Immigrant testing, Walsh on the air
— A task force convened by the Massachusetts Public Health Association will call on Gov. Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey and the Legislature to ensure that immigrants have safe access to coronavirus testing and treatment, 9 a.m.
— Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is guest on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 12 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.
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.
Though most medical officials believe that thousands of people are probably infected with the coronavirus in Massachusetts, limited testing has led to a confirmed number of 328 reported cases as of yesterday, up 72 from the day before, report MassLive and the Globe. CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl tries to extrapolate what all the various limited numbers may mean at this point.
Baker activates National Guard amid growing coronavirus crisis
Gov. Charlie Baker has activated the National Guard to help deal with the general coronavirus crisis in Massachusetts, according to reports at WCVB and MassLive. And Christian Wade at the Salem News reports that the state’s largest nurses union is calling for the deployment of the National Guard at area hospitals.
The ‘shelter in place’ debate: It’s back, thanks to California
Looks like Gov. Charlie Baker will be fielding more ‘shelter in place’ questions today, after California’s governor yesterday issued a “stay at home” order to the more than 40 million people in his state, as the NYT reports. Meanwhile, from Boston 25 News: “Lawmakers, community leaders call on Baker to order shelter-in-place in Mass.” … The governor and Mayor Walsh have said there are no current plans for a ‘shelter in place’ order here, but one has to wonder at this point if that will change.
Fyi: It’s not as if it’s unthinkable here. Mass.gov has long had ‘shelter in place’ guidelines posted online in the event of a “storm or emergency,” and so …
The health care front: ‘Ground zero’ for testing, community hospital warnings, biotechs mobilize
After touring a lab yesterday, Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday predicted an ‘enormous increase’ in much-needed coronavirus testing in Massachusetts, perhaps as many as 3,500 tests per day once operations are up and running, reports WCVB.… And the Globe’s Kay Lazar and Andrew Rya have a good piece on how a CVS parking lot in Shrewsbury has become “ground zero for the state’s first large-scale COVID-19 testing site for those on the front lines in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.” …
Despite the somewhat encouraging news on the testing front, local hospitals are still scrambling for supplies and bracing for the worst. From the Worcester Business Journal: “Greater Worcester projected to be among worst nationally for coronavirus hospital bed shortage.” …From SHNS (pay wall): “Senator: District Hospitals Lack Virus-Fighting Resources.” … From MassLive: “Respiratory ailments sideline some Baystate employees.” … From WBUR: “Mass. General Says 5 Suffering From COVID-19 Are Now In The ICU.’ … From WGBH: “Sen. Warren, Mass. Delegation Urge Federal Government To Restock Hospitals With Protective Gear.” … From Wicked Local: “Hygienists say some dentists are putting them at risk of coronavirus.” … From Universal Hub: “Hyde Park native and Boston Latin graduate dies from Covid-19 in Washington state.”
And, finally, here’s something we can all be proud of as a state during these tense times, from the Globe: “Massachusetts life-sciences industry at forefront of worldwide fight against coronavirus.”
Baker says Feds are outbidding state for medical supplies
Seriously? Federal agencies have outbid the commonwealth at least three times as Gov. Charlie Baker sought to follow President Trump’s earlier advice to directly procure medical equipment for the state’s hospitals, Jeffrey Martin at Newsweek reports. During a conference call Thursday, Baker told Trump the Bay State is losing out on large-scale contracts he’s sought to secure; Trump responded–not all that helpfully–that price was probably the reason.
Legislature plans to postpone special elections
Facing mounting calls from local communities and threatened legal action, lawmakers are expected to vote as soon as Monday to delay four special elections planned for March 31, Matt Murphy at the State House News Service reports. Lawmakers also plan to make it easier for local communities to delay their own spring elections.
Fyi: The votes were scheduled the same day that Taunton officials indicated they would seek a court order to delay a local special election, according to the Enterprise. A day earlier, Cape Cod town clerks said they, too, were ready to head to court to postpone a special senate election.
Biogen employee hid COVID-19 symptoms to fly back to China – and now she’s in big trouble
File under both ‘selfish’ and ‘dumb.’ The Globe’s Mark Arsenault and Hanna Krueger report that a Biogen employee – yes, that Biogen, of infamous meeting notoriety – is now under investigation in China for allegedly hiding her COVID-19 symptoms in order to fly back to her native country, according to reports in Chinese-based media. Needless to say, they handle criminal-justice issues a bit differently in China, and so …
Celtics’ Marcus Smart says he has tested positive for coronavirus
Not that he’s more important than the other 327 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in Massachusetts, but the Celts’ Marcus Smart is indeed the first professional athlete in Boston to announce he has tested positive – and, arguably, he’s the most high-profile celebrity in the area to so far come down with the virus. The Herald’s Mark Murphy and the Globe’s Adam Himmelbach have the details.
Havens no more? Island may have first case
Sorry, one percenters. Your island hideaways may not be safe from coronavirus much longer. Brian Dowd at the Martha’s Vineyard Times reports health officials in Tisbury say they are monitoring a suspected infection in a local resident.
Officials on Nantucket, meanwhile, officially declared a state of emergency late Thursday and halted all island construction projects.
Not-so-friendly reminder: Stop flushing all those disinfectant wipes down the toilet, damn it
From Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin: “The Quincy Department of Public Works implores you to throw (disinfectant wipes) in the trash, not in the toilet, because even the ‘flushable’ ones really aren’t and the last thing you’d want at a time like this is the embarrassment of having to explain to a plumber why your pipes are clogged – or being the wipe that broke the camel’s back and completely jammed up a nearby sewer main.”
Obviously, this applies to everyone across our great commonwealth, not just those in Quincy.
Government updates: Lawmaker proposes $1,000 a month for everyone in Mass., Medicaid funding, ‘virtual lobbying’
Even though the commonwealth of Massachusetts can’t print money like the U.S. government, a state representative is nevertheless calling on the state to start making monthly $1,000 Covid-19 payments to residents of Massachusetts, Universal Hub reports. We have a hunch this isn’t going to happen. … Meanwhile, from the Herald: “End rent and mortgage payments under coronavirus: Boston city councilor.” … SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) has some good news: “The state’s Medicaid program is in line to receive an additional $1.08 billion under a coronavirus relief package that cleared Congress on Wednesday.” The state is going to need every penny it can get moving forward, so this is welcome. … Also from SHNS (pay wall): “Mass. Among 17 State Legislatures Meeting Through Pandemic.” … One more SHNS pay-walled item, this one on the JDI’s ‘virtual lobbying’ campaign yesterday at the State House on domestic and sexual violence – and a sign of how future lobbying will probably go on Beacon Hill in coming days, weeks and months.
And, finally, from a cautionary opinion piece at the Globe in these ‘virtual governance’ days: “Transparency in government is essential during the coronavirus..”
Releasing prisoners: DAs versus sheriffs edition
A political point-counterpoint moment has arrived regarding what to do with inmates packed into jails and considered especially vulnerable to a coronavirus outbreak. Simón Ríos at WBUR reports that Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins is working on a plan to release certain inmates in Massachusetts’ jails and prisons. But Marc Larocque at the Enterprise reports that Plymouth and Bristol county sheriffs are effectively saying: Whoa. Not so fast.
Of course, there’s another way to view the prison issue, via the Globe’s Andre Estes: “Look on the bright side: Arrests are way down during the coronavirus outbreak.”
Local colleges to refund around $670M as some warn of high-education ‘collapse’
The BBJ’s Hilary Burns (pay wall) adds up all the local room-and-board refunds most local colleges are handing out these days (including the once reluctant BU) and comes up with a number around $670 million. Meanwhile, the Globe’s Deirdre Fernandes reports that colleges are now lobbying Congress for an estimated $50 billion bailout, saying some schools are likely to ‘collapse’ if help isn’t provided.
Leader in the news: Dr. Monica Bharel
She’s now a fixture in televised press briefings, providing updates on most everything related to public health and the coronavirus outbreak in Massachusetts. She’s Dr. Monica Bharel, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and SHNS’s Katie Lannan takes a look at who she is and, most importantly, what she’s doing during these tense days.
WBZ takes over CBS’s online national newsroom after NY knocked out by coronavirus
Here’s an interesting coronavirus media tidbit, from Universal Hub: “Liam Martin reports that CBSN, the network’s online service, is temporarily headquartered on Soldiers Field Road.” Apparently the NYC operations were closed after several employees tested positive for the coronavirus.
Early payout from Columbia Gas settlement?
Ah, some non-coronavirus news. From Christian Wade at the Gloucester Times: “Lawyers who handled the $143 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit against Columbia Gas of Massachusetts are trying to get that money out more quickly to people who’ve now been affected by both the September 2018 gas disaster and coronavirus shutdowns.”
Sunday public affairs TV: Steve Lynch, Jim McGovern and more
Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: U.S. Rep. Steve Lynch, who talks with host Jon Keller about the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak and pressing local needs.
On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s live-edition guest: U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, who talks with hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu, followed by a political roundtable discussion with analysts Mary Anne Marsh and Virginia Buckingham.
CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s topic: After school programs.
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.
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.
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.
Election 2020: The Crucial Questions – Conversations on the Edge
A discussion on the crucial questions of the 2020 Election with seasoned political pros.
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