COVID-19 Overview

COVID-19 is a new respiratory disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed COVID-19 cases. 

Symptoms of this infection may appear 2-14 days after exposure and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough and shortness of breath, and
  • In severe cases, pneumonia (fluid in the lungs).

Call your healthcare professional if you develop symptoms, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19. See DPH's travel information related to COVID-19.

You can also call 2-1-1 to learn more about:

  • COVID-19 prevention, symptoms, and treatment
  • Information about testing
  • Guidance for people planning or returning from travel

 

Tips For Prevention

The MA DPH, CDC, and other federal, state, and local agencies are leading a comprehensive response to COVID-19.  Here are some things that each of us can and should do to keep ourselves and those around us safe and healthy:

  • Wash your hands, often
  • Avoid close contact with other people
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces, often

 

Stay Informed

Visit your town websites to learn the most recent information, local services, and guidance from our municipal officials.  

State Resources

Federal Resources

 

Health Services

Information

Insurance Coverage

  • Massachusetts health insurers are required to cover the cost of testing and treatment for members who may be affected by COVID-19, including not charging copays or deductibles for those services.
  • The Massachusetts Health Connector announced a special enrollment period until April 25th for residents to apply for coverage.
  • MassHealth announced new policies to expand telehealth coverage, allow 90-day and early refills of prescriptions, make billing for COV-19 tests easier for providers, and remind providers that there are no copays for lab tests, and pharmacies that they cannot deny medications if a member cannot pay.
  • Attorney General Health Care Helpline: (888) 830-6277

 

Transportation

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)

  • Service changes have been made across modes to match reduced demand and help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
    • Bus and Silver Line: Saturday service for most routes, with additional service on busier routes during peak travel times
    • Subway: Saturday service on the Red Line, Orange Line, and Green Line B, C, and D Branches. Saturday service with increased frequency to reflect ridership demand on the Blue Line and Green Line E Branch.
    • Commuter Rail: Reduced service on all lines
    • Ferry: No service
    • The RIDE: There are no planned service changes.
  • Increased cleaning and disinfecting is happening system-wide, with vehicles being cleaned daily and high-contact surfaces being cleaned every 4 hours.

Registry of Motor Vehicles

 

Relief for Small Businesses and Employees

Small Business Resources 

Unemployment Assistance

  • The week-long waiting period for unemployment benefits has been waived.
  • Eligibility for unemployment assistance has also been expanded for those whose jobs have been impacted by COVID-19. Read the details here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/massachusetts-covid-19-unemployment-information
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)
    • lThe FPUC program will provide an additional $600 per week to individuals who are collecting regular Unemployment Compensation (UC), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Extended Benefits (EB), Trade Readjustment Act (TRA), and Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DA).
    • The Department has already begun implementing the FPUC program for regular UC claimants. The $600 will be added to all eligible weeks of benefits retroactive to the week beginning March 29, 2020 -April 4th and continuing until July 31, 2020.
    • FPUC monetary disbursements will begin immediately in Massachusetts for those who are currently collecting benefits on regular UC claims.
    • Those receiving PEUC, PUA, and EB will receive the additional $600 payments retroactive to March 29, 2020 as soon as their claims are processed and determined eligible.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
    • PUA provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are not working as a result of COVID-19 and are self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and others who otherwise would not qualify for regular UC or EB under state or federal law or PEUC. These individuals are not able to claim benefits directly through the UI Online System in Massachusetts.
    • Eligible claimants under PUA will be retroactively compensated with this benefit beginning February 2, 2020, or the first week a claimant was unable to work as a result of COVID-19, whichever date is later. The last week this benefit is payable is the week ending December 26, 2020.
    • Individuals should visit mass.gov/pua to apply.
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
    • The PEUC program provides up to 13 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits to individuals who have exhausted their previous unemployment benefits. The first week a claimant can be compensated on this benefit is the week beginning March 29, 2020, and the last payable week is the week ending December 26, 2020.
    • Individuals who have exhausted their UI benefits after July 5, 2019 may receive PEUC by successfully applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
  • If you have any concerns about earned sick time, paid leave, or your rights regarding COVID-19, call the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Hotline (M-F 10am - 4pm) at 617-727-3465

 

Consumer Protections

Utilities

  • The DPU has issued a moratorium on electric and gas shut-offs by all private and public utility companies until the end of the declared state of emergency.
  • National Grid will continue emergency response, electricity and gas service, customer-requested service, regular billing, and payment assistance, while pausing collections activities and disconnections, non-essential planned electric outages, non-essential electric and gas-related services, and energy efficiency on-premise services. Get the latest updates from https://www.nationalgridus.com/COVID-19

Student Loans

  • The federal government has announced that it is waiving interest on student loans owned by the U.S. Department of Education. 
  • The Attorney General’s Student Loan Assistance Unit is available to help borrowers explore repayment options, including options to temporarily stop making student loan payments. Contact info: (888) 830-6277

--

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

The following bills have been passed by the legislature in the response to COVID-19:

  • H.4561, An Act making $15 million in Appropriations for the Fiscal year 2020 to Provide for Supplementing Certain Existing Appropriations Relating to the Coronavirus
    • Appropriated $15 million to the state's COVID-19 response
  • H.4647, An Act providing for a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 Emergency
    • Stops landlords from sending Notices to Quit
    • Stops courts from hearing eviction cases or entering judgements
    • Stops sheriffs from enforcing executions for possession
    • Stops late fees and negative reporting for COVID-impacted tenants
    • Moratorium on residential foreclosures
    • Forbearance program for mortgagors impacted by COVID
    • Gives landlords access to last month's rent to cover expenses
    • Moratorium on evictions for small businesses
  • H.4598, An Act to Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities and State Authorities Resulting from COVID-19
    • Included basic provisions for the operations of municipal government (permission to delay town meeting and budget approvals, allowing public employees to come out of retirement for the COVID-19 response, tolling constructive deadlines, etc).
    • Delayed tax day to July 15
    • Authorized remote shareholder and board meetings for public and non-profit corporations
    • Authorized the sale of alcohol with food deliveries
  • H.4616, An Act to Further Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities, School Districts and State Authorities Resulting from COVID-19
    • Delayed MBTA Budget Deadline
    • Unlocked funding for emergency housing, and suspended requirements for in-person interactions related to the MRVP and RAFT housing programs
    • Prohibited municipalities from terminating essential services (utilities, trash collection, etc) for residents because of non-payment due to COVID-19
    • Gave flexibility to DESE to make the decision to cancel MCAS, and to modify or waive "competency determinations"
  • S.2608, An Act Granting Authority to Postpone 2020 Municipal Elections in the Commonwealth and Increase Voting Options in Response to the Declaration of Emergency to Respond to COVID-19
    • Authorized local bodies to postpone municipal caucuses and elections
    • Made provisions for the implementation of postponed elections, including early voting by mail
  • S.2599, An Act Authorizing Waiver of the One Week Waiting Period for Unemployment Benefits
    • Waived the one week waiting period for release of unemployment benefits