Season’s Greetings everyone!
I hope you and your families are able to enjoy this holiday season while remaining safe as COVID cases are continuing to rise.
The holidays are supposed to be a time where we gather to see family and friends, but as with everything this year, that has sadly become difficult. Following the recent rise in cases, Governor Baker has released new guidelines and restrictions that will take effect this Saturday, December 26th in an effort to slow the spread of this deadly virus. Most importantly, the Governor has reduced gathering sizes and business capacities. Starting today, no more than 10 people are allowed at indoor gatherings and no more than 25 people at outdoor gatherings. I implore everybody to continue to exercise caution this week as we ring in the new year.
On a more positive note, as of Wednesday, almost 200,000 COVID-19 vaccines have arrived in the Commonwealth. Amongst the first recipients of the vaccine will be those at congregate living facilities, like nursing homes, and our brave medical workers on the front lines. While these are positive developments, it is important to remember that we are not in the clear yet and I encourage everyone to remain vigilant.
With the end of the legislative session in sight, this week has been one of our busiest at the state house. This past Wednesday, I was happy to vote on the health care conference committee bill, which requires insurers to permanently reimburse customers for behavioral telehealth appointments at rates they would pay for the same care in person. This cementing of telehealth options in our healthcare system is the first of what I’m sure will be many changes in the way we think about medicine post-COVID. This week I was also afforded the time to celebrate the season with both my colleagues and family, albeit remotely. Along with Mayor Humason and Rep-Elect Pease, I zoomed into WCPC/WSKB 89.5 on Wednesday to spread some holiday cheer to our community.
Sadly, this is a time a year when many are reminded of what they lack and this has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. With the new year looming and the housing courts reopening, many will find themselves in dire housing situations. In response to this, the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) has formed the COVID Eviction Legal Help Project (CEHLP). CEHLP is a group that gives free legal help to low-income tenants and owner-occupants living in 2- or 3-family houses in Massachusetts. To find legal help in your area, go to www.evictionlegalhelp.org or call 2-1-1.
As the new year begins, I’m starting a new tradition: a quarterly newsletter from my office right to your email inbox. This newsletter will include more in-depth information on legislation and what is going on in the State house. If you would like to sign up for the newsletter, head to www.senatorjohnvelis.com/quarterly-newsletter/
As always if there is anything I can do to assist you, please never hesitate to reach out to my office. I can be reached at my email: [email protected] or by phone: (413) 572-3920 and you can find me online at senatorjohnvelis.com.
Best wishes for a happy holiday season and new year,
John C. Velis