On Tuesday, Governor Baker filed a $1 billion supplemental budget bill for Fiscal Year 2020 to cover incurred and expected costs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following federal reimbursement and other federal funding sources, it is expected that this supplemental budget will result in no net costs to Massachusetts.
And on Friday, Governor Baker extended his “essential services order” and “stay at home advisory” which was scheduled to expire on Monday, May 18 to Tuesday, May 19 – a 24-hour extension. This extension was issued to allow the Economic Reopening Advisory Board the time needed to announce their guidance on May 18, relative to reopening the Commonwealth and their return to work procedure. Also on Friday, the Baker Administration released a partial list of Massachusetts employers – including many MassBio members and life sciences companies – who are committed to continuing work from home policies for the remainder of the spring and for the foreseeable future to promote a safer reopening and ensure greater capacity for social distancing.
In Congress, the final text of the HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) Act – CARES 2.0 – was released on Wednesday. As outlined, the HEROES Act provides additional resources and support to respond to the coronavirus crisis. Highlights in the bill include: the establishment of a national testing, contact tracing, and surveillance strategy; ensure all Americans can seek treatment for COVID-19 without concern for cost; support of front line health care providers; expansion of affordable health coverage; enhancement of vaccine manufacturing and distribution capacity; investment in public health infrastructure; and new protections to keep nursing home patients safe. The House voted to pass the bill on Friday, by a vote of 208-199. The bill now moves to the Senate.
Additionally, in a virtual public hearing on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned against reopening states too quickly, stating that these areas will see more COVID-19 deaths and economic damage. He also warned that reopening states before they are ready could cause an outbreak that will be too difficult to control.
On Monday, Governor Baker released his Reopening Massachusetts plan which outlines the gradual, phased reopening of the Massachusetts economy contingent upon the continued improvement of COVID-19 related public health data and increased testing (45,000 tests/day by July and 75,000 tests/day by December) and tracing implementation.
Industries and sectors included in the Phase 1 reopening include manufacturing and laboratories that were previously deemed non-essential by the Baker Administration. In all cases, all businesses and activities, including those that have continued to operate as essential services, must comply as of May 25with new mandatory safety standards. For more information on the reopening plan, its phases, and timeline, visit: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-massachusetts.