Keller at Large

Keller at Large: How will the coronavirus disaster impact this year’s elections?

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList segment, Jon Keller thinks the coronavirus disaster may – repeat: may – help Joe Kennedy in his U.S. Senate fight against incumbent Ed Markey. And he has other thoughts on the presidential and legislative races too.

Keller at Large MassterList

Happening Today

Coronavirus action and updates

Massachusetts Health Connector Board of Directors meets virtually to vote on emergency efforts relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, 10 a.m.

Massachusetts Senate meets without a calendar, 11 a.m.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts hosts a webinar with Robert Nelson and Ili Spahiu of the Small Business Administration to discuss SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program during the current pandemic, 11 a.m.

— U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern is on ‘Radio Boston,’ WBUR-FM 90.9, 3 p.m.

— Massachusetts Cultural Council and MASS Creative join state Sen. Edward J. Kennedy and Rep. Paul McMurtry for an online listening session on the economic impact of COVID-19 on the state’s cultural sector, 1 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: 33 more deaths, 122 total deaths, 7,738 confirmed cases in Mass.

CBS Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers in Massachusetts.

Temporary morgue set up at Fitchburg State University

We’re entering a truly grim stage of the coronavirus crisis. The Globe’s Jeremy Fox and MassLive’s Scott Croteau report that a temporary mass morgue is being set up at Fitchburg State University in anticipation of a possible/probable surge in deaths from COVID-19. Temporary mortuary trucks have already arrived.

Meanwhile, SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) reports that the state plans to set up another medical center at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center to “bolster the capacity of the health care system.”

As Baker launches probe of Holyoke veterans home, superintendent says he told state officials about deaths

It’s getting complicated. From Jeanette DeForge MassLive: “In his first statement since as many as 13 veterans of the Holyoke Soldiers Home have died of the coronavirus, Superintendent Bennett Walsh said he provided regular updates to the state after the first resident tested positive for COVID-19 on March 21. “At no time did I, or anyone on my staff, hide, conceal or mislead anyone regarding the tragic impact of the virus and it would be outrageous for anyone to even think of doing such a thing,’ Walsh said.”

Needless to say, his comments appear to be somewhat at odds with what the Baker administration is saying. Meanwhile, from MassLive: “Baker appoints independent investigator to examine Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in wake of COVID-19 deaths.”

And from Miriam Wasser at WBUR: “After COVID-19 Deaths At Holyoke Veterans’ Home, Sister Facility In Chelsea Reports Cases, 2 Deaths.” From SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall): “After Second Death at Chelsea, Baker Says It’s Not ‘Another Holyoke.'”


Kraft to the rescue: Patriots plane heads to China for medical supplies

The New England Patriots’ team plane will touch down today at Logan Airport with a load of badly needed medical supplies that will be added to the Bay State’s strategic stockpile, reports Politico’s Stephanie Murray. The Wall Street Journal reports the cargo includes more than 1 million N-95 masks that had previously been stuck in China after Gov. Charlie Baker struck a deal to buy them. 

Are hospitals even close to being ready for the surge?

In addition to Bob Kraft’s mission impossible to China, here’s some more good news on the supplies front, from SHNS’s Eric Convey: “Massachusetts will have enough ventilators to treat the state’s COVID-19 patients if the federal government delivers the 1,000 units Gov. Charlie Baker says federal officials promised, according to a forecast published by a University of Washington health data center.” To emphasize: That’s “if” the ventilators are delivered.

Now the bad news: There’s not nearly enough hospital beds to treat COVID-19 patients in Massachusetts, according to the same report. Then there’s this, from the Washington Post: “Protective gear in national stockpile is nearly depleted, DHS officials say.”

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Mark Arsenault reports on how hard it is to pin down one critical number: Exactly how many hospitals beds are being used at a given moment in Massachusetts during the crisis, since the state currently doesn’t track hospitalizations related to coronavirus. 

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

It’s full-steam ahead for nursing home conversion (despite recent snags)

SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) reports that plans to free up hundreds of beds at a Worcester nursing home are back on track, after the conversion of the facility to coronavirus care was temporarily halted due to some current residents being tested positive for COVID-19 while they were being prepared to move out.

Cut it out: Discarded gloves and masks growing concern

It’s not just gross, it’s dangerous. Two members of the Brockton City Council want to pass an ordinance that would enable police to issue fines to anyone who drops used anti-coronavirus gloves and face masks on public streets and parking lots, Marc Larocque reports at the Enterprise. 

Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub reports the Boston Public Works Department took to Twitter with a similar message. 


Other health-care news: Cape Cod hospital to shutter maternity unit, nurses issue plea to public, Baker’s non-mask

From the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett: “Cape Cod Healthcare has come under fire from union nurses after announcing the closure of one of its maternity and pediatric inpatient units during the coronavirus epidemic.” … From the Herald’s Alexi Cohan: “Nurses at Massachusetts General Hospital beg public to help in coronavirus fight.” … Also from the Herald: “Coronavirus testing booth at Brigham and Women’s hospital reduces PPE, keeps docs safe.” … And, finally, what’s up with Gov. Baker not wearing protective masks at public events? He says he doesn’t need one. Others disagree, reports Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth.

Government updates: Beer and wine takeout, budget writers starting from scratch, insurance industry warning

Some quick (but still important) government-related headlines. From SHNS’s Sam Doran (pay wall): “Rodrigues Eyes Restaurant Takeout Beer and Wine by Weekend.” … From CommonWealth magazine’s Shira Schoenberg: “State budget writers are starting over/Hearing next week will address drastic revenue drop.” … From MassLive: “Massachusetts lawmakers push for more cash payments, extended unemployment benefits in fourth pandemic relief package.” … From Universal Hub: “Judges must consider a person’s risk of Covid-19 complications in parole-violation cases, court says.” … And from the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky, regarding business related losses only: “Insurance companies could collapse under COVID-19 losses, experts say.”

Gun shops and shooting ranges: The Defiant Ones

Some gun shops are openly flouting Gov. Charlie Baker’s non-essential closure edict. From the Enterprise: “Gun shops, including one in Middleboro, defy Baker’s coronavirus restrictions.” And from Steph Solis at MassLive: “Gun Parlor in Worcester shouldn’t have been open due to non-essential businesses order, Gov. Charlie Baker says.”

SHNS’s Matt Murphy and MassLive’s Steph Solis report that there was, briefly, some confusion over what was essential versus non-essential. But it was apparently fixed.

Has the SJC effectively imposed a statewide eviction moratorium until May 4?

The Supreme Judicial Court yesterday issued an order postponing all state court trials till May 4, complying with Gov. Charlie Baker’s latest social-distancing edict, reports Jill Harmacinski at the Eagle Tribune.

In an editorial, the Boston Globe says the SJC’s action effectively amounts to a “de facto eviction moratorium” – but it’s urging lawmakers to nevertheless move more quickly on passing comprehensive housing-protection legislation. And that’s what lawmakers seem to be doing, reports the Globe’s Tim Logan.

Rosengren warns economic recovery will take longer than expected

Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, warned yesterday that the economic hit from the coronavirus crisis will last longer than expected – and that a recovery won’t happen until the virus is under control, report the Globe’s John Chesto and Shirely Leung. Meanwhile the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett reports Rosengren isn’t painting a pretty picture of the commercial real estate market either.

Boston Globe

‘Keating To Mass. Small Businesses: Get Coronavirus Aid Fast, Before It’s Gone’

Why bother trying to write a good headline when you can just steal one? In this case, it’s the headline on WGBH reporter Adam Reilly’s story about U.S. Rep. Bill Keating’s rather sage advice to small businesses about applying ASAP for government stimulus loans.


Coming soon: Fed direct deposits into your checking account

If you have a banking phone app, you might want to start checking it early next week for a possible $1,200 deposit from the federal government, assuming the feds have your direct-deposit information on file. SHNS’s Chris Lisinski reports that U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark says federal-stimulus electronic payments to many qualifying Americans should start flowing on Monday. As for snail-mail recipients, you’ll apparently have to wait a little longer.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Kennedy continues to outpace Markey in fundraising

There’s a U.S. Senate race? We almost forgot. From the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky: “U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III raised nearly $2 million this quarter, again outpacing rival U.S. Sen. Edward Markey even as the congressman stopped actively fundraising in the last two weeks due to coronavirus.”

Boston Herald

The legendary Ed Logue: Was he really that bad (or good)?

Earlier this week, WGBH’s Adam Reilly officially declared his Scrum segment a “coronavirus-free zone” when presenting the second installment of a two-part series on 1960s-era urban renewal policies led by Ed Logue, the late Boston re-development czar and subject of a new book by Lizabeth Cohen, “Saving America’s Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban America in the Suburban Age.” Here’s the first installment of the series, which Adam recommends people might want to listen to first.

Under the radar? Amid crisis, Nahant moves forward with eminent domain move

Officials in Nahant are pushing forward with a plan to take by eminent domain property that Northeastern University wants to use to expand its Marine Science Center, Elyce Carmosino reports at the Lynn Item. The town acknowledges the timing isn’t ideal, but says it has to get things lined up for town meeting next month. 

Lynn Item

Light in the darkness: Deerfield Christmas tree lit to lift spirits

And, finally, it may be April, but some volunteers in Deerfield felt it was a perfect time to light the Christmas Tree atop Mount Sugarloaf, reviving a non-holiday tradition deployed during World War II and other times of crisis, Domenic Poli reports in the Greenfield Recorder. 

Greenfield Recorder

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

Today’s Headlines


Eight priests test positive for coronavirus in Boston archdiocese – Boston Herald

Olin College of Engineering selects new president – Boston Globe


Area departments curb door-to-door solicitors – Salem News

Falmouth closes beach parking lots to deter gatherings – Cape Cod Times

Lawrence extends deadlines for taxes and water and sewer bills – Eagle-Tribune


Florida governor, at long last, orders residents to stay at home – New York Times

The missing six weeks: how Trump failed the biggest test of his life – The Guardian

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