March/April 2020 COVID-19 Edition
MOSES. News from the Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers & Scientists. Picture Descriptions (Left to Right): AIR: Sun in a blue sky with clouds. WATER: A glass being filled with drinking water.
The MOSES Monitor: An E-Newsletter
Welcome to our new MOSES Monitor! We're troubleshooting a new digital format for our newsletter so members can seamlessly read all of their relevant MOSES information while easily navigating towards our social media accounts and downloadable forms. If you have any recommendations for what you might want to see in the new format, please reach out to Newsletter Chair and Board Director Ellie Donovan at ellie.donovan@mass.gov or Membership Coordinator Tyler Wilkinson at twilkinson@moses-ma.org
President's Message
from President Joseph Dorant
Upcoming Events Notice
Various silhouettes  talking
The May 12th general membership meeting has been cancelled due to COVID-19. In addition, all MOSES recreational programming is currently suspended until Autumn 2020.

We will keep all of our members updated when conditions change.
MOSES Public Health Workers on the Frontline Fighting the Coronavirus
Along with the heroic work of our  healthcare workers fighting the COVID pandemic are an army of professionals in the Department of Public Health (DPH) who are truly the unsung heroes in this war against the virus. Microbiologists, epidemiologists, laboratory technicians, and chemists were all called to the frontline on day one to play a key role to combat this deadly disease. Now is the time to acknowledge these public servants fighting the  coronavirus at the State Public Health Lab.

Laboratory staff were the first to take over Covid testing from the CDC in early March. They have been working extended hours 24/7 nonstop, stretching the State Lab to its limit to detect the presence of the virus in Massachusetts residents. Epidemiologists are working with local Boards of Health, hospitals, and nursing homes providing them with important information, accumulating crucial data and tracking the hot spots so the Governor’s task force can make critical decisions needed to battle this pandemic.

Below are a few profiles of our members on the frontline. These are only a couple of stories revolving around many of our Public Health employees who have been working tirelessly over the last two months. MOSES would like to thank all of our frontline MOSES members that have been working with rigor and grace during these precarious times. It is only through our joint effort that we will be able to get through this and be stronger on the other side.
Service Spotlight: The Department of Public Health's
Microbiologist Sean Litchman


My role during the COVID-19 response is to process and test patient samples.This includes sorting, logging and organizing hundreds of specimens a day while ensuring a smooth operation of the many steps involved. After samples are processed and assigned a tracking number, they move on to get aliquoted in preparation for extraction on one of our robotic extraction platforms.Then, once extracted, the purified sample is loaded onto PCR plates and put on a thermocycler to detect the presence, or lack of COVID-19. My job changes on an hourly basis depending on the needs of the lab. I could be opening packages of samples one minute, loading extraction plates after that or running autoclaves and stocking supplies. I work with an excellent team of people who are all committed to completing our tasks correctly and efficiently while navigating this challenging environment. We work together like a well-oiled machine, doing whatever it takes, even if it has meant working late nights and not taking any days off for weeks on end.
Service Spotlight: Department of Health's
Cynthia Condon and Team



My role with the COVID-19 response is overseeing and coordinating the lab support functions for the COVID testing. This includes Specimen Receiving, Specimen Collection Kit Order Processing and Media Preparation for the testing supplies.

This department is essential as we are the first personnel who handle and receive the specimens from submitters/providers all over the Commonwealth. We receive, sort and distribute to the multiple labs within Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory Services (SPHL) handling the COVID specimens, along with processing our every day non-COVID public health specimens.  We also fulfill requests from outside agencies for the specimen collection supplies and kits. Lastly, the staff in this department also assists with providing media for the testing labs/providers, as well as preparing in-house hand sanitizer to meet the demands of the MA SPHL needs and due to the shortage of outside supplies.

To help with the influx of specimens and adequate coverage, we have collaborated with the other laboratories within the MA SPHL and trained them to be surge staff to cover the extended hours of operation to keep up with the demands of testing. It has been a great team building experience for the MA SPHL to see staff from various laboratories, divisions, and programs come together to work through this pandemic.
COVID-19 Legislation
Federal Legislation
COVID-19 has already dramatically changed how we work and how we interact with each other. Here's a run down of newly passed federal legislation that is trying to help us recover and return to normal.
1st Act: Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, Enacted March 6, 2020
This piece of legislation was the federal government's first response to COVID-19. Original discussions over the legislation started at the end of February. It allocated 8.3 billion dollars to finding a vaccine, garnering medical supplies, and providing help to states and localities. Some money was also dedicated to helping fight coronavirus overseas.
2nd Act: Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
Enacted March 18, 2020
The initial focus on the pandemic response was to combat the virus. After it became increasingly understood that there was going to be a major impact on the U.S. economy, the federal government then shifted to help all of the workers who might become sick in the ensuing weeks. To protect these workers financial stability, the federal government expanded paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave until the end of 2020 with the FFCRA. The benefits include:

  • If you're sick or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and awaiting medical diagnosis and/or are quarantined according to government mandate, you're entitled to full compensation of paid sick leave for up to two weeks from your employer.
  • If you're taking care of an individual experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and/or is in quarantine according to government mandate or if you're taking care of a child whose school and/or care provider is unavailable, then you're eligible for two thirds rate of full compensation of paid sick leave for up to two weeks.
  • If you're taking care of a child whose school and/or care provider is unavailable and you're unable to work, then you're eligible for an additional ten weeks of paid family and medical leave at two thirds rate compensation (up to $200/day).

This law applies to some public sector workers and most employers with less than 500 employees. Federal employees are only eligible for the two paid sick leave portions of the bill, not the expanded paid family and medical leave.

***While the FFCRA is a Federal Law, our employers (the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, MWRA, and MassDOT) have been interpreting aspects of the law very differently. As of today, the only consistency between all our employers is that if a MOSES member tests positive for COVID-19, they are entitled to up to two weeks (80 hours) of additional paid sick time. Please refer to communications from your human resource representatives as to what parts of the FFCRA apply to your job function. The Commonwealth, MassDOT, and MWRA have started to arrange testing for COVID-19, prioritizing for employee’s who are required to report to a worksite or workers who have symptoms of COVID-19.***

Below is a graphic from the U.S. Department of Labor explaining the new legislation.
3rd Act: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
Enacted March 27, 2020

The third piece of legislation passed by the federal government in response to the coronavirus pandemic is the boldest and most famous one to date. This act is the largest stimulus ever passed in the United States Congress and allocated more than 2.1 TRILLION dollars to help stimulate the economy. The bill allocates roughly

  • 450 billion dollars for corporate loans,
  • 350 billion dollars for small business loans,
  • 300 billion dollars allocated directly to individuals,
  • 250 billion dollars for expanded unemployment insurance, and
  • other monies towards healthcare, transportation, and tax deferment.

For more information on economic impact payments and how much you might be expecting, check out the IRS website here.
The Commonwealth's Response
By Steven Smalley, Legislative Director

During this period of uncertainty due to Covid-19, the Massachusetts Legislature has been working to help the citizens of the Commonwealth deal with many of the economic, health, and safety issues they may be facing. As of April 6, 2020, 78 bills have been filed in the Massachusetts legislature relative to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first piece of legislation passed regarding the COVID-19 crisis was  a supplemental budget appropriating $15 million  for testing, prevention and treatment. The Governor also filed  an omnibus bill to ease governance during the emergency , including extending timeframes for permitting and local budgets, allowing for electronic signatures on warrants, suspending MCAS testing, and modifying local tax collection.

For state employees, the House of Representatives has introduced legislation to provide retroactive time and a half compensation to all public employees who are required to work outside their home during the state of emergency period declared on March 11. The legislation (HD4970) was filed by State Representative Tackey Chan and already has 60 co-sponsors.

Many of the bills that have been filed in response to Covid-19 only have docket numbers at the moment which will be replaced with actual bill numbers as they move forward. Due to social distancing, both the House and Senate have been meeting in informal sessions that are generally lightly attended. While some bills can advance in informal sessions, the House and Senate are exploring options to hold formal sessions remotely where legislatures would be able to vote and debate from their homes. The House has begun to put together a framework of what this remote system would look like, but nothing has been finalized. The FY21 budget process has been delayed and there are now discussions being held where both branches would work together to develop one “joint” spending bill for the upcoming fiscal year.

For more information about specific legislation please reach out to our Legislative Director, Steven Smalley, ssmalley@moses-ma.org
Welcome Our New Board Member Kris Houle!
Kristopher Houle is a Senior Ecological Restoration Engineer for the Department of Fish and Game - Division of Ecological Restoration (DER). Kris has been a MOSES member since September 2015 and looks forward to serving on the Board of Directors. Kris is a registered Professional Engineer in Massachusetts and holds M.S. and B.S. degrees in civil/water resources engineering. He has twelve years of experience managing, designing, and overseeing implementation of restoration efforts throughout Massachusetts and New England.
MOSES TWEETS: FY21 Green Budget Launch (in February)
Mass Rivers Alliance on Twitter

A big thank you to the many legislators and staff who joined us for today's Green Budget Launch! A special thank you to @repsmitty @RepDaveRogers @JoanMeschino @AnneGobi for your continued support and leadership for restored funding for these...

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MOSES FEDERAL CREDIT UNION
A hand puts a penny in a piggybank
Need a new car loan?!?!

Need an education loan?!?!

With rates as low as 2.9% and 6.75% respectively, you might want to check out the incredible offerings at the MOSES Federal Credit Union.

Check out our webpage here or call Joanne @ 978-276-0750 (M-Th 10am-2pm)
From the Massachusetts Labor Movement
Check out this story on how unionized GE employees in Lynn are protesting against GE for not utilizing their workforce to ramp up production of ventilators.