Warning: today begins commissioning week so beware of proud father commentary. Caroline left this morning to head back to the Naval Academy and the next time I see her she will be 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. Unfortunately all the traditional commissioning week ceremonies are cancelled this year. They will be doing small unofficial swearing in ceremonies with social distancing throughout the week (hers is Saturday) where she will take her oath of office. The official commissioning and graduation won’t be till the 22nd which they are doing via a virtual ceremony so they all still graduate and get commissioned together. It still seems like yesterday that I brought her home from the hospital - and while I still wish she was little, I couldn’t be more proud. I will try to keep my pride somewhat in check, but my daughter is going to be an Officer of Marines and a total badass!
And in the spirit of her heading to Annapolis - I just want to say how proud I am to be an American. We live in the greatest country in the world and while we might not always agree on how to handle things - the fact that we have the ability to express our objection to how the government handles a particular issue is such a unique right. We can debate and argue - but in the end we are all in this together. We are not black or white, rich or poor, Republican or Democrat - we are Americans and when we are unified in our resolve, nothing can stop us.
There were 167 additional deaths reported today and 1,685 new cases which is up -but as a percentage of tested it is actually down a little. ICU cases dropped to 781 and total cases that are being hospitalized dropped to 3%. I’m not sure if the reporting finally caught up but we saw a huge decrease in people hospitalized as that number dropped by 242 cases. That is a huge number - doubling the next largest drop to date.
Some disturbing news as unemployment released their new numbers and nearly 1.1 million people have gone on the dole since this crisis began. That means Massachusetts has a nearly 30% unemployment rate. To put that into perspective, at the height of the great depression - only 25% of Americans were unemployed. I’ve decided to make this post tonight much more positive and no political commentary - so suffice it to say I am biting my lip.
Governor Baker announced a new initiative regarding testing with the goal to have testing at a level of 45,000 per day by the end of July and 75,000 per day by the end of the year. Now, I’m a numbers guy so I started thinking. So far we have tested 424,361 people in the Commonwealth and we are consistently testing 15,000 folks and assuming we increase that a little each day to get to the 45,000 test goal and average it at 25,000 tests per day from now till the end of July, that would put us at roughly 2.3 million people. If we do another 45,000 per day through the end of the year without even scaling it toward the 75,000 - it will being us to a little over 9 million people. Considering Massachusetts has a population of 6.9 million people, I’m not sure why the 75,000 tests per day number is a goal for 2021. God, I hope we do not have a need to be testing 75,000 people a day 6 months from now. I know, I’m a math geek. And yes, I know people may have to get the test numerous times but I wish they would put the focus on antibody testing, securing and protecting nursing homes, and education as opposed to having this hyper focus on testing for the virus. Oh well, I’m sure I’m the only one who thought it was odd - and decided to crunch the numbers. Again, feel bad for CiCi as this is her world every day.
The Governor also announced that it will distribute $502 million from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund to local cities and towns for eligible costs related to the COVID-19 response effort. Don’t get too excited - this is specifically earmarked to cover very specific expenses directly related to the COVID crisis as well as deal with the shifting of tax filing deadlines and this isn’t additional money that we can use to pave our roads or put an addition onto a school. They will be putting out guidance “establishing protocols to maximize the use of federal resources and promote compliance with federal restrictions.”
In addition, there were a very extensive hearing on how numerous bills addressing methods of voting in the November election in the age of the coronavirus. So far I believe the most reasonable is the Secretary of State’s proposal which allows for expanded early voting and voting by mail but does not go to the extreme of mailing everyone a ballot, ballot harvesting, etc. This is not an easy fix but my number one concern is making sure every citizen has the opportunity to vote and the process is secure and beyond reproach.
And I did get some good news tonight and it is thanks to a constituent who wrote me about an issue, albeit a federal one. Many people have cafeteria plans at work for day care, child care, medical expenses, etc. and often once you enroll you can’t turn it off mid year. Now many of us no longer need day care since we are working from home and if camps are cancelled for the summer that is another place that was earmarked for that money that can’t be used. (not saying closing camps has been decided - so don’t panic - although I wouldn’t count on it) Anyway, since this is a use it or lose it proposition (not to mention money that can be used for other expenses) how can we fix this issue? So I wrote to our congressional delegation and did not get a response - I guess everyone is very busy campaigning (oops, sorry - the snark slipped out). So I called my good friend and campaign treasurer Nicole who used to be the Chief of Staff for Congressman Lee Zeldin from New York. I sat with Lee at Nicole and Ted’s wedding so I knew him well enough that I thought this would be right up his alley. Anyway, long story longer (omg, I shouldn’t have had so much caffeine today) he just sent over the new rules and IRS guidelines that give people the flexibility to change their allocation as well as increases the annual carry over amount and extends the grace period for spending for this year. It is funny how this works out and as I have said before, I am very blessed to have made so many good friends and contacts throughout the years that are willing to help get things done.
I planned on tonight’s post being short, so sorry about that. I’ll try to be a little less verbose tomorrow night. We’re still figuring out our Facebook live silliness - so that will probably be Saturday night. Anyway, to stay with the theme of being proud to be an American - I am very proud to be friends with all of you and truly blessed to have the opportunity to represent you on Beacon Hill.
Stay safe and keep moving forward!