Happening Today

House and Senate meet and more COVIC-19 matters

— Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux will chair a virtual meeting of the Agricultural Lands Preservation Committee, 10 a.m.

— The Massachusetts House and Senate separately meet, 11 a.m.

— U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch holds telephone town hall to provide information and answer questions about local services and current conditions during COVID-19 pandemic, 6:30 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.

The numbers: 48 deaths, 4,995 confirmed cases, 39,000 tests in Mass.

WWLP has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts. But the numbers that everyone is talking about this morning are 100,000 and 200,000 – or the number of potential U.S. deaths caused by the coronavirus, as the NYT reports.

Nursing homes and former hospital to be converted into emergency COVID-19 centers

The Boston Globe and SHNS report that the state is now moving to convert some nursing homes into emergency coronavirus treatment centers, as hospitals brace for an expected wave of COVID-19 cases across the state. The trick is transferring elderly residents to other nursing homes to make way for emergency cases, the Globe reports. The conversions have already started, via CBS Boston: “Worcester Nursing Home Moving Patients Out So Facility Can Become Coronavirus Center.”

Meanwhile, from Universal Hub: “Former Brighton hospital that was supposed to be torn down for a residential tower will re-open (today) to treat homeless Covid-19 patients.” And from MassLive: “Walsh has secured over 240 additional beds for the homeless population at Suffolk University and a former hospital.”

After meeting ‘force majeure,’ Baker pleas for supplies and blood donations

The Globe’s Matt Stout reports on the “force majeure” brick wall that state officials have confronted in their scramble to get critically needed supplies for hospitals, i.e. the federal government. President Trump yesterday said he’s trying to get protective supplies to Massachusetts, the Globe’s Jacklyn Reiss and Abigail Feldman report.

But the president’s vow came only after constant requests for supplies from by state offcicials – and after Gov. Charlie Baker had to resort to asking the public to donate and sell supplies to hospitals, as MassLive’s Scott Croteau reports. More on the state’s supplies problem from SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall).

Travel advisories – and controversies galore

Gov. Charlie Baker late last week basically told out-of-state people to stay out of Massachusetts – and, if they do come, they should immediately self-quarantine themselves, reports SHNS (pay wall) and the Globe.

The governor’s announcement seemed positively routine compared to the uproar over Rhode Island’s initial decision to specifically ban New Yorkers from the Ocean State, a policy that was reversed over the weekend after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened a lawsuit, as Politico reports. 

Btw: The Herald’s Howie Carr thinks governors have become “drunk on power.” The public obviously disagrees – at least in Massachusetts. See polling data immediately below.

Poll: 80 percent approve of Baker’s handling of coronavirus crisis

Gov. Charlie Baker took some flak from certain media outlets for his early handling of the coronavirus outbreak. But the public obviously thinks otherwise, giving the governor a through-the-roof approval rating of 80 percent for his handling of the crisis, according to a new Suffolk University-Boston Globe poll. And the public overwhelmingly supports the emergency measures taken by the governor.

From a Herald editorial this morning: “Baker, Cuomo, Trump – leaders we can count on.” Some may disagree with a certain name on that list, but the point is made.

Boston Globe

State’s tax-filing deadline to be pushed back to July 15

From the Herald’s Mary Markos: “Lawmakers agreed Friday to push back the state tax deadline to July 15, matching the federal extension to give taxpayers a break amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. ‘This change will provide the commonwealth’s taxpayers with significant relief at this very uncertain time,’ Gov. Charlie Baker said during his daily coronavirus update at the State House Friday.” The House and Senate are expected to vote on the measure soon.  

Boston Herald

Health care updates: Doctors and nurses face pay cuts, Mass. now rates tops in testing

WBUR’s Martha Bebinger has the latest on how some cash-strapped health-care outfits are now resorting to furloughs, retirement cuts and outright pay reductions to conserve cash. Workers are understandably upset, considering all the front-line health risks they’ve been taking. … The BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett takes a look at recent pay action taken by Atrius Health, the state’s largest independent physician group. … And, finally, CommonWealth magazine reports that Massachusetts is now one of the top states in terms of testing for the cornovirus, despite a frustratingly slow start to testing here.

Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel tests positive for COVID-19

She’s been a frontline worker too. From the BBJ; “Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner  Monica Bharel has tested positive for COVID-19, she said Friday. ‘I was tested Thursday night and received the results back today from the State Public Health Laboratory,’ Bharel said in a statement. She’s planning to work remotely in coming days, she said. Meanwhile, from Universal Hub: “Former City Councilor Tito Jackson falls ill, tests positive for coronavirus.”

BBJ (pay wall)

Kelly’s Roast Beef proves to be too popular in Revere

Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo had to use a bullhorn on Saturday to warn residents standing outside take-out restaurants about social distancing recommendations – and Revere officials yesterday decided to just end take-out services in general as the number of confirmed coronaviruses cases mounted in the city, reports the Herald’s Andrew Martinez. The headline from Universal Hub: “No more takeout at Kelly’s at Revere Beach.”

Boston Herald

Some renters and landlords find common ground

The Globe’s Tim Logan and Janelle Nanos report that some retail renters and landlords, the proverbial cats-and-dogs-who-can’t-get-along of the business world, are actually reaching agreements on reduced or deferred rental payments, starting the day after tomorrow, as both sides realize they’re in the coronavirus crisis together.

In other rental news, from the Berkshire Eagle: “Berkshire legislator asks Gov. Baker to crack down on short-term rental industry.” … And, if all else fails for some renters in general, there’s this, from the BBJ: “Revenue per room at Boston hotels drops by more than 80%.”

Is Pittsfield a potential coronavirus hotspot?

We’re not quite sure what to make of this NYT piece on how some U.S. cities could have coronavirus outbreaks as bad, proportionately, as what’s been seen in China and Italy. The Pittsfield area isn’t mentioned specifically in the actual story, but it is listed in accompanying charts and a map about the high per capita rates of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths. Burlington, Vermont is also listed. Make of it what you will. These types of projections are often built on fallible models and subject to change. And let’s hope that’s the case here.


Government updates: Healey warns Amazon and Whole Foods, city zip-locks basketball hoops, community colleges struggle and more

We’ll just go right to the headlines for this post. From CBS Boston: “AG Says More Coronavirus Protections Needed For Amazon, Whole Foods Employees.” … From WCVB: “Boston putting zip ties on basketball hoops, taking measures to discourage team sports.” … From the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky:“Community colleges struggle to go remote during coronavirus.” … From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski(pay wall): “Civil Rights Groups Sue Sheriff Over COVID-19 Risks.” … And from CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg: “Holyoke’s Alex Morse adapts to the curveballs.”  

Question: Is GameStop the biggest masshole company in Mass.?

Some employees of GameStop, a video game retailer, are understandably furious that a manager at their clearly non-essential business allegedly ordered them back to work last week – and even gave tips on how to wrap a plastic bag around one’s hand to protect it while handling credit cards through cracked doors, as the Globe’s Katie Johnsoton reports.

Boston Globe

Larry Rasky, political advisor and PR guru, had contracted COVID-19 before his death

This is sad. It turns out that Larry Rasky, the long-time political advisor who suddenly died earlier this month, posthumously tested positive for COVID-19, his devastated son announced late last week. The Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky and the Globe’s Travis Andersen and Bryan Marquard have more.

‘The great war overshadows all our days and our lives’

During the current coronavirus crisis, Greg Wayland at CommonWealth magazine and Barbara Anthony at WGBH have both found inspiration in the words and actions of their mothers – and what they endured on the homefront during World War II. And Wayland and Anthony believe we can learn much, once again, from the Greatest Generation. We liked this line from Anthony: “

This is the most challenging part of our current crisis. Can we protect the public health and protect good people from economic deprivation? I think our parents and grandparents would say stop whining and get to it. We can do it.”

Resistant to any and all known viruses: Political fundraising, Part II

The Herald’s Hillary Chabotwrites that it was almost business-as-usual for political fundraising in Massachusetts in March, despite this month’s near societal lockdown. She has some fundraising numbers for Mayor Marty Walsh, Gov. Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey.

Rescinded: Feds deal possible fatal blow to Wampanoag Tribe’s casino dreams

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe says it will continue to fight for the right to build a casino in East Taunton after an unprecedented decision by the Department of the Interior to rescind its earlier ruling that let the tribe take the land into trust, Jessica Hill reports via the Taunton Gazette. Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell says he got the news during what he thought would be a check-in from the department on the tribe’s struggles to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. 

The fed move drew swift condemnation from the Bay State delegation in Washington, Douglas Hook at MassLive reports.

Taunton Gazette

Perfect 10? North Attleboro Rep. Poirier to call it a career

Do open seat alerts even register in times like these? State Rep. Elizabeth “Betty” Poirier won’t seek re-election in November, ending a 20-year run that began when the North Attleboro Republican took over the seat previously held by her husband, Tom Reilly at the Sun-Chronicle reports. 

Sun Chronicle

Weld’s last political hurrah? Probably. Then again …

Peter Lucas, a political columnist for the Boston Herald and Lowell Sun, gives credit (sort of) to former Gov. Bill Weld for outlasting U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Gov. Deval Patrick and U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton as a presidential candidate this year. But he writes Weld’s recent GOP insurgency campaign is probably his last political hurrah. Then again, maybe not.

Lowell Sun

Warren bump: Poll shows teaming with senator gives Biden biggest boost

A Fox News poll that shows former VP Joe Biden with a widening lead against President Trump contains favorable returns for Sen. Elizabeth Warren as well: When paired with Warren as a running mate, Biden posted his best numbers in the poll, with 52 percent support compared to 42 percent for the incumbent, Justin Coleman of The Hill reports. 

The Hill

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

2020 Robert C. Wood Visiting Professor of Public and Urban Affairs Lecture featuring Christiana Figueres

Each year, the Robert C. Wood Professorship brings a distinguished public leader to campus for a lecture and conversation to engage students, faculty, and community members in discussions of public policy and public service. The McCormack Graduate School is pleased to announce Christiana Figueres as the 2020 Robert C. Wood Visiting Professor of Public and Urban Affairs.

McCormack Graduate School

2020 Robert C. Wood Visiting Professor of Public and Urban Affairs Lecture featuring Christiana Figueres

Each year, the Robert C. Wood Professorship brings a distinguished public leader to campus for a lecture and conversation to engage students, faculty, and community members in discussions of public policy and public service. The McCormack Graduate School is pleased to announce Christiana Figueres as the 2020 Robert C. Wood Visiting Professor of Public and Urban Affairs.

McCormack Graduate School

Today’s Headlines


Architect Michael McKinnell, co-designer of Boston City Hall, dies at 84 – Boston Globe

City eases parking restrictions during coronavirus pandemic – Boston Herald


From back of a pickup truck, Ethiopian priest blesses Worcester – Telegram & Gazette

Group tells Baker to reverse marijuana decision; Brockton dispensary weighs in – Brockton Enterprise

Coronavirus: Gun Parlor in Worcester stays open despite governor’s order closing non-essential businesses amid COVID-19 – MassLive


The coronavirus crisis is exposing how the economy was not strong as it seemed – Washington Post

Justice Department reviews stock trades by lawmakers after coronavirus briefings – CNN

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