COVID-19 Update: Childcare, Small Business Tax Relief and Unemployment Legislation Announcements

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So good afternoon, everybody I want to start off today with a few announcements about steps were taking to enhance our health care systems capacity, help small businesses, adapt child care operations and support unemployment benefits. Dph. Commissioner, Monica Burrell has signed to public health artists that have been issued today. The first order relaxes administrative requirements, so the physician assistants or pas who previously worked on elective surgeries, can now work on other healthcare demands, including kovat 19. 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 so today, we’re also announcing measures for administrative tax relief for local small businesses impacted by kovat 19, Especially in the restaurant and hospitality sectors, this process was designed in consultation with our partners in the legislature, and we want to thank them for that for small businesses defined as those who paid less than a hundred and fifty thousand dollars in 2019 sales and meals or Room occupancy taxes, we will be postponing the payment of their respective sales meals or room occupant occupancy taxes. Taxes due for March April and May will instead be due on June 20th. We will also waive all penalties and interest that what otherwise apply the Department of Revenue is currently drafting emergency regulations to put this relief in place, and we expect them to be finalized before Friday, when the payment would be different would be due regarding unemployment insurance, I Just signed emergency legislation to allow new claims to be paid more quickly by waiving the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits lieutenant governor, and I would like to express our thanks to the legislature for turning this legislation around quickly. This important change will ensure that we can get much-needed unemployment assistance. The workers who are impacted by kovat 19. Our administration is now ramping up operate. To make sure that we can support, can respond to the significant spike in unemployment claims. Our labor department’s deploying additional employees to work on processing that large volume of claims, although, as we have said before, if people can apply online, that is preferred. We’Ve also created a new kovat 19 workforce webpage. That includes the latest guidance for employee qualifications and additional information that can be viewed at mass.gov, slash, unemployment, slash, kovat, 19 with respect to child care, effective March 23rd. All early education, centers and family child care providers will be closed. As a result, we have issued emergency procedures to set forth a process for opening exempt emergency childcare programs. This will provide priority access for families of emergency personnel, medical staff and others critical to fighting the Cova 19 outbreak volunteers, teachers and staff from some childcare programs have already reached out to the department to say that they are ready and willing to continue providing care, which Will be a relief to many of the parents who are working day and night to combat kovat 19 families who work to maintain the health safety and welfare of all Commonwealth citizens will receive priority access to these emergency childcare programs. Vulnerable children will also receive priority access. Will work hard to make space for people who must go to work but aren’t necessarily emergency personnel available as well? 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 childcare programs in every region of the Commonwealth providers. Impacted by these closures will continue to receive child care. Subsidy payments from the state in order to ensure that the programs will be able to reopen once the crisis is over now earlier today, I sent out an email to all executive branch employees to check in and to remind them that we are committed to getting the Commonwealth through this very difficult time, I want to share a little bit of what I wrote, because I think much of it will resonate with people across our great state. The spread and effects of corona virus has been sudden and stressful, but I believe the preparations, planning and steps were taking to mitigate the spread are the right things to do to deal with this public health crisis. I also recognize and appreciate that many of our decisions come with disruption, dismay and disagreement. Change of this magnitude in such a short period of time is jarring under any scenario, and these changes come with financial and health risks on top of them. When people ask me why I’ve spent almost 20 years in my professional career, either working or serving in a volunteer capacity in government, I always give them the same answer. Where else can you make something good happen for people or stop something bad from happening to people? That Maxim has never been truer or more complicated, to explain or understand for the short term, our goal is to keep kovat 19 from spreading. That message gets interpreted in a variety of ways: let’s try this 80 % of the people who catch kovat 19 are going to feel like they have the flu, but it is very contagious. It is spread through droplets. It is not airborne. That’S why we keep telling people to wash their hands regularly use hand sanitizer Koff into their elbow and maintain their distance. Now, for the other 20 % of the people who catch Kovac – ovid 19 – it will be very serious. So the goal here is to limit the spread and the size of the spread. So the disease itself doesn’t overwhelm our health care system and hopefully reduce the number of people who are particularly at risk from getting it in the first place, we’re going to do what we can to maintain social distance wash our hands. Do phone calls instead of meetings and try to stay healthy? For me, that includes no longer visiting my 91 year old, dad in person, which I usually do almost every week. Stopping the spread really separating the healthy among us from those who caught covet 19 is the single most important thing we can do today. Thousands of public servants settled into a new routine, many of whom are working from home. Many more, however, are stepping up to this plate to ensure that state government, in all its forms, will continue to operate, we’re doing everything we can to keep them safe while they carry out essential functions for the Commonwealth. I want to thank them for stepping up, unemployment claims are being processed trains, buses and commuter rail are running, utilities are operating and rules that protect individuals and families from dislocation have been issued. Small business assistance is being put into place. Our Emergency Operations, centers, are up and running, phones are being answered, driver’s licenses are being issued and renewed Public Safety officials are on the job on our streets and in our neighborhoods service providers are being paid to care for those who need it most and programs that Feed in-house the less fortunate among us are operating. Thousands of public servants are stepping up, and I know I speak for many of them when I say thank you for all that you do and the good times and the bad ones there’s much to do, but we’re grateful for everybody’s commitment to their fellow citizens and We give everyone our word that we will devote everything. We’Ve got to defeating this with that, I want to say thank you and turn it over to secretary cells good afternoon. Everyone, and, as you know, today is the first day in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where non-essential elective surgeries are cancelled. Just one give you a couple of updates from recent communications. As you remember yesterday, I indicated that all cities and towns in the Commonwealth have received communication regarding funding for our local boards of health. We intend to release up to five million dollars by the end of this week. As soon as contracts come back. We are releasing funds, we have been aligning aligning on all 351 cities and towns into regional entities to efficiently release funding, to address costs already incurred and immediate needs going forward. These initial funding levels will be increased over time, as needs continue to emerge, involve at the local level. Some specifics. All large cities and existing health districts, which represent 49 percent of the Commonwealth’s population, received contracts. Yesterday, Worcester Lowell and Berkshire County have had returned their sign contracts and funds have been released. As I reminded everybody, east signatures is fine in a state of emergency, but we had only addressed 49 % of the population. The towns that are not a big city or a health district are now joined into a kovat 19 crisis affiliation. As of today, the affiliations are leveraging geographically strategic public health organizations to coordinate the needs and serve as the fiscal and communication conduit for these towns. As we speak, the affiliations are reaching out to the towns to determine their cost that they’ve already incurred and what resources they will need for the next seven to eight weeks. The affiliations are some of them I mentioned yesterday, but they came together last night and this morning the affiliations are the Massachusetts health Officers Association, the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards, the Metropolitan Planning Council and the Central Mass Regional Planning. Commission, the Franklin Regional Council governments, the Pioneer Valley, Planning, Commission and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, so they will provide the infrastructure for those cities for those municipalities that do not have the infrastructure to provide local board of health support to one one. Two one one is adding additional resources from both the state and United Way. We have received more than 60 100 calls about coronavirus since last Thursday, which seems like a long time ago when I say that was only March 12th folks are encouraged to use the callback feature. Your call will be prioritized in queue. You will not lose your spot in line. The two-on-one website also has resources available for general questions and have had over 11,000 visits since koban 19. Since last week. I want to talk a little bit about mental health as a former Commissioner of mental health and as someone where mental illness has affected my own family. We know that the outbreak of Cova 19 is creating anxiety and stress, fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and caused strong emotions in both adults and children and our elders. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. If you or someone you care about is feeling overwhelmed with emotion, like sadness, anxiety, stress or feel, like you want to harm yourself or others call to talk. That’S CA. Ll to talk is a resource available through 2-1-1, when you dial, 2-1-1 hit 4 for English and then 25. It’S important during this time to take care of yourself, your friends and your family can help you cope with stress. Please support yourself and one another, and particularly the people you care about, take breaks from watching reading or listening to news stories, including social media hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting. It’S important to take care of your body. Take deep breaths stretch, meditate or just do that: try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise or take a walk outside. Yes, you can take a walk outside, get sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs. It’S important to find time to unwind during stressful times. Try to do some other activities that you enjoy connect with others. Yes, we can connect with others talk with people, you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling it’s a very important to reduce stress in yourself and others share the facts about kovat 19 and understand the actual risk to yourself and people you care about, can Make an outbreak less stressful. When we share accurate information, you can help, people feel less stressed and it helps us connect with one another. As we all know, children and teens react in part and what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with Koba 19 as calmly and confidently as possible, they can provide support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they feel better prepared with that. Let me turn it over to our Public Health Officer. Commissioner, Monica Burrell good afternoon everybody, as you all know, by now in Massachusetts, we have put in place important measures to slow the spread of covert 19, because this is a new and evolving disease. There’S still many unknowns. We’Re here to help you understand what we know now, what is still unknown and update you as the data and evidence evolves. I understand that this uncertainty can be stressful and confusing, but want you to know that we are working to inform you with the best and most updated information as we receive it. As we keep learning more, we will keep sharing information with you today. I want to take a minute to emphasize what social distancing is and to remind us why it’s important to do this. Kovat 19 is a contagious disease. That means the closer we are to each other physically, the more likely we are to infect somebody else, and this is what we’re asking you to do to socially stirrers for social distance, stay six feet away from other people, avoid shaking hands and hugging use technology tools. Such as online tools and social media to engage with friends and loved ones instead avoid non-essential travel and work from home whenever possible. You’Ll see that we have a graphic here today that displays some of these concepts and has reminders about what social distancing is, and we will be sharing this graphic widely, including on social media, with our partners at the local boards of health and we’ll be making it Available through our website, we understand that keeping distance from people is difficult, especially for young people who feel they are healthy and strong and don’t feel this advice matters to them. But it does matter. People with mild symptoms can pass the virus on to others. So stay home as much as possible, as the secretary emphasized it’s okay, to go outside important to go outside for exercise for some fresh air to take your dog for a walk to go for a hike or to ride your bike. For example, you may also need to leave the house, of course, for medications or other essential resources, but when you return home, please remember to wash your hands, especially whenever you come in from the outside. If we ignore the guidelines on social distancing, we will be putting ourselves and everyone else at a much higher risk. Social distancing allows us time to maintain our health care system and preserve it for those who need it most. This is one of the most important times. We are all called upon to help ourselves by helping others. We all have the power to take action. You have the ability to make a difference. You can truly impact how fast and how far this disease spreads in our community. Please do your part practice social distancing and we will get through this together. Thank you.

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