COVID-19 Massachusetts State House Update 3-27-2020

March 27, 2020

  • There were several public health executive orders issued by the Baker administration yesterday.
  • They include a pharmacy order, nurse staffing and determination of need for medical facilities.
  • Schools and non-emergency childcare centers in Massachusetts will now be closed until at least May 4th under a new executive order signed by Governor Baker on Wednesday.
  • The Commonwealth is partnering with WGBH and the broadcaster will air educational material from 12-5pm Mondays through Friday.
  • The state has submitted a request for federal disaster assistance due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.  The request was made through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the president.
  • The state is seeking federal disaster assistance funds for cities and towns, state agencies, and certain nonprofits, as well as for individuals. Under federal disaster programs, individuals could get help with crisis counseling, and unemployment assistance could go to workers that don’t qualify for regular unemployment benefits.  A copy of the request is attached.
  • The Senate Ethics Committee recommended Thursday that Sen. Dean Tran (R-Fitchburg) be physically separated from his staff and removed from his post as assistant minority whip, after the panel found that the Fitchburg Republican’s State House staff did campaign work during regular business hours and using public resources.
  • The state will convert a former Boston Medical Center hospital building into a specialized care center for homeless individuals and families during the coronavirus outbreak.  The state-owned Newton Pavilion would be temporarily reopened and operated by a group of providers, including BMC and Boston Health Care for the Homeless, to provide medical care for individuals in and around the city without permanent residences. The facility could feature up to 250 beds.
  • The Baker administration also waived nurse-to-patient staffing ratios at hospitals and set up a hotline to connect individuals with disabilities with home health care aides when their personal care attendants are unable to work during the public health emergency.
  • Medical schools in Massachusetts got the green light to let their fourth-year students graduate early, allowing them to start their residencies ahead of schedule and join the battle against the coronavirus. At least four universities, UMass Medical School, Tufts School of Medicine, BU School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School have reached an agreement with the state.
  • In Massachusetts, there were 147,995 unemployment claims filed for the week that ended March 21, compared to 7,449 in the previous week according to Department of Labor data.
  • Governor Baker seemed to soften his position on local construction bans.   During his daily briefing Thursday he indicated that he was okay with towns ignoring his moratorium order if they have a legitimate issue with complying with state guidelines.  Boston, Somerville and Cambridge have all publicly clashed with the Governor on this issue.
  • Massachusetts casinos will remain closed until at least April 7th as decided by the Gaming Commission.
  • The MA DOR has yet to extend the state income tax filing deadline date past April 15th, despite the Federal Government already extending their deadline until July 15th and growing pressure on the state level.
  • Marijuana businesses continue to press Governor Baker to reconsider his ruling that only patients registered in the state’s medical marijuana program will be able to legally buy marijuana.  More to come.
  • We continue to monitor the impacts of the recently issued stay in place advisory on local industries and businesses.
  • The House is scheduled to meet on Friday at 11am for informal session and Senate is scheduled to meet again in informal session on Monday at 11am.
  • Sessions continue to be live streamed.
  • On Thursday the Senate engrossed nurse staffing legislation which was released by the Senate Ways & Means Committee on Tuesday.
  • The bill authorizes “independent practice authority” for nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and psychiatric mental health clinical nurse specialists that are board certified and have completed at least two years of supervised practice.  The legislation also permits the Board of Registration in Nursing to reduce the two-year supervised practice requirement if the board deems that it is necessary to ensure adequate access to the professionals affected by the legislation.
  • The legislation has been engrossed by the Senate but its chances in the House seem less clear as it is being opposed by House leadership.  More to come.
  • The Massachusetts Senate held a “tele-caucus” for all members Thursday morning.
  • There are now 21 laboratories conducting testing for COVID-19, almost double the number from the beginning of the week.  DPH also reported that the state tested 3,827 people in a 24 hours period, excessing their stated goal of 3,500 patients a day, bringing the total number of MA residents tested to 23,621.
  • As of Thursday night there have been a total of 25 deaths from COVID-19 and 2,417 diagnosed cases.

Share This