Representative Dooley April 15th COVID-19 Update
Governor Baker announced today that the surge has begun. Once again, it feels like we are living in a science fiction movie, even the name “the surge” seems very B movie-esque. I hate the fact that so many aspects of this horrible epidemic seem forced, like it has been scripted although as one meme I saw pointed out- it appears to have been written by a 2nd grader. Once upon a time there was a deadly virus that made my parents work at home in their pajamas all day long. We couldn’t go outside except to walk the dog 20 times a day, we never had to go to school, and some evil genius stole all the toilet paper in the world.
Unfortunately, it is not a horrible B movie, it is all too real. On an incredibly sad note, a large number of people died today due to coronavirus or complications related to another condition that was exacerbated by the virus. 151 people passed away moving the Massachusetts death total to 1,108. 2 were in their 40’s, 3 were in their 50’s, and the rest over 60.
There were 5,472 new tests conducted today bringing the total number of residents who have been tested so far to 132,023. Of these new tests, 1,755 people were positive and we have had 29,918 total positive results since we began testing.
Statewide, there are 383 nursing homes, 255 assisted living residences, and 93 rest homes. 58,000 of our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and loved ones are living in these facilities and they are our most vulnerable residents. Today the Governor announced an additional $130 million in state funding for these facilities to help them better prepare and handle this crisis. This also increases the number of mobile testing and supplies more personal protective equipment. The Commonwealth has also mobilized rapid-response clinical teams to provide short-term support for facilities with a high volume of cases or with critical staffing needs. These teams are made up of EMS technicians, nurses, and other health care professionals. I’m very proud that we are focusing on this very important and vulnerable population.
Reported cases for each of my towns are as follows: Medfield -16 Millis - 18 Norfolk - 14 Plainville - 22 Walpole - 92 Wrentham - 29 Please keep in mind that these are the cases that have been reported to date. Obviously many of these people have recovered and are no longer considered active cases (and unfortunately at least one death). In addition, there are definitely others out there that have the virus that are asymptomatic or have symptoms and are quarantining at home without having been tested.
I must say that I am worried about some of the legislation that is being passed will have unintended consequences for months to come long after the state is “opened” back up. One bill that was discussed today puts a freeze on most landlord tenant court proceedings for the next 4 months and that can be extended in blocks of 3 months at a time. And when court action is allowed again it will clog the courts up so much - you will be lucky if you get your case heard for 6 months. While I agree with this in principle, the method is dangerous. The courts have already put a stay on evictions during the crisis but this takes it several steps further. This bill creates a blanket provision that doesn’t take into account a person’s ability to pay and eliminates other options. In a perfect world this wouldn’t be a problem but there are already activist groups telling tenants to not pay their rent. This in the end will hurt landlords and tenants alike. And don’t just think of landlords as the big companies with thousands of units- they will be fine. Think of landlords as the guy that owns a three family and counts on the income of the other two units to pay his bills or the retired couple who invested their retirement savings into a nice little apartment building that provides them with their living in their golden years. If these people are without income for a year it will bankrupt many. Like many pieces of legislation it is well intentioned but can have ripple effects for years to come. And to be perfectly frank, I am very worried about our town budgets and what impact all of this will have on our school funding for next year. Our state numbers are way down which means our town revenue will be way down, to add in a bunch of foreclosures or people unable to pay their town taxes - will only exasperate this already tenuous situation. And unfortunately this is just one of many well meaning bills that are getting crafted behind closed doors without debate during this crisis.
Well, so much for my doom and gloom. Now on to the good stuff-
I’ve had the absolute pleasure over the past few years of working with and getting to know a wonderful organization called HMEA . This little organization grew out of the Wrentham Developmental Center back in the 60’s and now services over 4000 developmentally disabled children and adults as well as their families. I have been blown away by both the commitment of the staff as well as how awesome the people they serve are. In addition to their day facility in Plainville, right down the street they run a recycling redemption center as well as an amazing florist that is staffed by their clients. They have other facilities as well around the state, but this one is special to me.
Now during this time, staff are understandably anxious given that many of the people they work with have a high risk profile for infection (age, complex medical conditions) and staff have multiple jobs, as this truly is a calling - none of these people are doing this for the money. So please keep them in your prayers.
Anyway, my ask is simple - originally tomorrow was planned for their rally on the hill to raise awareness for these amazing people who care for these special children and adults. But due to the virus, this obviously can’t happen. So they and other similar groups are doing a “reverse rally” on social media to raise awareness and help their voices get heard. If you can post your support of these wonderful people with #TCFReverseRally and tag @TheCaringForce that would be very much appreciated.
This would mean so much to these folks that do so much, especially in this difficult time. And if you ever need flowers (once our world gets back to normal) - please consider using @helpinghandsflorist to send that person you haven’t been able to hug these past few weeks something really special.
Well, I keep telling myself I will get to bed early and once again I’m finishing up after midnight. Thank you all for all of your support and kindness - it really helps me a tremendous amount. I hope you have an amazing Thursday and keep doing what we are doing. We are making progress and everyday that we do the right thing, we get closer to going back to normal.