COVID-19 Massachusetts State House Update 4-9-2020

April 9, 2020

  • As of Wednesday evening the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts has climbed to 16,790 and 433 deaths are attributed to the virus.
  • In preparation for the surge in cases that could come over the next two weeks, Governor Baker introduced legislation that would eliminate legal liability for health care workers as they face the likelihood of helping patients in field hospitals and other unfamiliar settings.
  • Governor Baker also announced a new mobile testing site for first responders will be opening on the Big E fairgrounds in West Springfield with the capacity to test 200 people a day.
  • Some communities have been hit harder than others with Chelsea, Revere and Brockton seen as “hotspots”.
  • DPH has started reporting racial and ethnic data and issued an order requiring those who report cases to the state to include the demographic data.
  • The report showed that non-Hispanic whites accounted for 16 percent of all cases and 23 percent of all deaths from COVID-19 in Massachusetts, while 7 percent of cases were being seen among Hispanics and 5 percent among Blacks. The percentage of total deaths found in the Hispanic and Black population were 3 percent and 2 percent respectively, while the state could not identify the race or ethnicity of close to 70 percent of all cases and deaths.
  • Representative Jeff Roy also filed a bill that would extend legal protections to institutions providing care for COVID-19 during the pandemic.
  • Senate President Karen Spilka said that they are looking into the constitutional issues associated with holding formal sessions remotely and she plans to talk to Senators about meeting past July 31st, the last day of formal sessions under the current joint legislative rules.
  • House leadership is said to also be strongly considering meeting past July 31st also.
  • The Senate President also said new or higher taxes are “not on my radar right now” and is focusing on the impacts of federal stimulus funding.
  • Governor Baker also strongly came out against the idea of raising taxes as a way to keep up with the increased spending demands related to COVID-19.
  • So in the middle of an economic downturn where there was a report issued today that as many as 25 percent of our working population could be out of work, we should raise taxes? I don’t think so,” the Governor said.
  • A bipartisan group of 34 state legislators sent a letter to Governor Baker asking that he amend the list of industries considered essential and therefore be allowed to operate.
  • The lawmakers included legal guidance from Foley Hoag, stating that the Governor can limit recreational sales to only Massachusetts residents.
  • The Governor once again stated his opposition yesterday despite the growing legal and political pressure.
  • Attorney General Maura Healey announced she will conduct her own investigation into the deaths at the Holyoke Soldiers Home.
  • The House last week passed a bill (H 4616) aimed at addressing challenges the pandemic has created for municipalities and school districts, and that bill is now before the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
  • Among other measures, it would give state education officials authority to change or waive requirements around the annual MCAS tests.
  • The bill would also push back the April 1 deadline, set under a new education finance reform law, for districts to file plans detailing efforts they’ll make to close persistent achievement gaps.
  • That law called for $1.5 billion in new K-12 school funding over seven years, with the first installment to be delivered in next year’s budget.
  • The House and Senate are scheduled to both meet in informal session again on Thursday at 11am.
  • Sessions continue to be live streamed.

Share This