I’m working diligently with federal, state, and local representatives to ensure that you and your family stay healthy and financially secure as we continue to work through the challenges of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. I will be sure to regularly update each of these COVID-19 information sections below with federal and Massachusetts-specific resources so you can stay informed and easily get the help you may need.
Reaching out to my office:
While my staff is working remotely to help slow the spread of COVID-19, we remain ready to assist you. Our office is available and eager to assist with constituent casework and inquiries during normal business hours. If you have an urgent constituent services request, please leave a voicemail including your name and phone number at (617) 354 - 0292 and a member of our staff will respond to you as soon as possible. For all other inquiries, please contact me by filling out our contact form here.
If you are feeling sick and need immediate medical care, please contact your local health care provider and follow these precautions outlined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Preventative Measures You Should Take
Please follow these preventative measures as recommended by the CDC:
- The CDC recommends using cloth face coverings while outside to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Click here for more information about the CDC’s guidance on cloth face coverings.
- Frequently wash your hands with hot, soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
- Stay home.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using household cleaning sprays or a wipe.
- Avoid touching frequently-used public objects with your hands like elevator buttons, doorknobs, and public transportation handles.
- Get a flu shot, not because it will prevent the spread of COVID-19, but so that you stay healthy and out of the hospital.
Please visit the CDC's page for additional information about how to avoid exposure to the virus.
Who To Call if You Need Help
COVID-19 Hotline 2-1-1
Massachusetts Department of Public Health 24-hour Emergency Hotline: (617) 983-6800
If you are having trouble affording food:
FoodSource Hotline: 1 (800) 645-8333
Monday – Friday
8:00 PM – 7:00 PM
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Massachusetts Health and Safety Updates
On March 10, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency to give the Commonwealth more flexibility to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. Since then, Governor Baker has instituted a stay-at-home advisory and several other social distancing rules for the Commonwealth that include closing all non-essential businesses, banning gatherings of more than 10 people, and banning onsite consumption at restaurants and bars. These steps are set to remain in place through May 18, 2020. Please click here to read more about the declaration and all associated orders.
Please visit the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Coronavirus Updates webpage to stay up to date on the latest public health guidance information for Massachusetts residents.
Massachusetts disaster distress helpline: 1-800-985-5990
Information for Affected Renters and Homeowners
- For renters: If you are unable to pay your rent due to loss in income, please contact your landlord as soon as possible to make arrangements. In Massachusetts, it is illegal for a landlord, on his or her own, to remove tenants and occupants and their belongings from a rented apartment, room, or home without first getting a court order.
- For homeowners: If you are unable to pay your mortgage due to loss in income, please contact your mortgage provider as soon as possible. A number of banks have posted their policies online. For those with government-backed mortgages, the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac have suspended foreclosures. For those with private lenders, there are mechanisms in place for borrowers experiencing an economic hardship that may enable you to reduce or suspend payments. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has a list of suggestions and resources that can be found on their website.
- The CFPB also has a dedicated page on COVID-19 to help you stay financially secure during this pandemic.
- If you are having issues with your mortgage, you can submit a complaint to the CFPB online or by calling (855) 411-2372.
- The Department of Public Utilities has prohibited investor-owned utility companies from shutting off gas, electric, and water utility service to any customers for failure to pay a bill or a portion of a bill until the State of Emergency is lifted or the DPU determines otherwise.
Information for Parents, Students, and Children
All Massachusetts public and private school closures have been extended for the remainder of the school year.
- Massachusetts has received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide free school meals to students after their school has been closed due to COVID-19. Please click here for more information.
- If you are in need of food assistance for your children as they remain at home from school, please click here for an updated map of all meal sites currently serving students and families in Massachusetts. Be sure to share this information with your neighbors to ensure that everyone has access to the meals they need.
- You can also click here for an interactive state map provided by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency that lists the locations of several resources available to the public at this time. Be sure to share this information with your neighbors to ensure that everyone has access to the meals they need.
- You can also click here if you would like to learn more about signing up for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and click here for more information about the Women, Infants, & Children Nutrition Program (WIC).
- The Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) has launched a new online application portal to assist residents in applying for Transitional aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children (EAEDC). Click here to access this application portal.
- Massachusetts is establishing a process to approve child care programs that will serve vulnerable children and the children of families who are essential to the health, safety, and welfare of our communities. Click here for more information and how to apply for assistance.
- For Student Loan Borrowers: Congress recently passed the CARES Act, which cancels payments for all student loan borrowers with federally-held loans through September 30, 2020. These borrowers will not be required to make any payments and they will not suffer financially from accrued interest over this period.
- Please click here for more information and regular updates from the Department of Education about student aid, as well as for answers to frequently asked questions about student loan relief in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution have also made a wide range of educational material available on their websites for students of all ages. You can find descriptions and links to Smithsonian Institution resources here, and Library of Congress resources here.
Mental Health Resources
- If you need to speak with a crisis counselor immediately, you can call the Massachusetts Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990.
- The CDC has issued guidelines for coping with a disaster or traumatic event, as well as guidelines for helping children cope with emergencies.
- For seniors and other at-risk populations who have had to dramatically limit their interactions with others to avoid the spread of COVID-19, the AARP has provided a list of suggestions on how to fight social isolation
- For resources on how to proactively monitor your behavioral health and avoid being overwhelmed by stress or anxiety caused by COVID-19, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has provided a list of useful tips for you to follow.
- To access Massachusetts General Hospital's Mental Health Resources Guide for COVID-19, click here.
- For more information about various mental health services, hotlines, and therapists available in your local area, visit the Network of Care Massachusetts website by clicking here. You can also access their dedicated COVID-19 webpage by clicking here.
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline—1-800-273-8255 https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
- National Domestic Violence Hotline—1-800-799-7233 https://www.thehotline.org/
- Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline-1-800-422-4453 https://www.childhelp.org/hotline/
Information about Social Security
It is important for everyone to know that all Social Security benefits will continue to be paid to those who receive them. Scammers and other bad actors may try to misinform you into thinking that the pandemic will stop you from receiving Social Security payments, but that is not true. According to Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul, recipients will also see no change in their regular monthly payment if they receive them by direct deposit and they will continue to receive payments by mail.
- To slow the spread of COVID-19, all local Social Security offices will be closed to the public and will no longer be able to accept walk-in visitors. This is intended to protect the populations they serve – older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions – as well as their employees during the pandemic. Employees will still be able to provide critical services.
- In case you or a loved one is need of assistance during the pandemic, you can access most services on the Social Security Administration (SSA) website or call toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.
- To access the SSA's designated COVID-19 webpage, which includes a list of frequently asked questions regarding the pandemic and its impact on Social Security benefits and services, please click here.
- All Social Security and SSI recipients are eligible for the rebate payments provided in the CARES Act regardless of whether or not they have filed a tax form.
Questions about Individual Coronavirus Economic Impact Payments
Please click here for the latest updates from the IRS about the economic impact payments and eligibility.
When the CARES Act passed Congress and was signed into law on March 27, 2020, it included direct cash payments for the Americans who need it most during this public health crisis.
How much will I receive?
The total amount that you receive will be based on your adjusted gross income from your 2019 federal tax filing or your 2018 filing if you haven’t filed this year.
Tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payments of $1,200 and $2,400 respectively. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds. Recipients are also eligible for an additional $500 per qualifying child.
Who is eligible?
Most American taxpayers will qualify for an Economic Impact Payment. According to the IRS, you will only be ineligible for a cash payment if:
- Your adjusted gross income is greater than $99,000 and your most recent filing status was single or married filing separately
- Your adjusted gross income is greater than $136,500 and your most recent filing status was for head of household
- Your adjusted gross income is greater than $198,000 and your most recent filing status was married filed jointly
- You can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return, such as a child, student, or older dependent who can be claimed on a parent’s return
- If you are a nonresident or undocumented immigrant
When will the payments be distributed?
The IRS will make approximately 60 million payments to Americans through direct deposit in mid-April. The IRS has direct deposit information for these individuals from their 2018 or 2019 tax returns. About 3 weeks after those deposits are made, the IRS will begin issuing paper checks to individuals at a rate of about 5 million per week.
If the IRS does not have your direct deposit information, you will soon be able to provide your banking information to the IRS online through a web-based portal currently in development by the Treasury Department, which will allow individuals to receive payments immediately as opposed to through checks in the mail.
Do they need to be paid back?
No, the payment is considered a rebate and does not need to be repaid.
If I am a Social Security recipient and am not typically required to file a tax return, can I still receive a payment?Yes, the IRS will use the relevant documentation to generate Economic Impact Payments to Social Security recipients, senior citizens, and railroad retirees who are not otherwise required to file a tax return.
Unemployment Assistance Information
UPDATE: Self-employed workers, gig economy workers, and contract workers in Massachusetts can now apply for unemployment benefits under the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Click here to apply.
Please click here to apply for unemployment benefits. Under the CARES Act, contract and self-employed workers are now also eligible for unemployment insurance.
To better meet the needs of those whose employment has been affected by COVID-19, the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) will be hosting daily town hall meetings where they can take Massachusetts workers through a step by step process of achieving a successful unemployment claim and take questions from claimants across the Commonwealth. Please click here for a web link to the daily visual presentation and click here for sign-up information for the virtual town halls.
If you are facing reduced hours at work as a result of COVID-19, you may also be eligible for relief under the Massachusetts WorkShare program. Click here for more information about the WorkShare program.
- All requirements regarding attending seminars at the MassHire career centers have been suspended.
- Missing deadlines due to effects of COVID-19 will be excused under DUA’s good clause provision.
- All appeal hearings will be held by telephone only.
Paid Sick Leave
If you think your rights to earned sick time are being violated by your employer, please call the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division at 617-727-3465 or file a complaint online. You can also click here to read the Fair Labor Division FAQs for employee rights and employer obligations during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Access to emergency paid sick leave has also been expanded to millions of workers under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Please click here for more information about the new emergency paid sick leave laws and eligibility.
Resources for Affected Small Businesses and Non-Profits
I know this pandemic is causing incredible financial hardship for businesses and non-profits. Here is a list of important updates and vital resources to help keep you informed and financially secure.
- The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses and non-profits with working capital loans of up to $2 million to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. Click here to apply for assistance.
- Massachusetts is postponing the collection of regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes that would have been due in March, April, and May until June 20. All penalties and interest will be waived. Businesses that paid less than $150,000 in regular sales plus meals taxes in the year ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief for sales and meals taxes, and businesses that paid less than $150,000 in room occupancy taxes in the year ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief with respect to room occupancy taxes.
- The CARES Act provides an additional $349 billion in forgivable loans to affected businesses and non-profits to pay their employees and keep them on the payroll. Up to $10 million is available for each loan. The new law also provides $10 billion in immediate grants, with up to $10,000 in cash infusions for small businesses to cover immediate expenses such as payroll and rent within 3 days of application, and $17 billion in debt relief for current and new SBA borrowers.
- Please click here for more information about how the CARES Act can help your business or non-profit.
VA Health Care Information for Veterans
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and its medical facilities are working hard to protect and care for veterans during this pandemic.
- Veterans and their families should consult VA's website for the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 and treatment at VA facilities.
- Guidance from local VA medical facilities about their current operating status is available on each facility’s website, which can be found through VA’s facility locator tool.
Fighting the Stigma
From the outset of this public health crisis, many public officials in Congress and the White House have repeatedly used racist labeling of COVID-19 and perpetuated stigmatizing falsehoods that disparage many in our communities. These ignorant and hateful comments are unacceptable, and I have unequivocally condemned them for promoting discrimination and violence in place of unity and facts.
According to the CDC, stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate an infectious disease like COVID-19 with a specific population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region has the disease and members of particular groups are at no greater risk of contracting it.
It is vital that we use language supported by scientists and public health officials when referring to COVID-19. Please click here for more information from the World Health Organization about best practices for naming new infectious diseases.
Working in Washington to Fight COVID-19 and Help Massachusetts Families
Coronavirus Legislation I Supported in Congress:
1. Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (became law on March 6, 2020)
- Over $3 billion for vaccine development efforts
- $2.2 billion in public health funding for prevention, preparedness, and response efforts undertaken by state and regional agencies and medical services
- Nearly $1 billion to procure additional medical supplies and help ensure that our hospitals and Community Health Centers are prepared for a potential surge in patients
- Click here for more information about this law
- Emergency Paid Leave Program so that those who take leave to avoid spreading the virus or due to illness or caregiving responsibilities can pay their bills
- Free and widespread COVID-19 testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured
- Enhanced unemployment insurance for Americans who may lose their jobs from the economic impacts of the outbreak
- Strengthened food security and assistance measures to make sure that the most vulnerable in our communities don’t lose access to food during this public health emergency
- Additional federal dollars for Medicaid to support local, state, tribal, and territorial governments and health care systems as they treat the sick and combat the spread of the virus
- Click here for more information about this law
3. Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (became law on March 27, 2020)
- Additional 13 weeks of federally-funded unemployment insurance benefits to cover unemployment through 2020 for workers who find themselves still unemployed beyond the next four months; $600 per week in addition to the amount normally paid by states for every American collecting unemployment insurance; and expanded eligibility to cover gig economy workers, self-employed workers, and those with limited work history
- Direct payments for Americans who need it most
- A Marshall Plan for hospitals, health care workers, and local governments that invests nearly $200 billion in hospitals and health research, additional medical supplies and personal protective equipment, Medicare payment increases to all hospitals and providers, and a $150 billion State and Local Coronavirus Expenditure Fund to reimburse local governments for COVID-19 response-related expenses
- Over $7 billion in funding for emergency child care services and early learning programs like Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant
- $349 billion in forgivable loans to affected small businesses and non-profits to keep their employees on the payroll; $10 billion in immediate grants for small-businesses and nonprofits; and $17 billion in debt relief for current and new Small Business Administration borrowers
- Suspension of payments for all student loan borrowers with federally-held loans through September 30, 2020
- Up to $400 million in election assistance funding for states
- Click here for more information about this law