COVID-19 Massachusetts State House Update 4-21-20

April 21, 2020

  • As of Monday night, DPH reported a total of 39,643cases.  The state has now confirmed a total of 1,809 deaths from the virus.
  • The House and Senate are both scheduled to meet Tuesday at 11am in informal session.
  • Governor Baker signed a housing security bill on Monday to put a pause on evictions and foreclosures until after the coronavirus pandemic abates, finalizing an effort that took weeks for the Legislature to negotiate.
  • Legislative leaders last Thursday signaled plans for a bill dealing with crisis care standards and data collection, but no bill is available yet.
  • Governor Baker appointed three people from his administration to serve on a multi-state council that will work to coordinate a regional approach to reopening the economy.
  • The Governor appointed his chief of staff Kristen Lepore, Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy and EOHHS Undersecretary Lauren Peters.
  • Massachusetts last week joined a partnership of states to develop a regional strategy to reopen the economy that includes NY, NJ, CT, RI, DE and PA.
  • Each Governor participating in the coalition has three members, including one health expert, one economic development expert and their respective chief of staff.
  • There was no Monday media availability for the Governor.
  • Massachusetts is two weeks away from the expiration of two key Baker orders, one requiring K-12 schools to close and another shuttering all non-essential businesses.  The governor has left the option open for extending those two orders.
  • Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has hinted in recent days that he expects schools across the state to be addressed in one universal action and said with near certainty that he does not expect students to return to the classroom on May 5th.
  • The governor has said he will be announcing a state wide decision shortly.
  • The Baker administration rolled out a new platform making unemployment benefits available to many self -employed or part time workers who did not qualify for aid under the existing system but now do.
  • In a letter to EOHHS Secretary Sudders and legislative leadership, 1199 SEIU Massachusetts Division Executive Vice President Tim Foley calls for the state to take urgent action to build on significant progress already made in supporting health care workers.
  • The letter calls for workers to receive premium pay, access to COVID-19 testing without prior approval from a doctor, and broader supports such as housing and child care.  The letter is attached.
  • Massachusetts workers would receive 80 extra hours, or 10 days of job protected paid sick time to use during the COVID-19 crisis under legislation recently filed by Representative Paul Donato and Senator Jason Lewis.
  • The leave would be available for workers diagnosed with COVID-19, experiencing symptoms of the diseases and awaiting a diagnosis, or those who are quarantined or reasonably believe their health is at risk, as well as to care for a family member or roommate with COVID-19.
  • The emergency sick time would be available to workers not covered under the sick time provisions of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

The bill, HD 5039 was filed on Friday in the House.

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