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Your Tewksbury Today

Covid-19 Updates #15: Phase II, Healthy Relationships, PPP Deadline, and More

Tram Nguyen

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Governor Baker announced that step two of Phase II of the reopening plan will start on Monday, June 22nd. This will allow for restaurants to offer indoor dining, close contact personal services (nail salons, massage therapy, etc.) to re-open, and offices to increase from 25% to 50% of capacity.

I urge everyone to continue to be cautious and diligent about protecting your health and the health of your family, friends, and neighbors. We have come a long way since the state of emergency began in March. Now is not the time to gamble with our health. We don’t want Massachusetts to be in a similar position to other states across the country that are currently experiencing increases in positive cases and hospitalizations with their reopenings. Please continue to physically distance, wear a face covering, practice good hygiene, and get tested and stay home if you are feeling sick.

I am truly proud of everyone’s strength in these difficult times, and I am glad for the many wonderful people in our community who are making daily sacrifices to ensure that we stop the spread of this terrible virus.

Sincerely, thank you.

Town Halls

I hope you can join me tomorrow, June 20th at 10:00 am, for our final town hall in this series. I will be joined by Family Law Attorney Laura Gal from Northeast Legal Aid to have a conversation about healthy relationships. It is important that we all understand what healthy relationships and consent should look like, as well as know what resources are available to those in need. You can submit your questions about healthy relationships using this Google Form: https://forms.gle/jZUbyhsbDTfSAwXY6.

As a reminder, we are live streaming the town halls on my Facebook Page. You don’t need a Facebook account to watch the Facebook Live stream or to replay the recording afterwards. You simply need to visit my page at facebook.com/TeamTram.MA and a link to my scheduled live streams should appear near the top of the page.

Replay the recording of previous town halls:
Covid-19
2020 Elections
Food Insecurity
Environmental Issues
 
Resources
  • Many families are struggling right now. Know that you are not alone. Please reach out to the 2-1-1 resource hotline to get connected with resources that you may need.
  • If you feel overwhelmed with emotions like sadness or anxiety, or feel like harming yourself or others, Call2Talk is a resource available through the 2-1-1 resource hotline.
  • Massachusetts Network of Care, a searchable behavioral health directory of mental health services and over 5,000 organizations, is available here.
  • Resources for people in need can be found at https://findhelp.org/ and on this map developed by MEMA, MA VOAD, and other partners.
  • Resources for people with disabilities can be found through the Disability Resource Center on this spreadsheet.
  • For Covid housing and emergency needs you can reach out to Community Teamwork, Inc. (CTI) between 8:30 am and 4:00 pm at their general hotline 978-654-5607 or by emailing them at CovidResponseCTI@commteam.orgClick here to check CTI’s website for updates.
  • State Attorney General Healey’s Office (AGO) has resources here. You can find information about protecting yourself from scams and fraud, division hotline numbers, and more.
  • UI Fraud Alert: Criminal enterprises using stolen personal information from earlier national data breaches have been attempting to file fraudulent unemployment claims through the DUA system. If you have received notification that you've been approved for benefits that you never applied for, please report it right away. Click here for more information and to report DUA fraud online. It is also recommended that you file a police report and freeze your credit with all three major credit reporting agencies.
  • The COVID-19 Command Center and MEMA have stood up regional isolation and recovery sites located in hotels across the Commonwealth. Providers or individuals from Boston can access isolation sites at Boston Hope or Newton Pavilion by calling (617) 534-5050. Individuals who do not live in Boston can access Isolation & Recovery Sites in Lexington, Everett, Taunton, Northampton, and Pittsfield by calling (617) 367-5150 between the hours of 7 am and 7 pm More information, including clinical and financial eligibility, can be found here.
Latest updates on the State of Emergency
  • Click here for Frequently Asked Questions about Covid-19.
  • Click here for the latest guidance on prevention and treatment.
  • On Thursday, June 18th, we tested 9,142 individuals and had 271 new positive cases (about 3%). In total, 736,691 patients have been tested. There are 106,422 total reported cases of Covid-19 and 7,770 deaths in the Commonwealth. The latest updates can be found here.
  • Hospital capacity: As of June 18th, there are about 12,700 beds statewide and about 35% are currently empty and available. There are 968 patients hospitalized statewide for Covid-19.
  • Contact Tracing: as the Contact Tracing Collaborative continues its work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, it is critical that Massachusetts residents answer the phone when a contact tracer calls or texts. Contact tracers will only reach out from phone numbers with 833 or 857 area codes, and the caller ID will say MA COVID TeamClick here to learn more.
  • On May 18th, the Governor issued a “safer at home” advisory, urging that people should stay at home unless heading to an essential service or a newly reopened facility or activity. Residents aged 65 or older and those with underlying health conditions should stay home except for necessary trips.
  • Face coverings are required in public when physical distancing is not possible. Full details of the order can be found here.
  • We are currently in Phase II of the Reopening Plan. Phase II began on June 8th and is happening in two steps. First, retail stores, childcare providers, day camps, lodgings, youth sports, and outdoor dining at restaurants were allowed to reopen on June 8th. Step two will begin on Monday, June 22nd, and it will include indoor dining at restaurants and close contact personal services like nail and tanning salons and massage therapy. The Phase II order can be found here and more information about the Reopening Plan can be found here.
Legislative Updates
The American Red Cross Needs Our Help!
  • Blood drives are being cancelled at an alarming rate. Low donor turnout could hurt U.S. blood supply. The Red Cross understands people may be hesitant to give blood due to coronavirus, but wants to reassure everyone on the precautions their teams are taking to keep you safe. The Red Cross urges healthy individuals to give blood. Learn more and schedule an appointment at rcblood.org/2IAWGba.
Healthcare
  • Health Connector has a special enrollment period for healthcare coverage through June 23rd for those who are uninsured.
  • Buoy Health offers a free 24/7 online tool for Massachusetts residents to give personalized guidance on what to do if residents experience symptoms of Covid-19. Visit Buoy Health Covid-19 Web App to use the tool.
  • Massachusetts launched a Covid-19 test site locator map for people who qualify for testing, which was expanded to include people with mild symptoms and those who are close contacts of a positive case.
  • Beginning on June 3rd, family visitation restrictions at nursing homes, rest homes, and assisted living facilities were eased to allow for scheduled outdoor visits. Guidance can be found here.
  • There is a dedicated phone line operating 7 days a week for any family concerns about loved ones in nursing homes and rest homes: 617-660-5399.
  • People in need of Personal Care Attendant (PCA) services, which support individuals with disabilities and older adults with activities of daily living (ADL), such as dressing, grooming, bathing, and ambulating, can call 1-844-422-6277 to be connected to home health services in your region.
  • MassHealth and the Health Connector will protect coverage for all individuals who have Medicaid coverage as of March 18th and for all individuals approved for coverage during the national emergency.
  • DPH warned of virus-linked syndrome in children. You can read more about this here.
Employment
  • Jobs are available to assist long term care facilities
  • People may use this contact form to submit questions and comments to the Administration about the Reopening Plan. It also outlines the process for reporting non-compliant businesses.
  • wMinors under the age of 18 who have been employed part-time but are not eligible for regular UI should be eligible under the CARES Act for PUA benefits. According to Secretary Acosta, those who are under the age of 18 can file for unemployment insurance under the PUA program, but they must do so over the phone at (877) 626-6800. There is no timeline for creating the ability for minors to file for UI online at this point.
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): the CARES Act expands unemployment benefits for individuals who may have already exhausted regular unemployment compensation for an additional 13 weeks – this benefit is now available. PEUC will begin automatically for individuals who have been receiving regular standard benefits on an active claim. If an individual's standard unemployment claim has expired, they must file a new standard claim. Individuals who exhausted regular benefits but were receiving benefits through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) established under the CARES Act must apply through the standard unemployment benefits portal here. Individuals will automatically receive the additional $600 weekly through the week ending July 25, 2020. Get more information at www.mass.gov/peuc.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The PUA application form for self employed, gig workers, and those who have exhausted their state benefits launched on April 21st. Click here for more information about the CARES Act implementation.
  • Click here for the latest updates and resources to apply for UI Benefits. The application is now available in m English, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Chinese, and Vietnamese.
  • People experiencing unemployment may also need help with finding health care coverage. Health Connector has a Special Enrollment Period that has been extended until June 23rd. For more information please visit the Health Connector COVID-19 website. Additional health insurance resources for people who have recently lost their employment can be found here (English) and here (Spanish).
  • U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued guidance on emergency paid leave pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), signed into law on March 18th. This includes guidance for employer requirementsemployee rights, and potential frequently asked questions.
  • Here is a Guide for Workers on returning to work, as it relates to unemployment insurance (UI).
Employers
Students, Borrowers, and Parents
  • The Massachusetts Division of Banks (DOB) has joined a multi-state initiative to secure payment relief options for Massachusetts student loan borrowers and issued a Consumer Advisory with important information and resources for private student loan borrowers. Through this initiative, DOB has secured relief options with 15 private student loan servicers to expand on the protections the federal government granted to federal student loan borrowers. These new options stand to benefit over 182,000 Massachusetts borrowers with privately held student loans. This response builds on the federal CARES Act, which provided much needed relief for students with federal loans, including the suspension of monthly payments, interest and involuntary collection activity until September 30, 2020. Check the advisory linked above for more information.
  • In addition, the MA Department of Higher Education (DHE) is deferring scheduled repayments for its No-Interest Loan Program for a duration of four months to support relief efforts during the Covid-19 public health emergency. These deferments will help approximately 12,000 students. All no-interest loan accounts currently in repayment will automatically be placed in a deferment from April 2020 through July 2020. More information can be found here.
  • Student Aid Relief: an administrative forbearance and zero interest loan relief was implemented for certain federal loans from March 13th through September 30, 2020. Click here for more information.
Resources for Survivors of Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault
  • For the latest information, please check mass.gov/covid19.
  • Domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, know that you are not forgotten and we are here to provide resources to support and keep you safe. Physical spaces are temporarily closed, but there are resources available remotely. Also, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners are still available at hospitals to collect forensics.
  • Trial courts can be reached during regular hours at 1-833-91COURT. Judges are available 24/7 to issue 209A restraining orders and 258E harassment orders. These forms have been repackaged as one document to streamline and expedite the process and can be found online. However, please note that you must still contact the trial courts to start the process.
  • The Safelink Hotline is a centralized number to call to talk to someone and receive services for sexual and domestic violence. Calls are confidential and available in many different languages to support survivors and their family. The hotline is available by calling 211 or toll free 1-877-785-2020. For people who are hearing impaired, call TTY 1-877-521-2601.
  • If you are not comfortable calling, you can instant message with a trained advocate at the National Domestic Violence Hotline, www.thehotline.orgwww.loveisrespect.org, or www.rainn.org.
  • If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.
Preventing Child Abuse
  • Child abuse affects every community, whether you are aware of it or not. As adults, there are many things we can do to prevent child abuse, like actively acknowledging the signs of child abuse and knowing when and where to report instances of abuse or neglect. Check out the MA Children’s Alliance Resource Page to learn more.
Advisory Affecting Drivers
  • On June 12th, the RMV announced new initiatives to provide additional flexibility for customers, like expanding appointment hours at Open Service Centers (8:00 am - 8:00 pm), Leominster and Watertown service centers are to reopen exclusively for Learner’s Permit test appointments (which is also currently available online), eligible 16 year olds may apply for supervised driving privileges, REAL ID upgrade fee is waived for customers who renew online before August 12th, and junior operators are able to complete 6 hours of supervised driving instead of observation requirements. You can find the most up-to-date information by visiting https://www.mass.gov/info-details/rmv-covid-19-information.
  • Online Learner’s Permit Tests: as of June 10th, Class D and M learner’s permit exams are available online.
  • AAA Northeast reopened select branch offices in Massachusetts, while following strict distancing procedures and CDC guidelines for the protection and benefit of employees and AAA members. Members should visit aaa.com/branches and enter their zip code to find the nearest open office.  Everyone will be required to wear a face covering to enter and conduct business at AAA branch offices and will be asked to physically distance. RMV services will be available by appointment only to members who complete an online reservation ahead of time.
  • The RMV is cautioning customers to use only mass.gov/rmv when they are trying to renew a license or registration or process any business transactions online.  Customers may inadvertently come across unofficial third-party websites or “mimic sites” that advertise similar services but have no affiliation with the RMV.
Census 2020
  • The census impacts more than $16 billion in federal funds that Massachusetts receives, from hospitals, to schools, roads, transportation, unemployment benefits, financial aid, healthcare, and more, all receive the federal funding based on Census data. These are tough times for all of us. Help our community receive the federal funding it needs for the next 10 years by taking 10 minutes to complete your 2020 Census. If we go undercounted, we risk missing out on funds. We can’t let that happen. Please fill out your census today - online, by phone, or by mail! Fill out your Census, and tell your family and friends to do so too!
Law-related Resources
  • Volunteer Lawyers Projects Eastern Region Legal Intake (ERLI) is available to callers seeking legal assistance, advice, and referral. If you’re looking for help with a legal matter check out the Get Help page, contact the ERLI helpline at 617-603-1700, or apply online for legal assistance here. ERLI is open on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9AM - 12PM; and Tuesday and Thursday at 12:30PM - 3:30PM. If you call and reach a voicemail, be sure to leave your name and number and they will contact you.
  • Northeast Legal Aid (NLA) has information and resources here.
  • For some law-related updates and help regarding Covid-19, you can visit https://www.masslegalhelp.org/health-mental-health/covid-19.
  • Massachusetts Covid-19 bills, summarized in plain English by the MassTrac Legal Division, are now available to the public for free here.
  • The Trial Court helpline is available. Assistance includes general information about cases & navigation of the court system, while it is closed to the public for all but emergency matters. It's staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please call 1-833-91COURT.
What You Can Do to Help
  • To donate goods for use in Massachusetts' response to the Covid-19 public health emergency click here.
  • To provide information about goods you are looking to sell to support Massachusetts' Covid-19 response efforts click here.
  • To adapt your business to produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
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