Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Senator Rausch: COVID-19 Update #8


Tuesday, March 31, 2020


I hope everyone had a positive weekend. I was glad to see good social distancing on display at my local grocery store.
As of today, Tuesday, March 31, there are 6,620 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth. That's an increase of more than 1,000 new cases just since yesterday (5,572 cases). Of today's total, 738 cases are in Norfolk County, 306 are in Bristol County, and 1,340 are in Middlesex County. Until today, Middlesex County had the highest number of positive cases in the Commonwealth; now, Suffolk County has the highest number, at 1,373 positive cases. Nearly 47,000 people have been tested. A total of 89 Bay Staters have died. Additional COVID-19 statistics are provided by DPH. The number of positive cases is updated daily at 4pm.

I'm sure many of you have questions about what the federal stimulus, known as the CARES Act, means for you and your community. The multi-trillion dollar stimulus will provide direct cash assistance to individuals and families, expand access to unemployment benefits, expand loans to small businesses, and bolster our healthcare infrastructure. 
Some key provisions include:
  • One-time direct payments: Individuals making up to $75,000 will receive $1,200. Married couples making up to $150,000 will receive a one-time direct payment of $2,400. (Smaller payments will be made to individuals making between $75,000 and $99,000, or married couples making between $150,000 and $198,000).  
  • Federally-funded unemployment will be available for 13 additional weeks, bringing the total time period of benefits for Massachusetts workers to 39 weeks. Unemployment benefits will increase by $600 per week for every American, and access to unemployment benefits is expanded to include part-time, self-employed, and gig economy workers.
  • $330 billion in emergency appropriations, including $100 billion to hospitals and health care providers. Additional funding will provide personal and protective equipment (PPE) to frontline health care workers, increase testing capacity, and finance construction of new housing for patients and emergency operation centers. 
  • Over $350 billion available in federally guaranteed Paycheck Protection Program loans to small businesses. Loan principal amounts will be forgiven for employers who maintain their payroll throughout the public health emergency, helping businesses to maintain current staff levels and prevent layoffs.  
While the unemployment benefits are an important part of the CARES Act, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) informed us that the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) still awaits federal guidance regarding implementation. Until the federal government provides that guidance, expanded benefits will not be available in Massachusetts. Accordingly, DUA asks people who are eligible solely through the CARES Act to wait to apply through UI Online. Please visit DUA's Information on Unemployment and Coronavirus (COVID-19) site to stay in the loop about when those benefits will be accessible.

So many of you have reached out to me and my team looking for ways you can support our medical professionals on the front lines of this outbreak and those impacted by it across the Commonwealth. Thank you. My team compiled a list of ways to help, including how to donate PPE, provide goods to bolster our statewide COVID-19 response efforts, or volunteer, whether or not you have healthcare experience.

Remember, we are in this together. Stay home to the greatest extent possible. Data shows we have not yet hit the peak of this thing, so it's still going to get worse before it gets better. Wash your hands, frequently and diligently. Do not spend in-person time with anyone outside your own household unless you must, such as performing an essential job or purchasing groceries and other supplies; if you spend in-person time with others, maintain at least six feet of distance at all times. Seek virtual mental health support if you need. Use tele-health, which is now covered in Massachusetts. We will get to the other side of this pandemic, but only if we all do our parts. That's how public health works.

Thank you. My team and I are all working overtime and are here for you. Call us at 617-722-1555 or email me directly at and one of us will get back to you as quickly as we can.

Wishing you and your families strength, health, and resilience.

Yours in service,

Senator Becca Rausch

Senator Rausch: COVID-19 Update #8

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