Logan screenings, House and Senate sessions, and more
— Gov. Charlie Baker joins Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf, Massachusetts Port Authority CEO Lisa Wieland and other officials at Boston Logan International Airport to tour a new facility constructed for screening of international arrivals, Boston Logan International Airport, 4 p.m.
— Starting today, state officials plan to post the number of people who have been tested for coronavirus in addition to the number of individuals who are positive, 12 p.m.
— House and Senate hold sessions, House and Senate chambers, State House, 11 a.m.
— Massachusetts High Tech Council hosts the first in a series of ‘virtual roundtables’ to discuss business impacts and responses amid the coronavirus outbreak, 6 p.m.
Note: U.S. Sen. Edward Markey and U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III have postponed their Democratic primary debate that was previously scheduled for tonight in Springfield; candidates have not set a date for a re-scheduled debate.
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.
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.
Number of statewide coronavirus cases now at 218, but the real number is likely in the thousands
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Massachusetts rose yesterday to 218, but most officials now concede that the actual number is almost surely in the thousands, as testing ramps up and reveals an outbreak that’s quickly escalating by the day, as MassLive’s Tanner Stening and the Globe’s Martin Finucane and Travis Andersen report.
As Gov. Charlie Baker put it yesterday, via SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall): “Without question, we are likely to have some very tough days ahead of us.”
The health care front: Hospitalizations escalate, medical personnel plea for masks and goggles, more tests needed
It’s now a race against time – and, at the moment, it doesn’t look good. From WBUR: “Got Extra Masks Or Goggles? Mass. Hospitals Already Running Short, Ask For Donations.” … From Universal Hub: “Large hospitals plead with researchers for stuff in their labs that could be used to create coronavirus test kits.” … From WBUR: “Mass. Needs More Coronavirus Testing Now, Public Health Experts Say.” … From WCVB: “Hospitals fear running out of supplies.”
And it’s all coming as the number of people hospitalized for the coronavirus starts to spike in Massachusetts,as the Globe reports.
But there is progress, albeit slow progress, on various health-care fronts. From WBUR: “Broad Institute Expects To Run 1,000 COVID-19 Tests A Day By Next Week.” … From WBUR: “In A Fenway Garage And Elsewhere In Boston Area, Drive-Through Coronavirus Tests Begin.” … From MassLive: “Baker administration to distribute $5 million in emergency funds to local boards of health.” … From SHNS: “Baker Outlines New Orders, Wants More Testing.” … From CommonWealth magazine: “In virus battle, health providers charge into harm’s way.”
And, finally, from Ed Markey and Peter L. Slavin at the Globe: “We need a Manhattan Project to fight the coronavirus pandemic.”
As Baker once again says there are no plans for a ‘shelter in place’ lockdown. …
Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday was trying to make it as clear as possible: There are no plans for a statewide “shelter in place” lockdown to deal with the coronavirus crisis, as CBS Boston reports.
But … but … From the Herald’s Sean Phillip Cotter: “Boston won’t shelter in place — yet — over coronavirus: Marty Walsh.” … From MassLive: “New York Mayor Bill De Blasio urges residents to prepare for ‘shelter in place’ order in 48 hours.” … From Bloomberg News at the Globe: “San Francisco’s shelter-in-place order shows country what’s to come.” … From CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl: “The rumor that won’t die — shelter in place.”
… homeless advocate calls for National Guard to help out at shelters
Marc Larocque at the Herald News has a story on what’s happening at a packed Brockton homeless shelter – and the situation there is dire. So dire its director is calling for the National Guard to be dispatched to help quarantine homeless people who may have the coronavirus. If they stay in the building, they’ll infect others. If they’re allowed to leave the premises, they’ll … we all know what will happen.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is already tackling his city’s homeless crisis, via WGBH: “Boston To Setup Tents For Potential Homeless COVID-19 Cases.” The Globe’s Adrian Walker has more on the plight of the homeless.
Meanwhile, even grieving for the dead has changed
Greg Sullivan at the Herald News reports on the agonizing decisions some are apparently having to make regarding attendance at funeral services, with people reluctant to go out and with large-gathering bans in place.
“I will say this is the most trying time as a funeral director,” says Jeff Davis, managing director of Waring-Sullivan Funderal Homes. “Seeing the family wanting to grieve and needing the public support and they’re unable to do it.”
School closures reveal ugly digital divide in Massachusetts
From Christian Wade at the Eagle Tribune: “Schools are scrambling for ways for students to learn from home amid mandatory closures from the coronavirus pandemic, but a technological divide means that many districts lack the ability to set up virtual classrooms. … School administrators have been holding conference calls with state education officials, and the lack of remote technology is a pressing concern for many districts.”
The local economy: Recession a ‘virtual certainty,’ jobless claims spike in Mass., state could take $500M budget hit
The economic news keeps getting worse. The BBJ’s Greg Ryan reports that MassBenchmarks economists now believe that a “global recession is a virtual certainty” and, since Massachusetts is part of the global community, a recession here is a virtual certainty. … And the first signs of a recession here were evident yesterday, with reports of a huge spike in unemployment insurance applications in Massachusetts. From Karen Anderson at WCVB: “On Monday alone, there were 19,884 new unemployment claims filed with the state, which exceeds the 17,382 new claims filed during the entire month of February.”
The Herald’s Mary Markos reports that one of Gov. Charlie Baker’s unemployment insurance bills, designed to speed up the UI application process, is being temporarily held up in the Senate for “due diligence” reasons. … Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation said yesterday that state tax collections this fiscal year alone could fall as much as $500 million below benchmarks due to lost economic activity, reports SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall). … The Globe’s John Ellement reports the state’s Lottery sales this week are already down $1.3 million – and it’s expected to get much worse.
Trump’s $1 trillion plan vs. Kennedy’s $4,000 plan
We know which economic-stimulus plan we’re rooting for, i.e. U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy’s proposal for the federal government to send a $4,000 check to most Americans, as MassLive’s Tom Matthews reports. But more than likely it will be a $1,000 check, as part of President Trump’s proposed $1 trillion emergency economic stimulus package, as the NYT reports at the Globe.
Btw: A Post story gives Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney partial credit for getting the thousand-dollars-for-every-American ball rolling. Btw II, from the Globe’s Larry Edelman: “Boston Fed president: ‘If we need to do more, we will.”
How to play the Tom-Brady-is-leaving-the-Pats story when the whole world is focused on something else?
We’re just going to get this one out of the way fast: Tom Brady is leaving the Pats. Nice knowing you, Tom. … Fyi: We liked the lead on Bill Littlefield’s piece at WBUR: “In an apparent attempt to avoid the coronavirus, Tom Brady has decided to leave New England.” … Now back to more important you-know-what matters. …
Government updates: Courts closed till April 6, RMV and MBTA restore some services, lawmakers going remote, call for some prisoner releases
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court yesterday ordered a halt to most courthouse activities across the state, including jury trials, though some in-person hearings will be held, reports Scott Croteau at MassLive. … Meanwhile, the Registry of Motor Vehicles is reopening some regional branches, with crowd limits, although officials are urging people to conduct license-renewal and other transactions online if possible, as Universal Hub reports. … The MBTA was hit with crowds on some reduced-service lines yesterday, so it’s restoring some of its services as a result, as Universal Hub also reports. … The State House may be closed, but lawmakers are still trying to work, via SHNS (pay wall): “Lawmakers Taking Remote Approach to Baker Bills.” … From Deborah Becker at WBUR: “Some Prosecutors Call For Reduced Jail Populations.”
And, finally, from the Globe: “Remote meetings. Shuttered offices. Amid outbreak, some fear government is receding from view.”
Massachusetts weighs whether to push back tax filing deadline
Steph Solis at MassLive reports that “Massachusetts officials are weighing whether to push back the tax filing deadline after the federal government said they would extend it for 90 days, Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday.” The governor says discussions are underway on the matter.
Desperate times: Proposal would let restaurants sell booze to go
State Sen. Diane DiZoglio wants the state to consider allowing restaurants to sell takeout beer, wine and liquor as long as they accompany food purchases and chambers of commerce are among those lining up behind the idea as policy makers scramble to blunt the shutdown’s impact.
Galvin: Grocery shopping more risky than voting, so, yes, March special elections will proceed (for now)
MassLive’s Jeanette DeForge reports on the growing debate over whether to proceed with the special state Senate election set for later this month in western Massachusetts, one of four special legislative elections currently scheduled. But SHNS’s Chris Lisinski(pay wall) reports that Secretary of State Bill Galvin believes, for now, that the elections should proceed, arguing: “Voting is certainly less likely to be risky than going to the grocery store to buy toilet tissue, so at this point, we feel we can conduct these elections safely.”
There’s one government agency still busy at work: ICE
CommonWealth magazine’s Sarah Betancourt reports that most life across Massachusetts may have ground to a halt because of the coronavirus outbreak, but there’s still one government agency still largely at work: ICE.
New MassterList feature coming tomorrow
Finally, we’re out of the coronavirus-news territory and, as we said yesterday, we’ve found a way to further improve MASSterList, and it starts tomorrow.
Face it: The ERA has expired
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