Update from Beacon Hill from Mass Access March 30, 2020March 30, 2020
Here’s a quick update from the State:
Governor Baker did not hold a press conference Sunday.
The Baker administration announced a new COVID-19 PPE Procurement and Donation Program that will streamline procurement of personal protective equipment and allow the state to better ensure that the gear in short supply gets into the hands of the people who need it the most.
The state also asked health care professionals to volunteer to assist the state response to the pandemic.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on Sunday announced the addition of extra beds to shelters and temporary housing facilities in the city, to help people experiencing homelessness practice social distancing and safely quarantine or isolate themselves.
The new spaces include a 38-bed isolation and quarantine facility, built with support from Suffolk Construction, next to the 112 Southampton shelter; at least 172 beds in a repurposed Suffolk University dorm, to be managed by the Pine Street Inn and Boston Public Health Commission; and 70 beds provided by The Davis Companies at a former hospital site in Brighton, which the city said will be ready to open “within days.” The Brighton facility will be operated by the Boston Public Health Commission in partnership with Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program.
Massachusetts has been granted major disaster declaration status which will provide additional federal reimbursement for COVID-19 expenses including the expansion of unemployment insurance payments.
It was announced on Friday evening that Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel has tested positive for COVID-19.
Governor Baker also announced a new partnership between the state and Buoy Health, a Massachusetts-based e-health company that utilizes artificial intelligence to match people with the health services they need.
The online tool will be available for free to Massachusetts residents at buoy.com/mass where residents can complete a risk assessment interview to screen for symptoms of COVID-19 based on Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control guidance, and be connected with the appropriate medical care.
The need for workers is particularly acute in the respiratory therapy and public health nursing fields and the state has launched a portal to be coordinated by the Massachusetts Medical Society for volunteers with professional health backgrounds to sign up and be matched where their expertise can be used. Potential volunteers can sign up at www.maresponds.org.
On Friday, the House sent borrowing legislation associated with delaying the income tax filing deadline to the House Ways & Means Committee.
The House also advanced a H4598, combining two of the Governor’s proposals.
The legislation would give towns options to postpone town meetings or conduct them with smaller attendance to approve interim budgets.
It also allows restaurants to sell beer and wine to go with food orders, but the House added language requiring orders to be placed before midnight.
The bill does not include language to allow state authorities the ability to modify or waive annual MCAS requirements.
The legislation is now on its way to the Senate.
The House and Senate are scheduled meet on Monday at 11am in informal session.
Sessions continue to be live streamed.
As of Sunday night, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts has climbed to 4,955 with 39,066 being tested and 48 deaths attributed to the virus.