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All Schools Closed for Three Weeks in Mass. – No Dine-in at Restaurants…effective Tuesday..

The big clamp-down is happening, effective Tuesday.

“The reason we’re taking this so seriously is it is incredibly contagious,” Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker said in an announcement today. “It is more contagious than the seasonal flu.”

Baker’s decree limits all gatherings to 25 people. That means, no sit-down in restaurants – take-out only. All Mass. schools closed, effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Corona rules will be in place.

Schools to say closed until April 6th.

More coming.

Oh, and yes, this includes a lot of business activities, and forget about going to your gym….

Baker Approves Sweeping Set of New Orders |

COVID-19 Spreading, Spurring Escalation in Response [+Video]

By Chris Lisinski
State House News Service

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MARCH 15, 2020…..In a dramatic escalation of the state’s response to the spreading coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Charlie Baker on Sunday announced that all Massachusetts public schools must soon close for three weeks, most events with 25 or more people are now banned, and visitors are barred from the state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities.


Gov. Charlie Baker announced a wide-ranging series of COVID-19 emergency orders in a Sunday evening State House news conference, including school closures, a ban on most gatherings of 25 people or more, and prohibition of on-premises food or drink consumption in restaurants and bars. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS]

New responses unveiled Sunday also include a mandate that all restaurants and bars transition to takeout-only to prevent crowds, a requirement that commercial health insurers cover telemedicine, and steps aimed at making unemployment aid more easily accessible.

The sweeping announcements came hours after the total number of identified COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts hit 164 and as Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel announced that community-level transmission — where investigators cannot trace an individual case back to a source — is now occurring in seven counties.

“I realize these measures are unprecedented, but we’re asking our residents to take a deep breath and understand the rationale behind this guidance,” Baker said, stressing the response could save lives, enable the health care sector to avoid an unmanageable surge, and limit the already rapid spread of the illness.

Public and private K-12 schools will be allowed to return Monday, but starting Tuesday, they must suspend all educational operations until April 7. Baker urged staff to plan for how to provide alternative and remote learning resources equitably to all students during the shutdown.

District buildings can still open to provide food to students or other important non-educational services. Residential and day schools for students with special needs are exempt, as are daycare facilities and preschools.

Baker had resisted ordering a statewide educational shutdown for several days, even as many districts implemented their own weeks-long suspensions and governors in other states implemented similar policies.

“The facts on the ground have changed,” Baker said Sunday. “At this point in time, it’s particularly appropriate that we not only move on the school closures, but also that we get a lot more aggressive around other places and spaces that people gather.”

Two days ago, Baker issued an emergency order banning gatherings of 250 or more people such as conventions, parades and concerts.

On Sunday, he scaled that threshold down to one-tenth its original scope, updating the order to prohibit events that would bring together 25 or more people in an effort to impose social distancing practices that public health experts say are necessary to slow the virus’s spread.

The updated order also forbids on-premises consumption of food or drink, effectively requiring all restaurants and bars to transition to takeout-only from its March 17 effective date until at least April 5.

The order banning large gatherings does not apply to normal operations at grocery or retail businesses.


SHNS Video: Gov. Baker COVID-19 Update: March 15

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh had earlier on Sunday ordered restaurants, bars and clubs to limit their capacity to 50 percent and to close early, prompted in part by reports of large crowds at South Boston establishments over the weekend. Baker’s order supersedes the mayor’s instructions.

Massachusetts has 164 identified coronavirus cases as of Sunday, a more than fivefold increase over the total cases one week ago.

Three commercial laboratories — Thermo Fischer, Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp — have received federal approval to conduct COVID-19 tests, supplementing the roughly 400 tests per day the state’s public health laboratory will soon be able to conduct.

At least 969 tests have been done so far between the state lab and private labs, Bharel said. The governor warned this morning that he expects the numbers of total cases to rise significantly as more tests are conducted.

While the majority of cases trace back to a late February meeting of Biogen employees in Boston, community spread is becoming more common. The state’s public health commissioner said Berkshire, Essex, Hampden, Middlesex, Norfork, Suffolk and Worcester Counties all have evidence of community-level transmission as of Sunday.

“This is an evolving situation,” Bharel said. “Social distancing is our collective opportunity to influence the course of this illness and flatten the curve. Each of us needs to do our part.”

Officials also announced a range of health care-specific restrictions Sunday.

Hospitals must cancel non-essential elective surgeries until further notice starting Wednesday, and those operated by DPH or the state Department of Mental Health must screen all visitors and limit visitation.

All assisted living facilities, including nursing homes, can no longer allow visitors, a step that officials hope will limit transmission risk to especially vulnerable populations. Exceptions will be made for end-of-life and hospice care, and the restriction follows federal guidelines issued Friday.


Education Secretary James Peyser walked onto the stage Sunday evening ahead of Gov. Charlie Baker’s daily COVID-19 response briefing where the governor announced a three-week public schools closure. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS]

As of Monday, all commercial health insurance carriers and the Group Insurance Commission will be required to cover all medically necessary telehealth services — treatment offered by doctors over the phone or a video conference — and pay the same rates as in-person care. They are also prohibited from requiring cost-sharing or prior authorization for any COVID-19 telehealth treatment.

“Telemedicine is one of the most important things we need to divert care from hospitals and ambulatory sites from patients,” said Marylou Sudders, who stepped aside from her usual duties running the health and human services secretariat to lead the state’s coronavirus command center. “By enabling patients to remain at home, rapid treatment delivery can be provided, we can adhere to social distancing protocols, we can optimize efficiency and conserve resources.”

The public health orders also authorize certain pharmacies to create their own hand sanitizer and sell it over the counter to supplement stockpiles.

Baker said he would file emergency legislation on Monday that waives the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits and expanding eligibility, aiming to allow “many of the workers affected by closures to get some financial relief faster.”

According to the governor’s office, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development will also file emergency regulations allowing employees affected by the coronavirus to collect unemployment if their workplace shuts down with plans to reopen within four weeks.

Baker’s legislation will attempt to address issues municipalities have raised amid the outbreak, such as the potential need to delay annual town meetings and fiscal year 2021 municipal budget discussions that typically take place in the spring.

The Registry of Motor Vehicles will add a 60-day extension to the expiration date for standard driver licenses and other credentials to limit how many customers visit service centers. Vehicle registrations, many of which can be renewed online, will not be extended.

(SHNS AUDIO: Gov. Baker COVID-19 Update – March 15)

-END-
03/15/2020

4 Replies to “All Schools Closed for Three Weeks in Mass. – No Dine-in at Restaurants…effective Tuesday..

  1. Does anyone know if Massachusetts implemented any of these draconian restrictions during the Swine flu pandemic of 2009/2010. Then President Obama did not call for a national state of emergency until the US death toll was 1000 and of those 100 were children. Also to date this year’s US Flu death toll stands at 12,000. Currently we have maybe 60ish deaths from this oh so contagious virus. Where is the perspective people, or is it just because of who is currently in the Whitehouse.

  2. I’m taking serious precautions as this health crisis seems to be unchartered territory. However, I agree that some local politicians are making this crisis a bit worse. It seems that some national politicians would like to see an economic collapse. That’s how selfish they are. The doctors I listen to. Seeing Baker and his sidekick Polito pretending to be medical experts is difficult to listen to. Polito must be inconvenienced as this crisis must be slowing down her efforts to fill the state courts with her unqualified cronies. I do think Trump is doing a good job.

  3. I watched President Trump’s update this afternoon. He is doing a good job in this crisis. It is amazing as to how biased and rude some members of the press are. The most biased and rude member of the press is ABC News correspondent Cecilia Vega. I watch ABC News and I have listened to her anti-Trump rants posing as journalism for 3 years now. Today she critically asked Trump how dare he call this crisis a “Chinese Virus”. She tried to say that it was wrong to mention China. Trump simply told her the fact that the virus originated in China. Another example of the politically correct hysteria that the once proud news networks have become. We have near models giving their biased opinions instead of reporting facts. In today’s news networks, Edward Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Barbara Walters and Helen Thomas wouldn’t even be hired. For they were journalists and not models reading a teleprompter giving a biased opinion.

  4. I watched President Trump’s update this afternoon. He is doing a good job in this crisis. It is amazing as to how biased and rude some members of the press are. The most biased and rude member of the press is ABC News correspondent Cecilia Vega. I watch ABC News and I have listened to her anti-Trump rants posing as journalism for 3 years now. Today she critically asked Trump how dare he call this crisis a “Chinese Virus”. She tried to say that it was wrong to mention China. Trump simply told her the fact that the virus originated in China. Another example of the politically correct hysteria that the once proud news networks have become. We have near models giving their biased opinions instead of reporting facts. In today’s news networks, Edward Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Barbara Walters and Helen Thomas wouldn’t even be hired. For they were journalists and not models reading a teleprompter giving a biased opinion.

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