Dear Friends,

 During this unprecedented and challenging time, I hope that you, and those you care about, are healthy and safe.

On Sunday 2,615 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Massachusetts, which means we may be experiencing the expected surge in cases right now. We don’t have an exact date for the end of the surge or for an end to our social distancing and other mitigation measures – the data will be our guide. As you may know, Massachusetts has instituted a first-in-the-nation contact tracing program and continues efforts to increase testing across the Commonwealth, by making available more testing kits and more sites for conducting testing. We’re also working hard to secure needed equipment and supplies and to support citizens in quarantine.

Following is an update with details on what we’re doing in the Commonwealth and across the country to fight the spread of this disease and to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

We’ll continue to get through this together and our office is here to help. If you have questions or need assistance, please contact us at  kate.hogan@mahouse.gov  or 617-722-2199.  This email and phone number are the most efficient ways to contact us right now and the best way to ensure a prompt response to your inquiry.  I also post updates daily on Facebook.

Best,
Signature
Kate Hogan
State Representative
Third Middlesex District
(617) 722-2199
STATE HOUSE UPDATES
As of April 13, there are 26,867 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported 844 deaths from COVID-19.   More than 13,027 people have been quarantined and 7,625 are currently undergoing monitoring/quarantined. 122,059 Massachusetts residents have been tested for COVID-19 by the State Public Health Laboratory, hospitals and commercial laboratories. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health shares updated numbers on its website  each day.

Surge Preparation Late last week, Governor Baker gave an update on the Commonwealth’s preparation for the expected surge in COVID-19 cases. Approximately 14,500 treatment beds are available and five field hospitals have been established around the state, including UMass Memorial’s at the DCU Center in Worcester

Face Masks Required The Department of Public Health has issued a Public Health Advisory that people should wear a mask or cover their faces in public when they cannot safely socially distance.

PPE Update Massachusetts continues to make every effort to secure supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) to support front line workers. To date, 1,935,010 pieces of PPE (respirators, masks, gowns and gloves) have been delivered. This summary and chart show the distribution breakdown by entity and region and will be updated regularly: https://www.mass.gov/doc/ppe-distribution-summary-april-12-2020/download  If you or your organization would like to easily donate or sell personal protective equipment (PPE) that can be used by Massachusetts health care workers, please go to the online portal. Manufacturers interested in producing needed PPE and materials are encouraged to visit this site for more information.

MCAS Update State legislation was enacted last week to allow the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to modify the “competency determination,” or graduation requirement related to the MCAS test and waive for the remainder of the academic year the state requirement that MCAS tests be administered. This spring’s regular administration of grade-level MCAS tests for students in grades 3-10 has been cancelled and DESE will provide further guidance on the competency determination for high school graduation. The bill further clarifies the current practice that any student that has not passed the MCAS in time for graduation will be able to retake in the future.

Testing Available for Grocery Workers Grocery store and supermarket workers are now able to access the free, priority COVID-19 testing sites for first responders.

Health Connector Updates In response to the impacts of the coronavirus, the MA Health Connector has announced some changes:
  • A Special Enrollment Period for anyone who does not currently have health insurance coverage, or has experienced changes in circumstances, to enroll in health insurance
  • Opportunity to update online applications to reflect changes in circumstance, such as job loss, reduced hours, or other reduced income as these changes may result in a lower monthly premium or new eligibility for financial subsidies
  • The Health Connector has paused terminations or reduction of subsidies that would otherwise result from members not responding to requests for information.
  • Ensuring coverage for COVID-19 related care All plans issued through the Health Connector are required to cover services for telemedicine and reduced cost-sharing for testing and treatment related to COVID-19.
  • Important Dates New members must submit their applications by the 23rd of the month for coverage on the first day of the following month
New and existing members are encouraged to update their accounts online https://www.mahealthconnector.org/ or call customer service for assistance 1-877-MA-ENROLL(1-877-623-6765) More information is available at www.mahealthconnector.org/covid-19 

MA Responds needs volunteers of all skill levels and backgrounds from both medical and non-medical professions. If you are a licensed or certified health care provider, a public health professional, a retiree, or are an individual with an interest in helping the community, they invite you to complete the secure, online registration process .