Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and First Lady Lauren Baker Monday announced the formation of the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund to help assist those most impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
The announcement was made at Eastern Bank's corporate headquarters in Boston.
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Lauren Baker said there are many communities across the state where even in the best of times, people live paycheck to paycheck. And those areas have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus crisis.
She said the fund will help support essential front-line workers and other vulnerable communities, partnering with a network of community foundations and nonprofits with deep roots in their communities and boots on the ground to deploy the funds quickly.
“The people of Massachusetts always step up," she said. "We’re resilient, compassionate and strong. The COVID-19 crisis is probably the biggest challenge any of us have faced, but I know the people of Massachusetts are going to work together and support each other and do their part to help their neighbors survive and succeed. I know that if we work together, we’re all going to make it through this fine.”
The governor said the fund, launched with $1.8 million from the Massachusetts One8 Foundation, starts with over $13 million to distribute. The relief fund will be administered, free of charge, by Eastern Bank.
“The goal here is simple," he said, "which is to create a statewide fund that can support many of the local foundations and community assets that have been serving communities for years and years to help those who are going to have the hardest time working through and dealing with the economic consequences of this virus,” the governor added.
Gov. Baker also announced Monday that there are now nearly 14,000 coronavirus cases in the state.
“This continues to be one of the most challenging events we in the commonwealth have ever faced,” he said.
Baker said 76,500 people have now been tested for COVID-19 in the state, and on Tuesday he will announce a new testing site in Lowell, and another one later in the week at the Big E fairgrounds in West Springfield.
He continued to stress the importance of social distancing and staying home whenever possible.
“If you need to go for a walk, by all means go for a walk, but we’re not supposed to be gathering in groups, we’re not supposed to be playing active outdoor sports with each other,” Baker said.
He also expressed support for Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and the efforts he has taken to stem the spread of the coronavirus, including implementing a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
State health officials on Monday reported 29 new deaths from the coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 260.
Experts warn the worst is still to come. The latest models show the state could see up to 172,000 coronavirus cases when the surge hits sometime between April 10 and April 20.