COVID-19 Massachusetts State House Update 4-6-2020

April 6, 2020

  • A COVID-19 testing facility for first responders opened on Sunday in Foxborough, plans are underway to build similar sites in Western Massachusetts and the Merrimack Valley.
  • On Sunday Governor Baker said Massachusetts received a shipment of 100 ventilators from the national equipment stockpile.  The state had requested 1,400 ventilators from the Federal Government.
  • A decontamination system to clean N95 masks so that they can be reused is expected to be up and running this week in Somerville.
  • On Sunday Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced strict new measures for social and physical distancing for residents in the City of Boston, in an effort to curb the anticipated peak of COVID-19 in the coming days.
  • Measures include wearing face masks when in public, an evening curfew for city residents and the closing of public parks.
  • The public health advisory is attached.
  • The Massachusetts bar exam scheduled for July will instead be held on Wednesday, Sept. 30 and Thursday, Oct. 1, the Supreme Judicial Court and Board of Bar Examiners announced on Saturday morning.
  • Massachusetts officials will launch a large-scale contact tracing program with the help of a nonprofit health organization, aiming by the end of April to have about 1,000 people investigating and recording every instance of potential coronavirus transmission at a time when cases across the state are expected to soar into the tens of thousands.
  • Public health experts at the state and local level are already working to track who might have been exposed to patients with COVID-19, but doing so with current resources is growing more difficult as new cases grow daily at an accelerating rate.
  • The new Community Tracing Collaborative developed with the group Partners in Health will provide a “much more robust, targeted approach” to bend the curve downward and limit new cases of the highly infectious disease.
  • The hit from COVID-19 on the state’s finances didn’t fully materialize in March, but state tax collectors acknowledged Friday that it’s coming.
  • The Department of Revenue announced that collections for March totaled $2.66 billion, which is only $8 million less than what was collected in March 2019, and $83 million or 3.2 percent above the state’s monthly benchmark.
  • Through three quarters of the fiscal year, DOR said Massachusetts tax receipts have totaled $21.064 billion, which is $878 million or 4.3 percent more than the same year-to-date point in 2019, and $235 million or 1.1 percent above the year-to-date benchmark.
  • Legislative and Baker administration officials will convene a virtual hearing tomorrow to revisit revenue assumptions and work to develop new projections for state budgeting amid what one top lawmaker called a “dire and unprecedented” financial climate due to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • House Ways & Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz, Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Michael Rodrigues, and Administration and Finance Secretary Michael Heffernan will host the event in the State House’s Room 428. Experts will be invited to testify in person or via audio or video conference, and those who do attend will practice social distancing, organizers said. The hearing will be livestreamed.
  • This past week the House passed legislation (H 4615) putting a moratorium on most residential and commercial evictions and foreclosures until 30 days after the Governor lifts the ongoing state of emergency, and approved a bill (H 4616) that would authorize changes to the state’s high school standardized testing requirements. Both of these measures still need Senate approval.
  • The House also processed nine orders that push out deadlines for committees to make recommendations on bills.
  • This past week the Senate passed a bill to provide additional unemployment insurance relief during the pandemic, both to laid-off workers and to employers. This legislation still needs House approval.
  • The branches are back in session on Monday morning at 11am.
  • Sessions continue to be live streamed.
  • As of Sunday night, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts has climbed to 12,500 with 1,145 being hospitalized and 231 deaths attributed to the virus.

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