State of Emergency in Massachusetts in Response to COVID-19

Governor Baker declared a State of Emergency on March 10th in order to better deal with COVID-19, an infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. Massachusetts has joined with 11 other states in declaring an emergency.

With this declaration, expedited response efforts to the novel coronavirus will be employed, and the Department of Health and Human Services will be able to suspend or modify some laws if necessary, like parts of the HIPAA privacy rule or laws requiring that medications only be given out in health care facilities.

Right now, our understanding of COVID-19 and the pandemic it has caused is changing and evolving by the hour. For the very latest information, please refer to the following websites.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH):

 https://www.mass.gov/COVID19 

City of Somerville Novel Coronavirus Preparedness and Information:

https://www.somervillema.gov/departments/programs/novel-coronavirus-preparedness-and-information

Cambridge Public Health Department COVID-19 Information:

http://cambridgepublichealth.org/services/diseases-conditions/coronavirus.php

Please also see the graphic below from the CDC for basic information and steps we can take as individuals.

Rep. Mike Connolly has been in touch with Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone, the Office of Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale, as well as House Leadership and local advocates and residents to share information and help coordinate our collective response.

In addition, Rep. Connolly is working in conjunction with the House Progressive Caucus and other housing and public health advocates to advance policy solutions that will better position the Commonwealth and its residents in the coming months. These include assistance for schools to stay open as food distribution centers for low income students who rely on free or reduced breakfast and lunch programs, advocacy for accelerated implementation of our Paid Family and Medical Leave Law, and halting evictions and foreclosures for at least the duration of the emergency, as is currently being implemented and explored around the country in places like San Jose and others.

Last week, Rep. Connolly joined with legislative colleagues to call for better access to COVID-19 testing, and as a result, all Massachusetts insurance carriers will be covering this testing. The Legislature is also planning to pass a $15 million emergency spending bill in the coming days to begin to address the emergency.

For the time being the State House will remain open to the public, however large public gatherings such as advocacy days will be canceled. We are also awaiting guidance on how formal session and hearings will operate. Call or check social media for the latest updates, or visit the General Court website.

Out of an abundance of caution, our office hours at the Cross Street Elderly Center this Friday (3/13/20) are now canceled, so please check RepConnolly.org/events for future updates. We would be happy to arrange a phone call if the matter is urgent or a scheduled meeting at a later time if needed. If you would like to schedule a meeting, please email Mike.Connolly@MAhouse.gov as usual.

Furthermore, if you have only cold symptoms or a low grade fever, please call your provider. If you are on MassHealth and need assistance with your coverage, give our office a call at (617) 722-2060. If you are covered by a plan on the exchange or need other assistance with your coverage, call the Health Care for All Help Line at (800) 272-4232.

COVID19 represents an incredibly serious threat to public health. By taking this threat seriously and by working together on individual behavior changes and macro level policy efforts — and by listening to the guidance of public health officials — we can take steps to flatten the curve, limit the spread of the disease and mitigate against the worst possible impacts.