The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is a global health emergency. We have some confirmed cases in Boston and need to make sure we are doing everything in our ability to slow the spread within our community. This virus will impact our most vulnerable and we must each do our part to protect those at risk. Many people who contract COVID-19 only become mildly ill and are likely to pass it on to others despite a lack of symptoms.
Residents should practice aggressive social-distancing and limit interaction with persons who are at high risk including older adults, anyone with pre-existing conditions or compromised health, and anyone who is pregnant. These are important measures to protect our health system and ensure that quality care is maintained for those who fall ill.
The health and safety of Boston residents is everyone’s top priority. That is why as of Sunday, March 15th, Mayor Martin J. Walsh declared a public health emergency in the City of Boston.
Boston Public Schools
The Mayor also announced the closure of all Boston Public Schools starting Tuesday, March 17th until Monday, April 27th. Food will be available for BPS students at certain locations through the city. Additional learning materials will be made available including Google Chromebooks for students who lack computer technology at home. For Allston-Brighton, below are the following sites and times:
YMCA Oak Square, 615 Washington St. Brighton, MA 02135 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Jackson/Mann, 500 Cambridge St. Allston, MA 02134 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Brighton High, 25 Warren St. Brighton, MA 02135 10 am to 3pm
Adult and Senior Food Pick Up Locations:
Veronica B. Smith Senior Center: Programming suspended, To-Go meals available
ABCD Neighborhood Opportunity Center: All services suspended except Food Pantry, open weekly from 10am until 4pm
Brighton Allston Congressional Church: Weekly Wednesday 6pm Community Suppers will be grab and go. The food pantry will be open bi-weekly.
For restaurants, bars, and all social gatherings
Governor Charlie Baker has announced that all restaurants and bars will switch to takeout and delivery services only and has limited all social gatherings to no more than 25 people. For more information, please visit this website.
Despite the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding COVID-19, there has been an unprecedented display of humanity from our community. The outpouring of offers to volunteer, donate, or assist with the City’s efforts has only cemented my belief that together we can fight anything that comes our way.
If you are interested in volunteering, there are ways in which you can help safely and at your own convenience. E-mail Lee.NaveJr@boston.gov if you’d like to learn more about volunteer efforts for food pick-up coordination, information drop-offs, or services for the elderly. There is also a Google Doc of resources started by Allston-Brighton residents here.
If you can’t volunteer, the City of Boston has established a Boston Resiliency Fund to support those impacted by the coronavirus. This fund will pay for childcare for health care workers, expand internet and broadband for families in BPS, and fund necessary food access initiatives.
FILING FOR UNEMPLOYMENT
The State Labor and Workforce Development Dept. of Unemployment Assistance are taking action to protect workers.
For current unemployment claims:
- All requirements regarding attending seminars at the MassHire career centers have been suspended.
- Missing deadlines due to effects of COVID-19 will be excused under DUA’s good cause provision.
- All appeal hearings will be held by telephone only.
- The Dept. of Unemployment Assistance must now pay unemployment benefits if a worker is quarantined due to an order by a civil authority or medical professional or leaves employment due to reasonable risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member and does not intend to or is not allowed to return to work. The worker need not provide medical documentation and need only be available for work when and as able.
- To assist individuals who cannot work due to the impact of COVID-19, the administration is filing emergency legislation that will allow new claims to be paid more quickly by waiving the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits.
- There are filing emergency regulations that will allow people impacted by COVID-19 to collect unemployment if their workplace is shut down and expects to reopen in four or or fewer weeks. The following conditions apply:
- Workers must remain in contact with their employer during the shutdown.
- Workers must be available for any work their employer may have for them that they are able to do.
- An employer may request to extend the period of the covered shut-down to eight weeks, and workers will remain eligible for the longer period under the same conditions described above.
- If necessary, DUA may extend these time periods for workers and employers.
- Employers who are impacted by COVID-19 may request up to a 60-day grace period to file quarterly reports and pay contributions.
The pending federal legislation proposes further relief including additional money for unemployment benefits, and relief to employers for charges related to unemployment benefits paid due to COVID-19.
To view the Governor's press release, click here
For Small Businesses
If you are experiencing problems related to the current Coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak, please fill out and submit the form here. This form will help activate the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program with the US Small Business Association when enough businesses have filed submissions. You will be contacted once the program launches to apply for assistance. For the most up-to-date information, visit mass.gov/covid19.
UPDATES FROM MASSHEALTH
MassHealth will cover all Coronavirus testing and treatment. Effective today, MassHealth is allowing early refills and 90-Day supplies of medicine. MassHealth will cover telemedicine and has expanded telehealth and telephonic services If you meet the income standard, need COVID-19 testing, and do not have health insurance, you will be automatically enrolled in MassHealth. MassHealth has expanded insurance eligibility for uninsured residents who turn up at hospitals with an illness
Earned Sick Time
MBTA Service Updates
The MBTA is now running on Saturday schedule for the next few weeks.
These changes are being made based on guidance from public health professionals and have been developed according to several criteria that seek to protect the health and safety of MBTA employees and customers, as well as recent reductions in ridership. Acknowledging guidance that recommends people avoid large crowds, the MBTA will operate at levels that support social distancing.
“The MBTA plays an important role in slowing the spread of the coronavirus while continuing to provide critical services to medical professionals and other employees in key industries that rely on public transit,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “While some of these changes are inconvenient, they maintain a responsible balance between protecting the health and safety of the MBTA workforce and our customers, and our goal of continuing to run safe and reliable service without major disruptions.”
As this situation evolves, the MBTA will continue assessing ridership needs with a particular focus on workforce access for hospitals, as well as food distribution locations operated by the City of Boston. As part of that ongoing assessment, the T will continue monitoring customer volumes and make service adjustments accordingly; this means if the T experiences an increase in ridership, capacity will be added as necessary.
The next few months are going to be more difficult and different than anything we’ve ever experienced. I am asking for social solidarity from you to defeat this disease. It is incumbent on us to change our everyday decisions and modify our behavior but never lose sight of the kindness and shared humanity that exist in our neighborhoods.
Thank you to our brave healthcare professionals, first responders, public safety officials as well as service workers, commercial cleaners, and anyone else on the front lines battling COVID-19 to keep us safe. We are grateful to you and your service in protecting us all.
Although the Boston City Council and my physical office will tentatively be closed until the end of March, my staff is working around the clock remotely to assist our district. Call (617) 635-3113 if you need immediate assistance, or contact us via e-mail:
Lee Nave Jr., Chief of Staff
Deborah Glennon, Director of Operations (Constituent Services)
Wayne Yeh, Policy & Research Analyst
Anne Mazzola, Senior and Disabilities Liaison
I will continue to push out as many resources as possible both on my Facebook, Twitter, and via email. Please remember to call the Mayor’s Health Hotline at (617) 534-5050 if you have any questions about coronavirus or visit Boston.gov for regular updates.
The work of government continues, and as always, we try to deal with daily matters while preparing for the future.
Boston City Councilor
District 9, Allston-Brighton
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