BROOKLINE — The Brookline Select Board, Town Administrator Mel Kleckner, Director of Health and Human Services Dr. Swannie Jett wish to provide members of the community with an important update on the COVID-19 situation.
There are currently 148 positive cases of coronavirus that have been identified among Brookline residents, and four of those people have died after becoming ill.
Face Coverings to be Required in Public
Effective Friday, April 17, anyone out in public in Brookline is required to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth, and residents are reminded that they should only be leaving home to purchase essentials or to get to essential jobs.
Face coverings can be made out of household fabrics and materials, and should ideally have multiple layers.
Cloth face coverings should:
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- Be secured with ties and or ear loops
- Include multiple layers of fabric
- Allow for breathing without restriction
- Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change in shape
“This is a public health measure that I believe will be effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Jett said. “A face covering can be made out of any number of items or materials that residents can find right in their homes, such as a bandanna or scarf, so the transition to wearing face coverings should be seamless.”
For more information about how to properly wear face coverings, click here.
The entire Commonwealth remains under a stay-at-home advisory, and residents are advised to leave home only if absolutely necessary. Essential trips should also be minimized by buying enough of what they need to last for weeks at a time whenever possible.
As a result of the COVID-19 emergency, the Annual Town Election has been postponed to June 9.
For safety reasons, residents are strongly encouraged to take part in early voting by mail, which is allowed for this election for anyone that wishes to vote without visiting the polls. Early voting by mail is the most convenient way to cast your vote by mail for this election.
The last day to register to vote is May 29 at 8 p.m. To register to vote, or obtain an early voting by mail application, visit brooklinema.gov/townclerk.
There are three ways to return your completed and signed early voting or absentee ballot application to the Town Clerk’s Office:
- Email email@example.com
- Fax it to 617-730-2043
- Mail it to the Town Clerk’s Office, PO Box 470860, Brookline, MA 02445
COVID-19 Testing for Pre-Screened Individuals on April 19
PhysicianOne Urgent Care will set up a drive-thru coronavirus testing site at its Chestnut Hill location Sunday, April 19 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Attendees do not have to be current patients of PhysicianOne Urgent Care but must be pre-screened in advance online via a PhysicanOne Virtual Visit.
In order to be eligible for testing, attendees must obtain a referral from a PhysicianOne provider prior to Sunday.
Go to www.P1UC.com and follow the prompts for the drive-thru testing pre-screen or call 855-349-2828 to schedule a screening with PhysicianOne Urgent Care providers.
Brookline residents, as well as those from surrounding communities, are welcome to sign up for pre-screenings. Those who undergo pre-screenings but are not recommended for testing may be required to pay a co-pay through their insurance, or $50 if paying out of pocket.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires private and government plans to cover COVID-19 testing and testing related services. The fee for individuals paying for testing out of pocket is $199, and payment plans are available.
For the most updated information on COVID-19 and related actions in the City of Brookline, visit brooklinecovid19.com.
Anyone with questions about pre-screening or testing should call 855-349-2828 or visit www.P1UC.com.
State and Federal Resources Available Online
Several resources from the state and federal governments, including items related to the CARES Act, are now available under the “resources” dropdown menu on BrooklineCOVID19.com.
Additionally, you can access select resources here:
- Paycheck Protection Program
- Small Business Debt Relief Program
- Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Emergency Economic Injury Grants
- Unemployment Assistance
For the latest updates on bus and train schedules, as well as updates on accessibility, visit mbta.com/covid19.
Additional Updates and Information, In Case You Missed Them
Safety Net Fund Update
The Brookline Community Foundation’s Safety Net Fund has raised $123,291 so far this month, as of Monday, in addition to $175,000 of support pledged by the Town of Brookline.
State Announces Resources to Combat Domestic Violence
The Baker-Polito Administration yesterday announced the expansion of SafeLink, the Commonwealth’s statewide, 24/7, toll-free and confidential domestic violence hotline to now include resources and support for survivors of sexual assault. Previously, SafeLink served as a hotline to specifically connect domestic violence survivors to services.
This expansion of services will allow SafeLink to triage calls to local area rape crisis centers and create a centralized number for any survivor of domestic violence or sexual assault to call and receive services during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This hotline is designed for crisis intervention support for those who need assistance in safety planning measures for both themselves and their families. This resource is now available through the 2-1-1 line as an additional method for victims to access help and resources.
The SafeLink toll-free number is (877) 785-2020. For the hearing-impaired, the SafeLink TTY number is (877) 521-2601. Advocates are available in English and Spanish and can provide translation in more than 130 languages.
If you are experiencing violence within your home or concerned about a loved one that may be experiencing violence, please call the SafeLink hotline for support and resources.
If you are in immediate danger, please call 9-1-1.
The Town of Brookline has compiled additional resources for those facing domestic violence. Those resources can be found here.
Friendly Caller Program
In an effort to combat the detrimental impacts social isolation can have on mental health, particularly for seniors and those who live alone, the Brookline Department of Public Health has partnered with FriendshipWorks to offer residents weekly check-ins through the Town’s COVID-19 Call Center.
FriendshipWorks volunteers who normally visit isolated individuals in person have modified their work, and are available to call and check in on isolated residents each week in order foster social connections during the stay-at-home advisory.
Trained FriendshipWorks volunteers make regular phone calls to residents who qualify for the program. Additionally, volunteers for the Emergency Preparedness Buddies Program to help assist isolated residents who may not qualify for the FriendshipWorks program.
Additionally, the town has adapted its Emergency Preparedness Buddies Program to help assist isolated residents who may not qualify for the FriendshipWorks program.
Trained volunteers affiliated with the Brookline Medical Reserve Corps and Community Emergency Response Team are available to make regular phone calls (1-2 times/week) to isolated individuals who need extra social connection while practicing social distancing.
For more information about either program, please contact the COVID-19 Information Center at 617-879-5636 or email COVID19info@BrooklineMA.gov.
New Rules for Insurance Coverage Related to COVID-19
Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order to ensure access to in-patient services for COVID-19 patients.
This order mandates that insurers must cover all medically required costs of COVID-19 treatment in out-of-network hospitals or other medical facilities with no charge to the patient, including co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance payments. Health care providers and medical facility insurers must accept the following rates for out-of-plan treatment:
If insurers have a contract with a provider or facility:
- Contracted rate even if the patient is not in a network that covers the provider or facility
- If insurer has no contract with a provider or facility: 135 percent of the applicable Medicare rate
- Insurers may not balance bill, or charge, patients for amounts above the above specified payments.
Town Expands Pedestrian Paths to Allow for Social Distancing
The Transportation Board voted Wednesday evening to act to change the pedestrian walkway configurations on four high-density streets to allow walkers ample space to move while remaining at least six feet apart from one another while doing so.
The change, however, is not intended to promote additional non-essential trips, but rather is designed to enable those who must pass through these areas to do so safely.
Over the next week, the Department of Public Works will work to implement the modifications, which include:
Beacon Street Eastbound (Webster Street to Pleasant Street)
Vehicular traffic will be allowed only in the left lane, with parking available in the right lane. The existing parking lane will be open for pedestrians, cyclists, scooters and mobility devices.
Beacon Street Westbound (Pleasant Street to Marion Street)
Vehicular traffic will be allowed only in the left lane, with the right lane serving as a parking lane and the existing parking lane remaining open for pedestrians, cyclists, scooters and mobility devices.
Brookline Avenue (Pearl Street to the town line)
Parking lanes in each direction will be removed to provide additional space for pedestrians, cyclists, scooters and mobility devices.
One parking lane will be removed along the entire length of the street to better accommodate pedestrian, bicycle and scooter traffic.
Longwood Avenue (Town line to Sewall Avenue)
The parking lane will be opened as an expansion of the adjacent sidewalk.
The re-configurations are being made in order to allow pedestrians who are traveling for essential purposes to do so in a way that prevents close contact, ensuring that they are able to safely walk while adhering to social distancing requirements.
Evictions and Landlord Access Restricted
The Select Board and Dr. Jett have ordered a moratorium on eviction proceedings for both residential and commercial tenants for the duration of the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.
Additionally, landlords are prohibited from seeking entrance to a property for any non-emergency matter, including showing the property to prospective tenants, until further notice. A landlord or their designee may still access properties to fulfill their obligations to maintain their property and ensure suitable living conditions for their tenants.
Town Enacts Enhanced Regulations on Food Establishments
The Brookline Department of Public Health has adopted a series of important enhanced regulations for food service providers to protect the health of customers and staff alike.
The updated regulations are available online at brooklinecovid19.com/restaurant-restrictions.
State Updates Regulations for Grocery Stores
The state announced that grocery stores must limit their occupancy to 40 percent of its normally-permitted occupancy level in order to promote social distancing, and staff are required to monitor the amount of people inside at any given time.
The state also recommended that store aisles be “one-way” to keep people moving through the store and limiting their interactions. For the complete state order, click here.
Town of Brookline Adopts Consumer Protections
The Select Board adopted multiple provisions laid out in recently-enacted state emergency legislation, including:
- Deferral of May 1 deadline for property tax bills until June 1.
- Extension of deadline for applications for tax exemptions, residential exemptions and small commercial exemptions
- Waiving interest and and penalties for late payment of tax bills with a due date on or after March 10 if payment is made by June 30.
Town Urges State to Adopt Construction Moratorium
Town Administrator Kleckner reached out to Governor Charlie Baker, urging his administration to adopt a statewide construction moratorium as the COVID-19 crisis reaches its most critical tipping point to date.
The Town of Brookline currently has a voluntary construction moratorium in place, but has not acted — as some nearby communities have — to adopt a mandatory ban, as doing so would contradict existing state guidance on the matter.
CDC Now Recommends Covering Your Face in Public
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has modified its guidance around face masks and coverings, and now recommends that all people — whether they are sick or not — wear a face covering of some kind whenever they leave their home.
Doing so can help lessen the risk of contracting the virus through respiratory droplets.
Dr. Jett emphasizes that this guidance is especially critical for workers in the foodservice industry and grocery stores, and has communicated with Brookline’s grocers to ensure they are aware that their workers should be covering their faces.
New Guidance for Restaurants Regarding Beer and Wine Sales
To read the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission’s full guidance regarding takeout and delivery malt beverage and wine sales, click here.
Domestic Violence Resources Available Online
The Brookline Police Department has compiled a list of resources for Brookline residents needing support for domestic violence related issues during the COVID-19 emergency.
Those resources are available here.
Important Information for Veterans
A variety of updates for veterans is available here.
Important Updates from the MBTA About The RIDE
The MBTA and The RIDE, in accordance with the state’s stay-at-home advisory, are cautioning passengers against any non-essential travel and remind users that The Ride is not an emergency transportation service.
The RIDE has modified its service in several key ways, including eliminating shared trips, though caregivers are still permitted to ride with the individuals they work with.
Information for Those Seeking to Volunteer
To help streamline the effort to mobilize volunteers as appropriate, those interested in volunteering are asked to fill out this form online.
Brookline COVID-19 Call Center Remains Open
For general COVID-19 questions not specific to the Town of Brookline, please call the state 211 line.
The Town of Brookline has established a call center in order for residents to ask non-medical questions specific to COVID-19 in Brookline. The call center will be staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The number for the call center is 617-879-5636.
Residents can call and inquire about where to get food safely, transportation, food or medicine deliveries, childcare, volunteer work, rent and eviction and more.
Residents seeking answers to Brookline-specific medical or public health inquiries should continue to contact the Department of Brookline Public Health at 617-730-2300.
Messages left after hours will be returned as soon as possible. Residents can also email their non-medical inquiries to: COVID19Info@brooklinema.gov.
Remember, in the case of emergencies, please call 911.
Submit Medical Questions by Email
Residents may submit their medical questions related to COVID-19 via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prevention and What to Do if You Feel Sick
For tips on how to prevent becoming sick, as well as how to prevent spreading the virus, visit brooklinecovid19.com/prevention.
Free and Reduced Lunch for Brookline Students
Free and reduced price lunches are available for qualifying families on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the period that schools are closed. For information on school lunches, including when and where to pick up lunch for your student, click here.
To order lunch online, click here.
Brookline Food Pantry Update
For more information about the Brookline Food Pantry’s response to COVID-19, and to sign up for its Brookline Thrives program, visit brooklinefoodpantry.org.
For the latest information on resources available to businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, click here.
Active Town Closures/Cancellations
For updates on active closures and cancellations, visit brooklinecovid19.com/active-closures/.