COVID-19 UpdatesHCN News & Notes

State Extends Non-essential Business Closures to May 4

BOSTON — On Tuesday, the Baker-Polito administration announced several updates related to the COVID-19 outbreak, including extending the non-essential business emergency order until May 4. The Department of Public Health’s (DPH) stay-at-home advisory remains in effect.

Businesses and organizations not on the list of ‘COVID-19 essential services’ are encouraged to continue operations through remote means that do not require workers, customers, or the public to enter or appear at the brick-and-mortar premises closed by the order. This order also prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people until May 4.

The administration also updated the essential-services list, which is based on federal guidance updated earlier this week. While these businesses are designated as essential, they are urged to follow social-distancing protocols for workers in accordance with guidance from DPH. The updates to the essential-services list include clarity around the supply chain that supports other essential services, adds healthcare providers like chiropractors and optometrists, and expands the types of workers providing disinfectant and sanitation services.

Last week, Gov. Charlie Baker directed DPH to issue a stay-at-home advisory, and the governor announced Tuesday that the advisory will remain in effect. Residents are advised to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel and other unnecessary person-to-person contact during this time period. Residents who are considered at high risk when exposed to COVID-19 should limit social interactions with other people as much as possible.

In other news, the Commonwealth, through MEMA, has requested and received approval for a field nedical station that will provide additional medical-care capacity as the state plans for a surge in cases. The federal Strategic National Stockpile has approved a 250-bed field medical station that will be deployed to the DCU Center in Worcester this week. This temporary facility will be managed by UMass Memorial Medical Center and staffed by a partnership including the city of Worcester and others. The temporary field medical center will be used to treat lower-acuity patients who still need monitoring.

The Commonwealth is also implementing a pilot project that allows for safe, on-site testing of symptomatic residents of nursing and rest homes with a quick turnaround. The pilot will operate under the auspices of the Massachusetts National Guard in partnership with DPH and Broad Institute of Cambridge, and samples will be collected by trained personnel from the Massachusetts National Guard. Prior to this launch, the only way for nursing-home residents to be tested would be to be transported to a hospital or physician’s office.