Situation Update: Wednesday, March 19, 202

Here are news steps taken today:’

Enhancing the Healthcare System’s Capacity to Respond:  DPH Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel has signed two public health orders that have been issued today:

  1. The first Order relaxes administrative requirements so that physicians assistant, or PAs, who previously worked on elective surgeries can now work on other health care demands, including Covid-19.

  2. The second Order, due to the expected demands on nursing staff, allows pharmacists to administer certain medication for the treatment of opioid use disorder, instead of requiring a nurse to do it.

Cash Flow Relief for Small Local Business:

 

Today, the Governor announced new measures for administrative tax relief for small local businesses impacted by COVID-19, especially in the restaurant and hospitality sectors. For small businesses, defined as those who paid less than $150,000 in 2019 in sales and meals, or room occupancy taxes, we will be postponing the payment of their respective sales, meals, or room occupancy taxes.

  1. Taxes due for March, April, and May will instead be due on June 20.

  2. All penalties and interest that would otherwise apply will be waived.

  3. The Department of Revenue is currently drafting emergency regulations to put this relief in place, and we expect them to be finalized before Friday.

New Law to Accelerate Unemployment Insurance:

  1.  Today, the Governor signed emergency legislation to allow new claims to be paid more quickly by waiving the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits.

  2.  This important change will ensure we can get much-needed unemployment assistance to workers impacted by COVID-19.

  3.  The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development is deploying additional employees to work on processing the large volume of claims.

The Governor also announced a new COVID-19 workforce web page that includes the latest guidance for employee qualifications and additional. www.mass.gov/unemployment/covid-19

 Yesterday, the Governor formally requested that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) issue a “declaration of economic injury” for the Commonwealth.

 This declaration would make it possible for low-interest loans to be made available through the SBA’s

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program to business owners affected by the COVID-19 outbreak

Child Care Operations:

  1.  Effective March 23rd, all early education centers and family childcare providers will be closed

  2.  As a result, emergency procedures have been issued to set forth a process for opening Exempt Emergency Child Care Programs.

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) also issued emergency procedures to set forth a process for opening Exempt Emergency Child Care Programs during the COVID-19 outbreak to provide

priority access for families of emergency personnel, medical staff, and others critical to confronting COVID-19.

  1.  Families who work to maintain the health, safety, and welfare of all Commonwealth citizens will receive priority access to emergency childcare programs. Vulnerable children will also receive priority access.

  2.  These emergency childcare programs will be the only ones allowed to operate during this state of emergency and EEC is working to ensure there is sufficient access to emergency child care programs in every region.

  3.  Providers impacted by these closures will continue to receive childcare subsidy payments from the state in order to ensure that programs will be able to re-open once the crisis is over.

xtension of Professional Licenses:

 Governor Baker signed a new emergency order today to ensure that licensed professionals do not have their licenses or registrations lapse due to unforeseen problems with renewal during the COVID-19 emergency. Specifically, under this order, occupational or professional licenses of individuals that are in good standing and that would otherwise be up for renewal during the COVID-19 emergency shall be extended for 90 days after the end of the public health emergency. This order does not affect license extensions that have already been granted in earlier emergency orders.

Managing Stress in Uncertain Times:

 Secretary Sudders spoke about actions residents can help take care of themselves and each other as we live through these stressful times.

o TakeabreakfromconstantnewsmonitoringaboutCOVID-19 o Takecareofyourbody,eathealthy,getsomephysicalactivity,andenoughsleep.Deep

breathing, stretching and meditating helps. Take time to unwind and do activities that you enjoy. Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you’re feeling.

 She highlighted CALL2Talk a resource for emotional support and suicide prevention which can be accessed through 2-1-1.

The Importance of Social Distancing:

 Commissioner Bharel emphasized the importance of social distancing as a strategy to blunt the spread and severity of COVID-19 in the community.

The Department of Public Health release new educational resources, including:

o AnewSocialDistancingInfographic o Anexplainervideo

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