BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration today filed a supplemental budget bill for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) which will authorize $1 billion in spending necessary to cover incurred and expected costs during the COVID-19 public health crisis. It is expected that this spending will result in no net cost to the Commonwealth, after anticipated federal reimbursement and other federal funding sources.
These expenses include the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment, rate adjustments for providers of congregate care and other essential human services, incentive pay for state employees on the front lines at certain facilities in operation 24 hours a day, costs of temporary field hospitals and shelters, National Guard pay, the first statewide contract tracing program in the country, emergency child care for essential workers, and increased costs of local housing authorities and of the family and individual shelter system.
This authorization will enable the Commonwealth to leverage federal financial support, most notably, aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which can only reimburse state spending resulting from eligible disaster response activities. This legislation would ensure that adequate state spending has been authorized to allow the Commonwealth to continue to protect the public unimpeded until the federal reimbursement process can be realized.
COVID-19 costs not supported by FEMA reimbursement will, to the extent possible, be matched to other available federal revenue sources, including the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund established in the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
The bill would also attribute federal reimbursements to FY20 if they are associated with COVID-19 response costs incurred in FY20, allowing the use of revenue sources without putting the FY20 budget out of balance.
New standards will apply to all workplaces when phased reopening begins
BOSTON — Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a four-phase approach to reopening the Massachusetts economy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and published Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards that will apply across all sectors and industries once reopening begins.
The goal of the phased reopening, based on public health guidance, is to methodically allow certain businesses, services, and activities to resume, while protecting public health and limiting a resurgence of new COVID-19 cases.
- Phase 1 will be “Start:” limited industries resume operations with severe restrictions
- Phase 2 will be “Cautious:” additional industries resume operations with restrictions and capacity limits
- Phase 3 will be “Vigilant:” additional industries resume operations with guidance
- Phase 4 will be the “New Normal:” development of vaccine and/or therapy enables resumption of new normal
Businesses and activities that provided “COVID-19 Essential Services,” per Governor Baker’s March 23rd order, will continue to operate. Certain businesses and activities with a lower risk of COVID-19 transmission will open in earlier phases. Decisions and timing will be influenced by public health metrics for when the first phase of reopening begins, as well as when it is safe to move into concurrent phases.
CLICK HERE for more information about the four-phased reopening approach.
CLICK HERE for today’s presentation from the Reopening Advisory Board.
Additionally, the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the COVID-19 Command Center, in consultation with the Reopening Advisory Board and based on feedback from industry, labor, and community coalitions, has developed Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission as employees and customers begin to return to workplaces during the first phase of reopening. These Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards are applicable to all sectors and industries that will be open in phase one, and create new workplace requirements for social distancing, hygiene, staffing and operations, and cleaning. These standards are being released to give workplaces time to plan and prepare for reopening.
For social distancing:
- All persons, including employees, customers, and vendors should remain at least six feet apart to the greatest extent possible, both inside and outside workplaces
- Establish protocols to ensure that employees can practice adequate social distancing
- Provide signage for safe social distancing
- Require face coverings or masks for all employees
- Provide hand washing capabilities throughout the workplace
- Ensure frequent hand washing by employees and adequate supplies to do so
- Provide regular sanitization of high touch areas, such as workstations, equipment, screens, doorknobs, restrooms throughout work site
For staffing and operations:
- Provide training for employees regarding the social distancing and hygiene protocols
- Employees who are displaying COVID19-like symptoms do not report to work
- Establish a plan for employees getting ill from COVID-19 at work, and a return-to-work plan
For cleaning and disinfecting:
- Establish and maintain cleaning protocols specific to the business
- When an active employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, cleaning and disinfecting must be performed
- Disinfection of all common surfaces must take place at intervals appropriate to said workplace
CLICK HERE for more information about the Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards.
In addition to these Mandatory Standards which apply to all workplaces, the Reopening Advisory Board is developing Sector Specific Safety Protocols and Best Practices that will detail how particular industries should operate upon reopening.
The Reopening Advisory Board is scheduled to provide its full report to Governor Baker on Monday, May 18th.
IPSWICH — Town Manager Anthony Marino and Public Health Director Colleen Fermon wish to share tips and resources with residents in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month.
Each May is recognized nationally as Mental Health Awareness Month in an effort to reduce stigma, educate the public and share resources.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, it’s incredibly important for everyone to take care of their mental health, practice healthy habits and to know what resources are available should they need help,” Fermon said. “This is a very stressful, challenging time for many of us, and we are fortunate to have a lot of hardworking agencies in our area that are available to help anyone struggling with mental health. We want to make sure residents know how to access those services.”
The Town of Ipswich belongs to the Regional Youth Prevention Network, an organization comprised of area public health officials whose mission is to promote social, emotional health and wellness for all youth by connecting direct service providers to close gaps and share prevention resources and best practices.
To view resources put together by the Regional Youth Prevention Network to support mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here. The resources include COVID-19 specific information, tips for managing coronavirus anxiety, guidance for discussing COVID-19 with children, free and confidential helpline service to address youth substance use and addiction, information on the potential implications of COVID-19 for those with substance use disorders, domestic violence information and support and links to various hotlines, agencies and community groups.
Additionally, the Gloucester Health Department, Children’s Friends & Family Services, and the Regional Youth Prevention Network recently announced a new resource for those looking for assistance while navigating the mental health care system. Residents can access, at no cost, a dedicated representative from Children’s Friend and Family Services for help navigating challenges and barriers to mental health care such as insurance, waitlists, availability, phone calls and stigma. Assistance is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 781-540-3329.
Pathways for Children has also put together a variety of resources for parents and families, including online meetings for parents, access to diapers, links to online support groups and mental health therapy, information on school lunch services amid COVID-19, early childhood education resources and other support services available during the ongoing public health crisis. To access Pathway’s collection of resources, click here.
The Town of Ipswich also wishes to share the following tips for managing stress and taking care of one’s mental health during the ongoing pandemic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Be mindful of how much news you are consuming about the pandemic, and take breaks. This includes taking social media breaks.
- Eat healthy and well balanced meals.
- Exercise frequently.
- Try to get enough sleep each night.
- Take deep breaths, stretch and/or medicate.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Do activities you enjoy.
- Talk to family and friends about your feelings and thoughts, while respecting social distancing guidance.
- If stress becomes a barrier to your daily activities for multiple days in a row, contact your healthcare provider.
Additional information from the CDC can be found here.