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Your Tewksbury Today

Op-Ed: Tewksbury Legislative Delegation Addresses COVID-19

Mar 18, 2020 09:37AM ● By Rep. David Robertson, Sen. Barry Finegold , Rep. Tram Nguyen

Opiniion-Editorial

There’s no question - COVID-19 is here among us, and it will impact our daily functions for the foreseeable future. While there are many uncertainties in the coming days, there is one certainty, and that is our sense of community and perseverance here in Massachusetts and in our towns. We, your legislative delegation, have put together this article to help educate you on what to watch for, as well as what is being done to help you and our communities rally through this crisis in a safe and healthy manner.

COVID-19 is irrefutably serious, with an infection rate and impact that is definitively more wide-reaching than any recent epidemic. These facts are not to stoke fears, but to provide context that explains some of the drastic actions taken by Governor Baker’s administration and town’s public health boards on vigorously defending our public health. We ask you to help combat the spread by limiting your contacts in public, and disinfecting yourselves before interacting with anyone who is medically compromised or older as they are most at risk. The Commonwealth has secured

If you think that you are infected you should not go to an emergency room unless you are in imminent, extreme danger – such as you cannot breath or collapse. If this is the case, when you or someone calls emergency services please let them know that you may be a carrier and have displayed symptoms consistent with the virus. If you are developing symptoms but are not in absolute danger, the first call should be to your primary care physician. Your PCP will consult with the state experts and develop a treatment plan custom to you, while limiting contact you have with other folks and isolating you from other disease, which can compound the effects of COVID-19. Symptoms of the virus set in a period ranging from two to 14 days, and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. In more critical cases confusion, bluish lips, and pain and pressure of the chest occur. These critical cases should be addressed immediately with a phone call to your PCP or other medical professional.

COVID-19 has far more than health impacts as well. Our offices and the legislature, as well as Governor Baker and his executive agencies have made several emergency changes below.

  • The MBTA Commuter Rail will be operating on a reduced schedule to incorporate extra time needed for decontamination, as are the various subway lines. The bus routes will be operating on Saturday schedules. Certain ferries are outright suspended. Route information for all forms of transit may be found at mbta.com/coronavirus

  • Telehealth has been expanded and is NOT limited to COVID-19 related cases, nor is it limited to MassHealth or private insurance cases. Residents should consult their insurance for the best numbers to reach their respective physicians by this safer route.

  • The Governor and legislature have made emergency loans immediately available to small businesses (50 or less employees) in order to compensate for lost revenue and sales. This is not limited to restaurants and bars, and includes certain non-profits. Information is available at https://www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org/

  • Governor Baker has filed emergency legislation on unemployment currently going through the Senate. This will waive the week waiting requirement and expand payments to include infection, quarantine, and loss of work due to COVID-19 related reasons. We will make these changes immediately known upon the bills passage.

  • The Department of Children and Families have begun operating a 24/7 Care and Custody question line for those fostering or sheltering children. Families with questions about care hearings, health insurance, and more should contact their case worker to find out departmental changes.

  • Those with expiring licenses or learners permits up until April 30th are automatically approved for an extension. Vehicle registrations are not approved for extension however, and must be filed electronically.

  • Those with family or friends in corrections, all visits have been suspended. Phone calls up to 30 minutes will be allowed by inmates to home. Visitation suspension does not apply to lawyers.

  • Anyone who has trouble securing necessary medical equipment, or encounters a shortage at a pharmacy when seeking equipment for a preexisting condition should call our offices and report such a shortage. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has infrastructure in place to help assist individuals and pharmacies facing shortages of needles and other medical equipment to those with preexisting conditions to ensure their health.

Our offices remain open via email and phone, and both branches have cooperated with the Governor in passing legislation to address both the health and economic well-being of you. Of course, this article will likely leave you with questions, so feel free to contact us at your convenience.

Sincerely,

Rep. David Robertson
Sen. Barry Finegold
Rep. Tram Nguyen 

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