BOSTON — State officials stressed the need to continue pandemic protocols over the holidays as they announced nearly $50 million in grants to help small businesses through the economic upheaval caused by COVID-19.
The surge in cases of the novel coronavirus after Thanksgiving has put the state's medical system under duress and threatens its ability to continue to operate. Public health officials are bracing for another surge following the Christmas and New Year's holidays.
"If the second holiday season produces a surge in infections that we saw similar to the one that came out of Thanksgiving, we'll be in serious danger of overwhelming, our health-care system," said Gov. Charlie Baker at Monday's briefing. "We're basically begging everyone to stay within their immediate household over the course of this holiday season."
The governor asked residents to consider the consequences of the actions they take over the next two weeks.
"We simply can't afford to have another spike, one of the largest in the United States, take place after the Christmas holiday, while we're still dealing with the spike that came from Thanksgiving," he said, adding, "we need to help build the bridge between here and the successful implementation of a widespread safe and effective vaccine."
The governor also announced the first disbursements of nearly $49 million in grants to small businesses. The funds are part of the administration's $774 million economic recovery plan and are being awarded through the COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corp.
Some 1,158 small businesses have been designated for an award.
"This has obviously also been a very challenging year for other sectors of our economy and small business owners perhaps more than anyone else have gone through unimaginable disruption loss, and uncertainty," Baker said. "Despite that they've done everything in their power to keep their staff and their customers as safe as they possibly can and to commit to this state's very aggressive safety protocols."
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said the funds will help "some of the hardest hit businesses and communities" and can be used to cover expenses such as payroll and benefits, mortgage interest, rent and utilities.
The program received more than 10,000 applications with total requests of $500 million. Those selected in this round included businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans, the disabled and LGBTQ residents.
"There is more funding in the pipeline for those who have applied to this program who did not receive a grant in this first round, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Legislature on additional resources," she said.
Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Michael Kennealy said 100 percent of those owner groups list, who had received no other funding to date, were approved for this program.
"We're acutely aware of the sectors that have been hardest hit," he said. "We are proud that we can direct this really to help them out."
Grantees included 262 personal-care providers, 217 restaurants, and nearly 100 retailers will receive awards, Kennealy said. "That's close to 600 small businesses that support their workers, their workers' families and their communities."
Those efforts will continue when decisions are made in awarding the $17.5 million being made available in the recently signed budget, he said.
"Soon we'll be announcing millions of dollars in grants for nonprofit cultural facilities that have faced significant challenges this year," Kennealy said. "We'll also soon be announcing grants in support of internet connectivity, something that is absolutely critical for people seeking to rejoin the workforce."
Baker said his office has filed another $50 million supplemental for small business assistance.
"The clock is ticking on the end of the session with respect to that but it's also clear, the clock is also ticking for businesses here in the commonwealth that would benefit from those resources," he said.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to email@example.com.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
The Berkshires are expected to get hit with up to 6 inches of snow as the leading edge of a 1,500-mile storm system moves in the region on Tuesday.
The National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y., has issued a winter weather advisory for the Berkshire and Southern Vermont beginning noon Tuesday through 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
NWS is forecasting total accumulations of 3 to 6 inches with up to 8 inches possible in some higher-elevation portions of eastern New York. Snowfall could fall as fast as an inch an hour during Tuesday afternoon.
The city of Pittsfield has already declared a snow emergency from 7 a.m. on Tuesday until 7 p.m. on Thursday. City residents are reminded of the alternate parking scheme for snow emergencies: park on the even side of the street from 7 a.m. Tuesday through 7 a.m. on Wednesday; then switch to the odd side through 7 a.m. on Thursday.
By midsummer the river can decline to a shallow but steady slow flow, indicating that a serious drought has affected the decreasing level of life-giving water borne from mountain brooks, going dry well before wildlife complete their life-cycles. click for more
Principal Justin Kratz told the School Committee last Thursday that instead of inviting area eighth-graders to the school for the annual showcase and look at after-school programming, the school's recruitment efforts will be virtual.
click for more