Update on the COVID-19 Response from Senator Markey

COVID-19 Response

Massachusetts Phase 1 Vaccination Update

All phase 1 groups are now eligible for vaccination, which opens vaccination to home-based health care workers and “non-COVID-facing” health care workers. Eligible recipients can sign up for an appointment at a vaccination site here. CVS and Walgreens sites in Greenfield, Fall River, Salem, South Yarmouth, Pittsfield, Lee, Holden, Gardner, Hyannis, Mashpee, Somerset, Haverhill, Fairhaven, Saugus and Danvers are currently accepting vaccination appointments for Phase 1, and additional sites will be added soon. Please be advised that eligible individuals must be prepared to bring or sign a self-attestation of eligibility formand bring an employee ID, government-issued ID, or recent pay stub to show eligibility. 

The most recent vaccination update report is available here. As a reminder, questions with regard to vaccine eligibility can be sent to [email protected]. Any retired nurses or retired medical professionals interested in volunteering to administer vaccines or help in other capacities can sign up here, or through the Medical Reserve Corps at www.mamedicalreservecorps.org/

President Biden’s COVID-19 Executive Actions

Last week, President Biden signed several executive orders related to containing the COVID-19 pandemic. These include:

  1. COVID-19 Response Office & Coordinator: establishes the COVID-19 Response office and creates the position of Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response, charged with gearing up the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel: requires mask wearing in or on all airports, commercial airplanes, trains, public maritime vessels (including ferries), intercity bus services, and all forms of public transportation. Travelers seeking to enter the U.S. from a foreign country will be required to produce a negative COVID-19 test prior to entry, and may be required to comply with applicable CDC guidelines, including recommended self-quarantine or isolation. 
  3. Improving and Expanding Access to Care and Treatments for COVID-19: requires continued research into appropriate and effective treatments for COVID-19, establishes a new drug discovery and development program, and expands on programs designed to support patients recovering from COVID-19.
  4. Ensuring a Data-Driven Response to COVID-19: directs the COVID-19 response office and all federal agencies to improve federal data collection and sharing with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  5. Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain: calls for an immediate review of COVID-19 response supply and the resources necessary to produce and distribute tests and vaccines at scale. Heads of federal agencies are directed to take appropriate action using all available legal authorities, including the Defense Production Act, to fill shortfalls identified in pandemic response supplies.
  6. Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic Response and Recovery: establishes a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force under HHS charged with developing recommendations to identify and eliminate health and social inequities that result in disproportionately higher rates of exposure, illness, and death from COVID-19. 
  7. Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers: directs HHS to collect data on school reopenings and the spread of COVID-19, and provide support and guidance to help create the conditions for safe, in-person learning as quickly as possible. 
  8. Protecting Worker Health and Safety: directs OSHA to issue new guidance for employers on workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, and increased enforcement of existing rules to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
  9. Establishing the COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board & Ensuring Sustainable Public Health Workforce: creates a COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board charged with coordinating federal efforts to promote COVID-19 diagnostic, screening, and surveillance testing, and make recommendations with regard to prioritizing assistance to state and local governments with regard to expanding testing and reducing disparities in access to testing.

Additional memos and executive orders direct the United States to rejoin the World Health Organization (WHO), require social distancing and mask wearing on all federal properties and by all federal employees, and direct FEMA to offer 100% reimbursement for the deployment of National Guard by states for pandemic relief efforts. Senator Markey applauds President Biden’s directive to rejoin WHO, and plans toreintroduce his legislation to prevent future withdrawal from any international treaty, including WHO, without approval from Congress. Additionally, as one of the first members of the Senate to call on the Trump administration to invoke the Defense Production Act to allow for the wartime mobilization of private industry needed to appropriately respond to and contain the coronavirus pandemic, Senator Markey applauds the Biden administration’s plans to invoke the Act to meet its 100 million vaccinations goal. 

Finally, President Biden took action to extend the nationwide CDC eviction moratorium through March and directed the Department of Education to extend the pause on federal student loan payments and interest through September. 

Senator Markey’s Call for COVID Czar, National Mask Mandate

As the Biden-Harris Administration prioritized COVID-19 response on its first day, Senator Markey announced his commitment to reintroduce two pieces of public health legislation to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The Encouraging Masks for All Act, originally introduced in November 2020, would incentivize requiring the use of face masks in all public spaces by providing $5B to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund available to states who implement masking requirements. Senator Markey will also reintroduce legislation originally filed in March of 2020 to require the President to appoint a permanent Pandemic Prevention and Response Coordinator, housed on the National Security Council, after the Trump Administration eliminated the global health and biothreats “czar” position in 2018. 

Coronavirus Task Force on Aviation Health and Safety

Building on President Biden’s executive order calling for interagency coordination to develop national public health measures for domestic travel, Senators Markey and Blumenthal and Congressman Lynch announced their reintroduction of the Ensuring Health Safety in the Skies Act, which passed the Senate unanimously last year, and which instructs the Departments of Transportation, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security to establish a joint task force on air travel during and after the coronavirus pandemic.

Health Force, Resilience Force and Jobs Act

Senator Markey is joining Senators Gillibrand, Bennet and colleagues to introduce the Health Force, Resilience Force, and Jobs to Fight COVID-19 Act, legislation that would invest billions in the nation’s public health infrastructure to recruit, train, and employ hundreds of thousands of Americans to build public health capacity in underserved communities. The Resilience Force would bolster the FEMA workforce in the whole-of-government effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and help distribute and administer vaccines. This legislation builds on the UNITE Act that Senator Markey introduced with Senator Van Holllen last Congress and will help the Biden administration deliver on its mission to deliver 100M COVID-19 vaccinations in the first 100 days. Read a summary of the legislation here

FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant Workshop

Please be advised that FEMA is hosting a workshop on Thursday, January 28th at 1PM, open to fire chiefs or town officials, about the FY 2020 AFG Program, which is currently open for applications until Friday, February 12, 2021. Registration information is available here. As an additional reminder, the FY 2020 Fire Prevention and Safety Grants are also currently open for applications until Friday, February 26, 2021. More information here

For coronavirus resources and additional helpful information please visit Senator Markey’s coronavirus resource page.


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