Dear Neighbors and Friends,
As of today, March 23, Governor Baker issued a Stay-At-Home advisory for all of Massachusetts. This order goes into effect from Tuesday March 24 at 12pm to Tuesday April 7 at 12pm. This means that the Governor advises that all non-essential businesses close or do their work remotely. Please note, essential businesses will still be open! I am pleased that Governor Baker took this step that I had called for last week with other elected officials. It is what other countries have had to do to stem the tide of infections.
To read the Governor’s advisory, which includes a list of essential services that are still open and available, please CLICK HERE.
You can still:
- Go to the grocery store
- Go to the pharmacy
- Go for a walk as long as you don’t congregate in groups
- Order take-out to support local restaurants
If you feel that your business is an essential business but is not listed you can apply for essential status HERE.
The Governor last week ordered the closure of child care facilities effective today. He exempted child care needed for essential service workers and provided emergency service for them. If you need such access to childcare you can find a list of Emergency Child Care Programs HERE.
The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development and the Department of Unemployment Assistance will be hosting daily virtual town hall meetings. The first was yesterday. During the call, they will take all who sign up through a step by step process of achieving a successful unemployment claim. They will also be taking questions from claimants across the Commonwealth. They will post each town hall that occurred on its website, so if the times do not work you can still access the information. They are doing this because their call centers are overwhelmed by the current call volume and some offices have had to be closed to the public because of infected employees.
To apply for benefits CLICK HERE.
To sign-up for the virtual town hall CLICK HERE.
For specific web page updates that include the latest guidance for employee qualifications and additional resources like contact forms and a COVID-19 specific unemployment claim handbook CLICK HERE.
To be reimbursed for SNAP purchases up to $50 per family CLICK HERE. I am working with the Administration to allow SNAP benefits to be used for delivery.
Project Bread FoodSource Hotline: 1-800-645-8333
For more information from Project Bread CLICK HERE.
- COVID-19 Text Updates: The City of Boston launched a daily text service to get accurate and up-to-date information about COVID-19. Text keyword BOSCOVID to the number 99411 to opt-in. It is helpful to receive the latest information.
- Boston has started a restaurant guide for what is open. Click here for the list.
- Boston is providing screening at all of its shelters and is coordinating with Health Care for the Homeless to screen for infections for homeless on the street. So far, they have not found any homeless infected, although there are outstanding tests.
- Boston is working to secure beds for individuals who need to be quarantined. It has 55 beds that are available now. It will have 70 more by this weekend and 302 more in the next 7-10 days. It is still working on securing more.
- Trash collection and recycling schedules will remain the same.
- Street cleaning starts on April 1 (March 1 on Beacon Hill). The City will not tow or ticket for cars that do not move. It is doing this to encourage people to remain home.
- The Cambridge Community Food Line at (617) 349 9155 will provide groceries to anyone who meets the following criteria:
- The food pantry or meal program you used has closed until further notice
- You have lost your job or part of your income and cannot afford groceries at this time
- You are homebound due to illness, disability, or quarantine and do not have support that can bring you food
- You are at high risk for COVID-19 and do not have access to a regular food source
MORTGAGES AND RENT:
- So far the legislature has responded by providing $15 million in emergency funding and waiving the waiting period for unemployment benefits so that applicants can immediately receive benefits. The next subject that we will take up is evictions and foreclosures. Currently the Courts are closed to these proceedings, but addressing this legislatively makes sense. We should not be kicking folks out of their homes while we are telling them to shelter in place.
- Private banks are also addressing this issue. Mayor Walsh just informed me that Bank of America is providing forbearance of mortgage payments without penalty for the next few months for those that need it. The Bank of America program will allow mortgage holders to pay payments due over the next few months at the end of their mortgages without penalty. It is anticipated that many other financial institutions will follow suit. Hopefully landlords receiving this benefit will pass on some savings to struggling tenants.
DONATING MEDICAL EQUIPMENT:
- Every hospital in the area has a need for medical supplies. The need for certain equipment, such as masks, has skyrocketed. Cambridge Health Alliance, Mass General, Boston Medical, and others have put out a call for donations.
- Mass General has suggested that those with 3D printers could produce certain needed supplies, especially N95 masks. I contacted some individuals that have printers and greatly appreciate that they have agreed to make masks and are producing them now.
- If you have any supplies or ability to make them and want to be connected to a local hospital, please let me know.
It is still very important to complete our census count for Massachusetts. This will help direct billions of dollars in federal funds to local communities for schools, roads, and other public services. It also determines the number of seats each state has in Congress and your political representation at all levels in government. Please complete your Census Form online HERE. I completed mine the other day. It only took a few minutes.
I cannot emphasize enough that we must continue to practice social distancing as it is still our best defense against the virus. Here is a graphic provided by the Department of Public Health:
Please continue to reach out to me via email (Jay.Livingstone@mahouse.gov) or call my office and leave a message (617-722-2013) or call my cell phone at 617-910-6892.