Expanded Legal Protections For Mass. Healthcare Workers Amid Coronavirus

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Gov. Charlie Baker has filed legislation to afford more legal protections to healthcare workers and facilities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Baker announced the new legislation at a press conference on Wednesday, and said it will maximize legal protections for healthcare workers and healthcare facilities under the Federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, also known as the PREP Act.

"During this pandemic, we're in unprecedented times where our providers may be forced to make difficult choices, and we're asking them to operate in conditions that they've never planned for," Baker said. "We need to make sure that fear of getting sued doesn't prevent them from being what they need to do to treat as many people as possible."

The Federal PREP Act already provides significant protections for health workers. However, Baker said it doesn't cover everything his administration believes need to be covered during the pandemic.

"The directive I'm issuing will ensure healthcare workers and facilities that distribute and administer testing, drugs, and medical devices for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 are protected from lawsuits and liability to the maximum extent possible under the PREP Act," Baker said.

The bill will also provide liability protections for the organizations that have made facilities available to the Commonwealth to use during the pandemic, like the DU Center in Worcester. Baker said the bill will make sure the state's medial providers will be able to do their jobs the best they can in this "unprecedented situation."

Baker also said Massachusetts is now one of the top coronavirus testers in the country on a per capita basis. The state is now up to more than 15,000 cases, which Baker said could peak sometime between April 10-20.

"We are entering a period of time where we could be putting serious strain on our healthcare system and hospitals, so everyone needs to hold up their end of the deal," Baker said. "This is not a time to get complacent... Stay home, wash your hands, use hand sanitizer."

WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports:

(Photo: Getty Images)

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