Massachusetts – Coronavirus State Actions

Governors are working closely with federal and local officials as well as private sector partners to address the threat of the novel coronavirus. This page lists select actions taken to date. It is not intended to be exhaustive but is meant to highlight key actions and resources that may inform other states and territories as they prepare for and respond to the novel coronavirus. All state actions can be viewed here, or visit Coronavirus: What You Need To Know for additional information and resources.


Massachusetts Department of Public Health coronavirus resource page.

  • February 3, 2020—A supplemental appropriations bill filed by Governor Baker would allow the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to use surplus funds in unrelated accounts in the event of unanticipated costs related to communicable diseases. The Massachusetts House and Senate have approved mid-year spending bills based on the Governor’s request, which must be reconciled.  
  • February 28, 2020—The Massachusetts Department of Public Health established an Incident Command Structure to facilitate regular dissemination of information from federal and state partners to statewide stakeholders. 
  • March 4, 2020—Governor Baker announced that due to the emergency health situation, the state is urging colleges and universities to cancel upcoming organized international trips.
  • March 10, 2020—Governor Baker declared a state of emergency . 
  • March 10, 2020—Broad restrictions are imposed on travel for many state employees
  • March 15, 2020 – The Governor announced several new steps to address COVID-19, including the following:
    • All public and private elementary and secondary schools will be closed for three weeks.
    • Gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited.
    • Visitors are prohibited from entering long-term care facilities and nursing homes.
    • The administration is filing emergency legislation that will allow new claims to be paid more quickly by waiving the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits.
  • March 15, 2020 – The Governor announced a new legislative package aimed at supporting municipal governance that allows changes to the postponing of town meetings, adopting lower quorum rules, permitting municipal spending of revolving funds, and other measures.
  • March 16, 2020 – The Governor announced a $10 million Small Business Recovery Loan Fund that aims to provide emergency capital (up to $75,000) to businesses in the state impacted by COVID-19.
  • March 17, 2020 – The Governor announced four new emergency orders that make the following changes:
    • Licensed physicians who have retired in the last year, and who are in good standing, may be reactivated for a period of 90 days after the end of the public health emergency.
    • Providers in good standing from other states can obtain emergency licenses to practice in the state, or practice through telemedicine.
    • The ability of residents to provide critical services (under supervision) will be expanded.
    • Allows licenses for nurses, pharmacists and physician assistants, who would otherwise be up for renewal, to extend their licensure status by 90 days after the end of the public health emergency.
    • Adjusts the minimum standards for ambulance staffing to ensure capacity of EMS services.
    • Expands telehealth by facilitating those services across state lines.
  • March 17, 2020 – The Governor’s administration is distributing $5 million in initial emergency funding to address needs of community health boards. Additional funding will support public health emergency resources in cities and towns.
  • March 17, 2020 – Building off the Governor’s emergency loan fund, the Governor formally requested that the Small Business Administration issue a declaration of economic injury so as to expedite the ability for small business to obtain loans.
  • March 18, 2020 – The Governor announced that all early education and childcare centers will close on March 23, 2020.
  • March 18, 2020 – The Governor signed Senate S.2599 authorizing unemployment assistance to workers impacted by COVID-19. The legislation will allow for new claims to be paid in an expedited fashion by waiving the one week waiting period for such benefits.
  • March 19, 2020 – The Governor announced that the U.S. Small Business Administration will offer low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Massachusetts small businesses suffering substantial economic injury.
  • March 19, 2020 – The Governor activated the Massachusetts National Guard with up to 2,000 members who will support requests from state agencies for equipment, logistics, warehousing, and related duties.
  • March 20 – The Lieutenant Governor announced the Small Business Recovery Loan Fund will be allocated another $10 million, making the final amount $20 million, to help small businesses who sought emergency loans before the state was overrun with requests and stopped accepting applications.
  • March 23, 2020 – The Governor issued an emergency order requiring all businesses and organization who are not proving “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities. Simultaneously, the Governor also stated that he is limiting mass gathering to 10 people or less. The order does not however prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people in an outdoor space.
  • March 16, 2020 –  The Massachusetts courts announced that no evictions would occur during the COVID-19 public health emergency until at least April 21.
  • March 24, 2020 – The Governor filed An Act to Further Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities and School Districts Resulting from COVID-19, which would provide administrative relief to state and local government entities in the form of modifying local permitting processes, enabling municipalities to extend tax and finance deadlines, and extending deadlines for certain education requirements. 
  • March 24, 2020 – The Governor announced the launch of a new text-based notification system to deliver important information about the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 response to Massachusetts residents.
  • March 25, 2020 – The Governor announced new actions across the commonwealth, which include extending the closure of all public and private schools and non-emergency child care programs and actions to protect homeowners and low-income tenants from eviction and foreclosure.
  • March 25, 2020 – The Governor announced the creation of a COVID-19 Advisory Board, which includes a group of medical experts that will support the Response Command Center and actions across the commonwealth.
  • March 26, 2020- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services approved Massachusetts’ request for a Section 1135 Medicaid waiver. The approved waiver enables Massachusetts to provide flexibilities in Medicaid provider screening and enrollment, forgo certain pre-admission screening and annual resident review assessments, lift prior authorization requirements, allow for reimbursement facility services in alternative settings, extend fair hearing timelines, and waive public comment and tribal consultation requirements for certain changes to the Medicaid state plan.
  • March 27, 2020 – The Governor announced that he extended the 2019 state individual income tax filing and payment deadline from April 15 to July 15.
  • March 27, 2020 – The Governor announced new public health emergency responses, by issuing guidelines on travel and transportation and offering support for health care professionals and patients. The follow measures will go into place:
    • Travelers arriving to Massachusetts are instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days.
    • State medical schools will facilitate early graduation of their qualified fourth-year students to allow graduates to support the health care workforce.
    • The Board of Registration in Medicine will provide medical school graduates who have matched as an intern, resident or fellow with a Board-approved Massachusetts health care facility or training program with Emergency 90-Day Limited Licenses to practice medicine.
    • The launch of Buoy Health’s new online resource for residents to check their symptoms and connect with the next appropriate health care resource.
    • A public health order to provide Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, in good standing, with greater flexibility in their prescribing practices.
  • March 27, 2020 – The Governor announced a partnership with the Massachusetts Medical Society to match volunteers with communities and health care providers based on skillsets and need.
  • March 29, 2020 – The Governor announced a new online portal where individuals and companies can easily donate or sell personal protective equipment and sign up to volunteer to support COVID-19 emergency response efforts.
  • March 30, 2020 – The Governor announced new actions that will support efforts to expand the Commonwealth’s health care workforce, including expediting licensing for certain health care workers and onboarding for health care volunteers who have signed up through the Administration’s new online volunteer portal.
  • March 30, 2020 – The Department of Public Health ordered that certain MassHealth regulations regarding the transfers and discharge of long-term facility residents be waived for the purposes of moving residents to designated COVID-19 facilities.
  • March 31, 2020 – The Governor announced updates to the list of businesses deemed to provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” and extended the non-essential business emergency order to May 4.
  • April 2, 2020 – The Governor issued an emergency order requiring all coastal beach reservation parking areas managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation to close.
  • April 2, 2020 – The Governor’s Administration, through the Response Command Center, outlined projections related to the anticipated surge of COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth.
  • April 3, 2020 – The Governor’s Administration announced an initiative that will focus on tracing the contacts of confirmed positive COVID-19 patients, and supporting individuals in quarantine, and builds on the efforts already underway from the Command Center to leverage public health college students to augment the contact tracing being done by local boards of health.
  • April 7, 2020 – The Governor, along with CVS, announced the launch of a new rapid testing site with the capability of testing 1,000 people a day, as well as same day results. 
  • April 7, 2020 – The Governor announced a new financial package to support providers through the MassHealth program, by providing $800 million crisis stabilization funding to support health care providers impacted by and responding to the public health emergency, $80 million to nursing facilities, and $400 million to safety net hospitals.
  • April 8, 2020 – The Governor filed legislation to provide health care workers and facilities protections from civil liability while they are on the front lines of response to this public health emergency.
  • April 8, 2020 – The Governor’s Administration announced an expansion of COVID-19 testing sites for public safety personnel, new Crisis Standards of Care documentation for the Commonwealth’s health care facilities, and new guidance to further promote social distancing at grocery stores.
  • April 9, 2020 – The Governor announced details for the initial implementation of federal unemployment benefits in the CARES Act, such as an additional $600 per week for individuals collecting benefits from regular unemployment compensation and a 13-week extension of benefits for individuals who exhausted their previous benefits.
  • April 9, 2020 – The Governor announced the details for a new field medical station at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, increased support for health care workforce and patients, expansion of COVID-19 reporting data, new guidance for workers seeking unemployment benefits and protections for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
  • April 10, 2020 – The Governor’s Administration provided an update on the Commonwealth’s hospital capacity and efforts to add more beds to the system to meet the expected surge.
  • April 10, 2020 – The Governor’s Administration issued further public health guidance that all residents wear a mask or face covering in public, expanded access to free priority testing sites for first responders and grocery store workers.
  • April 13, 2020 – The Governor announced a new initiative and over $10 million in funding to support manufacturers’ efforts to pivot production operations to produce personal protective equipment and other critical devices, such as ventilators, sanitizers, and thermometers. The Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (M-ERT) is a coordinated response by the Governor’s Administration and leading academic and industry stakeholders to support the Commonwealth’s manufacturers in their efforts to produce much-needed supplies for front-line workers and the health care system.
  • April 14, 2020 – The Governor’s Administration announced the expansion of COVID-19 response reporting to include statewide hospital capacity and PPE distribution data.
  • April 15, 2020 – The Governor’s Administration announced an additional $130 million in new funding to long-term care facilities, the expansion of mobile testing for these facilities, and crisis management support to assist with staffing, vendors, and implementing infectious control measures.
  • April 17, 2020 – The Governor announced the distribution of approximately 200,000 respirator masks for local law enforcement and firefighters through the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
  • April 17, 2020 – The Governor outlined the state’s ongoing comprehensive strategy to address homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic through the establishment of isolation and recovery sites, deployment of supplies and supporting families in emergency assistance and domestic violence shelters.
  • April 20, 2020 – The Governor announced that residents who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits can now apply online for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. This includes self-employed workers, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and those with limited work history.
  • April 21, 2020 – The Governor  announced new actions to support the ongoing response, including extending the closure of all public and private schools through the end of the school year, and the closure of all non-emergency child care programs until June 29, as well as further support for students and families who have been impacted.
  • April 22, 2020 – The Division of Banks joined a multi-state initiative to secure payment relief options for Massachusetts student loan borrowers and issued a Consumer Advisory with information and resources for private student loan borrowers.
  • April 22, 2020 – The Governor’s Administration announced an initiative to expand testing at Community Health Centers as well as new Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • April 24, 2020 – The Governor filed two waiver requests with CMS that will give the state and its Medicaid program, MassHealth, more flexibility to respond to this public health emergency.
  • April 27, 2020 – The Governor announced a second round of funding up to $130 million for nursing facilities to support response efforts over the next two months, as well as increased funding of $44 million for residential congregate care service providers. Additionally, the administration has implemented required testing for staff and residents of nursing facilities.
  • April 28, 2020 – The Governor extended the essential services emergency order to May 18th and launched a Reopening Advisory Board that will produce a plan to the Governor by May 18th.
  • May 1, 2020 – The Governor issued an order requiring the use of masks or face coverings in public places and announced expanded community health center testing capacity.
  • May 5, 2020 – The Governor highlighted the MERT initiative that assists local manufacturers in transitioning operations to produce personal protective equipment and other critical items.
  • May 7, 2020 – The Governor provided updates on the COVID-19 Community Tracing Collaborative launched last month.
  • May 8, 2020 – In partnership with Mass League of Community Health Centers, the Governor’s Administration announced a new public awareness campaign which aims to encourage residents to continue seeking medical care.
  • May 8, 2020- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Massachusetts’ additional request for a Medicaid 1135 waiver. The waiver allows Massachusetts to allow for home and community-based services in additional settings.
  • May 11, 2020 – The Governor announced a four-phase approach to reopening the Massachusetts economy and published Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards that will apply across all sectors and industries once reopening begins.
  • May 12, 2020 – The Governor’s Administration filed a supplemental budget bill for Fiscal Year 2020 which will authorize $1 billion in spending necessary to cover incurred and expected costs during the public health crisis, and it is expected that this spending will result in no net cost to the Commonwealth, after anticipated federal reimbursement and other federal funding sources.
  • May 13, 2020 – The Governor toured MatTek Life Sciences, who is participating in the Manufacturing Emergency Response Team that assists local manufacturers in transitioning operations to produce personal protective equipment.
  • May 13, 2020 – The Governor toured a new testing site, and reminded residents of the Department of Public Health’s updated guidance about the appropriate use of laboratory testing for COVID-19 and expanded testing recommendations in clinical and commercial laboratories.
  • May 14, 2020 – The Governor announced that his Administration will submit its plan to expand testing to the federal government this month and highlighted the delivery of over 7.5 million pieces of PPE and supplies to be delivered to front-line workers throughout the Commonwealth.
  • May 14, 2020 – The Governor’s Administration announced that it is preparing to distribute up to $502 million from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund to local cities and towns.
  • May 15, 2020 – The Governor released a partial list of employers who are committing to continuing work from home policies for the foreseeable future as a way to provide more flexibility for their employees and greater capacity for social distancing on the state’s public transportation system.
  • May 18, 2020 – The Governor released Reopening Massachusetts, the Reopening Advisory Board’s report, which details a four-phased strategy to responsibly reopen businesses and activities. He also released a new “Safer At Home” Advisory, which instructs residents to stay at home unless engaging with newly opened activities.
  • May 20, 2020 – The Governor toured Symmons Industries, an 80-year-old Massachusetts manufacturer that has implemented the new Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards as manufacturing operations scale back up. The Governor’s Reopening Advisory Board also released new Sector Specific Protocols that describe policies, procedures and best practices that particular industries should follow to decrease the risk of transmission.
  • May 21, 2020 – The Governor announced that Massachusetts residents who are eligible for the federal CARES Act and qualify for having exhausted their regular unemployment compensation may now receive the new Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which provides up to 13 additional weeks of benefits.
  • June 1, 2020 – The Governor issued an Executive Order that provides a detailed list of businesses and activities that fall into Phases II, III, and IV of the Commonwealth’s Re-Opening Plan.
  • June 6, 2020 – The Governor  announced that Phase II of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan will begin on June 8.
  • June 9, 2020 – The Governor filed “An Act to Ensure the Collection of COVID-19 Data,” which will build on legislation recently signed by the governor to expand data collection during the pandemic. The Governor also signed “An Act Addressing COVID-19 Data Collection and Disparities in Treatment,” which will allow for the collection and publication of additional data to understand the impact of COVID-19 on underserved and underrepresented populations and other groups.
  • June 15, 2020 – The Governor announced the availability of pop-up testing sites throughout the Commonwealth for individuals who have recently participated in large gatherings.
  • June 18, 2020 – The Governor announced additional administrative tax relief measures for businesses, such as the postponing the collection of regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes for small businesses, as well as waiving all penalties and interest that would otherwise apply.
  • June 19, 2020 – The Governor announced that Step Two of Phase II of the Commonwealth’s four-phase reopening plan, Reopening Massachusetts, will begin on June 22.
  • June 26, 2020 – The Governor unveiled a $275 million COVID-19 economic recovery package to generate economic growth. It additionally proposes to amend the scope of several proposed programs, to target funding towards specific communities including those hardest hit, reallocate funding among proposed authorizations to better address the significant economic impacts, and establish new tools to promote equity and drive economic growth in communities and among businesses facing barriers to entry.
  • July 1, 2020 – Due to the food insecurity concerns caused by the pandemic, the Governor  highlighted an innovative partnership to help provide Boston’s most vulnerable residents with access to food by utilizing RIDE paratransit services.