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Baker Filing $1 Billion Bill To Cover State's COVID-19 Spending

Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday he plans to file a supplemental budget to cover $1 billion in state spending related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The expenses include payments for personal protective equipment, rate adjustments for human service providers, incentive pay for state employees on the front lines at certain facilities, costs of temporary field hospitals and shelters, National Guard pay, costs associated with the state's contract tracing program, emergency child care for essential workers, and increased costs of local housing authorities and of the family and individual shelter system.

"It is expected that this spending will result in no net cost to the commonwealth, after anticipated federal reimbursement and other federal funding sources," the governor's office said in its press release announcing the spending bill.

The governor's announcement came as he was touring MatTek Life Sciences, an Ashland company that is manufacturing personal protective equipment as part of the state's Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (M-ERT). The company typically focuses on in vitro human tissue models and glass-bottom dishes, but has shifted during the pandemic to producing hand sanitizer.

M-ERT is run through the MassTech Collaborative and was launched to help Massachusetts manufacturers pivot from their normal operations to produce needed materials in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, Baker visited Merrow Manufacturing in Fall River, where the company has adapted its textile operations to produce PPE for health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, particularly isolation gowns. The state has an order with Merrow for 2.5 million gowns. By the end of the summer, the Fall River plant will be able to produce 700,000 gowns per week, Baker said.

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