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March 18 COVID-19 Update

News from the office of Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante
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Dear <<First Name>>,

As the situation surrounding the spread and attempt to mitigate transmission of COVID-19 evolves, I want to give you an update on the current situation. We will continue to communicate via email and social media as the situation changes in order to get you the most up-to-date information. Additionally, please read on to the end of this email to find resources for those who have been economically impacted by COVID-19.

If you have any questions or comments, please email them to my legislative aide, Andrew Tarr, at andrew.tarr@mahouse.gov so that we may respond in a timely manner. My staff and I are in constant communication with local, state, and federal officials to bring your concerns about the COVID-19 situation to the proper authorities and to get the most up-to-date information possible back to our residents and communities. 

It has become clear that there are two situations that have emerged from the spread of COVID-19: one relative to personal health, containing the virus, and flattening the curve, and the economic impact of taking actions in order to achieve these goals. I remain in constant contact with all of my colleagues in order to address both of these situations.

Last week, the House and Senate passed a $15 million package to help deal with the situation surrounding the COVID-19 epidemic, which Governor Baker signed into law. Yesterday, $5 million in emergency funding was distributed to local boards of health to address immediate public health needs. This week, the House continues to work on several pieces of emergency legislation relating to the current crisis.

My office is also monitoring legislation moving at the federal level, including measures to combat COVID-19 and provide emergency aid to individuals, families, and small businesses. This article from the New York Times best lays out the tools that the federal government is discussing. The Trump Administration and Congress are also discussing economic tools for individuals and businesses in the following forms:

  • Income tax payment deferrals 
  • Direct payments to individuals and businesses 
  • Assistance for the airline, hotel, and restaurant industries 

Please remember that I am your state representative, working for you with the state legislature and Baker-Polito Administration. These federal options are being discussed with Congress and the Trump Administration. I have expressed to Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Ed Markey, or Congressman Seth Moulton to move forward as quickly as possible to bring federal relief to our residents, families, and businesses. I recommend you to do the same. 

On March 10th, Governor Baker declared a State of Emergency in Massachusetts to support the Commonwealth’s response to the outbreak of Coronavirus. The following is a summary of some the most relevant guidance and directives following that declaration. Visit Mass.gov for complete information regarding COVID-19 in Massachusetts, the state of emergency, guidance and directives, fact sheets, and more.

  • Gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited across the Commonwealth. Due to a local state of emergency in Gloucester, gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited.
  • Restaurants may remain open for take out and delivery only. On-site consumption of food and drink is prohibited.
  • Public and private schools througout the Commonwealth are closed until April 6th.
  • State courts are closed until April 6th.
  • The MBTA is operating on a reduced service schedule in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 while providing a public transit option for people with essential travel needs, such as medical professionals and emergency responders.
  • The Registry of Motor Vehicles will extend the renewal timeline of certain credentials to reduce the need for customers to physically visit an RMV.
  • Nursing homes and assisted living centers are required to restrict visitation of all visitors. Hospitals are required to screen all visitors before entering.
  • Licensing of certain health care professionals will be expedited to provide more access to care during this emergency.

Again, these are only some of the guidance and directives relating to the current state of affairs. Please visit Mass.gov for more complete information and check the municipal websites for Gloucester, Rockport, and Essex for local guidance.

Please read on below for resources for those who have been economically impacted by COVID-19. This is not yet a complete list and my office will continue to be in communication via email and social media as we put together and become aware of more resources.

This is an evolving situation with many days ahead for us to work together to address challenges and hardships. Please follow all local, state, and federal recommendations to help keep yourself, your loved ones, and our communities safe and healthy. I am confident that by working together, we will get through this.

Applying for Unemployment

If you have found yourself out of work due to restrictions in place because of COVID-19, you should apply for unemployment insurance even if you are unsure if your situation fits normal unemployment insurance guidelines.

The Massachusetts House and Senate are working on emergency legislation that will allow new claims to be paid more quickly by waiving the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits and Governor Baker's administration is developing emergency regulations that will allow people impacted by COVID-19 to collect unemployment insurance in certain circumstances.

To learn more about unemployement insurance and how to apply, visit the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance website.

Massachusetts COVID-19 Small Business Loan Fund

Massachusetts has created a loan fund of $10 million to provide financial relief to Massachusetts businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. The Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) will receive and process all applications for this fund.

The loan fund is open to Massachusetts-based businesses with under 50 full- and part-time employees, including nonprofits, who are affected by by COVID-19. Loan amounts of up to $75,000 are available with no payments due for the first six months. Please visit EmpoweringSmallBusiness.org to apply and see the full list of eligibility requirements, terms, and conditions on MGCC's website.

Apply for a loan from the COVID-19 Loan Fund using the application on MGCC's website and email completed applications to the MGCC at mgcc@massgcc.com with the subject line “2020 Small Business Recovery Loan Fund.”

Small Business Administration Disaster Declaration

Governor Baker announced that he has made a request to the United States Small Business Administration for a declaration of economic injury to Massachusetts small businesses in order to access more small business assistance from the federal government, such as the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. You can read the request made to the SBA here.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) will make an announcment when the EIDL program is activated for Massachusetts and details will be included in our future updates. Once activated, all small businesses within affected counties will become eligible to apply directly through the SBA.

Restaurant Strong Emergency Fund

The Greg Hill Foundation and Samuel Adams have joined together to create the Restaurant Strong Fund in order to provide direct assistance to help support full-time restaurant workers from Massachusetts who have been impacted by the COVID-19 closures.

To apply for help from the Restaurant Strong fund, please fill out the form on their website. Note that this is a private fund, not a government fund. Please direct all inquiries about this fund to the Greg Hill Foundation.

One Fair Wage Tipped Worker Emergency Fund

One Fair Wage has set up an emergency assistance fund for cash assistance to restaurant workers, delivery drivers and other tipped workers and service workers who are seeing their income decline during this disaster, or aren’t able to work because of quarantines or other health concerns.

To apply for help from One Fair Wage, please fill out the form on their website. Note that this is a private fund, not a government fund. Please direct all inquiries about this fund to One Fair Wage.

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Copyright © 2020 Ann-Margaret Ferrante, All rights reserved.


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