COVID-19 Massachusetts State House Update 4-16-20

April 16, 2020

  • As of Wednesday night, DPH reported a total of 29,918 cases, more than double the 10,402 reported last Friday.  The state has now confirmed a total of 1,108 deaths from the virus.
  • The state counted 151 additional deaths linked to the virus Wednesday, the second consecutive day the total surpassed 100.
  • The House and Senate are both in session on Thursday at 11am.
  • On Wednesday the House advanced a compromise bill Wednesday afternoon to temporarily ban almost all eviction and foreclosure proceedings statewide shortly after Democratic negotiators made a breakthrough, but appeared unable to win over their Republican counterparts.
  • The House accepted a conference committee report on a COVID-19 housing stability bill (H 4647) after four of six negotiators were able to strike a deal on the bill’s language. The bill was sent to a conference committee Thursday after Rep. Peter Durant (R-Spencer) nearly shut down an informal session as he sought to amend the legislation. Neither of the Republicans on the committee signed the report.
  • Depending on the proposal’s fate in the Senate, the legislation could reach Gov. Charlie Baker as soon as Thursday. The Governor had previously stated that he hopes to receive a version he can agree with and sign it quickly.
  • Senate President Karen Spilka has previously said she hopes to get the housing security bill to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk this week.
  • The Massachusetts SJC will hear oral arguments Thursday over whether it should relax the legal requirements for candidates to get on the ballot, wading into an issue bogged down by partisan squabbling in the state Legislature.
  • The SJC is scheduled to hear arguments by telephone in the lawsuit brought by three candidates who say the state’s signature requirements present unconstitutional barriers to the ballot in the midst of a pandemic.
  • DPH released town by town COVID data on Wednesday.
  • The town-by-town data, which reflects case information as of Tuesday, paints a new and more acute picture of how the dangerous and contagious virus has hit the state. The link is included above.
  • The top ten communities based on the per capita number of confirmed cases are: Chelsea, Brockton, Randolph, Williamstown, Lawrence, Everett, Longmeadow, Braintree, Revere and Norwood.
  • DPH on Wednesday also began posting a breakdown of where COVID-19 patients are hospitalized.
  • Renewable energy supporters on Wednesday largely welcomed the updated regulations that the Baker administration filed for a solar energy development program, saying the new rules will help the state meet its climate goals and help the solar industry as it deals with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, but some also said the update does not go far enough.
  • The updated regulations for the state’s Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) incentive program, which is designed to facilitate solar projects by ensuring financing, double the program’s capacity, expand eligibility criteria for low-income solar projects and encourage the adoption of energy storage technology.
  • Several public school projects around Massachusetts have delayed construction amid the coronavirus pandemic, and the emergency’s full financial impact on the state agency that helps funds most of the work remains unclear.
  • Massachusetts School Building Authority officials said Wednesday that the organization will face some budget strain because of the widespread economic downturn, but MSBA Chief Financial Officer Laura Guadagno believes the agency is well-poised to weather the storm.
  • Before they closed on March 15, the state’s casinos and slots parlor collected roughly $35 million in gross gaming revenue, generating just under $10 million in tax revenue for the state before gambling came to a halt amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Boston Scientific, the Marlborough based medical device company announced Wednesday that it plans to make a rudimentary ventilator for COVID-19 patients hospitalized with severe breathing problems that will cost less than $1,000 and was designed partly by a team of University Minnesota researchers.
  • The FDA granted an emergency use authorization for the product, called the Coventor, as an alternative to more sophisticated life-saving ventilators.
  • Boston Scientific plans to manufacture about 3,000 of the mechanical ventilators initially but may make more, depending on demand.
  • A virtual hearing is planned for Thursday on legislation that would require assisted living residences, elderly housing facilities and long-term care facilities to file daily reports with public health officials on their numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
  • Under Rep. Ruth Balser’s bill (H 4635), DPH would also be required to report to lawmakers each week the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in assisted living, elderly housing or long-term care facilities, plus demographic data.
  • The Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities is recommending the bill’s passage and gave panel members until 5 p.m. Wednesday to weigh in on the bill (H 4622), which has 79 cosponsors.
  • Governor Baker ended his prepared remarks Wednesday by noting that it was the seven-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and left hundreds injured, including more than a dozen who lost a limb due to the blasts on Boylston Street.

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