Happening Today

Coronavirus meetings and updates

— Gov. Charlie Baker’s schedule for today has not been released, but daily updates from the governor have become the norm during the current coronavirus emergency.

Gaming Commission will meet, virtually, for an agenda-setting meeting and to possibly discuss matters related to COVID-19, 10 a.m.,

— U.S. Lori Trahan is guest on ‘Radio Boston,’ WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m.

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Massachusetts High Technology Council holds its second virtual roundtable, part of its new COVID-19 response efforts, with Chris Ross of MilliporeSigma and Eric Snow and Diane Young of PTC, 5 p.m.

— Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former commander of the U.S. and Allied Forces in Afghanistan and former commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, joins Fourth Congressional District candidate Alan Khazei in a Facebook Live virtual town hall, 7 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.

The numbers: 11 dead, 1,159 confirmed cases, 13,749 people tested

MassLive has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Baker’s latest emergency proposals: MCAS test delays, bars and restaurants allowed to serve beer and wine to go, local tax extensions

The Baker administration yesterday unveiled its latest emergency proposals to deal with the coronavirus emergency. We’ll go with quick summaries and headlines of the governor’s bill, with most of the items based on excellent summaries by MassLive’s Steph Solis and SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall). … If approved, the legislation would allow Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley to modify or waive the requirement for the annual statewide MCAS requirements. … Municipal governments could give residents more time to make tax payments. … The legislation would allow electronic signatures for search warrants and criminal complaints. … And from a separate MassLive story: “Bars and restaurants would be allowed to sell wine and beer with food delivery.” … Btw, just so you know, from the Greenfield Recorder: “Business is booming at liquor stores.”

Some good news on the coronavirus front: State virus testings soar

Gov. Charlie Baker over the weekend vowed that testing for the coronavirus would eventually soar in Massachusetts after a frustratingly slow start – and that’s exactly what’s happening. CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl reports on the huge surge in tests across the state, thanks largely to Quest Diagnostics in Marlborough.

CommonWealth

Now the bad news: Massachusetts hospitals scramble to get more ventilators

The Globe’s Liz Kowalczyk and Rebecca Ostriker report that hospitals statewide are scrambling to get their hands on ventilators, ventilators and more ventilators, as they brace for an expected deluge of life-threatening coronavirus cases. And hospitals are also bracing for life-and-death ethical decisions about who gets to use ventilators – who doesn’t.

In other health-related matters, from the Herald: “Boston hospital workers test positive for coronavirus as nurses call for more help.” … And from the Globe again: “Controversial BU lab is only one in New England with live coronavirus.”

Boston Globe

No news: Newspapers cut staff as ads dry up amid crisis

Just when the public needs them most, local newspapers are shrinking amid the coronavirus emergency and plunging revenues. The Daily Hampshire Gazette and its sister papers in western Mass. have cut an undisclosed number of positions and cut the pay of remaining workers across the board, Ray Kelly of MassLive reports.

Similar story at the Sun Chronicle in Attleboro, where the top editor says layoffs there — including veteran political reporter Jim Hand — are meant to be temporary furloughs, according to Ted Nesi and Tim White of WPRI-TV.

Police: Summons, not arrests, are the new norm … and stop calling about social-distancing infractions

The Patriot Ledger’s Joe DiFazio reports that South Shore police are increasingly opting to issue summons to those who commit less-than-serious crimes during the coronavirus emergency, rather than arresting, booking and then jailing offenders. DiFazio also reports that crime in general seems to be down amid the near lockdown of society and the economy.

In Amherst, police are asking resident to, please, stop calling 911 about reported social-distancing infractions, MassLive reports.

Patriot Ledger

Feds reach $2T economic-stimulus deal after ‘appalling’ delay

The state of Massachusetts critically needs federal stimulus funds – and yesterday Gov. Charlie Baker was blasting away at the squabbling going on in Washington over an economic-stimulus package, calling the bickering “appalling,” reports CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl and SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall).

But it looks like a deal is finally taking shape in Washington. From the Washington Post: “Senate, White House reach $2 trillion stimulus deal to blunt coronavirus fallout.”

The state’s grim budget outlook; Lottery sales tank

Speaking of financial matters, SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) takes a look at the grim state budget outlook, amid warnings that the nation’s economy could go through its greatest quarterly contraction since the Great Depression. Meanwhile, in a harbinger of falling revenues to come, the Herald’s Hillary Chabot reports that the state’s Lottery revenues are plunging, as customers hunker down in their homes. Revenues have fallen $21 million in the last two weeks alone, Chabot reports.

Can state afford to postpone tax-filing deadline?

The U.S. Treasury has extended the federal tax deadline for filing and making payments until July 15. But what about the commonwealth of Massachusetts? It hasn’t decided yet on an extension – and it’s not an easy decision since the state can’t print money and needs every penny it can get to pay bills. SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall – scroll down in story for tax-deadline debate) has the tax-deadline details.

Btw: Amy Pitter, former commissioner of DOR and president of the Massachusetts Society of the Certified Public Accountants, says extending the deadline is necessary. “The silence from Massachusetts has been deafening,” she tells SHNS.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Government updates: Utilities shutoff ban, new alert system, National Guard delivers supplies, and more

A lot of other things are happening on the governmental front. From the Herald’s Mary Marcos: “Gov. Charlie Baker is banning utility companies from shutting off gas, electric and water utility service to any customers for failure to pay a bill during the coronavirus state of emergency, otherwise they could face $1 million in fines.” … CBS Boston reports that the state has launched a new coronavirus text message alert system. People can text “COVIDMA” to 888777 to sign up. …  From Steph Solis at MassLive: “National Guard delivering supplies to hospitals, tents to Massachusetts jails.” … From SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall): “AG, Lawmakers Monitoring College Refund Plans.” … Also from SHNS (pay wall): “Senate Panel Advancing Nursing Workforce Bill.” … From Christian Wade at the Salem News: “Keeping notaries at a distance puts legal work on hold.” … From MassLive: “Coronavirus causes three Worcester County courthouses to shut down after judge tests positive.”

Democracy in action: Southwick holds town hall meeting in … an outdoor parking lot

Check out the photo accompanying Manon Mirabell’s story at MassLive about how Southwick held a special town meeting on an outdoor parking lot – with voters bundled in coats, gloves and masks while keeping their appropriate social-distancing distances. Not everyone thinks it was a good idea to hold the town meeting, outside or not.

MassLive

RMV suspending issuance of REAL IDs and learner’s permits

We’re surprised this wasn’t done sooner, considering all the long lines of late at RMV branches. From WCVB: “The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles is taking new steps to reduce the number of customers at physical locations during the coronavirus state of emergency. … Among the RMV’s several additional measures to maintain proper social distancing are suspending the issuance of REAL IDs and non-commercial learner’s permits.”

WCVB

Harvard president Bacow tests positive for coronavirus

The latest high-profile person to test positive. From the Harvard Crimson: “University President Lawrence S. Bacow has tested positive for COVID-19, he announced in an email to Harvard affiliates Tuesday. Bacow wrote that he and his wife, Adele F. Bacow, learned they tested positive for the virus Tuesday afternoon after first experiencing symptoms on Sunday.”

Harvard Crimson

Michael Dukakis hospitalized in LA for pneumonia, tests negative for coronavirus

Let’s hope he pulls through. From the Globe’s Jeremy Fox: “Former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis has been hospitalized in Los Angeles with bacterial pneumonia but has twice tested negative for the new coronavirus, his son said Tuesday night. Dukakis and his wife, Kitty, were staying at their second home near the University of California, Los Angeles, where Dukakis teaches each winter quarter.”

Boston Globe

Who knew? Teacher parades become a thing

Have these words ever gone together like this before? So-called “teacher parades” are popping up in some Bay State communities as educators look for ways to stay connected to their younger students amid a weeks-long lockdown likely to be extended. Genevieve DiNatale at the Eagle-Tribune reports on one such event in Andover, while the Standard-Times has a photo gallery of a 100-vehicle-long teacher procession in Westport

Eagle Tribune

Healey to Bruins’ owner: I’m watching you

Attorney Maura Healey is taking a trust-but-verify approach towards Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs’ recent tardy establishment of a $1.5 million fund for TD Garden workers who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis. Universal Hub explains why Healey is more than a little skeptical about Jacobs’ claims about his new fund.

Universal Hub

Warren, Kennedy, Clark and Pressley: Child-care bailout, not corporate bailouts

Four members of the state’s Congressional delegation – Elizabeth Warren, Joseph Kennedy, Katherine Clark and Ayanna Pressley – and others have a joint-byline op-ed in the Globe calling for an “infusion of emergency funds into the nation’s child care sector” to avoid an industry collapse and further economic pain for parents.

Free rides: Regional transit authorities relax fare collection amid outbreak

Keep the cash in your pocket. The Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority is allowing users of its bus service to ride for free amid concerns that having drivers collect fares increases the risk of infection, Charles Winokoor reports at the Taunton Gazette.  Bus drivers working for the Lowell Regional Transit Authority will also stop demanding fares from riders after that agency moved to a reduced schedule, Nicole DeFuedis reports at the Lowell Sun. 

Baker: Construction is too important to halt

From the Globe’s Tim Logan: “While Boston, Cambridge, and several other municipalities have halted construction projects to help stop the spread of coronavirus, Governor Charlie Baker said Tuesday that he believes most such work should continue. Baker pointed to Greater Boston’s long-running housing shortage — and the high prices it creates for renters and home buyers — as reasons to allow as many projects as possible to keep moving forward.”

Boston Globe

King of the lobbying hill: Costello & Crawford reigns supreme — again

At last, some non-coronavirus news. From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski: “Smith Costello & Crawford continued its run as Beacon Hill’s top-earning lobbying firm by hauling in $643,000 more than any other agency in the second half of 2019, according to state records. The firm led all others in total compensation between July 1 and Dec. 31 with $2.28 million, according to a summary Secretary of State William Galvin’s office provided to the News Service.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

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

Do Morals Matter?

Political scientist Joseph Nye, leader scholar of international relations considers the foreign policies of presidents from FDR to Trump to see which come up short in the morality polls.

Cambridge Forum

Today’s Headlines

Metro

In Boston’s neighborhoods, an uneven response to coronavirus epidemic – Bay State Banner

South End landlord slashes rent for SoWa artists amid crisis – Boston Herald

Massachusetts

Amid coronavirus, a surge in calls to Massachusetts suicide prevention hotline – Boston Globe

Worcester County has traveled 42 percent less during pandemic – Worcester Business Journal

Nation

Groceries, guns and news: what sells in a pandemic and what doesn’t – Wall Street Journal

Anthony Fauci becomes a fringe MAGA target – Politico

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