COVID-19 Massachusetts State House Update 4-22-20

April 22, 2020

  • As of Tuesday night, DPH reported a total of 41,199 cases.  The state has now confirmed a total of 1,961 deaths from the virus.
  • Governor Baker announced Tuesday that Massachusetts schools will remain closed for the rest of this school year and non-emergency child care programs will stay shuttered until June 29th.
  • The executive order is attached.
  • Governor Baker also stated Tuesday that he plans to convene a group of public health, academic and business leaders to assemble a “thoughtful framework” for how Massachusetts might be able to resume more normal economic and social life once the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
  • Governor Baker said he is more focused on the ongoing surge of COVID-19 patients than he is on making a decision about whether to extend restrictions on non-essential businesses beyond May 4.
  • Governor Baker also criticized President Trump’s pledge to halt immigration during the coronavirus pandemic, briefly describing it Tuesday as an illogical approach with no benefit.
  • Asked for his opinion on the president’s announcement during a Tuesday press conference, he said he does not support it.
  • “I am opposed to the decision the president made,” he said. “I’m opposed to the order. It doesn’t make any sense and it doesn’t make us any safer.”
  • The state announced it will pause a key component of its plan for testing residents of long-term care facilities.
  • EOHHS Secretary Marylou Sudders at a State House news conference said the state would temporarily stop shipping test kits to nursing homes.
  • Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said Tuesday there is no timeline for a return to some semblance of economic normalcy in Boston, as key prerequisites to reopening the city, including universal testing for COVID-19, could be months away.
  • The House and Senate both met on Tuesday.
  • House lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bill (H 4663) requiring daily reports on COVID-19 cases and deaths from long-term care and elder housing facilities.
  • The House also received a remote notarization bill that cleared that branch after senators said they hoped the House would take it up soon.
  • The House also sent to committee a Governor Baker bill mitigating arbovirus in the state.
  • The House plans to meet next on Thursday at 11 a.m. in an informal session.
  • Video conferencing technology could be employed by notaries public to perform some of their duties during the COVID-19 emergency under a bill passed by the Senate on Tuesday.
  • In order to virtually notarize a document, which would streamline many business transactions during the public health crisis, notaries and signers of the document would have to swear they are physically present in Massachusetts and the physical paper would then be delivered to the notary by mail, courier, or other means.
  • The Senate also admitted nine new bills dealing with a variety of COVID-19 responses, including voting by mail, business interruption insurance, price gouging, nursing home patient safety, and emergency assistance for temporary homeless shelters in gateway cities.
  • The Senate meets again next on Thursday morning.
  • Senate and House leaders have repeatedly said they are working toward the resumption of recorded voting and debate, but constitutional issues and technological obstacles have slowed the process.
  • House Speaker Robert DeLeo said he hopes to present a solution within two to three weeks that would allow the House to resume some functions, such as voting, while continue to observe social distancing norms.
  • The House has 160 members and the Senate has 40.
  • Secretary of State William F. Galvin said Tuesday he is crafting a legislative package that would allow early voting by mail before September’s primary election and expand the window people could send in ballots before November’s general election amid fears the COVID-19 pandemic could drag into, and past, the fall.
  • In a letter to the state’s delegation to Washington on Friday, the Cannabis Control Commission asked each lawmaker to push for licensed marijuana businesses “to be able to apply for and receive the same or analogous assistance as other state-recognized businesses that have been or expect to be negatively impacted by the declared COVID-19 federal emergency.”
  • Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

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