In full transparency, the following is a press release from the Governor’s office submitted to SOURCE media for publication.
BOSTON – Today, March 15, the Healey-Driscoll Administration announced that the state’s COVID-19 public health emergency will end on May 11, 2023, to align with the end of the federal public health emergency.
The announcement this week, ahead of the 45-day notice required by state law, allows additional time for impacted organizations to prepare for the end of the public health emergency.
Governor Healey will also file legislation that would extend key flexibilities provided by the public health emergency, particularly around staffing for the health care industry and emergency medical services (EMS).
The Governor also announced that on May 11 she plans to rescind Executive Order 595 that required all Executive Branch state employees to have received their primary series COVID-19 vaccines.
“Thanks to the hard work of our health care providers and communities, we’ve made important progress in the fight against COVID-19,” said Governor Healey. “We know that we have the tools to manage this virus – vaccines, masking, testing, getting treatments and staying home when sick – and we’ve reached the point where we can update our guidance to reflect where we are now. I’d also like to acknowledge the leadership of Governor Baker and his administration, who saved countless lives by putting these important measures in place in a time of immense crisis.”
“Executive Order No. 595 has been a successful tool for boosting vaccination rates and reducing the spread and severity of COVID-19 in Massachusetts. We’re grateful to the state employees who did their part to keep themselves, their coworkers and their communities safe,” said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. “We encourage Massachusetts residents to continue taking important prevention measures to keep our communities healthy, like getting boosted, masking and staying home when you’re feeling sick.”
“We are fortunate that in Massachusetts, the wide availability of vaccines, tests, effective treatments, and PPE changed the course of a pandemic that brought loss and hardship to so many. Three years on from the start of the pandemic, we are now in a very different place,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kate Walsh. “While we will continue living with COVID-19, we can now incorporate the tools to manage this virus into our standing response to respiratory illness within our communities and healthcare system.”
Governor Healey’s legislation would:
- Continue flexibilities currently in place regarding staffing for out-of-hospital dialysis centers. This would apply for 6 months to allow dialysis centers time to return to pre-COVID staffing levels.
- Authorize certain non-Medication Administration Program (MAP) certified staff to administer certain prepackaged medications in community settings. This would apply for 6 months to enable DPH to finalize reforms that streamline the MAP program training requirements.
- Allow staffing of Advanced Life Support level ambulance transports with a single EMT provider and a first responder driver (rather than 2 certified EMTs). This would be a permanent change based on the positive experience of this staffing model over the last three years.
Executive Order No. 595 helped raise the percentage of fully vaccinated executive department employees from around 76 percent to over 99 percent. Mandates for staff in certain roles and settings will remain in place, per CMS and EOHHS regulations.