By Zoe Matthews | March 13, 2020
As people’s anxieties about the quickly spreading coronavirus heighten, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said her office will crack down on anyone who tries to exploit people amid uncertainty during the outbreak.
She told Boston Public Radio on Friday her office is already fielding calls about scams like calls or texts from people claiming they can sell vaccines, or price gouging medical supplies.
“One [report] came in to me about a medical supply company. That’s something we’ll take action on and be aggressive on, because people shouldn’t be exploiting a crisis right now in this time,” Healey said.
Healey called for more transparency and cohesion across state agencies. She urged the state to ease testing requirements for people to get easier access to testing; requirements for licensing facilities like labs; and around unemployment insurance, though she acknowledged the state is in “uncharted territory.”
“I’m just calling for a loosening up of some of the red tape and restrictions around things, so we’re actually able to get testing out there sooner to more people,” she said.
Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday that he will not order all schools across the state to close, but schools can be closed on a case-by-case basis depending on the emergence of an outbreak in a community or other factors. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Boston Public Schools will be open next week.
Baker also banned public gatherings of more than 250 people amid concerns over the spread of the new coronavirus illness, and officials announced the Boston Marathon will be postponed until September.
“Right now, in this time, we need uniformity across the state. … We need to work with our department of labor to make sure we’re covering the needs of workers right now,” Healey said. “In my office, I’ve been in touch with both [the] business community and the labor side of things. We need to make sure we’re doing what we can around unemployment insurance and payroll tax and the like.”
During her segment on BPR, Healey also discussed the need for state safety nets for workers in the gig economy, and took listener calls about consumer issues as people face layoffs and wage reductions during the coronavirus outbreak.
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