July 31 Biweekly Round-Up: NEC Members Contribute to COVID-19 Crisis Response

As our region and our nation continue to grapple with the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, The New England Council is using our blog as a platform to highlight some of the incredible work our members have undertaken to respond to the outbreak. Twice weekly, we’ll post a round-up of updates on some of the initiatives underway among Council members throughout the region.  We are also sharing these updates via our social media, and encourage our members to share with us any information on their efforts so that we can be sure to include them in these twice-weekly round-ups.   

 You can find all the Council’s information and resources related to the crisis in the special COVID-19 section of our website.  This includes our COVID-19 Virtual Events Calendar, which provides information on upcoming COVID-19 Congressional town halls and webinars presented by NEC members, as well as our Federal Agency COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses page. 

 Here is today’s (July 31, 2020) roundup: 

Medical Response

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield Improves Mental Health AccessBlue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has instituted a series of new initiatives to help members better access mental health care, including expanding the number of child psychiatrists available to members, adding telehealth options and giving greater access to an online program to manage anxiety and stress. Surveys have shown increased anxiety related to the pandemic, at least early on in the spread of the virus. Read more here.  
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital Takes Leadership Role in Vaccine Trial – A COVID-19 vaccine candidate is advancing to a 30,000-participant phase 3 trial that begins today, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital will play two key roles in the trial’s next phase. The phase 3 COVE study will evaluate a vaccine candidate manufactured by Moderna, Inc., of Cambridge, MA. The study will enroll participants at locations throughout the US, with the Brigham serving as a clinical research site as part of the COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN). Read more here.  

Economic/Business Continuity Response

  • Verizon First Responder Advisory Council Now Available to Public Safety AgenciesVerizon announced that it will make its First Responder Advisory Council (VFRAC) available to current and prospective Verizon public safety agency customers through a series of upcoming events and meetings. Formed in 2019, the VFRAC includes representatives from all facets of the public safety community, including former leaders in emergency management, fire, public health, and law enforcement. Read more here

Community Response

  • Vermont Teddy Bear Makes and Distributes Over 15,000 MasksVermont Teddy Bear has shifted production away from making cuddly stuffed animals, instead producing thousands of masks. The Shelburne, VT, company has marshaled over 150 volunteer sewers after donating PPE to local healthcare workers. Vermont Teddy Bear plans to produce 125,000 masks–enough for roughly a quarter of Vermont’s population. Read more here.  
  • Pine Street Inn Leases Former Hotel to Help Social Distancing During Coronavirus PandemicPine Street Inn, Boston’s largest homeless shelter, will be leasing a former Best Western on Massachusetts Ave. The lease of the former hotel will last for a year, with the program aiming to use it as a “bridge to permanent housing” for its guests. Read more here.  
  • The Boston Foundation Awards $470,000 in Grants in Partnership with Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief FundThe Boston Foundation recently announced the distribution of $470,000 to 12 Eastern Massachusetts nonprofits in grants made possible by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Response Fund. The latest round of funding brings the number of grants to nonprofit partners through our COVID-related grant programs to more than 250, totaling just over $8 million. Read more here.  
  • MEMIC Insurance Announces Early $17 Million Dividend for Maine Policyholders – In recognition of the economic stress being experienced by many of its 18,000 Maine workers’ compensation insurance policyholders, the Board of Directors of MEMIC has authorized the immediate distribution of a $17 million dividend to eligible employers. Read more here.  

Stay tuned for more updates each day, and follow us on Twitter for more frequent updates on how Council members are contributing to the response to this global health crisis.

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