Happening Today

Coronavirus updattes

— U.S. Sen. Ed Markey joins the Environmental League of Massachusetts for an Earth Day webinar to discuss how economic recovery from the public health crisis can also support climate and environmental justice goals, 12 p.m.

Boston City Council Committee on Public Health holds virtual hearing on proposed guidelines for ventilator distribution and ICU beds in the event of a shortage, 2 p.m.

Department of Public Health plans to post updated data on COVID-19 cases by 4 p.m.

Massachusetts Historical Society holds an online program titled ‘Voting During a Pandemic: The 1918 Elections in Massachusetts,’ 5:30 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: 152 new deaths, 1,961 total deaths, 1,556 new cases

MassLive has the latest confirmed coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Surge update: ‘This is a little like the third or fourth quarter’

Whether we’re near, at or over the surge peak/plateau isn’t exactly clear. But Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday sent yet another signal that the numbers are looking relatively (stress: relatively) good these days – and yesterday he opted for a Bill Belichick-like way to describe the situation, report Boston.com’s Nik DeCosta-Klipa and CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl. “This is a little like the third or fourth quarter and we’re holding our own here,” Baker said. “Don’t let the virus win the game. Play it all the way to the end.” In other words: Do your social-distancing jobs, everyone. People are still dying in large numbers (see “numbers” item above).  

Btw: The governor had no comment yesterday on Gronk’s return.

Baker orders schools closed for remainder of school year

This was almost inevitable. From Chris Burrell at WGBH: “All public and private schools in Massachusetts will remain closed through the end of this school year out of concerns for the safety of students and staff in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday. Baker said there’s ‘no authoritative guidance” on how to re-open and operate schools safely or transport schoolchildren to and from school safely.” 


But uber-cautious Baker starts talking about partial reopening of economy

One can’t “partially” reopen schools. But you can “partially” reopen an economy – and that’s what Gov. Charle Baker is now mulling, even as he rightly says his immediate focus is on the ongoing surge. A sampling of the headlines — From the BBJ’s Catherine Carlock: “Gov. Baker to tap business community to examine reopening economy.” … From SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall): “Baker: Economic Reopening Will Be Heavily Regulated/ Baker, Biz Leaders Mull ‘Thoughtful Framework.’” … Also from SHNS (pay wall): “Baker, Advisers Exploring Economic Framework.” … And from MassLive’s Steph Solis: “Gov. Baker leaves door open for Massachusetts businesses to reopen before end of June if COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations decline.”

Regarding a possible end-of-June reopening: Not going to happen. It’s going to be sooner. The governor’s past decision-making pattern has shown initial uber-caution during the coronavirus emergency, followed by action somewhat sooner than he had previously signaled. In this case, you can’t keep an economy locked down for more than three months – and the governor knows it.

Then again, Martha’s Vineyard ‘reopen rally’ canceled amid backlash

 Here’s one reason why the governor should move cautiously on reopening the economy. The owners of the iconic Black Dog restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard and other organizers of a would-be freedom rally this week say they’ve bagged the event in the face of backlash, including a push to boycott the restaurant, Brian Dowd at the MV Times reports. 

Martha’s Vineyard Times

The immigration ban: Trump finally got what he always wanted

MassLive’s Benjamin Kail reports that Democratic members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation are blasting Republican President Donald Trump’s move during the coronavirus pandemic to halt all immigration. Meanwhile, Universal Hub is reporting that Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, is also none too happy about the ban: 

In an analysis piece, the Globe’s Jamine Ulloa reports Trump, using the pandemic as cover, basically got what he’s always wanted: Strict new immigration limits. But the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld writes that Trump is once again outmaneuvering “clueless Democrats” on a “no-brainer” issue that resonates with both his base and the newly unemployed.

Meanwhile, Trump takes populist aim at Harvard

As Congress spends trillions of dollars to shore up the nation’s economy (and not always doing so fairly – see post below), President Trump took time out yesterday to focus on how $8 million of those funds went to … Harvard University. He says he doesn’t like it that Harvard, with a $40 billion endowment, is getting relief money, reports WCVB. But Harvard is pushing back. From WBUR’s Fred Thys: “Harvard Denies Trump Claim It Took Money Meant for Small Businesses.”

Federal loan funds: Flowing to where they’re least needed?

The NYT reports that the U.S. Senate yesterday passed another massive coronavirus relief package. But let’s hope the federal funds are more fairly distributed this time around. The Globe’s Larry Edelman and Shirley Leung report that companies in Massachusetts and other more densely populated states hit hardest by COVID-19 are getting smaller shares of government-backed loans than firms in less densely populated states, such as Nebraska and North Dakota.

Boston Globe

Business clients are angry with Santander over PPP loan rollout

Perhaps this partially explains why Massachusetts companies aren’t getting their fair share of federal loan dollars. The BBJ’s Greg Ryan reports that local “business owners are frustrated with Santander Bank over its handling of the Paycheck Protection Program, with some saying they never got the opportunity to even apply for the funding, let alone to secure a loan approval.”

BBJ (pay wall)

Coronavirus stimulus checks arriving for dead taxpayers

You knew this would happen. WCVB’s Ben Simmoneau reports that a Fairhaven man who died two years ago received a $1,200 federal-stimulus deposit from the IRS – and it’s apparently far from an isolated incident. From WCVB: “But what’s most bizarre about this deposit is that it appears the IRS knew Timothy Smith had died.”


Maybe New Bedford isn’t such an exception?

From Kiernan Dunlap at South Coast Today: “On Monday, Mayor Jon Mitchell announced that the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Whaling City were substantially higher than what was being reported by the state and later said the Greater New Bedford area was on a different curve of viral transmission than the rest of the state.”

We’re not talking a big difference in numbers. So this story by the Globe’s Tonya Alanez and Naomi Martin is still valid and intriguing: “Why coronavirus has seemingly spared Fall River and New Bedford so far.” Offficials are trying to figure out what the two cities may have done right during the current pandemic, considering other lower-income communities have been hit hard by the coronavirus. Then again, it could be that Fall River and New Bedford have been simply lucky so far.

Nursing-home testing suspended amid sloppy and haphazard handling of samples

Even though testing is seen as a key to containing the coronavirus epidemic in the state’s hard-hit nursing homes, the state has temporarily halted some testing because of inaccuracies, leaky tubes, unlabeled amples and other woes besetting the program. A three-reporter team at the Boston Globe and Steph Solisat MassLive have the details on what sure looks like a chaotic, haphazard testing situation at centers where there’s already little margin for error.

Nursing-home updates: Holyoke center hires lawyer, the numbers are back, Brockton home rocked, data reporting requirement

Speaking of nursing homes and group-care facilities in general, here’s some headlines and quick summaries regarding the state’s hardest hit population. From MassLive’s Jeanette DeForge: “Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Trustees hires lawyer as nearly 70% of veterans infected with COVID-19.” … CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl reports  that the state is now indeed reporting daily nursing-home coronavirus numbers, though he still finds faults with the reporting. … From the Enterprise’s Cody Shepard: “Brockton nursing home rocked by coronavirus.” … From MassLive: “House passes a bill requiring COVID-19 reports from nursing homes, assisted-living facilities.” … From the Enterprise: “Nurses: Raynham nursing home with 10 coronavirus deaths has failed to provide ‘safe’ environment.”

And, finally, from WGBH’s Jenifer McKim: “Shattuck Hospital Sees First COVID-19 Death Amid Surge In Cases.”

Galvin preparing vote-by-mail legislation

With the coronavirus pandemic expected to impact campaigning and voting later this year in Massachusetts, Secretary of State is indeed crafting a legislative package that would allow voting by mail – but he’s cautioning that in-person voting should still be allowed. The Globe’s Matt Stout and Victoria McGrane have more on Galvin’s proposal, while WBUR’s Anthony Brooks takes a look at the vote-by-mail debate in general.

Barely staying afloat: Steamship Authority eyes deep cuts

A week after warning it would have to shut down by the end of May without a lifeline from the state, the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority is mulling a host of cost-cutting measures as its revenue is running more than $7 million behind last year’s numbers, Ethan Genter reports at the Cape Cod Times.

Cape Cod Times

Mass. Environmental Police have their own OT problems

State Police, meet the Environmental Police. From Kathy Curran at WCVB: “The Massachusetts Environmental Police has been taken to task in a new state audit for failing to track the whereabouts of its officers and possibly allowing them to improperly collect tens of thousands of dollars in overtime pay. The findings in the report released Tuesday by State Auditor Suzanne Bump line up closely with reports by 5 Investigates about the state agency over the last four years.”


Help wanted: Sen . Tran launches legal fund

He’s hunkering down. Matt Stout at the Globe reports state Sen. Dean A. Tran has launched a legal defense fund in the wake of a harsh report from a Senate ethics committee that included referrals for additional investigations. The move, which enables Tran to take donations over the state’s limit and directly from businesses, suggests the Republican anticipates additional legal entanglements 

Boston Globe

The Economic Recovery Should Be a Green One with U.S. Senator Ed Markey

The COVID-19 crisis has hurt our communities and the economy. The climate crisis presents similar issues. Join ELM for an informative, engaging Earth Day webinar with U.S. Senator Ed Markey on how a strategic and coordinated economic recovery could be done in a way that supports our economic, climate, and environmental justice goals simultaneously.

Environmental League of Massachusetts

Virtual StreetTalks: From the Beltway to the Bay State

Livable Streets, along with T4MA and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, in conjunction with WGBH Forum Network, are hosting a virtual StreetTalk about how the COVID 19 crisis impacts transportation policy moving forward.

Livable Streets, T4MA and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission

Affordable ways to find new customers now.

Steve Strauss talks with host Julie Hyman, sharing easy, affordable ways to find new customers even in these challenging times.

Verizon Small Business Webinar Series

Freedom of Information Laws and Your Right to Know

The motto “assume your government will be open, but be prepared to fight for it,” seems even more important at a time when we are depending on the government for information which will keep citizens healthy.

New England First Amendment Coalition

Art Happy with Katie series

Join Art Happy with Katie for fun, stay-at-home activities for the family!

Art Happy with Katie

Today’s Headlines


Museum of Science furloughs or lays off two-thirds of staff – Universal Hub

U.S. Space Force adds $378M to Raytheon’s GPS contract – Boston Business Journal


Attleboro area food banks try to keep up with rising demand – Sun Chronicle

Gardner man seeks class-action suit possibly worth $100 million – Telegram & Gazette

Milton police unions go public with contract dispute – Patriot Ledger


From Texas to Montana, the oil industry faces an epic bust – New York Times

Senate Intel report confirms Russia aimed to help Trump in 2016 election – Politico

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