Legislative Update: Week of March 23, 2020
MassBio, Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association, MassMEDIC, and COBTH, announced the creation of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Emergency Supply Hub 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. We’re asking every life sciences and healthcare organization to consider how they may be able to help in donating lab, testing, and diagnostics supplies, personal protection equipment (PPE), and medical and scientific expertise needed to combat COVID-19. To learn more and fill out the survey, visit our website.
Massachusetts continued to act aggressively in response to the growing coronavirus outbreak. To ensure Massachusetts residents out of work because of COVID-19 can receive immediate financial support, the Governor signed and enacted a bill to waive the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits (Senate Bill 2599). Additionally, following Boston’s lead, Cambridge also issued a temporary moratorium on all public and private construction activity; and the Baker Administration released a $10 million capital assistance program to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
Also last week, Governor Baker announced Massachusetts would soon see an “enormous increase” in coronavirus testing, stating that the state needed to perform tests on 3,500 people a day. To address this need, Massachusetts’ first high capacity, drive-thru testing site opened on Thursday, with several other drive-thru sites opening across the state. For patients who test positive, Boston’s Carney Hospital was transformed into the nation’s first dedicated care center for treating coronavirus patients and will continue to scale up to aid other hospitals nearing capacity.
The Massachusetts Legislature remains in session, and House Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Spilka are committed to finding ways to continue the current session to support coronavirus response efforts.
On Monday, the Baker Administration issued an order closing all non-essential businesses as well as a “stay at home” advisory for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This order will begin on Tuesday, March 24 at 12pm and remain in place until Tuesday, April 7 at 12pm.
In his remarks announcing the order, the Governor specifically stated that manufacturers of medical products and pharmaceutical companies developing treatments for COVID-19 and other diseases will continue to operate, and are exempted as essential businesses. Additionally, all R&D is essential and exempt and is covered under the Supply Chain exemption.
The full list of essential businesses can be found, here.