ROBERTSON: As Massachusetts Revs Up, We Stand Ready To Shift Into Second Gear

Below is a press release from State Representative Dave Robertson’s Office:

TEWKSBURY, MA — Numbers hospitalized in our neck of the state continue to fall, a great sign as we all get ready to go into the second phase of reopening next week. Coming down to a bit over 30 COVID hospitalization cases in Lowell General, a stark contrast to earlier weeks, our commitment to protection has lined us up to success. Thank you to all who are actively protecting ourselves, and one another, with masks and distancing – it is due to your efforts that we are turning into position to begin the second phase.

Next week restaurants will begin reopening, and we are hard at work working with local authorities to rapidly approve outside seating, extending carry-out alcohol permits, approving restaurants to sell carry-out cocktails, and capping fees online services have heavily increased on local restaurants after the crisis began. As we return to dining out you will see some creative changes. The Department of Public Health and reopening committee are asking tables to remain six feet apart, to limit party sizes to six, and to book ahead whenever possible. Local boards of health and restaurant owners will also closely monitor staff outbreaks of COVID, and work with the state to notify any patrons of an infectious worker. Sanitization plans are being updated, and not to repeat myself, but I believe that the careful observations toward safety our towns have displayed combined with updated health codes will lead us to success. Hotels will also reopen, though event spaces such as ballrooms and event halls will be closed. You will also see certain hospital networks begin reopening for non-elective surgeries and other procedures. If you have a health condition, please contact your primary care physician to discuss scheduling of important procedures now that hospitals have capacity and staffing to address such concerns.

On a separate note, I want to make folks in the community very aware of a new scam, and the reemergence of an ongoing one. The Department of Unemployment has noticed an uptick in fraudulent claims submitted by individuals, and several people in both towns notified our office about these attemps. If you have been targeted for fraudulent claims please immediately report this to our office, so we may direct you to the proper portal to report your information in a private and secure manner. Upon submission of this information, we will notify unemployment to expedite the closure of the claim. We want to make sure that you, your employer, and your insurance policy are protected. In addition to this scam, I want to reiterate yet again that the IRS will not contact you about your stimulus check unless you called first. Any unsolicited calls, especially ones asking to verify banking information or regarding “overpayment” are criminals. If you encounters such a call please report it to us immediately so we may notify the Federal Communications Commission and Treasury to shut down the phone number of the criminal.

On a final related note, I want to highlight the confusion around the stimulus cards that are beginning to hit our mailboxes. As you may have seen on the local news there are reports of people throwing away their stimulus checks as they are loaded on debit-cards. It is easy to confuse these with the old “pre-approved credit cards” that we just to toss aside years ago as junk mail. The envelopes are non-descript and easy to tear up, so please open any mail as the federal government charges $7 dollars to replace a card.

Though I may sound like a broken record, I must again thank the communities for working together through this unprecedented crisis by slowing the spread of the virus. Your efforts are showing direct results in our hospitalization rates. Thank you, and may you and your family be safe and healthy.

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