At a press conference on Monday, President Trump said, as part of Operation Warp Speed, the Administration has begun buying equipment, securing the manufacturing sites, and, in some cases, acquiring the raw materials so drugmakers can begin producing their potential COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the summer. The U.S. is aiming to deliver 300 million doses of a vaccine for COVID-19 by early 2021.
Massachusetts’ $1.1 billion COVID-19 spending bill was enacted and laid before Governor Baker on Thursday. The bill includes hundreds of millions of dollars for COVID-19 costs, like $350 million for personal protective equipment (PPE), $85 million on field hospitals and shelters, $44 million for the state’s contact tracing collaborative, and more than $111 million in supplemental payments to hospitals and providers. It also provides funding to help companies affected by the pandemic, summer camps and youth programs, and more.
Also on Thursday, House Bill 4547, an act authorizing and accelerating transportation investment, was passed by a vote of 36-4 in the Senate. The roughly $17 billion borrowing bill aims to finance transportation infrastructure improvements in Massachusetts. Approved earlier this year in the House, a House/Senate Conference will likely be appointed to iron out the differences between the bills. And on Friday, the Massachusetts House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures, and State Assets held a virtual hearing on House Bill 4854, and act enabling partnerships for growth – the Governor’s Economic Development Bond Bill.
There are less than two weeks left for formal sessions of the Massachusetts Legislature. On the list of items that could be considered before the July 31 deadline are policing reform, the above referenced economic development bond bill and transportation finance legislation, as well as the FY2021 Budget, likely a 1/12 Budget to provide financing for state government in the month of August. The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC) will hold a board meeting on Wednesday where they are expected to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare spending and costs, as well as their drug pricing review process. You can see the agenda, here.
Finally, the United States Senate returns this week after a two-week recess, with plans to finalize another coronavirus relief package.