Pignatelli, Barrett File Bill to Establish Coronavirus Fund

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BOSTON — State Reps. William "Smitty" Pignatelli and John Barrett III have filed an emergency bill to establish a "COVID-19 Quarantine Assistance Fund."
The act would establish an account to be administered by the secretary of health and human services and to be funded through amounts transferred or authorized by the Legislature. 
The money would be expended as grants to residents of the commonwealth of Massachusetts who are unable to work during an infection, quarantine or isolation period caused by the novel coronavirus. 
"In this time of public health emergency, it is vital that we do all we can to assist those in Massachusetts who are negatively impacted by COVID-19," Pignatelli wrote in posting the bill's language on Facebook. "Through measured and appropriate responses, Massachusetts will be able to navigate and see the other side of this public health challenge."
The coronavirus has spread to more than 70 nations and, at last count, the state had about 100 presumed cases. Health officials are recommending those who have been exposed to the virus "self-quarantine" for two weeks since symptoms usually arise within within that time. The virus is easily passed through contact and air; "social distancing," staying about 6 feet away, is being encouraged. 
The two-week quarantine as well as the actual virus puts stress on individuals who may not be able to afford time without pay. 
"That is why today, Representative John Barrett and I have filed a bill to ensure that those who are financially vulnerable are not left behind," the Lee Democrat wrote. 

The bill currently has more than 50 legislative co-sponsors and counting.

"This legislation will provide much needed assistance to small business owners and furloughed employees who have no sick leave benefits,” said Barrett. "The ramifications of the coronavirus is far reaching and it is critical that action be taken now.”



Tags: COVID-19,   Legislature,   state officials,   

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Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts Supports Flying Cloud Institute

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Flying Cloud Institute (FCI) announced funding from the Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts to support its Young Women in Science program in Southern Berkshire County and Pittsfield.
For over twenty years, FCI has offered Young Women in Science (YWIS) programs free of charge to underserved female-identified youth in Berkshire County in the form of after school Girls Science Clubs, youth mentorship programs, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Summer workshops, and conferences for Women in STEM. 
"Coming out of this pandemic year, there has never been a more important time to engage our youth in empowering, hands-on investigations with authentic role models in order to build up their identities as capable, curious learners and to inspire the next generation of STEM leaders," said Executive Director Maria Rundle.
The programs focus on girls who might have an inclination for STEM but find little encouragement and little to no opportunity to interact with women STEM professionals who would serve as role models— all while facing the social stigma that girls are not good at STEM.
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