By Beth David, Editor
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced on Tuesday, 4/21, that schools in the state will remain closed for the rest of the school year. The order also extends the closure of non-emergency child care programs. Only programs that serve the children of first responders, medical personnel, and essential workers will remain open.
Gov. Baker made it clear that the announcement did not mean early summer. He said the state will issue updated guidelines for districts throughout the state to conduct remote learning for students.
The Mass. Department of Higher Education is also deferring scheduled repayments for its no-interest loan program for four months.
On Monday, 4/20, the governor signed legislation to protect homeowners and tenants from eviction and foreclosure.
The portal for self-employe individuals, freelancers, and “gig” workers is also operational.
Residents who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits can now apply online for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. It provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are unable to work because of a COVID-19 related reason, but are not eligible for regular or extended unemployment benefits. It inlcudes self-employed workers, independent contractors, gig economic workers, and those with limited work history. Learn more and apply at https://www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-pandemic-unemployment-assistance
According to a press release by the governor’s office, “Those able to telework with pay and individuals receiving paid sick or other leave will not qualify for PUA. Individuals receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits for less than their customary work week, however, may still be eligible for PUA. Also, those working fewer hours, resulting in a loss of income due to COVID-19, who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits may be eligible for PUA.
The federal CARES Act signed into law on March 27 created PUA, as well as another temporary federal program called Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) that provides an additional $600 weekly benefit for those receiving unemployment benefits or PUA. Massachusetts has implemented that program.
Fairhaven’s health agent, Mary Freire-Kellogg sent out a reverse 911 message on 4/21, asking people to help slow the spread of the virus “limiting movement outside of your homes beyond what is absolutely necessary to take care of essentials. We expect to see an increase in community spread, especially over the next few weeks.”
She said if residents must go out, to wear masks, maintain six feet of social distancing, and practice good hygiene.
“While there is no need for panic, we want to highlight the seriousness of this pandemic,” said Ms. Freire-Kwllogg. “Our community will benefit from your decision to take precautions.”
As of press time, there were 41,199 confirmed cases in Massachusetts; 175,372 individuals tested; 1,556 new cases on 4/21/20; 1,961 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, with 152 of those deaths reported on 4/21.
According to the state COVID-19 website, which lists long term care facilities that had at least two confirmed cases, Alden Court in Fairhaven had fewer than 10 cases. It was the only Fairhaven facility on the list.
The city/town list had not been updated by press time.
For details, visit https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-updates-and-information
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