COVID-19

COVID-19 Overview

COVID-19 is a new respiratory disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed COVID-19 cases. 

Symptoms of this infection may appear 2-14 days after exposure and include:

  • Fever, chills or shaking chills
  • Signs of a lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, lowered oxygen saturation)
  • Fatigue, sore throat, headache, body aches/myalgia, or new loss of sense of taste or smell
  • Other less common symptoms can include gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g. nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), rash, and inflammatory conditions such as “COVID toes”.
  • In elderly, chronically ill, or debilitated individuals such as residents of a long-term care facility, symptoms of COVID-19 may be subtle such as alterations in mental status or in blood glucose control

However, it’s possible for people with COVID-​19 to spread the virus to others up to 48 hours before they have symptoms. Visit the CDC’s resource on symptoms for more information.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, even if they are mild, or have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, please contact your healthcare provider and a test site near you to schedule a test. You can also check your symptoms online.

You can also call 2-1-1 to learn more about:

  • COVID-19 prevention, symptoms, and treatment
  • Information about testing
  • Guidance for people planning or returning from travel

For information on travel, see the CDC-issued Travel Health Notices, as well as DPH’s travel information related to COVID-19.

Tips For Prevention

The MA DPH, CDC, and other federal, state, and local agencies are leading a comprehensive response to COVID-19.  Here are some things that each of us can and should do to keep ourselves and those around us safe and healthy:

  • Wash your hands, often
  • Avoid close contact with other people
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces, often
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

COVID-19 Vaccination Information

Massachusetts is vaccinating residents of the state. Stay informed using the Administration’s website: https://www.mass.gov/covid-19-vaccine

Across the Commonwealth, the Administration has stood up a number of vaccination sites. Find the closest one to you and schedule an appointment when eligible here.

If you are unable to access the website due to technological difficulties, you can call 2-1-1 to set up an appointment by phone.

COVID-19 Testing Information

You should get a test for COVID-19 if:

  • You develop any symptoms of COVID-19, even if they are mild, or
  • You are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19

If you are a resident of a community at higher risk for COVID-19 spread, you are encouraged to get a COVID-19 test even if you have no symptoms. See a list of communities and learn more at www.mass.gov/StopTheSpread.

Visit Find a COVID-19 Test to search for a testing site near you.

Many sites may require pre-screening, a referral and/or an appointment. Please contact the site prior to arrival. Learn about the free drive-through Express COVID-19 Testing Sites in Massachusetts.

COVID-19 testing for symptomatic individuals and close contacts is usually covered by insurance and available at no cost to you. Additionally, many test sites in the Commonwealth test uninsured individuals for free. If you are uninsured, please call your local test site to confirm before making an appointment.

Stay Informed

Visit your town websites to learn the most recent information, local services, and guidance from our municipal officials.

State Resources

Federal Resources

Health Services

Information

Insurance Coverage

  • Massachusetts health insurers are required to cover the cost of testing and treatment for members who may be affected by COVID-19, including not charging copays or deductibles for those services.
  • The Massachusetts Health Connector has options for enrollment outside of the Open Enrollment period.
  • MassHealth announced new policies to expand telehealth coverage, allow 90-day and early refills of prescriptions, make billing for COVID-19 tests easier for providers, and remind providers that there are no copays for lab tests, and pharmacies that they cannot deny medications if a member cannot pay.
  • Attorney General Health Care Helpline: (888) 830-6277

Transportation

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)

  • Service changes have been made across modes to match reduced demand and help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
    • Bus and Silver Line:  Changes effective June 20th. Variable changes across routes. Check your route’s schedule page to determine if your line has altered service levels.
    • SubwayChanges effective June 20th.
      • Red & Orange Line frequency—reduced 20% in Spring 2021—will be restored at/near overall Winter 2021 levels with some peak service shifted to midday to match ridership. 
      • Blue Line frequency—reduced by 5% in Spring 2021—will be restored to Winter 2021 levels or higher.
      • Green Line frequency restorations are targeted where crowding is most pronounced, but are lagging slightly to allow for GLX testing and training.
    • Commuter Rail: Changes effective July 3rd. Check your route’s schedule page. Weekend service will be restored on the following Commuter Rail lines: Haverhill Line; Lowell Line; Fitchburg Line; Needham Line; Franklin Line; Kingston/Plymouth Line; Greenbush Line.
    • Ferry: Changes effective May 22nd. Check your route’s schedule page.
      • Full weekday and weekend Charlestown Ferry service runs 78 weekday and 34 weekend trips.
      • Weekday service between Hingham and Rowes Wharf in Boston offers 14 inbound trips to Boston beginning at 6 AM and ending at 7:40 PM and 11 outbound trips to Hingham beginning at 7:15 AM and ending at 7:30 PM.
      • Service between Hingham, Hull, and Long Wharf continues with the addition of limited weekday service to Logan Airport , including two inbound trips to Long Wharf in Boston at 12:45 PM and 5:45 PM and two outbound trips from Long Wharf to Logan at 6:40 AM and 7:40 AM.
      • Weekend service runs between Hingham, Hull, Logan Airport, and Long Wharf. Ten inbound trips depart Hingham for Long Wharf beginning at 8 AM and ending at 5 PM with five trips stopping at Hull and three trips stopping at Logan Airport. Ten outbound trips depart Long Wharf for Hingham beginning at 9 AM and ending at 6 PM with one trip stopping at Logan Airport and four trips stopping at Hull.
    • The RIDE: Changes effective May 29th. All trips with the RIDE must be booked 1 – 5 days in advance. Shared trips have been restored. To cancel or reschedule your trip, call The Ride Access Center (TRAC).
  • All riders and employees are required by federal and state law to wear face coverings while on MBTA vehicles and at all stations, facilities, outdoor bus stops, and outdoor platforms for the Commuter Rail, subway, and trolley systems, including those who are fully vaccinated.
  • Additionally, the following service and operations policies are in place to protect the health and safety of essential workers who rely on public transit, as well as our frontline staff:
    • Shared trips on The RIDE have been reintroduced. TREC remains closed to in-person
      appointments.
    • The CharlieCard Store is open with limited hours.
    • Standard fare collection processes have resumed on buses, trolleys, and The RIDE.
    • Bus operators have the option—with approval from the Control Center—to bypass a stop if they feel the bus is becoming too crowded to safely accommodate any more riders.

Registry of Motor Vehicles

Relief for Small Businesses and Employees

Small Business Resources 

Unemployment Assistance

  • The week-long waiting period for unemployment benefits has been waived.
  • Eligibility for unemployment assistance has also been expanded for those whose jobs have been impacted by COVID-19. Read the details here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/massachusetts-covid-19-unemployment-information.
  • Use this tool to see if you should be applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) or regular Unemployment Insurance (UI).
  • Unemployment Insurance (UI)
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
    • PUA provides up to 46 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are not working as a result of COVID-19 and are self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and others who otherwise would not qualify for regular UC or EB under state or federal law or PEUC. These individuals are not able to claim benefits directly through the UI Online System in Massachusetts.
    • Eligible claimants under PUA will be retroactively compensated with this benefit from January 27, 2020, or the date of becoming unemployed, whichever is more recent, as long as the recipient became unable to work because of a COVID-19 related reason.
    • Individuals should visit https://ui-cares-act.mass.gov/PUA/_/ to apply.
    • PUA has an appeal process and a waiver available for claimants who receive an overpayment of PUA benefits notice. Visit https://www.mass.gov/info-details/pandemic-unemployment-assistance-pua-overpayments for more information.
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
    • The PEUC program provides up to 13 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits to individuals who have exhausted their previous unemployment benefits. For most claimants, the last payable week of PEUC is the week ending 3/13/2021.
    • There is a phase-out period for claimants who are receiving PEUC benefits during the week ending 3/13/2021, and who have weeks remaining. Those claimants can collect PEUC through the week ending 4/10/2021.
  • Extended Benefits (EB)
    • If you have exhausted all rights to regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits and exhausted PEUC benefits, eligible UI claimants will see an application for Extended Benefits in their UI Online account. Federal Unemployment Extended Benefits (EB) are available for up to 20 weeks for certain eligible UI claimants.
  • If you have any concerns about earned sick time, paid leave, or your rights regarding COVID-19, call the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Hotline (M-F 10am – 4pm) at 617-727-3465

Consumer Protections

Utilities

  • The DPU has lifted its moratorium on electric and gas shut-offs by all private and public utility companies in alignment with the end of the declared state of emergency.
  • National Grid has resumed collections activities. Get the latest updates from https://www.nationalgridus.com/COVID-19

Student Loans

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

The following bills were passed by the legislature in the response to COVID-19:

  • H.4561, An Act making $15 million in Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2020 to Provide for Supplementing Certain Existing Appropriations Relating to the Coronavirus
    • Appropriated $15 million to the state’s COVID-19 response
  • H.4647, An Act providing for a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 Emergency
    • Stops landlords from sending Notices to Quit
    • Stops courts from hearing eviction cases or entering judgements
    • Stops sheriffs from enforcing executions for possession
    • Stops late fees and negative reporting for COVID-impacted tenants
    • Moratorium on residential foreclosures
    • Forbearance program for mortgagors impacted by COVID
    • Gives landlords access to last month’s rent to cover expenses
    • Moratorium on evictions for small businesses
  • H.4598, An Act to Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities and State Authorities Resulting from COVID-19
    • Included basic provisions for the operations of municipal government (permission to delay town meeting and budget approvals, allowing public employees to come out of retirement for the COVID-19 response, tolling constructive deadlines, etc).
    • Delayed tax day to July 15
    • Authorized remote shareholder and board meetings for public and non-profit corporations
    • Authorized the sale of alcohol with food deliveries
  • H.4616, An Act to Further Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities, School Districts and State Authorities Resulting from COVID-19
    • Delayed MBTA Budget Deadline
    • Unlocked funding for emergency housing, and suspended requirements for in-person interactions related to the MRVP and RAFT housing programs
    • Prohibited municipalities from terminating essential services (utilities, trash collection, etc) for residents because of non-payment due to COVID-19
    • Gave flexibility to DESE to make the decision to cancel MCAS, and to modify or waive “competency determinations”
  • S.2608, An Act Granting Authority to Postpone 2020 Municipal Elections in the Commonwealth and Increase Voting Options in Response to the Declaration of Emergency to Respond to COVID-19
    • Authorized local bodies to postpone municipal caucuses and elections
    • Made provisions for the implementation of postponed elections, including early voting by mail
  • S.2599, An Act Authorizing Waiver of the One Week Waiting Period for Unemployment Benefits
    • Waived the one week waiting period for release of unemployment benefits
  • S.2984, An Act promoting a resilient health care system that puts patients first
    • Requires insurance companies to cover the costs of telehealth services in lieu of in-person services
    • Requires behavioral health services via telehealth be charged at the same rate as in-person
    • Provides various other modernization updates to health care in the Commonwealth

Other Priorities