Senate 40-0, approved a $76 million COVID-19 response bill. Key provisions provide $30 million to increase the number of COVID-19 testing sites and purchase COVID-19 tests and $5 million earmarked to expanding vaccination rates among kids ages 5 to 11 whose vaccination rates remain low in comparison to older residents
Another $25 million would be used for the acquisition and distribution of high-quality personal protective masks, including N95s and KN95s, to be distributed to health care workers and children and faculty in elementary and secondary public-school districts. The measure also mandates that the Baker administration pursue the highest allowable rate of federal reimbursement for the $76 million package.
“With the passage of today’s bill, the Senate confronts the challenges brought upon us by the Omicron surge and prioritizes urgently needed additional resources to expand access to rapid testing, masks, vaccines and boost our COVID-19 response efforts,” said Sen. Mike Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
“Today’s investments reflect the Senate’s commitment to center equity in the state’s ongoing pandemic response,” said Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “In addition to maintaining public health, key aspects of this bill, like the distribution of masks, will ensure that our COVID mitigation strategy is fair.”
“Today the Senate is acting decisively and strategically to protect the most vulnerable among us,” said Sen. Jo Comerford (D-Northampton), Senate Chair of the Committee on Covid-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management.
“I’m proud that this bill makes targeted investments in community organizations that are working hard to get more residents vaccinated and keep them protected from severe illness due to COVID-19,” said Sen. Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington), Senate Vice Chair of the Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management.
The House has already approved its own version of the bill. A House-Senate conference committee will try to hammer out a compromise version.