Happening Today

Markey, Clark and Walsh on coronavirus, and more

— U.S. Sen. Ed Markey is a guest on ‘Radio Boston’ to talk about the federal response to COVID-19, WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m.

— Department of Public Health posts a daily update on the number of confirmed and presumptive positive COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts, 4 p.m. https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-cases-quarantine-and-monitoring .

— U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark holds telephone town hall on the COVID-19 outbreak, 6:30 p.m.

— Mayor Marty Walsh provides updates on Boston’s response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, WCVB-TV Ch. 5, 7:30 p.m.

For the most comprehensive listing of calendar items, check out State House News Service’s Daily Advances (pay wall – free trial subscriptions available), as well as MassterList’s Beacon Hill Town Square below.

Today’s Stories

Reminder to readers: SHNS Coronavirus Tracker available for free

A reminder to our readers as the coronavirus crisis unfolds: The paywalled State House News Service, which produces MASSterList, is making its full Coronavirus Tracker available to the community for free on a daily basis each morning via ML. SHNS Coronavirus Tracker.

A shift in focus: From virus containment to economic damage control

As the stock market continues to reel (Post) and the nation’s economy begins to slowly shutdown (NYT), there was a distinct shift in focus yesterday by state policymakers amid the coronavirus outbreak, from an almost exclusive focus on virus containment to more focus on economic damage control. 

Some sample headlines on what state leaders are now proposing/doing as the economy clearly starts to suffer. From Western Mass News: “Baker offers $10 million recovery loan for small business impacted by coronavirus.” … From MassLive: “Bills to help Massachusetts workers, municipalities now in the Legislature’s hands.” … From the Eagle Tribune: “State may ban evictions as coronavirus hits economy.” … From MassLive: “State offering unemployment benefits to workers quarantined, sidelined by COVID-19.”

As the Washington Post reports, it’s been state governors, mayors, legislators and other local officials who have largely initiated aggressive anti-coronavirus containment measures – and it certainly looks like they’re taking the economic damage-control initiative as well. Though credit should be given to a certain former Massachusetts governor for at least thinking outside the box in Washington: “Romney proposes giving $1,000 to every American adult as coronavirus response measure” (CNN). And from WPRI: “Kennedy: Congress should send Americans cash to boost economy.” We have more economic coverage below. 

Btw: The number of coronavirus cases in Massachusetts has now hit 197 (CBS Boston).  

How bad is it economically? Many of restaurant industry’s 300,000 workers could lose their jobs

Almost every sector of the state and national economies are taking hits as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. And Shirley Leung’s piece at the Globe really brings home how devastating it’s become for the state’s more than 300,000 workers within the restaurant industry, with restaurants now temporarily barred from offering on-site dining. Think of it: That’s just one industry’s hit.

Other evidence of the impact of the coronavirus crisis: Boston has become a virtual economic ghost town, as reported by the Herald’s Erin Tiernan and Andrew Martinez, noting the “eerie quite” of downtown streets. 

Boston Globe

Amid plummeting ridership, MBTA and Amtrak scale back service

The BBJ’s Gintautas Dumcius reports that the MBTA is “shutting down its ferry system while reducing train service as part of its efforts to slow the spread of contagious coronavirus.” CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl, who notes the plummeting ridership at the T, reports that most subway and bus services will be reduced to typical Saturday levels.

Meanwhile, from the Globe’s Danny McDonald: “Facing reduced demand, Amtrak temporarily reduces service in the Northeast.”

Logan Airport: ‘It’s not a screening at all’

Speaking of travel, we’re not quite sure what type of effective screening can be conducted at Logan Airport (or any other airport, for that matter), short of immediate quarantining of all arriving passengers. But this doesn’t exactly sound reassuring, i.e. Saraya Wintersmith’s piece at WGBH on arriving passengers who say the airport’s screening process is largely a paper-questionnaire joke. 


Health-care virus updates: MGH provider tests positive, UMass Memorial to conduct pilot drive-up testing, Biogen donates $10M

Keep an eye on this, for if too many medical-related personnel come down with the coronavirus, it’s only going to make a bad situation worse. From the Globe’s Liz Kowalczyk and Priyanka McCluskey: “Mass. General Hospital provider tests positive for coronavirus; more providers in quarantine.” As the Globe notes, four hospital workers have now tested positive for the virus.

In other health-related news, this is interesting, via Melissa Hanson at MassLive: “UMass Memorial Medical Center is going to be piloting a scheduled drive-up COVID-19 screening service. The ambulatory COVID-19 testing tent will be for patients who have already been identified by a UMass Memorial provider, according to a notice from UMass Memorial Health Care.” … Also from MassLive: “Baystate Medical Center seeks to offer COVID-19 testing with same-day results.” …. From the Herald’s Joe Dwinell: “Biogen kicks in $10M (for) supplies following coronavirus outbreak.” 

Also, from the Dorchester Reporter: “Carney to be nation’s first dedicated COVID-19 hospital.” … From the Globe: “First patients dosed with potential coronavirus vaccine.” … From Commonwealth: “Baker defends Trump comment on respirators.”

Government coronavirus updates: State House closed to public, trial courts suspended, towns mobilize to get meals to kids, and more

Beacon Hill leaders have decided to follow the lead of many municipalities that have closed city and town halls across the state, announcing yesterday that the State House will be closed to the public as a result of the coronavirus crisis, as MassLive’s Steph Solis reports.

In other governmental action, from Universal Hub: “Massachusetts trial courts to just shut completely Monday and Tuesday.” … From WCVB: “Towns mobilize to get meals to students as school closes statewide.” … From MassLive: “Charter to offer free broadband, Wi-Fi for homes with students who do not already have the service.” … From SHNS (pay wall): “Legislature Sets Up Coronavirus Working Groups.” … From WGBH: “Virus Fears Put Transportation, Budget On Beacon Hill’s Back Burner.” … From Western Massachusetts Politics & Insight: “In Valley, Local Gov’t Bodies Fade to Blunt Coronavirus.” …. From the Patriot Ledger: “Weymouth says police will be on the lookout for large gatherings.”   

And, finally, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, writing at WBUR, has some advice on how the federal government (read: the Trump administration) could be doing a better job handling the national emergency.

The economy: Mayor halts construction in Boston, Stop & Shop’s special shopping hours for seniors, and more

The construction industry in Boston is about to take a huge hit as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, with Mayor Marty Walsh yesterday announcing that, starting next week, all construction sites in the city will be shut down. The BBJ’s Catherine Carlock has the details.

Meanwhile, from Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin: “Stop & Shop announced today that starting Thursday, only people 60 or over will be allowed to shop at its stores between 6 and 7:30 a.m.” It’s a both a smart and considerate move to help those most vulnerable to the virus – and vulnerable to getting steamrolled by other panic buyers in stores.  

Other economic/business tidbits: DigBoston announced yesterday that it’s ditching its print edition and going all digital during the coronavirus crisis. It’s also asking for donations from readers. … From the BBJ’s Greg Ryan: “Fed’s dramatic moves put Boston bankers in a bind.”

Every little bit helps: Utilities suspend bill collections amid outbreak

We’re breaking this item out on its own because, well, we could all use some good, if small, economic news, i.e. Christian Wade’s report at the Gloucester Times that some utilities are giving energy consumers a break on their outstanding electric and natural gas bills.

Gloucester Times

The show must go on? Not in Massachusetts. Not anywhere

Shira Schoenberg at CommonWealth magazine reports how the arts community across the state has been hard hit as a result of the coronavirus outbreak as a result of cancellation of plays and concerts, closure of museums etc. We’re talking thousands of ‘gig economy’ workers here. Meanwhile, from the Globe’s Don Aucoin: “Losses mount as Boston theaters go dark.”


Uncharted territory: Firefighters self-quarantine as first responders adapt

First responders across the South Shore say they are taking extra precautions in dealing with the public but will not change the way they respond to calls, Joe DiFazio of the Patriot Ledger reports. Many departments are urging the public to stay away from stations and dispatchers are being trained to screen calls for potential COVID-19 cases. 

Meanwhile, several members of the Framingham Fire Department are in self-quarantine after helping a patient who was displaying flu-like symptoms, Susan Petroni at Framingham Source reports. 

Patriot Ledger

‘Some Ask a Taboo Question: Is America Overreacting to Coronavirus?’

We’re not resurrecting our ‘near hysteria’ warnings of last week. Instead, the NYT is resurrecting the ‘near hysteria’ warnings over today’s preventative coronavirus actions across the country, reporting how a “small group of contrarians” are starting to question whether society is overreacting and harming segments of society via various “social distancing” measures. Among those quoted in the story is Nicholas Evans, a philosophy professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. To say the least, it’s a thought-provoking piece.


New MassterList feature coming this Thursday

Finally, some non-coronavirus news: It may be hard to believe, but we’ve found a way to further enrich MASSterList, and it starts Thursday. Yes, it’s a mystery surprise. Stay tuned.

A microscopic clue to solving the Gardner heist?

Aha! Another non-coronavirus news item. Granted, the Globe’s Shelley Murphy had to go back in time (30 years, to be exact) to find this news, but it’s interesting: How microscopic paint chips believed to have come from a Vermeer masterpiece, stolen long ago from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, have become among the “most tantalizing clues” that investigators hope one day can help solve the infamous Gardener art heist.

Boston Globe

Already thinking ahead to summer and Steamship Authority mishaps

Another non-coronavirus item of note, via WGBH’s Callie Crossley, who’s refusing to jump on the coronavirus-coverage bandwagon and instead is focusing on summer. Specifically, she writes about the Steamship Authority’s spotty performance of late and her concerns that another poor performance this summer could harm the Martha’s Vineyard economy.


Nabbing the cheaters

The state’s three casinos may be closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, but they’re not forgotten. Attorney General Maura Healey has brought what appears to be the first major prosecution of a cheating scheme in a state casino, charging a Holyoke man with distracting dealers at MGM Springfield and netting $30,000 in the process. Stephanie Barry at MassLive has the details.  


Is Biden preparing for a ‘Romney pivot’?

Remind you of anyone? David Bernstein at WGBH writes that former Vice President Joe Biden’s Sunday night debate performance may mark the start of an effort to redefine himself in the eyes of voters, much the way Mitt Romney tried to change his own image as he emerged as the Republican frontrunner in 2012. 


Predicting the Democratic Nominee

Welcome to the Democracy Studio! Join us as we combine politically-inspired images and words to provoke a deeper understanding of the state of our democracy.

Tom Manning, Harvard ALI Senior Fellow 2020

Boston Speaker Series: Susan Rice

Rice served as National Security Advisor from 2013 to 2017. She also served as the United States ambassador to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013. Under President Clinton, Rice worked for the National Security Council and was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

Lesley University

Screening; Seven Communities, Seven families, One story: The Opioid Crisis

This compelling film, created through the generosity and civic-mindedness of Wareham Community Television, and produced by Queen Banda and Andrea Pergament, shares first hand accounts from seven parents who’ve endured the unimaginable heartbreak and trauma of losing a child to the Opioid Crisis now raging across the United States. In Massachusetts, the system is failing.

Queen Banda and Andrea Pergament (producers)

Jane Swift: The History of Women in Politics

Jane Swift was the youngest woman ever elected to the Massachusetts State Senate and the First Woman Governor of Massachusetts.

Aliali Belkus, Dean of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity

An Evening With Paul Tremblay

Celebrated horror author Paul Tremblay comes to Millbury to read from his work, talk about writing, answer some questions, and sign books.

Jeff Raymond

The Centenary of the 19th Amendment: New Reflections

Join legal and political science scholars to discuss lessons learned from the centenary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

Boston University School of Law

Election 2020: The Crucial Questions – Conversations on the Edge

A discussion on the crucial questions of the 2020 Election with seasoned political pros.

Cambridge Center for Adult Education

Today’s Headlines


Mayor Walsh announces ‘Boston resiliency fund’ to provide services during pandemic – Boston Globe

Brockton schools cook up free meal plan – Brockton Enterprise


Kennedy fields calls about coronavirus at Attleboro district office – Sun Chronicle

Three more pull papers for 17th District seat – Lowell Sun


Ohio postpones presidential primary as governor declares state of emergency – New York Times

Bernie’s not planning on going quietly – Politico

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