program, emergency child care for essential workers, and increased costs of local housing authorities and of the family and individual shelter system.

The Governor expects that the supplemental budget bill will have no additional cost for state government.

"It's a billion dollars, but it's actually a net zero to the state. This is the money that we need to appropriate and acknowledge to be able to access federal reimbursements under our emergency declaration act under FEMA," the Governor said. "The way FEMA works is, and this is sort of the way it's always worked, is the states spend, the feds reimburse when it comes to FEMA stuff. And for us to access what we believe is a very significant amount of resource that the federal government, through the emergency declaration, has signed up to reimburse us for, we need to spend first to get them to reimburse us and that's basically what that is."

https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/H4707


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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Protecting Consumers From Price Gouging

Today, I testified remotely before the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure on a bill I authored to control price gouging. While we do have a regulation to protect consumers from price gouging at gas stations during an emergency, a law that has been on the books for decades since the gas crisis, my new legislation will establish a broader set of consumer protections. As supply chains continue to be strained, I want to be ahead of the curve to make sure we had the right tools in place.



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IN GRATITUDE: POP-UP RALLY

Thursday May 14 @ 8:30pm

Join fellow members of the community in support of our Frontline Heroes and become a part of an innovative contemporary art project on Cape Ann! Thursday May 14 @ 8:30pm

Meet at O’Maley Middle School Parking Lot, 32 Cherry St, #Gloucester, join line of cars - please stay in your vehicle.

A procession will form from O’Maley down Washington Street, around the Grant Circle Rotary and back down Washington Street towards Addison Gilbert Hospital. During this procession, cars will pass by the “In Gratitude” installation at Cape Ann Museum Green twice. Each time, passengers are encouraged to show their support with cheers and words of thanks for our frontline heroes. These cheers will be recorded and become a part of the permanent art that is created from this temporary exhibition.

The procession will start at 8:45pm.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Seven-Day Lowell Commuter Rail Line Closure Begins May 18

All-day diversion from Anderson/Woburn Station to North Station from Monday, May 18, through Sunday, May 24. Shuttle buses will be provided.

The MBTA announced a seven-day full closure of the Lowell Commuter Rail Line between Anderson/Woburn Station and North Station beginning Monday, May 18, to support the construction of the Green Line Extension (GLX) project. During this work, shuttle buses will replace service between Anderson/Woburn and North Stations for seven consecutive days, including both weekdays and weekends, beginning at the start of service May 18 through the end of service on Sunday, May 24. Graphic of the Lowell Line, showing bus shuttles making all stops between Anderson/Woburn and North Station, except for Mishawum. There is also an express shuttle from Anderson/Woburn directly to North Station.

Each scheduled train will be replaced by both a local shuttle bus and an express shuttle bus. Local shuttles will make all stops, except at Mishawum Station. Express shuttles will operate directly between Anderson/Woburn and North Stations.

The temporary closure of the Lowell Commuter Rail Line is necessary to further advance the construction of critical infrastructure inside the narrow rail corridor shared by the Lowell Line and the GLX project, which is now under construction in Medford, Somerville, and Cambridge. During the closure, two critical cross-track drainage lines will be installed beneath the Tufts Interlocking in Medford. This seven-day closure is in addition to a previously announced weekend shuttle bus diversion in Lowell Line service from Anderson/Woburn to North Stations on May 16-17, which will also take place next weekend.

This work comes as part of the MBTA’s plan to quicken the pace of infrastructure projects in 2020 and the MBTA is assessing whether other projects can be further accelerated. Similar to the recently announced fourteen-day closure of the Blue Line between Bowdoin and Airport Stations, the Lowell Line work was previously scheduled to be accomplished through a series of weekend diversions later this year. Doing the work now allows its completion at a time when both transit ridership and traffic on the roadways that shuttle buses will use is much lower than it is likely to be by the fall.

To safely and efficiently accommodate essential riders who do continue to use the Lowell Line, the MBTA’s bus shuttle plan includes measures to promote social distancing that protect MBTA workers and riders, and the MBTA will carefully monitor ridership levels on the shuttle buses, adjusting service levels if needed. In compliance with the Executive Order that went into effect on May 6, MBTA customers must wear face coverings while onboard shuttle buses. Additionally, to promote social distancing efforts and protect the health and safety of MBTA riders and bus operators, ridership on shuttle buses will be limited. The MBTA will also keep a robust fleet of shuttles on standby to accommodate ridership demands as needed.

The GLX project, which is scheduled for completion in December 2021, is part of the MBTA’s $8 billion Building a Better T program to replace subway fleets, modernize stations, and upgrade tracks, signals, and switches. The project will extend existing MBTA Green Line service north of Lechmere Station and into the communities of Somerville, Cambridge, and Medford. The project involves the construction of six new Green Line stations along two branches (the Medford Branch and Union Square Branch) along with the relocation and reconstruction of Lechmere Station.

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Monday, May 11, 2020

Preparing To Open The Massachusetts Economy

The Massachusetts economy will reopen and when that begins it will be done in a multistage approach using four-phases. These phases will rely on public health data and medical guidance. Businesses and activities with a lower risk of COVID-19 transmission will open in earlier phases. If public health metrics worsen, the state may need to return to an earlier phase.


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The Approach to Reopening Massachusetts

A snapshot of what the next steps will look like in the state's recovery.




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Baker-Polito Administration Announces Four-Phase Approach to Reopening and Publishes Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards New standards will apply to all workplaces when phased reopening begins

BOSTON — Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a four-phase approach to reopening the Massachusetts economy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and published Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards that will apply across all sectors and industries once reopening begins.

The goal of the phased reopening, based on public health guidance, is to methodically allow certain businesses, services, and activities to resume, while protecting public health and limiting a resurgence of new COVID-19 cases.

Phase 1 will be “Start:” limited industries resume operations with severe restrictions
Phase 2 will be “Cautious:” additional industries resume operations with restrictions and capacity limits
Phase 3 will be “Vigilant:” additional industries resume operations with guidance
Phase 4 will be the “New Normal:” development of vaccine and/or therapy enables resumption of new normal
Businesses and activities that provided “COVID-19 Essential Services,” per Governor Baker’s March 23rd order, will continue to operate. Certain businesses and activities with a lower risk of COVID-19 transmission will open in earlier phases. Decisions and timing will be influenced by public health metrics for when the first phase of reopening begins, as well as when it is safe to move into concurrent phases.

Additionally, the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the COVID-19 Command Center, in consultation with the Reopening Advisory Board and based on feedback from industry, labor, and community coalitions, has developed Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission as employees and customers begin to return to workplaces during the first phase of reopening. These Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards are applicable to all sectors and industries that will be open in phase one, and create new workplace requirements for social distancing, hygiene, staffing and operations, and cleaning. These standards are being released to give workplaces time to plan and prepare for reopening.

For social distancing:
All persons, including employees, customers, and vendors should remain at least six feet apart to the greatest extent possible, both inside and outside workplaces
Establish protocols to ensure that employees can practice adequate social distancing
Provide signage for safe social distancing
Require face coverings or masks for all employees

For hygiene:
Provide hand washing capabilities throughout the workplace
Ensure frequent hand washing by employees and adequate supplies to do so
Provide regular sanitization of high touch areas, such as workstations, equipment, screens, doorknobs, restrooms throughout work site

For staffing and operations:
Provide training for employees regarding the social distancing and hygiene protocols
Employees who are displaying COVID19-like symptoms do not report to work
Establish a plan for employees getting ill from COVID-19 at work, and a return-to-work plan

For cleaning and disinfecting:
Establish and maintain cleaning protocols specific to the business
When an active employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, cleaning and disinfecting must be performed
Disinfection of all common surfaces must take place at intervals appropriate to said workplace
In addition to these Mandatory Standards which apply to all workplaces, the Reopening Advisory Board is developing Sector Specific Safety Protocols and Best Practices that will detail how particular industries should operate upon reopening.

The Reopening Advisory Board is scheduled to provide its full report to Governor Baker on Monday, May 18th.

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Thursday, May 7, 2020

National Nurses Week

I am delighted to report that the Massachusetts Senate today adopted my resolution in recognition of our nurses with an overwhelming number of State Senators lending their names in support. National Nurses Week gives us all an opportunity to thank our nurses for their dedication and service.

We know that this world-wide pandemic has stressed and strained them and their colleagues and their families. We need them now more than ever, and they are committed to our care and wellness even in the face of a unique and powerful danger.

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Senator Bruce Tarr: Reopening Advisory Board Seeks Your Input

On April 28, Governor Baker announced the creation of the Reopening Advisory Board. This group is charged with advising the administration on strategies to reopen the economy in phases based on health and safety metrics.

Submit your comments to the Reopening Advisory Board at this link: https://www.mass.gov/forms/submit-comments-to-the-reopening-advisory-board Your comments will be reviewed and taken into consideration as the Board develops a reopening plan.


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Children's Mental Health Awareness Week

Talking about help & hope for young adults with The NAN Project co-founder Jake Cavanaugh on North Shore 104.9 in the 9 o'clock hour. We will discuss suicide prevention and #mentalhealth challenges in the era of closed schools and social distancing.

#Covid19MA

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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Today is National Nurses Day

So that we can honor and thank our nurses, I offered a resolution, up for consideration before the Senate, to express our gratitude and appreciation to the members of the nursing profession. Here is the text:

Whereas in 1953, Dorothy Sutherland, an employee at the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare wrote to President Eisenhower suggesting that a National Nurses Day be officially declared;

Whereas, in January 1974, the International Council of Nurses designated May 12 as "International Nurses Day." In February, President Nixon issued a proclamation that the White House would recognize a week in February as National Nurses Week;

Whereas, in February 1982, the American Nurses Association (ANA) formally recognized May 6 as "National Nurses Day" and in 1982, the United States Congress declared May 6th to be National Nurses Day, and on March 25, President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation designating this date as "National Recognition Day for Nurses."

Whereas, in 1990, National Nurses Day begins National Nurses Week, including National Student Nurses Day on May 8th and concluding on May 12 the birthday of Florence Nightingale

Whereas, National Nurses Day and National Nurses Week is a time of the year to reflect on the important contributions that nurses make to provide safe, high-quality health care

Whereas, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, nursing is the nations largest health profession with more than 3.8 million registered nurses nationwide;

Whereas, as of 2018, Massachusetts had over 151,000 RN and LRN Licensees and 12,112 Active Advanced Practice Registered Nurses licensees;

Whereas, nurses and other medical professional are on the frontlines in handling the COVID-19 pandemic;

Whereas, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented extraordinary challenges for the Commonwealth’s healthcare system, and nurses in a wide variety of settings have risen to meet these constantly reoccurring and intensive demands of providing compassionate and professional service to those in their care;

Whereas, taking action on the front lines of the fight against the COVID-19 public health emergency, nurses in Massachusetts have consistently exhibited courage, skill, dedication and an unyielding commitment to their patents, the health care system and public health;

Whereas, National Nurses Day and Week celebrate the historical progress of the nursing profession and hard work of nurses nationwide. The level of compassion and commitment required during patient care is immeasurable- and praise is well-deserved; now therefore be it

Resolved, the Massachusetts Senate hereby commemorates National Nurses Day and further expresses its gratitude and appreciation to the members of the nursing profession for their selfless work; and be it further

Resolved, that copies of these resolutions be transmitted forthwith by the clerk of the senate to the Massachusetts Nurses Association and the Massachusetts Organization of Nurse Leaders

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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Registry of Motor Vehicles Update on Customer Service

I've been informed that beginning yesterday, Monday, May 4th, you can schedule a reservation online 7 days in advance for one of the open Service Centers. Previously, they could only schedule a reservation 3 days in advance.

You can visit https://www.mass.gov/info-details/rmv-covid-19-information for more information.

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Governor Baker's Reopening Advisory Board

In two weeks the state's Reopening Advisory Board will release a plan for how the state will begin to resume operations, in phases, based on health and safety metrics. The board, co-chaired by Lt. Governor Polito and Housing & Economic Development Secretary Kennealy, has been meeting with employers, business organizations, and municipalities.

You can submit your comments to the Reopening Advisory Board. Your comments will be taken into consideration as the Advisory Board develops a reopening report. If you are interested in submitting comments to the board, please visit https://www.mass.gov/forms/submit-comments-to-the-reopening-advisory-board.

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Friday, May 1, 2020

Order: Mask and Face Covering Required in Public Places

Governor Baker has ordered all residents to use a face covering or mask in public places. This order goes into effect on May 6th and applies to all workers and customers of businesses and other organizations that are currently open to the public. Residents are required to wear a mask or face covering at all times when using any means of transportation service or public mass transit.

A face covering may include anything that covers your nose and mouth, including a mask, scarf or bandana.

The full order on wearing masks in public is here: https://www.mass.gov/doc/may-1-2020-masks-and-face-coverings

Public Service Video- https://www.mass.gov/news/wear-a-mask-in-public 


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Governor Baker Orders Use of Mask or Face Covering in Public - Effective May 6th

The Baker-Polito Administration today issued an order requiring the use of masks or face coverings in public places where they cannot socially distance from others. The Administration also announced expanded community health center COVID-19 testing capacity at centers throughout the Commonwealth.

Mask and Face Covering Order: The Baker-Polito Administration has ordered all residents over the age of two to use a face covering or mask in public places where maintaining proper social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are not possible. This statewide order goes into effect on May 6th and supersedes previously issued guidance relative to mask use.

This order applies to all workers and customers of businesses and other organizations that are currently open to the public and permitted to operate as COVID-19 Essential Businesses, such as grocery stores, pharmacies and other retail stores. Residents are also required to wear a mask or face covering at all times when using any means of transportation service or public mass transit.

A face covering may include anything that covers your nose and mouth, including a mask, scarf or bandana. Health care masks should not be used and should be preserved for health care workers and first responders. Cloth masks should not be worn by young children under the age of two, persons with difficulty breathing, or those who are unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Instructions on how to make a cloth mask are available from the CDC

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