Evening Update 
March 19, 2020

Dear Friends,

I write to provide you with some relevant COVID-19 updates from today.

Federal Updates 

  • Do Not Travel Advisory: The U.S. Department of State advised Americans to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and told Americans already abroad to “arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.” The department issued a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory Thursday (3/19/20) afternoon, a step that comes after the federal government had already limited travel between the United States and Europe, and closed the Canadian border to non-essential travel. “Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice. Airlines have canceled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or canceled trips. If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe,” the advisory said.

  • Congress Passes Bill With $1B For MassHealth: The state’s Medicaid program is in line to receive an additional $1.08 billion under a coronavirus relief package that cleared Congress on Wednesday, March 18. The package would provide relief to MA as it braces for a possible surge in the number of people enrolling in MassHealth. The more than $1 billion in increased reimbursements would pad a budget of more than $16 billion at an agency that provides health coverage to nearly 2 million low-income and disabled residents. The federal share of the MassHealth budget is typically over $8 billion.

  • SBA Disaster Declaration: MA business owners will have until Dec. 18, 2020 to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan through the U.S. Small Business Administration after the agency approved Gov. Baker’s request for a disaster declaration and assistance. SBA assistance will be available throughout the state and in contiguous counties of neighboring states. Small businesses, private nonprofits, small agricultural operations and small aquaculture enterprises that have taken a financial hit since Jan. 31 as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic may qualify for the loans of up to $2M. The loans carry an interest rate of 3.75% for small businesses, and 2.75% for nonprofits. (Separately, the state launched a $10M recovery loan fund for small businesses.)

  • ‘Stern Warning’ For Scammers: U.S. Attorney for MA, Andrew Lelling, issued a self-described “stern warning” to anyone who might seek to exploit the coronavirus pandemic for their own financial gain. “As our communities take extraordinary measures to confront the coronavirus outbreak, some may view this as an opportunity to prey on the public’s fears and anxieties. The Department of Justice is now focused on cybercrime, sale of counterfeit goods, treatment scams and other healthcare and investment scams arising from the pandemic. My office will aggressively prosecute anyone engaged in this kind of activity”. Any resident who thinks they might be the victim of fraud or any other criminal activity related to the pandemic should contact Lelling’s office at or by calling 1-888-221-6023. Members of the public can also contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center by visiting

  • The Census has paused field operations for the 2020 Census until at least April 1. You can still send in your response by mailing back the paper questionnaire sent to your home or you can complete the Census online by visiting or over the phone by calling  844-330-2020 (or visiting to get the number associated with your preferred language).

State Updates 

  • This evening (3/19/20) just before 6 pm, the Governor activated the MA National Guard, which will bring new supply chain resources on board to respond to state and local requests for equipment, logistics, warehousing, and other duties.

  • The MA Trial Courts are closed to the public, except for emergencies through April 6.

    • As of today (3/19/20), an emergency order will permit judges serving on after-hours judicial response to issue emergency restraining orders, harassment prevention orders, and extreme risk protection orders for ten days (rather than making the orders returnable to court the day following issuance). For updates regarding the court’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit their website:

  • MassDOT is extending the expiration date of certain credentials to reduce the number of customers in service centers and AAA locations.

  • The Mass Cultural Council put forward five items they will be doing to help the cultural sector in managing financial disruptions.

  • Bottle Deposit Redemption: State is suspending enforcement of requirements around retailers accepting empty bottles that have a deposit (due to retailers being overwhelmed with demand right now). Customers are encouraged to hold on to their redeemable bottles to turn in at a later date, or recycle them.

  • MassPort: No more dine-in options; only grab-and-go options for passengers and employees. Logan Express Shuttles running for employees (Braintree & Chelsea, for example). Closed a Logan garage for employee parking only, so people can drive directly to work.

  • MA Department of Public Health  – orders issued within the last 48 hrs:

    • LOCAL BOARDS OF HEALTH & EMS: 3/18/20 regarding the sharing of critical information with first responders: ORDER

    • PHARMACISTS & OPIOID MISUSE DISORDER MEDICATION: 3/18/20 regarding the administration of certain medications for the treatment of opioid misuse disorder: ORDER

    • PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS: 3/18/20, regarding the flexible reassignment of Physicians Assistants: ORDER

    • EMS CARE: 3/17/20 relative to Emergency Medical Services Care: ORDER

    • EMERGENCY CREDENTIALING: 3/17/20 implementing emergency credentialing and licensed staff transfer procedures for medical facilities in the Commonwealth: ORDER

    • MA ATTORNEY GENERAL 3/19/20 noon ~ “You can rest assured that the People’s Law Firm – the Attorney General’s Office – is here for you. Our employees are working remotely, but we will never stop working for the people we serve. I’ve included several important resources below to help answer any questions you have as we navigate this new reality. You can find more information on the office’s newly launched Coronavirus Resources hub. The office will be updating this page as the situation develops. We are here for you. We will get through this together. Be safe and stay vigilant.”

      • Earned Sick Time. Most workers are entitled to up to 40 hours of sick time per year. Massachusetts workers must earn at least one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. If your employer is violating the law, call our fair labor hotline at 617-727-3465 or file a complaint online. More information can be found here, including multilingual options. You can also read our new Fair Labor Division FAQs for employee rights and employer obligations during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
      • Scams. Bad actors are attempting to exploit this crisis for their own monetary gain. We’re not going to let them. Be on the lookout for high-priced or low-quality products, Coronavirus scams, false or misleading information, and fraudulent charities. Please report scams immediately by filing a complaint or calling our consumer hotline at (617) 727-8400.
      • Health Care. The MA Health Connector opened a special enrollment period until April 25 for uninsured residents to sign up for health care coverage. Learn more here. You can also get your health care questions answered by the AG’s Health Care Division.
      • Immigrant Rights. The Trump Administration recently clarified that accessing COVID-19 testing and treatment will not make an immigrant a “public charge.” The full notice can be read here. I will continue to fight for the complete withdrawal of the rule.

Boston Updates 

  • The City of Boston launched a new daily text service with updates and information regarding #COVID19. This is a free service with the latest developments and information related to the #coronavirus. Text the keyword BOSCOVID to phone #99411 to opt-in.

  • The City’s Economic Development team created a website dedicated to information sharing. Please use as a guide to help small business with takeout options:

  • With schools closed to students until April 27 (unless otherwise determined), the City will continue to provide free breakfast and lunch meals for pick-up to all Boston students. View a map of meal sites for children and youth. Sites and meal times are subject to change. Please check back to confirm information before you head to the meal pickup site.

    • They are providing Chromebooks to BPS students who do not have consistent access to a computer at home. To make sure the process keeps everyone safe and does not create large crowds, BPS is scheduling appointments for at-home delivery of Chromebooks. Some principals have delivered them to their students directly. They expect to have the remainder delivered by Friday, 3/27. Families received an email with a link to fill out a request form on March 17. After filling out the form, they will receive an email and text message to schedule an appointment. Distribution of Chromebooks will take place over several days. Parents can fill out the survey at

  • While the City is continuing with street cleaning, they are no longer ticketing or towing for street cleaning. Other parking rules are in effect to ensure public safety (e.g. no parking in front of a hydrant or a pedestrian ramp), to ensure public access to business districts (e.g. parking meters), or to ensure parking access close to home (e.g. resident parking). The City will continue to review these policies.

  • On March 16, the City announced it would temporarily pause some non-essential construction. This is done to stem the current public health crisis and support the health of workers in the City. On a case-by-case basis,

    • City will review requests for exceptions to the temporary construction moratorium. These may be granted by the Commissioner of Inspectional Services for building-related work or the Commissioner of Public Works for street-related work. These will be granted if they support increased public health and safety. This policy is effective as of March 17 and will be reviewed at regular intervals. New projects cannot be started at this time unless they meet the criteria above. Any currently permitted and active construction project must be in a secure situation by Monday, March 23. This policy only applies to projects permitted by the City of Boston.

Other Relevant Updates 

  • Eversource announced they are postponing disconnections for nonpayments for residential and business customers across their electric, natural gas, and water operations.

  • The newly formed MA Life Sciences Emergency Supply Hub launched yesterday (3/18/20) to help coordinate efforts to try and bring additional supplies and resources to our state’s healthcare institutions so they can continue to test and treat patients with COVID-19.

Local Food Options for Seniors 

3/19/20 2:30 pm ~ From our reliable friends at Ethos in JP

“Here are some of the ways that Ethos is mobilizing to support our older neighbors: Consistent, daily delivery of Meals on Wheels (Globe article featuring our beloved Val Frias)

  • “Grab and Go” meals available daily at 31 community locations across Boston

  • Informational mailings and robocalls with up-to-date information on COVID-19 and safety precautions

  • Live streamed informational seminars

  • Wellness checks and assistance with grocery shopping

  • Medication delivery and medical transportation

  • Homemaking and home health services, which support home sanitization and personal hygiene

  • Mental health support

Our seniors are at higher risk because many depend on services and supports provided in their homes or in the community to maintain their health and independence. On average, one in four older Bostonians is living in poverty and facing food insecurity. Further, nearly two out of three seniors are experiencing four or more chronic conditions, making them even more susceptible to COVID-19.”

Be Conscious, Wise & Strategic 

Unless you are essential/critical response personnel, please stay home. If you are sick, stay home and call ahead before seeking medical care. If you show symptoms and desire testing, please contact your PCP. If you don’t have a PCP, call the Mayor’s hotline 617-534-5050 or the MA Dept of Public Health at 2-1-1, the state’s 24/7 hotline (operators fluent in Spanish and more than 150 other languages supported through an interpreter services line).

Repeatedly hearing about the pandemic can be upsetting. To stay emotionally healthy, listen to the experts and do your best to do what they say: take breaks from following news stories or scrolling through social media, take deep breaths, stretch, meditate, eat balanced meals, get enough sleep, avoid alcohol and drugs, and take walks outside. When you return home, wash your hands.

Anyone feeling overwhelmed with sadness, anxiety or stress, or who wants to harm themselves or others, can access the mental health, emotional support, and suicide prevention program Call2Talk by dialing 2-1-1. Call2Talk is also available by calling 508-532-2255 or by texting C2T to 741741.

Global: World Health Organization

Federal: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

State: Department of Public Health or 211

City: Boston Public Health Commission or 311

We are all in this together. If you have a problem that you think is urgent, reach out and we’ll do our best to try to help.

PLEASE continue to comply with social distancing guidance. It will help to slow the spreading of the highly contagious virus. I will continue to be in touch with information as I receive it. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at with any questions or concerns.



State Representative (11th Suffolk)
Assistant Vice Chair, House Ways & Means
State House Rm 238


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