May 07, 2020

How Do We Reopen?

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Hello again,

I’m sending my newsletter a little early this week with a reminder: Mother’s Day is this Sunday. If you forgot, I have some good news: florists and some other non-essential businesses have gotten the green light to start to reopen in the state. Don’t rush to the store, but if you’re still searching for a gift, hopefully this gives you a few days to safely pick one up. I’m looking forward to celebrating my second Mother’s Day with Liz and Emmy.

Mothers Day 2020

After you’ve picked out your Mother’s Day flowers, don’t forget to say thanks to the nurses and teachers in your life, too. This week is both Nurses Appreciation Week and Teacher Appreciation Week. It couldn’t come at a more meaningful time, as nurses provide vital bedside care at great personal risk, and as teachers innovate in order to remotely educate and serve our kids. I want to send a special thanks to my favorite teacher, my sister Eliza!

As soon as next week, Congress is expected to return to Washington and vote on another round of disaster relief for our country. Even though we’re not in session, we’ve been working around the clock to help our community.

I had a helpful call this week with a group of local lenders helping small business owners to get assistance from the Paycheck Protection Program. We heard about some of the ways this program is succeeding, but more importantly, we heard where there are gaps that need to be addressed.

This week, we also helped a local nonprofit find missing PPE, and I worked with Senators Warren and Markey and Representative Keating to get the U.S. Department of Agriculture to buy $70 million worth of seafood as part of a disaster purchasing agreement for farmers and fishermen. That’s a big deal for Massachusetts and the nearly 100,000 people who work in the commonwealth’s commercial fishing industry. Fishermen were hit hard before this crisis by the trade war, and now they’re taking another blow with restaurants being shut down.

Everyone’s looking to do their part right now. One thing you can do is support our fishermen and buy local seafood. I found this article about how Americans cooking at home are buying more and different kinds of fish heartening.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we have been focused on supporting you and the healthcare workers on the front lines of the battle to save lives, people who have lost their jobs, individuals who are fighting to keep their businesses afloat, and families who have had the virus strike a loved one. In February, before this really ramped up, we reached out to a virologist with some questions about what we were seeing around the world. She sounded the alarm bells and we immediately went to work:

  • We wrote the CDC and Vice President Pence demanding transparency and raising the alarm that the test kits were failing.
  • We created a plan for our team to limit exposure to each other and telework--the first of its kind in Congress that other offices used as a model. We outlined a plan for Congress in an op-ed in WBUR.
  • We stood up a website, and a weekly email program that reaches 180,000 people because we knew clear, fact-based information would help save lives.
  • We started connecting mayors, superintendents and fire chiefs with information at the federal level. When we figured out that PPE would be an issue, we started sounding the alarm again. We asked the governor to designate essential workers at grocery stores and other workplaces as emergency personnel so they could get PPE and testing. The next day, he made them eligible for priority testing.
  • I formed a Coronavirus Advisory Team that includes experts like Dr. Alain Chaoui, who started one of the first drive through testing centers in the state, and Dr. Paul Farmer, an expert who is leading the contact tracing program you may have seen in The New York Times.
  • We also got to work in Washington. I wrote a bill to provide nonprofits with the same disaster relief businesses are getting.
  • We outlined the criteria for how to make a decision about reopening.
  • And my casework team has been working around the clock, helping people apply for unemployment and advocating for patients in the VA and other medical systems. This week alone we’ve responded to more than 3,500 letters phone calls and emails—just this week.

So, that brings us to today. It is unacceptable that we still lack the testing we need to figure out who has COVID-19 and reopen. And it’s a problem that our front line workers—the heroes fighting the virus and serving all of us—still lack enough PPE. I’m going to keep fighting for you, and I’m looking forward to getting back to Washington to vote on some key relief efforts next week.

We’re all in this together, and I hope you know my team and I have your back throughout this crisis. If you need help with a federal agency or anything else, give us a call or send us an email.

Please enjoy your Mother’s Day this weekend. I recognize it will look a little different this year, with a lot of Zooms, Hangouts and Facetimes. But, I think all of us are going to appreciate this one even more than usual.

Stay safe,

Signature

Seth Moulton
Member of Congress


Staying Connected

I’m committed to staying connected and keeping you informed. I’ve had the opportunity to host Facebook Live town halls on issues like hunger, education and mental health care. You can find the latest on my Facebook page and Twitter.

We also update an online reading list regularly, and maintain an archive, for you to get briefed on some of the same information that I do.


Working for You

We’re still working round-the-clock to serve you. You can contact my office for help with federal agencies. We will be taking your calls in Salem (978) 531-1669 or Washington D.C. (202) 225-8020, or you can visit our online office at Moulton.house.gov.

You can also find the latest coronavirus information here

Reopening Safely

I know that when we can reopen is the million-dollar question. We have a team of public health experts and scientists advising us on that. As I outlined in last week’s newsletter, the issue comes down to four T’s and two P’s. If you missed my note, you can check out my thoughts in the op-ed below.

GDT - Listen to Science

Governor Baker recently announced that an advisory board of 17 experts, led by Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, will develop a phased reopening plan for Massachusetts, which will be published by May 18. My team and I are compiling plans from other countries and states and some companies, too. Stay tuned to our coronavirus resource page at Moulton.house.gov for this update. I think it will help you figure out what life will be like once we start to emerge from our homes.

The ultimate decision on when Massachusetts will reopen is dependent on statistical downward trends in public health and hospitalization data – percentage of new positive cases, status of community hotspots, and hospitalization rates.

It’s important to stress that the May 18 date is the Reopening Advisory Board’s deadline for releasing their report, and does not necessarily mean the economy will be reopening on May 18.

Interested in weighing in?

Submit your comments to the Massachusetts Advisory Board.


Helping with Hunger

Last week, I hosted a Facebook Live with the CEO of The Greater Boston Food Bank, Catherine D’Amato, and Executive Director of The Open Door for Food Security, Julie LaFontaine to discuss hunger relief during the pandemic. They shared their experience serving families and individuals in need, as well as tips for planning your nutrition.

FB Live - Hunger

Organizations like theirs have grappled with unprecedented demand for months while donations are scarce. That’s why I’m working to secure stimulus funding for non-profit organizations.