At a Tuesday press conference, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker expressed frustration at the federal government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For the last two days, we’ve all been following closely the developments in Washington," Baker said. "The debate around the economic aid package in the Senate, well, frankly, it’s been appalling, but I can’t say I’m surprised.
"I’ve watched and seen governors and mayors and other elected officials completely shift their focus to the task at hand, without the slightest partisan bend. So I know it’s possible, if they choose to, for D.C. to do the same.”
Baker called on Congress to come to a deal on a relief package to respond to the economic effects of the crisis. A deal has been stalled in the Senate after Democrats demanded that more of the aid go to workers and families and that certain restrictions be placed on money going to corporations. The uncertainty around the process has made it difficult for states and municipalities to plan, Baker added.
"Make a deal,” he said. “Make a deal. Remember, the legislation that’s in front of the Senate went through a whole series of bipartisan — that means Republican and Democrat — decision makers over the course of the past two weeks in both the House and the Senate.
"I think it’s critical that these folks find a way to yes and get some clarity and certainty, not just for state government and local government but for the people of the country who are waiting to see the federal government lead on this issue.”
Baker along with Lt. Gov. Karen Polito announced that they had filed legislation to address some of the logistical issues that have come with the shut down of nonessential services. The bill would allow, among other things, restaurants to sell wine and beer with takeout orders, grant the state's K-12 education commissioner the authority to modify or waive MCAS testing requirements and allow electronic signatures on search warrants and criminal complaints.
Baker said 10 additional labs, in addition to the state public health lab, Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, are now testing for the virus, and that the Department of Public Health has made 89 deliveries of equipment from the strategic national stockpile as of this morning.
With reports by Katie Lannan from State House News Service.