Three weeks ago, in what feels like a lifetime ago, I sent you my first COVID-19 specific weekly email to you. The effort to battle COVID-19 in Massachusetts is fought minute by minute and some days seem endless while others pass by in a blink. Amidst the crisis, we are witness to remarkable efforts by those on the front-lines of this public health crisis and those who have jumped in to help, unable to sit idly by while our nation, Commonwealth and communities are ravaged by this invisible killer. We also see many in our communities who are essential workers - from grocery store workers, to trash collectors, to truckers who move supplies - who are continuing to work through this pandemic despite being worried about their own health and safety. No matter your contribution to this effort - thank you.
The site of the Patriots plane landing at Logan after a whirlwind trip to China to pick up 1.7 million critically needed N95 masks gave an emotional boost to all. I am grateful to the Kraft family for answering the call to help and all the people who worked together around the globe to make this mission succeed. In addition to securing a significant supply of N95 masks, Massachusetts has also received one of four machines in the country that can decontaminate these masks five to ten times.
Since the outbreak started, over 1,000 deliveries of PPE have been made to healthcare facilities, congregate care facilities, first responders and cities and towns in the Commonwealth. Last weekend, approximately 350 deliveries were made, including over 340,000 N95 masks. 98 ventilators of the 100 secured from the federal stockpile have been deployed, and nearly 100,000 gowns and over 1 million gloves have been distributed.
The Baker-Polito Administration continues to work hard to secure ventilators through all sources. Currently only 100 of the 1,700 ventilators requested from the national stockpile have been received. Swabs/test kits and all types of masks are also being continuously sought and procured. We are grateful to the manufacturers in Massachusetts who have begun to produce PPE.
Please see the following updates since my email last week, and as a reminder, all of the past weekly emails can be found on RepHannahKane.com under "Updates from Hannah."
Current Cases of COVID-19
As of Wednesday, April 8th, there were a total of 16,790 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth, up 1,588 cases from April 7th. Sadly, 77 new deaths were reported for a total of 433 deaths. There were 6,167 new tests conducted for a total of 87,511 tests conducted.
breakdown of COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth shared daily by the Command Center
are below and I post them each day on my State Representative Facebook page.
COVID-19 Tracing Efforts
On Friday, April 3rd, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the creation of the COVID-19 Community Tracing Collaborative to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth. The effort is a collaboration between the administration and Partners in Health and will focus on tracing the contacts of confirmed positive COVID-19 patients. It will also support individuals in quarantine. This initiative expands on efforts already underway from the Command Center to leverage public health college students to help with the contact tracing being done by local boards of health. The Collaborative will deploy approximately 1,000 contact tracers throughout the state to connect with COVID-19 patients to support the Commonwealth's efforts to track and contain the virus. This effort is combined with the state's ongoing effort to increase testing, expand bed capacity, increase personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies, and provide resources for healthcare providers and patients.
COVID-19 Surge Modeling
The Baker-Polito Administration's Response Command Center has been working with the COVID-19 Advisory Board and other public health experts on models related to the expected surge of COVID-19 cases. Projections are based mainly on the outbreak in Wuhan, China, but of course could differ in the Commonwealth due to lower population density, lower smoking rates, and earlier social distancing measures. Experts are also looking at the experience of other states and nations to create MA models.
Latest projections estimate the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in MA could range from 47,000 (0.7% of the state's population) to 172,000 (2.5% of the state's population). Hospitalizations are predicted to peak between April 10-20. The current fatality rate in MA is lower than other areas at approximately 1.5% of those infected.
Surge Response Efforts
The Command Center is working with hospitals to allow them to expand Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity. Even after hospitals execute their surge plans and expand their ICUs, the model estimates there could be a remaining gap in ICU capacity of more than 500 beds. The Administration has also focused on finding or building an additional 750-1,000 beds in field medical hospitals and other care sites to reduce strain on hospitals as much as possible. The first of these Field Medical Stations has been launched at the DCU Center in Worcester.
Other sites being set-up for Field Medical Stations include the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and the Joint Base Cape Cod, and other sites including Springfield's Mass Mutual Building and other smaller locations are being examined.
Expansion of Rapid Testing
The Baker-Polito Administration partnered with CVS to launch a new rapid testing site in Lowell, which will enable on-the-spot, no-cost COVID-19 testing. The Lowell CVS location will allow for up to 1,000 patients/day to be tested and receive on-site results. Operations are now closed at the Shrewsbury pilot site to focus on Lowell, which will allow for many more patients to be tested each day. Patients will need to pre-register online at CVS.com in order to schedule a same-day time slot for testing.
On Wednesday, April 8th, the Baker-Polito administration announced another new testing site for MA public safety personnel, doubling the number of free, drive-through tests available for first responders and other emergency management workers. A mobile testing site at the Big E fairgrounds in West Springfield will begin operations on April 9th in addition to the site in Foxborough that launched several days ago. Both sites will test public safety personnel and first responders, performing up to 200 tests a day at each site at no charge.
Healthcare Provider Funding
On Tuesday, April 7th, Governor Baker announced a plan to invest $800 million into MA healthcare providers, boosting MassHealth hospital funding by $400 million and distributing another $400 million among nursing homes, community health centers, and other providers between now and July. Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in MA, many healthcare providers have struggled financially as they are forced to focus on the pandemic and must postpone or altogether drop other services, many of which contribute net revenue to their bottom-lines. The funding infused from the state is a result of moving money around - most of it will come from savings MassHealth is seeing by not paying for cancelled elective procedures - and therefore will not require a supplemental budget or legislative action. This $800 million investment in the healthcare industry will shore up the response force as the Commonwealth nears the predicted case surge.
Crisis Standards of Care Guidelines
On April 7th, the Baker-Polito Administration released Crisis Standards of Care guidelines that can be found
for the Commonwealth's healthcare facilities. These guidelines were produced by a Crisis Standards of Care Advisory Committee convened by the Department of Public Health and included medical experts and ethicists from across the Commonwealth. By definition, these are not mandatory and are to help hospitals make decisions about how to decide which patients get access to ventilators and intensive care unit (ICU) beds, should hospitals become overwhelmed with patients. The guidance suggests using "priority scores" to patients in need of these resources, giving preference to patients who have a higher chance of surviving the virus. The guidelines give additional preference to medical personnel who are vital to treating the sick. Should a tie score occur, younger patients would be given priority. Again, these are guidelines, not orders, and are in preparation for the predicted surge of COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth. They will give hospitals and healthcare providers a roadmap and ensure healthcare workers aren't making decisions about how to triage on the go and without guidance from ethicists.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) now recommends everyone, regardless of whether or not one is sick, wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as in grocery stores and pharmacies. This does not change the fact that there are dangerous and ongoing shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) in hospitals, including face masks, that put our healthcare workers at risk. Therefore, people are strongly encouraged to fashion their own face masks at home instead of trying to purchase medical-grade masks. Bandanas and scarves can be easily used as a face covering.
Do not put a face covering on a child under age 2, on anyone who has trouble breathing or who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Instructions on how to properly make and wear a face mask can be found
Drug Treatment Trial
On Tuesday, April 7th, the start of a drug trial
was announced at three Commonwealth hospitals - MGH, Brigham Women's, and UMass Memorial. It is the first US clinical trial of a Japanese flu drug, commonly known as Avigan, that could be used to treat COVID-19 and was approved by the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) on April 7th. The Japanese government claims the drug is a possible COVID-19 treatment and Chinese authorities have also attested to the effectiveness of the drug in treatment of the virus. Avigan will be administered to small, randomized groups of patients to study its effectiveness.
COVID-19 Relief Fund
On Monday, April 6th, Governor Baker and First Lady Lauren Baker announced the launch of the COVID-19 Relief Fund
to help MA residents whose lives have been disrupted by the outbreak. The fund launched with $13 million already in donations. It is co-founded by First Lady Baker and Joanna Jacobson, President of the One8 Foundation in Boston, and is aimed at helping vulnerable populations statewide. The money will be distributed to charitable organizations across the state. While the mission of the fund is broad, the hope is primarily to reach the following populations: health care professionals, first responders, households disproportionately affected by the virus outbreak, immigrants, the homeless population, and people with disabilities.
It is similar to the Boston Resiliency Fund launched last month, but addresses statewide needs, not just those of Boston. Information about donating can be found
All are encouraged to donate - even the smallest amount can make a difference
Healthcare Worker Liability Protections
On Wednesday, April 8th, Governor Baker filed legislation to provide healthcare worker and facilities protections from civil liability while they are on the frontlines of the Commonwealth's COVID-19 response. If enacted, the new law would protect these workers and institutions from liability and suit when the care they provide is impacted by the COVID-19 emergency. The bill also provides protections for the health workers staffing the Field Medical Stations that are currently being set up.
Governor Baker also issued a directive
on April 8th maximizing protections for healthcare workers under the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) during the state of emergency. This will protect health care workers and facilities that distribute and administer testing, drugs, and medical devices for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 are protected from suit and liability to the maximum extent possible under the PREP Act.
Nursing Home Family Resource Line
The Baker-Polito Administration launched a Nursing Home Family Resource Line that will connect family members of nursing home and rest home residents with the information and resources they need. The line is staffed from 9am-5pm, seven days a week. Staff across state agencies are coordinating to help callers find answers to their questions. The line can be reached at 617-660-5399.
Grocery Store Guidance
On April 7th, the Department of Health released further guidance to promote social distancing at grocery stores, requiring that each grocery store limit occupancy to 40% of its maximum permitted occupancy level. Stores with a maximum occupancy of less than 25 people are exempt. The guidance builds on a previous March 23rd order for grocery stores. You can find more information
Resources for Businesses & Employees
The state is continuously updating the
list of businesses
that are considered essential during the declared State of Emergency. These essential businesses are not subject to the current directive that requires non-essential businesses to remain closed until May 4.
Businesses that are not on the essential list can petition the state to be added by completing a
. Not all requests will be granted. You can find more information
Employees who believe they are working under unsafe conditions or are not essential but are being told to come into work can contact the Division of Labor Standards at
or calling (617) 626-6975.
A list of emergency childcare providers, reserved for the children of essential workers, is available to download and is being updated as providers are added. There are also forms for parents and providers (for those interested in offering emergency childcare). You can find more information
Small Business Assistance
The federal CARES Act includes $349 billion in small business loans as part of the Paycheck Protection Program. On the weekly briefing call with the White House they informed us that they had sent a request to Congress to increase funding from $349 billion to $600 billion for this program given the incredible need across the country. Small businesses are able to borrow the equivalent of 8 weeks-worth of payroll costs, plus an additional 25%. If businesses use this money to retain employees, the loan will be forgiven and converted to a grant. Businesses whose loans are not converted to a grant will pay an interest rate of no more than 4%. Nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charities are also eligible for SBA (Small Business Administration) loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, provided they have fewer than 500 employees. The CARES Act also includes an additional $10 billion in SBA emergency loans, which will provide $10,000 in immediate relief to small businesses.
Please visit the SBA site
to learn more and access resources created by the CARES Act.
The Legislature approved a waiver of the one-week waiting period for unemployment
assistance so laid-off workers can access benefits immediately. The change is retroactive to March 10 - the day Governor Baker declared a State of Emergency - and will remain in effect for 90 days after the State of Emergency is lifted. The Legislature is looking at providing additional unemployment assistance. A bill currently pending before the Legislature would expand the maximum allowable benefit for unemployment claims from 26 to 30 weeks following any week with more than 100,000 unemployment insurance claims filed, prevent employers' experience rate from being adversely impacted if they are forced to lay off workers as a result of COVID-19 of the State of Emergency declaration, mandate that dependency benefits will not be subject to the 50% limit of an individual's weekly benefit rate, and provide non-profit organizations with a 120-day extension on their next scheduled UI payment.
The $2.2 trillion federal
Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed by President Trump on March 27th will provide unemployed workers with an additional $600 a week in benefits over the next four months.
The Baker-Polito Administration released the following update today:
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:
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 here.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA):
For Individuals Not Covered Under Traditional Unemployment Insurance (Self-Employed, Gig Economy Workers, Others):
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 here 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:
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.
The House of Representatives continues to meet in informal session. It is my week to cover and I appreciated being back in the House Chamber with a few colleagues and court officers, though I miss seeing the Chamber full. On Monday, we moved several pieces of legislation filed in response to COVID-19 to the appropriate Committees who will take them up. My bill HD4977, filed as a companion bill to Senator Moore's SD2886, that would provide emergency assistance for municipal public safety overtime was advanced to the Joint Committee for Public Safety and Homeland Security.
Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures
: On Thursday, April 2nd the House approved H4615 that would issue a temporary moratorium on evictions and foreclosures in the Commonwealth to protect renters and homeowners during the ongoing State of Emergency.
Landlords would be able to initiate an eviction action only for allegations of criminal activity or lease violations that are detrimental to the health and safety of others while the moratorium
is in effect. The moratorium applies to both residential and commercial properties.
The bill is now pending in the Senate.
Further provisions in the bill include:
- Prohibiting landlords from imposing a late fee or notifying a consumer reporting agency due to non-payment of rent, as long as the tenant provides notice and documentation to the landlord that their inability to pay on time is directly or indirectly related to the virus outbreak or the Governor's State of Emergency declaration. Tenants will have 30 days from the date rent is due to provide this documentation;
- Landlords pursuing an emergency for cause eviction action must provide residential and commercial tenants with 10 days' written notice to quit. If the tenant refuses to vacate the premises, the landlord can then proceed with an action for summary process through the court system;
- Prohibiting mortgagees and creditors from publishing notice of a foreclosure sale; exercising a power of sale; exercising a right of entry; initiating a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure process; or filing a complaint to determine the military status of a mortgagor under the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act;
- And allowing homeowners applying for a reverse mortgage to receive statutorily mandated counseling through video conferencing, rather than face-to-face
Legislation to help municipal government continue to operate and provide essential services to Massachusetts residents during the COVID-19 global pandemic was signed by Governor Charlie Baker on Friday, April 3rd.
An Act to address challenges faced by municipalities and state authorities resulting from COVID-19
provides communities with much-needed flexibility to conduct business and finalize a budget while operating under the difficult constraints imposed by the State of Emergency that took effect on March 10.
In addition to giving town moderators the authority to declare a recess or continuance of town meeting for up to 30 days at a time during the State of Emergency, the bill also allows local select boards to extend town meeting business beyond the statutorily-mandated cutoff date of June 30. Communities that are unable to finalize a budget for the next fiscal year by June 30 will be allowed to continue operating using monthly interim budgets funded through free cash and other revenue accounts, with the approval of the director of local accounts at the Department of Revenue. H4598 also extends the state's personal income tax filing deadline from April 15th to July 15th, reflecting changes that were recently made to the federal tax filing deadline. The bill also allows bars and restaurants
holding liquor licenses to sell beer and wine to customers ordering take-out food to help local businesses recoup some of the sales that have been lost since dining in was temporarily banned last month.
House Bill 4598 also:
- authorizes cities, towns and districts that incur a deficit this year to amortize the debt over the next three fiscal years, using guidelines issued by the Commissioner of Revenue;
- extends the deadline for municipalities to exercise a right of first refusal option to purchase property until 90 days after the State of Emergency is lifted;
- removes the annual cap on hours and earnings for retired employees collecting a pension so they can work during the State of Emergency, provided they did not retire under a general or special disability law;
- permits cities and towns to extend the deadlines for property tax payments and applications for tax exemptions to a date no later than June 1;
- authorizes cities and towns to waive interest payments and other penalties for late payments of excises and taxes, including water and sewer payments, if payment is made before June 30;
- prohibits cities and towns from terminating essential services - including water, trash collection and electricity - for non-payment of taxes or fees resulting from loss of employment, serious illness or other financial hardship related to the outbreak of COVID-19;
- allows permit-granting authorities to hold meetings and public hearings remotely during the State of Emergency, using the guidelines established in the Governor's March 12 order suspending certain provisions of the Open Meeting Law;
- ensures that no permit, variance, special permit, license, amendment, extension, or other approval issued by a permit-granting authority will lapse or be deemed granted, approved or denied until 45 days after the State of Emergency is lifted, or by a date otherwise prescribed by law, whichever is later; and
- enables public corporations to conduct meetings remotely for the duration of the State of Emergency, and for 60 days thereafter.
I joined many of my colleagues in sending a letter to Governor Baker on April 2nd asking him to issue a statewide suspension of all non-essential construction activity in the Commonwealth through Monday, May 4th. Work on emergency and essential construction would be exempt from the Order and permitted to continue. The letter expressed the concern that building luxury condominiums, corporate offices, housing, and other non-emergency or non-essential projects is an unnecessary risk to the workers building those facilities, their families, and the communities they work and live in.
Domestic Violence Resources
Victims and survivors of domestic violence are particularly vulnerable at this time as many people are stuck at home in abusive relationships and have lost important social connections.
The National Domestic Violence hotline is 1-800-799-7233. For those unable to speak safely, click
or text LOVEIS to 2252. Further resources, provided by Jane Doe Inc., are included in the graphic below.
The Supreme Judicial Court issued an order on April 1st postponing all state trials to May 4th at the earliest. A public help line is available for non-emergency court matters by calling 833-91COURT weekdays from 8:30am to 4:30pm.
Department of Corrections
On Friday, April 3rd, the MA Department of Corrections (DOC) expanded the enhanced health and safety measures in place at all of its facilities to further reduce COVID-19 transmission. Elevated protocols are already in place at all 16 DOC facilities: alcohol-based sanitizer has been distributed and is available to all inmates and staff at all facilities, high-touch areas are frequently sanitized, and access to soap and running water remains fully accessible to all inmates and personnel. Screening areas have been implemented at DOC facilities where all persons seeking to enter have their temperatures taken and are surveyed for risk factors. Staff, vendors, and others have been instructed not to enter if they feel ill or meet other criteria.
MA Department of Agricultural Resources
MDAR recently launched a COVID-19 resource page for consumers, which will be continually updated to provide the most relevant and timely information about where they can access fresh, local food from farmers and producers across the Commonwealth.
MDAR's also has a resource page for agricultural stakeholders is also live and updated on a daily basis with information and resources regarding COVID-19. You can find more information
RMV Renewal Deadline Extension
The MA RMV, effective April 1st, extended all passenger plate registrations that expired in March or will be expiring in April 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. Renewals can continue to be performed online at
, but not in person, during this time.
The RMV has implemented several other key changes in response to COVID-19:
- A strict no walk-in policy is being enforced at the remaining open Service Centers. Transactions that must be carried out in person are by appointment only. Visit Mass.Gov/RMV to make an appointment reservation and to find information on over 40 transactions that can be completed virtually.
- All Driver's Licenses, ID cards, and Learner's Permits, including Commercial Licenses and Permits, that have expired or are expiring between March 1st and April 30th have a 60-day extension applied to the current expiration date and do not need to be renewed at this time.
- CDL Medical Certificates expiring on or after March 1st until April 30th will be extended until June 30th.
- Annual motor vehicle safety and emissions inspection stickers expiring March 31st and April 30th have been extended 60 days.
- All motorcycle inspection stickers originally set to expire on May 31st must be inspected by June 30th.
- 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.
RMV Course Cancellations
On Tuesday, April 7th, the National Safety Council and the RMV announced the cancellation of all MA classroom driver safety courses through May 4th. 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 RMV has temporarily approved an alternate way to deliver the required content in the form of a 4-hour online course. For a limited time, participation in the course will fulfill the in-person class requirement. For more information, including sign-up, click
American Automobile Association (AAA) Closures
Effective Monday, April 6th, AAA Northeast will close all its locations for at least two weeks..
State Beach Parking Closures
On Friday, April 3rd at 12pm, all coastal beach reservation parking areas managed by the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) were closed to the public. This emergency order issued by Governor Baker on April 2nd, is an attempt to reduced large concentrations of people at beaches during the COVID-19 outbreak. In an attempt to mitigate the loss of natural space for Commonwealth residents to enjoy during this time, DCR opened selected seasonal state parks early on Friday, April 3rd and expanded access at other parks to provide additional opportunities for folks to get outdoors. You can find more information
Postponement of Shoreline Fishing Within Watershed Properties
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 4th until Saturday, May 9th. The opening of the boat launch areas for fishing within the Quabbin Reservoir is also postponed until Saturday, May 9th. These actions are being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services:
We are very fortunate to have
Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services, a private, non-profit counseling and social services agency that provides a diverse offering of programs and services that help to strengthen and support youth and families. No one who needs help is turned away, regardless of ability to pay. If you need help, you can reach them at 508-845-6932 or
, or learn more here.
SYFS, like so many other non-profits, has been financially decimated by the pandemic. A significant portion of SYFS revenue is generated from generous donations and sponsorships. The annual gala, the largest fundraiser to support their work, had to be canceled this coming May. Please learn more by
watching the brief video here
and join me in donating to SYFS to help them survive in this critical time of crisis.
Local Food Pantries
: St. Anne's Human Services and the Westborough Food Pantry continue to request the donation of grocery store gift cards that they can provide local residents who need supplemental food assistance.
You can drop off gift cards in the Rectory Mailbox at St. Anne's or mail them to 130 Boston Turnpike Road, Shrewsbury, MA 01545 and you can mail the Westborough Food Pantry at PO Box 502, Westborough, MA 01581 or drop them off gift cards at the Westborough Town Clerk's office at Town Hall.
Where to get the most reliable information
For the most up to date case counts in the US and for general information regarding best practices during this crisis, please visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC)
There are several ways, in addition to the ones mentioned previously in this email, to stay informed:
News alert text service
Text COVIDMA to 888-777 to receive updates on the state's coronavirus response. Once you register, and public health officials will be able to send short messages and links to information directly to your cell phone.
They will not overload you with messages. The average so far has been a few texts a day.
husetts residents are urged to use 2-1-1 for information, resources, and referrals regarding COVID-19. Once you choose a language, dial 26 to access the COVID-19 information line. Other dial in options provide information and referrals about critical resources and needs. Operators staff the hotline 24/7 and translators are available in multiple languages. You can also visit the MA 2-1-1 webpage here
Both Shrewsbury and Westborough are providing regular updates on their websites and FB pages.
Contacting my Office
As a reminder, the State House itself is closed to the public and my Legislative Aide Anna Darrow and I are working remotely. We are fully accessible via email and we are constantly checking our office voicemail. You can reach our office number at
, my cell number is
, and my email is
. Anna's email is
and her cell number is
While this email is not exhaustive of all that the Commonwealth is undertaking to battle COVID-19, I hope that the information is relevant and helpful. My prior weekly emails can be found on my website,
in the "Updates from Hannah" section and I will continue to post regular updates each day on my State Representative Facebook page. I remain grateful to all workers who go to work each day to help us through our time of crisis. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me if I can be of assistance.
11th Worcester District
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