Dear Friends,

I hope this update finds you well and your spirits lightened by the warmer weather and news of downward COVID-19 trends in the Commonwealth. While we remain one of the hardest hit states in the nation, we have seen a general decline in the virus data points the last few weeks and the Baker-Polito Administration's release of the Re-Opening Plan on Monday provides a roadmap forward. 
While the phrase "new normal" is somewhat comforting as we all crave some semblance of how our lives were before the pandemic, the word "new" painfully reminds us that life will not, and should not, go back to how it was before the virus hit until a vaccine can be widely administered or until it is found through anti-body testing that we have achieved herd immunity. Neither of those goals are a current reality. They will be someday, and we will crowd beaches, concert venues, restaurants and bars, graduations and weddings, and even the T, again. But for now, we must continue to play our part and adhere to the phased re-opening plan. Based on how each one of you has stepped up to the plate to contribute to flattening the curve, I have complete faith in all of our ability to show respect and empathy for our elderly, immune-compromised and medically-vulnerable neighbors, and for our frontline workers, by continuing to follow the rules and guidelines laid out by the Administration.
Please see the below key points of the re-opening plan, as well as additional COVID-19 updates since my last email: 
COVID-19 Data
The Department of Health (DPH) updates the MA DPH COVID-19 Dashboard daily around 4pm. The dashboard includes trend data in a variety of areas (information on case rates, testing, geography of confirmed cases, etc.), death related data, and specific data on COVID-19 hospital census information, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes (with known clusters) and PPE distribution. Find the dashboard, as well as the city and town data, here

The report for Tuesday, May 19th shows that we have lost 5,938 people to this deadly virus, out of the 87,925 people who have tested positive. We also saw 10 percent of the tests provided be positive, which is a percentage that is far less than our mid-April test highs of 34 percent. Overall we are continuing in a downward trend overall, despite some days being higher than the day before. This is critically important as the public health data will determine when and how fast we can continue the work of re-opening.

Phased Re-opening Plan
The Re-opening Advisory Board, co-chaired by Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and Secretary Kennealy, was formed on April 28th with the goal of creating a safe plan to begin to re-open the Commonwealth's economy. The Board read over 4,600 written submissions from MA residents and businesses and heard testimony from and collaborated with more than 75 business associations, labor unions, non-profits, and community coalitions. Before I delve into an outline of the re-opening plan, I would like to stress a key point the Administration has repeatedly driven home during conversations about re-opening - it is entirely dependent on public health data. This means that no date for your gym, hair salon, or favorite retail store to re-open is set in stone. It completely depends on our ability to continue to flatten the curve, and why it is so important for all of us to continue to play our part in social distancing and responsible behavior. 
Re-opening has been broken up into four phases: Start, Cautious, Vigilant, and New Normal. The Administration has predicted that each phase will last a minimum of three weeks but could last longer before moving to the next phase. Choosing which sectors and businesses fall into which category is the result of extensive study by the Advisory Board and is determined by a consideration of the public health risk of each of the closed sectors of the economy. All of the below information is pulled from the Report created by the Re-opening Advisory Board and can be found, along with details expanding on the below information,  here
Phase 1 Re-opening - Start
  • On May 18th, manufacturing, construction, worship, and hospital and community health centers (who attest to specific public health/safety standards) can provide high priority preventative care, pediatric care and treatment for high-risk patients can open.
  • On May 25th, laboratory and life sciences facilities, offices, excluding those in the City of Boston (work from home strongly encouraged, restrict to 25% capacity), hair salons and barbershops (by appointment only), pet grooming (by appointment only, curbside drop-off and pick-up), car washes (exterior only), recreation and outdoor (with guidelines), retail (remote fulfillment and curbside pick-up) and other healthcare providers who attest to specific public health/safety standards and treat high-risk patients with preventative care can open.
  • On June 1st, offices in the City of Boston, following guidelines for the rest of the Commonwealth - at 25% capacity and with people working from home if possible - can reopen.

Phase 2 Re-opening - Cautious
  • Open with updated guidelines, outdoor services encouraged, with restrictions and some capacity limitations: Retail, restaurants, lodging, and additional personal services such as nail salons and day spas
  • The Restaurant and Hospitality Workgroup was convened on May 15th to develop procedures for opening - the Administration understands this sector was hit particularly hard by COVID-19 and will need extra attention, resources, and guidelines upon re-opening
Phase 3 Re-opening - Vigilant
  • Open with updated guidelines, outdoor services encouraged, with restrictions and some capacity limitations: bars, arts & entertainment (casinos, fitness, gyms, museums)
  • All other business activities resume except for nightclubs and large venues
Phase 4 Re-opening - New normal 
  • Full resumption of activity, such as large venues and nightclubs
*It is important to note that the re-opening of businesses and activities does not mean they will all operate as they did before the pandemic - capacity guidelines, social distancing guidelines, cleaning and hygiene guidelines, etc. will be in place and will require adherence. 
Health and Human Services
Phase 1 (Start)
  • On May 18th, hospitals and community health centers can (upon attestation) provide high-priority preventative care, pediatric care, and treatment for high-risk patients and conditions
  • On May 25th, additional healthcare providers can (upon attestation) provide the same limited services as above
Phase 2 (Cautious) - no set date, minimum three weeks after Phase 1 begins
  • Expand ambulatory in-person routine care à less urgent preventative services, procedures, and care (such as routine dental cleanings, certain elective procedures) 
  • Day programs (such as Adult Day Health and Day Habilitation) 
Phase 3 (Vigilant) - no set date, minimum three weeks after Phase 2 begins 
  • Expansion of Phase 2 services

Phase 4 (New normal) - no set date, minimum three weeks after Phase 3 begins

  • Full resumption of activity in the "new normal" 
Recreation and Outdoor
Phase 1 (Start)
  • On May 25th, the following places can open with guidelines: beaches, parks, drive-in theaters, some athletic fields and courts, many outdoor adventure activities, most fishing, hunting, and boating, and outdoor gardens, zoos, reserves, and public installations
Phase 2 (Cautious) - no set date, minimum three weeks after Phase 1 begins
  • Can open with guidelines: campgrounds, playgrounds and spray decks, public and community pools, all athletic fields with guidelines, youth sports in limited fashion

Phase 3 (Vigilant) - no set date, minimum three weeks after Phase 2 begins 

  • Can open with guidelines: Additional activities and services, youth sports with games and tournaments (limited crowd sizes)
Phase 4 (New normal) - no set date, minimum three weeks after Phase 3 begins
  • Full resumption of all outdoor recreation and activities
Social Distancing in Phases
During all phases: cover your nose and mouth when you can't distance, wash your hands, socially distance (minimum of six feet apart from all people except for those living in your household), be vigilant for symptoms, stay home if you feel sick. 
Phase 1 (Start)
  • High risk populations should work from home if possible, priority consideration for workplace accommodations
  • Gatherings of less than 10 people
  • Safer at home advisory (replaced stay at home advisory - details below)
  • All travelers to MA urged to self-quarantine for 14 days
  • Lodging restricted to essential workers only
Phase 2 (Cautious)
  • High risk populations should work from home if possible, priority consideration for workplace accommodations
  • Gathering size TBD based on trends
  • Business and recreational travel discouraged
  • All travelers to MA urged to self-quarantine for 14 days
  • Lodging open with restrictions
Phase 3 (Vigilant) 
  • High risk populations should work from home if possible, priority consideration for workplace accommodations (these could be adjusted depending on pending epidemiological evidence)
  • Gathering size TBD based on trends
  • Travel TBD based on trends. 
Phase 4 (New normal) 
  • Resume public interactions with physical distancing
  • Gathering size TBD based on trends
  • Travel resumes, continue to observe social guidance

Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards 
The following standards must go hand-in-hand with re-opening to avoid a resurgence in COVID-19 rates and renewed closures. Sector specific protocols and best practices can be found on the webpage, and guidance for sectors opening in later phases will be posted online in advance of those phases. However, as outlined in the Re-opening Report, all of the minimum standards must be observed by all businesses and activities as they reopen: 
  • 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
  • Hygiene Protocols
    • Provide hand washing capabilities throughout the workplace
    • Ensure frequent hand washing and ensure adequate supplies
    • Provide regular sanitization of high touch areas, such as workstations, equipment, screens, doorknobs, restrooms throughout work site
  • Staffing and Operations
    • Provide training for employees regarding the social distancing and hygiene protocols
    • Employees who are displaying COVID-19 symptoms do not report to work
    • Establish a plan for employees getting ill from COVID-19 at work, and a return-to-work plan
  • 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
Guidance on how to adhere to these mandatory standards can be found  here , as well as information on how to access needed supplies through vendors. Businesses will also be required to post a compliance attestation poster that is visible to all employees and visitors, as well as other posters describing the rules for maintaining social distancing, hygiene protocols, cleaning, and disinfecting. 
Safer at Home Advisory
On May 18th, the Baker-Polito Administration issued the Safer at Home Advisory, which replaced the Stay at Home Advisory. As described in the Report issued by the Re-opening Advisory Board, Safer at Home means the following: 
  • Only leave home for healthcare permitted work, shopping and outdoor activities
  • When going to the pharmacy, ask if you can fill your prescriptions for 90 days if possible or use a mail-order service if you are high-risk
  • Don't participate in close contact activities such as pick-up sports games
  • Use remote modes of communication like phone or video chat instead of visiting friends or family who are high-risk for COVID-19
  • Refrain from visiting nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, or other residential care settings
  • Parents should limit play dates for their children
Re-opening and Childcare 
Since the start of the public health crisis in March, emergency childcare has been available for families of front line and essential workers. Re-opening the economy means parents will be sent back to work in phases, and therefore a need for childcare will increase. It is the goal of the Administration to re-open childcare facilities and recreation camps in a phased approach over the summer. Detailed guidelines on how to safely go about doing this will be released in the coming weeks. In phases 2 and 3, recreational day camps and non-emergency childcare facilities will be able to open, and based on predictions this will probably be 1-2 months from now. 
Re-opening and Education 
K-12 Schools: Commonwealth K-12 school buildings will be closed through the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Remote teaching and learning will continue until the end of the school year. Plans for the potential re-opening of schools in the fall will be announced in the coming weeks and are still being developed based on evolving public health data. 
Higher Ed: Colleges and universities are working collaboratively to develop plans for the fall, and many will announce these plans to their students in the coming month. In Phase 1 of re-opening, higher ed may open research labs and medical, dental, veterinary, and allied health clinical education and services, as well as restart functions necessary to preparing for the fall. Phases 2 and 3 are predicted to bring plans for the continuation of course learning, which will likely involve a combo of in-person and remote classes in order to allow students to return to campus while also social distancing. 
Re-opening and Transit 
The MBTA is working round the clock to plan for increased ridership as people begin to go back to work. Riders are required to wear masks and must make all efforts to stay 6 feet apart and are asked to avoid riding transit if they have COVID-19 symptoms. Employers are asked to stagger schedules and implement work from home policies in order to reduce rush hour crowds. The T will continue to regularly clean trains and busses and provide PPE for workers. 

Re-opening Feedback Portal 
The Baker-Polito Administration created a portal for the submission of questions and comments on the Re-opening Plan announced on May 18th. Specific questions regarding your business or place of employment can be submitted, as well as general comments, suggestions, and concerns. Access the portal  here
Public Health Metrics
As mentioned at the start of this update, the Commonwealth's phased re-opening plan is entirely contingent on a continued decrease in COVID-19 rates. The following key metrics will determine the pace of re-opening - based on current trends, we are looking at three weeks between phases of re-opening, but of course that could change with data spikes.

Testing Targets
The Re-opening Plan hinges on a continued increase in testing capacity to monitor COVID-19 and catch cases and clusters before they cause larger outbreaks. The Administration outlined an expanded testing strategy at the end of last week that the state intends to submit to the federal government later this month. The testing plan is necessary to access funds allocated in relief legislation.  The plan calls for 45,000 tests/day by the end of July and 75,000 tests/day by the end of December, all with the goal of bringing the positive rate below 5% of those tested. It also calls for randomized testing for surveillance purposes and an increase in lab processing capacity to prepare for a potential surge in testing when the weather gets colder again in the fall and virus cases normally rise. 

CVS Testing Sites 
The Baker-Polito Administration announced on May 14th the expansion of CVS COVID-19 testing sites in the Commonwealth. These sites will enable on-the-spot testing at no cost and will provide results in 2-3 days. The drive-thru testing sites include locations in Charlton, Worcester, Raynham, Northampton, Bridgewater, Carver, West Springfield, Danvers, and Westport. Individuals who meet testing criteria may register in advance at to schedule an appointment. 
MA COVID-19 Test Site Locator Launched 
On May 15th, the Administration launched a virtual COVID-19 Test Site Locator, which can be found  here . Residents can search for testing sites by zip code or city/town and the map will pull up the closest testing sites, including information such as hours, protocols, insurance coverage, and directions. The map is updated regularly. 
PPE Procurement
From April 20th through mid-May, the Administration secured over 7.5 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect frontline workers. The PPE includes over 6 million surgical and procedural masks, approximately 800,000 swabs, nearly 400,000 coveralls, and over 125,000 gowns. Governor Baker, in a press conference last week, thanked various partners who have helped in PPE procurement, including the Chinese Consul General in New York, Huang Ping, OCEANAIR, and Delta Airlines. PPE procurement will continue to be a top priority for the Administration throughout re-opening and until the crisis has passed. 

$502 Million in Municipal Aid from Federal COVID-19 Relief Fund 
The Commonwealth is planning to distribute up to $502 million from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund to MA cities and towns for COVID-19 response costs. The funds are expected to be enough to address incurred and expected COVID-19-related expenses. The Administration has created guidance for municipalities to maximize funds, which can be found here.
MTF FY2021 Tax Revenue Forecast 
The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (MTF) has revised its FY2021 tax revenue forecast, projecting a fall by $6 billion, or 19.3% from the January 2020 benchmark. MTF had previously estimated in mid-April a $4.4 billion revenue decrease, a 14.1% decline from the January 2020 benchmark. You can read the 6-page report that was released on May 18th  here .
The anticipated tax revenue drop will be seen in all categories - withholding, capital gains, sales, corporate, and other tax revenues. Additionally, nearly one million people in the Commonwealth have sought unemployment assistance. The report indicates three triggers that have deteriorated and contributed to the projected additional tax revenue loss: 
  • The pandemic is lasting longer both in the Commonwealth and across the country than anticipated and a 2ndwave looks increasingly likely according to medical experts
  • The $2.9 trillion in federal relief legislation passed to date provides less than what may be required to mitigate the economic impacts of the pandemic. Without further federal relief, states and municipalities will be challenged to balance their budgets and recovery will take longer than previous estimates
  • It is less clear now than in April that additional federal funds to stimulate economic growth is feasible this fall
Food Insecurity Funding and Task Force
The Commonwealth has allotted $56 million in funding to combat the food insecurity that has resulted from the economic devastation of COVID-19. The funding goes hand-in-hand with the work of the COVID-19 Food Security Task Force, which over our work of the past month has created four priority action areas: 
  • 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
In line with these goals, the Administration announced on May 17th the following funding: 
  • A $36 million COVID-19 Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program, including:
    • Increasing capacity for food direct delivery
    • Increasing capacity for 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
    • Innovative solutions for urban farming
    • Farms, retailers, fisheries, and other food system businesses to help them adapt to the disruptions and to allow them to provider greater access to local food
  • A $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/week through a regional food supply system
  • $3 million in funding as an immediate relief valve to food banks. 
My colleague and fellow Food System Caucus Co-Chair Senator Comerford and I have served as the legislative delegates on the Food Security Task Force since it convened on April 22nd. We have worked daily with other Task Force members on identifying problems and creating actionable recommendations for the Administration. Our work will continue as widespread food insecurity continues to plague the Commonwealth. On May 19th, Senator Comerford and I lead off a presentation by the Task Force leadership of the initial findings and recommendations to the rest of our colleagues in the Legislature as part of Secretary Sudders' weekly update.
MA Employers to Continue Work from Home Policies 
On May 15th, the Baker-Polito Administration released a partial  list of employers  who will continue to have their employees work from home to enhance social distancing and provide more space on public transportation for those who are required to work in-person. The companies include some of the largest in the Commonwealth and total around 150,000 employees. Many companies plan to have employees work from home for the foreseeable future and are adhering to the Baker-Polito Administration's request to have employees who can work from home continue to do so, even throughout the re-opening process. The Legislature and the Baker-Polito Administration are also encouraging staff to continue to work from home.
Social Isolation Awareness Campaign 
Senate President Spilka and MA Health and Human Services Secretary Sudders partnered to create a campaign to address social isolation during the pandemic. Since the start of the crisis, nearly 1 in 2 Americans say they are now experiencing anxiety and/or depression. The "What If" video created by the campaign promotes the power of reaching out and connecting with those who might be struggling. Find the video, practical tips and resources  here .  
RMV Update 
Due to the inundation of questions about road tests the Administration and Legislature have been getting, the RMV released the following statement on May 15th:
"The Registry of Motor Vehicles has cancelled all scheduled passenger road tests through May 18th and has not scheduled additional tests beyond that date at this time. The RMV will restart road tests when they can be performed safely in accordance with public health guidelines for the customer, sponsor, and examiner, with priority given to those customers who have had their tests cancelled between March and May 18th. Customers are encouraged to continue to check online  here  for the latest information about RMV services during the COVID-19 pandemic." 
AAA Northeast 
On May 18th, AAA opened select locations in the Commonwealth, offering RMV services to members only by appointment. AAA members can click  here  and search by zip code to see the closest open location to them. Everyone will be required to wear a face mask inside AAA locations and social distance. 

How You Can Help Locally
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.

Boroughs Family Branch YMCA : The Boroughs Family Branch YMCA has partnered with WestboroughCARES and the Westborough Food Bank to collect food and PPE for community members. Donation bins are available outside the front entrance of the branch at 4 Valente Drive in Westborough. All healthy, non-perishable food donations are welcome, but they recommend donations of oatmeal cups/packets, mac and cheese boxes/cups, granola bars (nut-free/whole grain), sugar free applesauce or mandarin orange cups, whole-grain crackers, tuna pouches in water (low sodium), Progresso chicken soup (low sodium), rice boxes/cups, Barilla Ready Pasta and pasta boxes.

Reliable Information Sources
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. 

Massachusetts 2-1-1:  Massac 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 .

Locally:  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 617-722-2810, my cell number is 617-448-7304, and my email is Anna's email is and her cell number is 802-373-2294
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.

With sincere gratitude,
Hannah Kane
State Representative
11th Worcester District

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