Happening Today

Coronavirus 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.

Massachusetts High Technology Council holds a virtual roundtable to discuss the COVID-19 response featuring Mass. General Hospital president Dr. Peter Slavin, an infectious disease physician, and Dr. Rochelle Walensky of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 11 a.m.

— The data won’t reflect the recent steep job losses due to the coronavirus crisis, but state officials today are scheduled to release preliminary February and revised January unemployment rates and employment numbers for Massachusetts.

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: 25 deaths, 2,417 confirmed cases, 23,621 tests in Mass.

CBS Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts. The Herald reports that health experts believe the real unconfirmed number of cases in Massachusetts may be ten times higher.

Nationally, the U.S. now has the largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world (NYT) while the U.S. death toll from the virus has now surpassed 1,000 (Washington Post).

Baker uncorks on ‘enormously frustrating’ shortage of hospital supplies

Gov. Charlie Baker made no attempt to hide his frustration and anger yesterday over the shortage of critical health-care supplies amid the coronavirus crisis, blaming the feds for delays and calling the situation “enormously frustrating.” CBS Boston and WCVB both have video of Baker’s passionate-yet-diplomatic rant over the “messy thicket” that’s impeding the state’s coronavirus response, as SHNS’s Chris Lisinski also reports (pay wall).

How bad is the supplies problem? From MassLive: “Massachusetts General Hospital to dig into its emergency protective gear stockpile weeks before virus peaks.” From the Telegram: “Facing shortage, UMass Memorial using UV rays to disinfect N95 masks.” There are some supplies on the way, albeit from an unlikely source, via Universal Hub: “Readville liquor plant now making, distributing hand sanitizer to first responders, healthcare workers.”

Btw, the governor yesterday also officially requested federal disaster aid for the state’s coronavirus fight, WCVB reports. Meanwhile, the Globe has a good summary of Baker’s latest emergency orders.

‘Coronavirus creeping into Massachusetts senior sites’

This has always been one of the top public-health fears – and now it’s happening. From the Globe’s Robert Weisman and Martin Finucane: “The coronavirus is creeping into senior housing in Massachusetts, despite urgent efforts to isolate residents and bar visitors. More than 20 cases have been confirmed in at least six senior living sites in the state, and two residents have died.”

From WCVB: “Seven coronavirus cases linked to senior housing facility in Revere.”

Boston Globe

Medical schools graduating students early to help in all-out fight

A sign of how desperate the situation is at hospitals. From WCVB: “Hundreds of medical students in Massachusetts will be joining doctors on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic about eight weeks earlier than they would have been able to. The deans of the four Massachusetts medical schools have agreed to the state’s request to move up the graduation dates of their fourth-year students in anticipation of a surge in the number of COVID-19 patients.”

Meanwhile, from Christian Wade at the Salem News: “Beacon Hill bill expands scope of nurse practitioners.” They’re going to need ‘em. From MassLive: “More than 150 Boston hospital employees test positive for COVID-19.”


‘Staggering figure’: Massachusetts hospitals losing at least $750M a month

The BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett reports on the financial perils local hospital are now facing – and how the elimination of elective procedures to make room for coronavirus cases is costing hospitals at least $750 million a month in lost revenue, a “staggering figure,” as the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association puts it. Granted, hospitals will be getting some coronavirus-related reimbursements, but does anyone seriously believe they’ll be fully reimbursed?

Btw, the number above doesn’t include hospital-affiliated physician practices, which are also financially struggling. From Universal Hub: “Citing pandemic economics, Beth Israel group practice to halt retirement contributions to more than 1,200 doctors.”

BBJ (pay wall)

And now this: Supermarket workers test positive for coronavirus

They’re frontline workers too – and they’re starting to pay the price. WBUR’s Adrian Ma reports that a number of grocery store employees are among the Massachusetts residents who have tested positive for the coronavirus, including those at Stop & Shop, Shaw’s and Market Basket.

At WGBH, Philip Martin reports that most supermarket chains are now posting help-wanted signs to deal with the rush of business at stores – and, we presume, to deal with the loss of ill employees.


State unemployment claims hit 148,000, household incomes fall $673 million in just one week

Here’s some more staggering numbers on the economic carnage caused by the coronavirus crisis: The state’s jobless claims spiked to 147,995 last week, a twentyfold increase from the week prior, with the claims representing 4.2 percent of the state’s workforce, according to reports at WCVB and MassLive.

Meanwhile, CommonWealth’s Benjamin Forman reports that the coronavirus shutdown cost Massachusetts households at least $673 million in earnings last week alone, based on estimates by MassINC Polling Group. Think about how that translates into lost income-tax revenues for the state. One word: Yikes.

RMV changes rules again: Now it’s by appointments only

Attempts to control the long lines at RMV branches have obviously failed. From MassLive: “After opening re-opening eight Registry of Motor Vehicles locations across the state, officials now are announcing it will only conduct in-person transactions with an appointment.”


Government updates: Price-gouging complaints, SJC to review inmate releases, DCF closes offices, Provincetown backs off order

In an article headlined ‘$250 for Purell? State probes complaints of price gouging,” the Globe’s Naomi Martin reports that Attorney General Maura Healey’s office has received about 100 complaints of price gouging during the coronavirus crisis – and Healey has every intention of cracking down on the practice. … The AP at WBUR reports that the state’s Supreme Judicial Court next week will review a case about whether to release jail inmates amid the pandemic. … And from WGBH: “DCF Closes 2 Offices, Says 1 Worker Has Coronavirus, Another Awaiting Results.” … From SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall): ““Virtual Hearing” Planned To Revisit Tax Projections.” … From the Cape Cod Times: “Provincetown backs off shelter-in-place order.” … But from the Martha’s Vineyard Times: “With an order and advisory at odds, Vineyard residents asked to voluntarily comply with Island’s orders.”

And, finally, from SHNS again (pay wall): “Virus ‘Gut Punch’ Leaves Senators in Triage Mode.”

About face: Moulton reverses course on China coronavirus resolution

He heard the outcry. U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton says he’s withdrawing his support for a House resolution he co-sponsored condemning China’s early handling of the coronavirus outbreak, a position that drew fierce blowback even as Moulton was self-quarantining himself. Ethan Forman at the Salem News has the backlash-backtrack details. 

Salem News

Somehow Tom Brady got dragged into White House debate over national coronavirus response

It all started with a governor telling President Trump that “we need you to be (a) Tom Brady” leader during these tense times and, well, the president of the United States of America, amid a national emergency, later took umbrage to the “fake news” coverage of the Brady analogy and … never mind. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld has more on the surreal Brady moment at the White House.

Boston Herald

Your mother was right: Stop biting your nails

Don’t laugh. It’s a serious matter: Nail biting during these coronavirus times. Craig LeMoult at WGBH explains.


Northampton mayor tests positive for COVID-19

Northampton Mayor David J. Narkewicz announced yesterday he has tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the latest local politician to get the virus and/or show symptoms of the virus. He plans to work remotely from home, reports Ray Kelly at MassLive. 


Senate strips Tran of his leadership post after ethics commission finds he used state resources for campaigning

We interrupt our coronavirus coverage to bring you this political news of a quarantine of a different sort. From Shira Schoenberg at CommonWealth magazine: “The Massachusetts Senate on Thursday stripped Fitchburg Republican Sen. Dean Tran of his leadership position and ordered him physically separated from his staff after the Senate Ethics Committee found that Tran used Senate staffers and public resources for his reelection campaign.” … Now back to coronavirus coverage … 


Baker: ‘I don’t think we should just write-off the rest of the school year’

WCVB reports that Gov. Charlie Baker gave a “passionate response” yesterday when asked why he doesn’t just cancel the entire school year at this point in Massachusetts. The governor’s response: “I think we should be committed to the idea, that if it’s safe, we want kids to be able to finish the year. I don’t want to toss away the second half of a student’s possibility to learn to succeed in the next grade.”

It’s not an unreasonable position, even though he probably knows the odds are that the rest of the school year will indeed be scratched. 

Btw, from CommonWealth magazine: “State sets ‘meaningful and productive’ K-12 learning goal.”


‘Local journalism needs a coronavirus stimulus plan, too’

It seems newspapers out in western Massachusetts are not the only ones financially suffering during the coronavirus crisis. It’s happening around the world, writes the Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan, who points to an Atlantic article co-authored by Charles Sennott, a former Globe staffer and current head of the GroundTruth Project. Sennott doesn’t want a government bailout per se, but he and his co-author do have suggestions on how the federal government can help struggling media outlets as advertising revenues plunge amid the outbreak.

Btw: WGBH’s Dan Kennedy writes that online news outlets are jumping into the coronavirus-coverage breach across the county.

‘Relax and enjoy a Quarantini’

The residents and workers at Arbors Assisted Living Communities in Massachusetts know the situation is serious, but that isn’t stopping them from trying to lift people’s spirits, via some funny online messages and photos informing people they’re quite OK. Our favorites posts: “Relax and enjoy a Quarantini” and “I made it through WWII – I get to stay home and relax through this mess.” MassLive’s Heather Adams has more.

Btw, from WBUR: “Getting Restless? This Upbeat Playlist Of Local Music Is For You.”

Out at the plate? Union says safety net misses Fenway concession sellers

John Henry, meet Jeremy Jacobs. Thursday would have been Opening Day for the 2020 Red Sox — and a union that represents concession workers at Fenway say a $1 million fund created to sustain park employees misses scores of game-day concession workers employed by contractors, Spencer Buell of Boston Magazine reports. 

Boston Magazine

FAA bans vintage WWII-bomber flights after Bradley crash

Back to non-coronavirus news: The “Wings of Freedom” have been grounded. From Patrick Johnson at MassLive: “The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday announced a Massachusetts foundation can no longer book passengers for flights on historic World War II-era aircraft after investigators found several safety violations while investigating the crash last fall of a B-17 bomber at Bradley International Airport that killed seven people.”


Who knows? Cause of spectacular Northbridge fire declared ‘undetermined’

Insert shrug emoji here. Fire officials have ruled out arson but say they don’t know — and probably will never know — exactly what started a spectacular fire earlier this week that resulted in more than $1 million worth of damage at a Northbridge firewood processing facility, the Telegram reports. 


Sunday public affairs TV: Maura Healey, Marty Walsh and more

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: Attorney General Maura Healey, who talks with host Jon Keller about issues related to the coronavirus crisis, including price gouging, debt collection, unemployment rights, and the quality of political leadership.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s live guest: Mayor Marty Walsh, 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 main topic: Dissecting diversity in Boston, with guests including Daren Bascome of Proverb Agency and Pratt Wiley of the Partnership Inc.

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

Book Talk, Slavery and the Making of Early American Libraries

Join former Athenaeum New England Regional Fellowship recipient Sean D. Moore (2014-2015) as he shares the culmination of his studies of early American libraries and how these institutions stood at the nexus of two translatlantic branches of commerce–the book trade and the slave trade.

Boston Athenaeum

Today’s Headlines


Loughlin trial continues despite coronavirus – Boston Herald

Harvard’s acceptance rate rises slightly to 4.92 percent – Boston Globe


Worcester school committee OKs Student Opportunity Act spending plan – Telegram & Gazette

Atlantic Union College sells additional Lancaster properties – Worcester Business Journal


US now leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases – New York Times

Why isn’t Congress already virtual? – Politico

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