Massachusetts

  • February 3, 2020—A supplemental appropriations bill filed by Governor Baker would allow the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to use surplus funds in unrelated accounts in the event of unanticipated costs related to communicable diseases. The Massachusetts House and Senate have approved mid-year spending bills based on the Governor’s request, which must be reconciled.
  • February 28, 2020—The Massachusetts Department of Public Health established an Incident Command Structure to facilitate regular dissemination of information from federal and state partners to statewide stakeholders.
  • March 4, 2020—Governor Baker announced that due to the emergency health situation, the state is urging colleges and universities to cancel upcoming organized international trips.
  • March 10, 2020—Governor Baker declared a state of emergency .
  • March 10, 2020—Broad restrictions are imposed on travel for many state employees
  • March 15, 2020 – The Governor announced several new steps to address COVID-19, including the following:
    • All public and private elementary and secondary schools will be closed for three weeks.
    • Gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited.
    • Visitors are prohibited from entering long-term care facilities and nursing homes.
    • The administration is filing emergency legislation that will allow new claims to be paid more quickly by waiving the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits.
  • March 15, 2020 – The Governor announced a new legislative package aimed at supporting municipal governance that allows changes to the postponing of town meetings, adopting lower quorum rules, permitting municipal spending of revolving funds, and other measures.
  • March 16, 2020 – The Governor announced a $10 million Small Business Recovery Loan Fund that aims to provide emergency capital (up to $75,000) to businesses in the state impacted by COVID-19.
  • March 17, 2020 – The Governor announced four new emergency orders that make the following changes:
    • Licensed physicians who have retired in the last year, and who are in good standing, may be reactivated for a period of 90 days after the end of the public health emergency.
    • Providers in good standing from other states can obtain emergency licenses to practice in the state, or practice through telemedicine.
    • The ability of residents to provide critical services (under supervision) will be expanded.
    • Allows licenses for nurses, pharmacists and physician assistants, who would otherwise be up for renewal, to extend their licensure status by 90 days after the end of the public health emergency.
    • Adjusts the minimum standards for ambulance staffing to ensure capacity of EMS services.
    • Expands telehealth by facilitating those services across state lines.
  • March 17, 2020 – The Governor’s administration is distributing $5 million in initial emergency funding to address needs of community health boards. Additional funding will support public health emergency resources in cities and towns.
  • March 17, 2020 – Building off the Governor’s emergency loan fund, the Governor formally requested that the Small Business Administration issue a declaration of economic injury so as to expedite the ability for small business to obtain loans.
  • March 18, 2020 – The Governor announced that all early education and childcare centers will close on March 23, 2020.
  • March 18, 2020 – The Governor signed Senate S.2599 authorizing unemployment assistance to workers impacted by COVID-19. The legislation will allow for new claims to be paid in an expedited fashion by waiving the one week waiting period for such benefits.
  • March 19, 2020 – The Governor announced that the U.S. Small Business Administration will offer low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Massachusetts small businesses suffering substantial economic injury.
  • March 19, 2020 – The Governor activated the Massachusetts National Guard with up to 2,000 members who will support requests from state agencies for equipment, logistics, warehousing, and related duties.
  • March 23, 2020 – The Governor issued an emergency order requiring all businesses and organization who are not proving “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities. Simultaneously, the Governor also stated that he is limiting mass gathering to 10 people or less. The order does not however prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people in an outdoor space.
  • March 16, 2020 –  The Massachusetts courts announced that no evictions would occur during the COVID-19 public health emergency until at least April 21.
  • March 24, 2020 – The Governor filed An Act to Further Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities and School Districts Resulting from COVID-19, which would provide administrative relief to state and local government entities in the form of modifying local permitting processes, enabling municipalities to extend tax and finance deadlines, and extending deadlines for certain education requirements.
  • March 24, 2020 – The Governor announced the launch of a new text-based notification system to deliver important information about the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 response to Massachusetts residents.
  • March 25, 2020 – The Governor announced new actions across the commonwealth, which include extending the closure of all public and private schools and non-emergency child care programs and actions to protect homeowners and low-income tenants from eviction and foreclosure.
  • March 25, 2020 – The Governor announced the creation of a COVID-19 Advisory Board, which includes a group of medical experts that will support the Response Command Center and actions across the commonwealth.
  • March 26, 2020- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services approved Massachusetts’ request for a Section 1135 Medicaid waiver. The approved waiver enables Massachusetts to provide flexibilities in Medicaid provider screening and enrollment, forgo certain pre-admission screening and annual resident review assessments, lift prior authorization requirements, allow for reimbursement facility services in alternative settings, extend fair hearing timelines, and waive public comment and tribal consultation requirements for certain changes to the Medicaid state plan.
  • March 27, 2020 – The Governor announced that he extended the 2019 state individual income tax filing and payment deadline from April 15 to July 15.
  • March 27, 2020 – The Governor announced new public health emergency responses, by issuing guidelines on travel and transportation and offering support for health care professionals and patients. The follow measures will go into place:
    • Travelers arriving to Massachusetts are instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days.
    • State medical schools will facilitate early graduation of their qualified fourth-year students to allow graduates to support the health care workforce.
    • The Board of Registration in Medicine will provide medical school graduates who have matched as an intern, resident or fellow with a Board-approved Massachusetts health care facility or training program with Emergency 90-Day Limited Licenses to practice medicine.
    • The launch of Buoy Health’s new online resource for residents to check their symptoms and connect with the next appropriate health care resource.
    • A public health order to provide Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, in good standing, with greater flexibility in their prescribing practices.
  • March 27, 2020 – The Governor announced a partnership with the Massachusetts Medical Society to match volunteers with communities and health care providers based on skillsets and need.
  • March 29, 2020 – The Governor announced a new online portal where individuals and companies can easily donate or sell personal protective equipment and sign up to volunteer to support COVID-19 emergency response efforts.
  • March 30, 2020 – The Governor announced new actions that will support efforts to expand the Commonwealth’s health care workforce, including expediting licensing for certain health care workers and onboarding for health care volunteers who have signed up through the Administration’s new online volunteer portal.
  • March 30, 2020 – The Department of Public Health ordered that certain MassHealth regulations regarding the transfers and discharge of long-term facility residents be waived for the purposes of moving residents to designated COVID-19 facilities.
  • March 31, 2020 – The Governor announced updates to the list of businesses deemed to provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” and extended the non-essential business emergency order to May 4.
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