Governor Baker requesting major disaster declaration from federal government

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BOSTON (WWLP) – Governor Charlie Baker and Secretary of Health Marylou Sudders provided residents with an update Thursday afternoon on the state’s response to coronavirus.

Baker said he requested a major disaster declaration from the federal government Thursday. If approved, the federal assistance would give cities and towns more flexibility as they respond to the outbreak. It would also make available resources like unemployment assistance through FEMA.

The governor also said testing capabilities are continuing to expand in Massachusetts, with 21 labs now testing samples throughout the state.

“I want to remind people as we continue to increase the number of tests, we expect to see case numbers rise as well,” Baker said.

In an effort to support the Boston-area homeless population, Baker announced that he has reopened Newton Pavillion, a former Boston Medical Center hospital, to accommodate the medical needs of the homeless during the coronavirus public health crisis.

Secretary Sudders said they are continuing to “work the supply chain hard” in order to make sure all health care workers and first responders have the personal protective equipment they need. Over the last two weeks, Sudders said more than 150 shipments of PPE have been sent out across Massachusetts.

Sudders also announced three additional orders that will give hospitals and health care facilities the flexibility they need to overcome challenges posed by the pandemic. The orders:

  • temporarily exempt all hospitals licensed in the commonwealth from the acuity asses staffing and nurse-to-patient ratio requirements
  • pause the determination of need process so that hospitals can increase bed and care capacity as needed
  • authorize pharmacy techs to remotely process prescriptions
  • allows pharmacists licensed in other states to practice in Massachusetts

Fifteen people have died from coronavirus in Massachusetts. The amount of cases of COVID-19 in the commonwealth has increased to 1,838 as of 4 p.m. Wednesday. 

Earlier this week Baker ordered all non-essential businesses to close until at least April 7.

LIST: Essential businesses to remain open in Massachusetts

A stay-at-home advisory has also been issued for all residents. Here’s what it means for you: Massachusetts stay-at-home advisory FAQ

3/25 update: Governor Baker: All schools, non-emergency childcare centers to remain closed until at least May 4

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