MASSACHUSETTS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
SITUATIONAL AWARENESS STATEMENT #3
Date: March 13, 2020
Time: 4:00 PM
Re: Informational Update: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
In response to the threat that COVID-19 poses to the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) has formed an Interagency Planning Working Group comprised of health, human services, public safety and several other government agencies to develop continuity plans for COVID-19. This working group is broken down into three subgroups that include:
· Support to First Responders Subgroup
· Logistics Subgroup
· Mass Care Subgroup
These groups are tasked with developing strategies and coordinating support efforts related to COVID-19. This follows the Department of Public Health’s infectious disease task force that was stood up in January.
In an effort to support COVID-19 planning activities and coordinate statewide response the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Framingham has activated to Level 2 (Partial Activation). In addition, MEMA’s Regional EOCs have also been partially activated to support local communities. The SEOC and REOCs will be operational Monday – Friday, 8AM – 4PM; operational shifts are subject to change as the situation continues to develop.
Representatives from the following agencies are present in the SEOC:
- American Red Cross
- Dept. of Environmental Protection
- Dept. of Fire Services
- Dept. of Mental Health
- Exec. Office of Elder Affairs
- MA Dept. of Public Health
- MA National Guard
- MA Office on Disability
- MA State Police
- Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
- Operational Services Division
- Salvation Army
COVID- 19 Cases in Massachusetts:
COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts as of March 13, 2020 (numbers updated daily by 4:00 PM): 123
- Total confirmed cases of COVID-19: 6
- Total presumptive positive cases of COVID-19: 117
Massachusetts residents subject to COVID-19 quarantine as of March 10, 2020 (this information is updated every Wednesday by 12:00 PM): 1,083
- Total of individuals who have completed monitoring (no longer in quarantine): 638
- Total of individuals currently undergoing monitoring/ under quarantine: 445
For more information visit https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-cases-quarantine-and-monitoring
National Emergency Declaration:
This afternoon, the President declared a National Emergency in response to the threat of the novel coronavirus. This is a process under the National Emergencies Act which would open certain authorities for the president to move around federal resources and conduct certain activities such as a nationwide quarantine.
Emergency Order Prohibiting Assemblages of more than 250 People:
Governor Baker has issued an emergency order prohibiting most gatherings of over 250 people in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The order includes, but is not limited to, the following events: community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based events, sporting events with spectators, concerts, conventions, fundraisers, parades, fairs, festivals, and any similar event or activity that brings together 250 or more persons in a single room or single space at the same time in a venue such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, theatre, or any other confined indoor or outdoor space. The Governor also directed the Department of Public Health (DPH) to issue guidance implementing the terms of the Emergency Order. The full DPH guidance is available at: https://www.mass.gov/doc/guidance-regarding-the-order-by-the-governor-prohibiting-assemblages-of-more-than-250-people/download.
Modifications to the Open Meeting Law:
The Baker-Polito Administration has issued an emergency order temporarily modifying the state’s Open Meeting Law in order to allow state, quasi and local governments to continue to carry out essential functions and operations during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. This emergency order suspends the requirement for public access to the physical location where a public meeting is taking place, provided there are other means of access available, such as a phone conference line, social media or other internet streaming services, or on-line meeting services. Additionally, the order relieves the requirement that a quorum of members be physically present at a public meeting. During this period, members may all participate by remote or virtual means. This order is applicable to meetings of public bodies including commissions, boards, and committees that engage in policy making at the state, quasi and local level, and it does not apply to Town Meetings or judicial and quasi-judicial hearings. The full text of the order is available at https://www.mass.gov/doc/open-meeting-law-order-march-12-2020/download
Updated Guidance for Community-Based and Congregate Care Settings:
The Baker-Polito Administration has released new policies for Assisted Living Residences, Congregate Care Settings, In-Home Caregivers and Workers (Agency Based and Non-Agency Based), and Community Day Program Settings to further protect individuals served in community-based and congregate care settings from respiratory illnesses, including Coronavirus (COVID-19). This guidance is available through the following links:
Updated Guidance to Elementary and Secondary Schools:
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), in conjunction with MDPH, has released updated guidance for school superintendents regarding COVID-19. The full guidance may be found here.
The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) recently received federal guidance allowing for flexibilities regarding unemployment compensation for individuals affected by COVID-19. EOLWD is analyzing that guidance and pursuing potential emergency regulations which further enable them to assist individuals whose employment has been affected by the virus.
Additionally, in order to reduce in-person traffic at career centers and UI walk-in centers, EOLWD has suspended requirements related to the Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment for the time being. Staff are in the process of contacting customers scheduled to appear at the centers to let them know that their benefits will not be impacted as a result of this change and that they will be back in touch with them when these services are re-scheduled.
Interagency Planning Subgroup Updates:
Support to First Responders Subgroup:
- The subgroup met on 3/13 and facilitated a discussion of the needs of first responder agencies. The list of questions was forwarded to DPH for guidance and answers. The list of the questions focused on PPE and guidance on the quarantining and well-being of responder personnel.
- OCME asked for the process to procure a secure space for a temporary mortuary should a community’s capabilities be exceeded. This request is being worked through the logistics section.
- Fielded one call from a local fire department on planning for EMS/AMB resources should their system be impacted. Informational only at this time.
- Will disseminate DPH guidance information to response agencies statewide.
- Identifying vendors for:
- Hand Sanitizer in multiple sizes
- Disinfectant wipes
- Disinfectant spray
- Germicidal spray
- Germicidal wipes
- Prepared to receive shelf stable meals for distribution, if that requirement is posed
- Process will be developed and socialized, to ensure a consistent ordering process utilizing existing CONOPS, which will then follow with a standard assignment, transportation, tracking, and delivery model to towns who request supplies from a disaster site (either SSA and/or Warehouse)
- State Staging Areas (SSA)
- Made outreach to all assessed SSAs in the Commonwealth
- 19 SSAs called, 2 responded so far with availability. Waiting for call back from others.
- Confirmed vendor availability for tents to support SSA operations
- Primary use would be for staging of mass feeding capabilities if needed or cleaning supplies
- Made outreach to numerous state agency and private sector warehouse providers (on state contract)
- Multiple available spaces, ranging in size from 7,500 up to 80,000 sq. feet, and several have variable spaces
- Some vendors have full wrap-around services, other require additional support.
- Primary use would be for food storage (shelf stable meals) or bulk cleaning supplies
- Agency reports
- MANG: Has identified ~50 tents in their force inventory, working in fine-tuning numbers. Also identifying available trucks and soldiers to support potential missions (general infantry, transportation, logisticians)
- OSD: Pulling all applicable state contracts to determine inventory, timelines, etc., for sanitizers, cleaners, vendors to provide cleaning, etc. Ready to conduct a bulk order for MEMA operations, and also a bulk order for other state agencies to pull from
- DEP: Investigating guidance for water, waste water, and solid waste workers, in addition to vendors they use for sanitizing and fit testing
- MassDOT: Inventorying available equipment and facilities to support commodity storage and distribution
- Consistent and wide spread messaging about the resource request process is key, so that cities and towns know and understand the protocol for requesting PPE, sanitizers, and other services.
Mass Care Subgroup:
- Discussed populations identified that will need mass care services and potential needs for sheltering. There are multiple, complex issues for mass care in this event and the group has begun to identify, prioritize, and problem solve.
- The group is currently fleshing out a multilevel quarantine and isolation strategy that takes into considerations the needs of all populations to include the most vulnerable (i.e. homeless and the elderly).
o Identifying facility options for quarantine.
o Identifying isolation surge space and other isolation options.
o Identifying the wrap-around services required to support populations in quarantine and isolation (i.e. feeding).
o Identifying the resources required to support these operations to include medical staffing, equipment and supplies.
o Coordinating with MEMA Logistics and Finance to identify possible vendor/ contractors needed to support these operations.
Statewide Conference Calls:
The SEOC coordinated the following conference calls today to share information and coordinate actions with key stakeholders:
- 8:30 AM: Conference Call with DESE and K-12 School Districts
- 10:00 AM: Interagency Conference Call
- 11:00 AM Conference Call with Federal Congressional Delegation
- 12:30 PM: Conference Call with MDPH and Courts
- 1:30 PM: Conference Call with Chambers of Commerce
- 2:00 PM: Conference Call with MDPH and Institutions of Higher Education
- 2:00 PM: Conference Call with State Congressional Delegation
- 4:00 PM: Conference Call with MA Municipal Association
Disaster/Emergency Recovery Actions:
- MEMA and the Baker-Polito Administration are working closely with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to activate the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program which would provide assistance to eligible businesses and non-profits impacted by COVID-19.
- The MEMA Small Business website and SBA survey form are live as of yesterday. As of this afternoon, MEMA Recovery has received 27 completed forms.
- Guidance on cost tracking requirements under the Stafford Act has been sent to local officials.
MEMA Regional offices have been in regular contact throughout the day with local officials. They report that numerous cities and towns across the Commonwealth are taking steps to limit potential exposure of residents to coronavirus, including postponing/cancelling public events and closing schools, town/city offices, and other public buildings. Local officials also report experiencing ongoing difficulties procuring supplies of PPE, hand sanitizer, and other cleaning supplies due to supply chain issues.
Local EOC Activations / States of Emergency:
- North Attleboro
- UMASS Lowell
States of Emergency:
- New Bedford
The SEOC is aware, via reports from local officials and the media, of approximately 110 school districts with at least one school closure as of today (3/13). Note that school closures are constantly subject to change and residents should check local media or reach out to schools directly for the most up-to-date information.
Institutions of Higher Education:
The following colleges and universities have announced or implemented schedule changes and/or plans to move classes to online formats. Additional information about these changes is available on their respective websites.
- Anna Maria College
- American International College
- Amherst College
- Babson College
- Bay Path University
- Becker College
- Berkley College
- Boston College
- Boston University
- Brandeis University
- Bridgewater State University
- Clark University
- Curry College
- Elms College
- Emerson College
- Framingham State University
- Fitchburg State University
- Gordon College
- Greenfield Community College
- Hampshire College
- Harvard University
- Holy Cross College
- Holyoke Community College
- Lesley University
- Massachusetts College of Art and Design
- Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
- Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Mount Holyoke College
- Northeastern University
- Olin College of Engineering
- Regis College
- Springfield College
- Springfield Technical Community College
- Smith College
- Stonehill College
- Suffolk University
- Tufts University
- UMASS Amherst
- UMASS Boston
- UMASS Dartmouth
- UMASS Lowell
- UMASS Medical
- Wentworth Institute of Technology
- Western New England University
- Westfield State University
- Wheaton College
- Williams College
- Worcester Polytechnic Institute
- Worcester State University
In an effort to ensure you have good situational awareness and early guidance from DPH, all stakeholders and the general public are encouraged to visit the DPH website as updates and guidance changes frequently. The link for DPH website can be found here: www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus.
Below are hyperlinks from DPH’s website that provide specific guidance and recommendations for: (1) emergency responders and law enforcement, (2) businesses and employers, (3) elementary and secondary schools, and (4) colleges and universities. To access the hyperlinks hold “Ctrl” and click the link.
· Guidance for emergency responders and law enforcement click here.
· Guidance for businesses and employers click here.
· Guidance for elementary and secondary schools click here.
· Guidance for colleges and universities click here
Regarding continuity planning, employers should consider how best to decrease the spread of acute respiratory illnesses and lower the potential impact of COVID-19 in workplaces in the event of an outbreak by taking steps to:
· Reduce transmission among staff
· Protect people who are at higher risk for adverse health complications
· Maintain business operations
· Minimize adverse effects on other entities in their supply chains
All private and public sector agencies are encouraged to develop or update contingency plans to ensure they can continue to carry out essential functions regardless of the threat or impact. For guidance and more information on continuity planning visit https://www.mass.gov/info-details/continuity-and-safety-planning-guidance