Keller at Large

Hey, Gov. Baker: ‘Just give us back the pot!’

In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller thinks Gov. Charlie Baker is doing a largely stellar job handling the coronavirus crisis. Except for one thing: “Just give us back the pot!” 

Keller at Large

Happening Today

Gaming Commission, Public Health Council and more

Gaming Commission meets to consider Encore Boston Harbor’s request to delay the launch of Play My Way, review the status of licensing for vendors and employees, and start formulating regulations related to emergency situations, 10 a.m.

Public Health Council meets via conference call to hear updates from Commissioner Monica Bharel, vote on a request by Belmont Manor Nursing Home for ‘substantial capital expenditure’ and review other matters amid the COVID-19 crisis, 11 a.m.

Greater Boston Chamber hosts ‘Return to Work: A CEO’s Perspective,’ a virtual panel discussion with CEOs about how to return to work and public spaces, with panelists including Micho Spring of Weber Shandwick, John Fish of Suffolk Construction, Jeffrey Leiden of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Robert Reynolds of Putnam Investments and Niraj Shah of Wayfair, 11 a.m.

— Mayor Marty Walsh and MGH President Dr. Peter Slavin join Boston Globe reporter Janelle Nanos for a virtual town hall to discuss the local response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the road to recovery, 1 p.m.

— Boston City Councilors Michelle Wu, Ricardo Arroyo and Julia Mejia host a hearing with city officials and Boston residents on equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, 3:30 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: 221 new deaths, 2,182 total deaths, 1,745 new cases

WCVB has the latest confirmed coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts, including the highest daily death toll since the outbreak and pushing total deaths past the 2,000 mark.

Report: Deaths likely undercounted in Massachusetts

We may be in the third or fourth quarter of the surge, as Gov. Charlie Baker noted the other day, but the increasing death counts (see numbers in above post) sure aren’t reassuring. And the Globe’s Andrew Ryan, Kay Lazar and Saurabh Datar report that total coronavirus-related deaths in Massachusetts may be significantly undercounted, perhaps by hundreds, based on the paper’s analysis of average death counts over the past 20 years. And that’s just for March deaths.

Meanwhile, the NYT and WBUR report on death and infection rates across the country. Massachusetts is most definitely a hotspot by both measures.

Boston Globe

Baker keeps eyes on the stats amid growing pressure to reopen

So far, Gov. Charlie Baker is standing firm on keeping the state largely locked down, as the surge that was supposed to be subsiding continues to surge. The governor is keeping his eye on mostly two things at this point, according to published reports: Hospitalization rates (SHNS – pay wall) and test-and-trace matters (SHNS – pay wall). On the latter issue, from Esteban Bustillos at WGBH: “Testing expands to 12 community health centers in Massachusetts.” Compounding the test-and-trace problems is this fact: Many of those with COVID-19 don’t even know they have it, reports the Globe’s Dasia Moore.

Still, the reopening issue isn’t going away – and the governor himself is talking about it. From CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl: “Baker hints at ‘rules of road’ for reopening.”

Americans to political leaders: Stay the course on stay-at-home orders

Gov. Charlie Baker’s hard-line stand on reopening the economy seems, for now, to have very solid public backing. A new poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans in favor of stay-at-home orders and they believe it won’t be safe to lift such restrictions anytime soon, reports the AP at the Herald News.

Herald News

Baker: Trips to barbershops and salons will just have to wait

Speaking of reopening the economy, we borrowed and modified our headline from Universal Hub, which reports that Gov. Baker isn’t going to allow barbershops and salons to reopen earlier than other businesses. A classic line from the UH post: “One reporter asked: What if Gov. Sununu in New Hampshire allows barbershops to re-open? Should we worry about Massachusetts residents driving to New Hampshire for a haircut?”

But it’s not just barbershops and salons asking to reopen. Pet groomers, furniture sellers, swimming pool services, boatyards, florists and others have also pressed the governor to reopen, reports the Globe’s Jon Chesto. The governor’s response (at least most of the time): No. … Then there’s the stay-at-home ‘resistance,” reports the Globe’s Matt Stout.

Universal Hub

Another question: Can medical personnel safely return to work after recovering from virus?

The Globe’s Liz Kowalczyk and Priyanka Dayal McCluskey report on the return to work by some medical personnel who contracted and recovered from COVID-19. But are they really immune from the virus now that they’ve combated it? No one really knows. … Fyi: CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg tackled this same ‘Super Worker’ question the other week.

Thanks, Obama: Baker contact tracing push gets presidential shout-out

Former President Barack Obama took to Twitter to praise the Bay State’s contact-tracing program, suggesting it should be a model for a national effort, Christina Prignano and Victoria McGrane at the Globe report. Obama shared a New Yorker piece authored by one of the leaders of the program.

Boston Globe

Trump beats Harvard, 8,700,000 to 0

No famous “Harvard beats” headline today. The BBJ’s Hilary Burns reports that Harvard, criticized on national TV by President Trump for landing $8.7 million in relief funds, has decided not to accept any controversial federal money. From the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld: “Chalk one up for our supposedly moronic president. He took on the nation’s most revered educational institution and won.”

Our quickie view: Harvard got a bad rap on this one, via money allocated by Congress and signed into law by the president himself – money Harvard never applied for or requested, if we’re reading accounts right. But perception is reality in politics and so … it’s Trump beats Harvard.


More than 180,000 student loan borrowers in Massachusetts to receive relief

This is one of many common-sense relief measures being implemented these days. MassLive’s Jackson Cote reports that the state Division of Banks has joined a multi-state initiative that provides payment relief options to more than 180,000 student loan borrowers in Massachusetts, as announced yesterday by Gov. Charlie Baker.


Meanwhile, more than 600 Massachusetts prisoners earn get-of-jail-free relief

Another common-sense, albeit slightly more risky, coronavirus measure. From WBUR’s Deborah Becker: “Hundreds of prisoners in Massachusetts have been released during the COVID-19 pandemic, but a court-ordered report suggests that few in the state’s jails and prisons have been tested for the coronavirus. The report, from an attorney appointed by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, says 637 prisoners have been released from state prisons and county jails since April 5.”


The inequities all around us …

From the higher rate of minority COVID-19 patients to the lower rate of minority firms securing federal relief funds, the coronavirus era has most definitely been marked by inequities. Here’s some recent sample headlines. From CommonWealth’s Sarah Betancourt: “Deferred dreams for black, brown business owners.” … From a four-person opinion piece at the Globe: “Minority-owned businesses are being left behind — again.” … Another opinion piece at the Globe, by councilors Michelle Wu, Julia Mejia, and Ricardo Arroyo: “Boston’s post-pandemic recovery must be equitable.”

A ‘W-shaped’ economic recovery?

We’ve heard of V-shaped, U-shaped and hockey-stick-shaped economic recoveries. But we’ve never heard of a ‘W-shaped’ economic recovery – and unfortunately that’s what may be in store for us during these pandemic times, reports the Washington Post. This won’t help matters, via the BBJ’s Gintautas Dumcius: “Missed mortgage, rent payments in N.E. could total $1.5B a month, says Boston Fed.”

Washington Post

Government updates: More T workers test positive, pension fund holding up, Pignatelli proposes cultural fund, Healey pushes blood-donation rule change

We’ll rely on headlines and quick summaries for this post. … From MassLive: “More than 100 MBTA workers have tested positive for coronavirus.” … Attorney General Maura Healey is among 20 AGs across the country wo want rules on gay men’s blood donations changed, WBUR reports. …From SHNS (pay wall): “Pension Fund Weathering Storm of Pandemic, Markets.” … Also from SHNS (pay wall): “House Tees Up Virtual Notarization Bill.” … And yet one more from the indispensable SHNS (pay wall): “Pignatelli Floats $75 Mil Nonprofit Relief Fund.”

Nearly two dozen mayors express support for vote-by-mail

From CommonWealth magazine: “Twenty-two Massachusetts mayors signed onto a letter urging lawmakers to adopt some form of vote-by-mail system for the fall elections. ‘Our constituents deserve the opportunity to exercise their right to vote without risk of exposure to a deadly virus,’ the mayors wrote to House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka.”

The mayors of Newton, Gloucester, Worcester, Lawrence, New Bedford, and Pittsfield were among those who signed the letter.


The House gas tax plan now just misty water-colored memories

State Rep. William Straus is among those who now believe it’s no longer appropriate to push ahead with a House-approved plan to raise the gas tax by 5 cents a gallon, not with people economically suffering amid the coronavirus emergency. Others disagree. The Globe’s Adam Vaccaro has the details. 

Boston Globe

Double trouble: Tran may also be ensnared in criminal investigation

In non-coronavirus news, this may explain a lot. A day after embattled state Sen. Dean Tran launched a legal defense fund amid inquiries into use of campaign funds, Shira Schoenberg at CommonWealth Magazine reports the Republican is also under criminal investigation by Fitchburg police and the office of Attorney General Maura Healey. That inquiry apparently involves a dispute over a Fitchburg family’s guns; Tran has denied any wrongdoing.


Warren’s women: Senator endorses 20 candidates nationwide

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren formally endorsed 20 Democratic candidates in congressional, state and local contests, Tal Axelrod at The Hill reports. All of the hopefuls who got the Warren blessing are female and the list includes candidates in several closely watched Congressional races that could help decide if the House remains in Democratic hands. 

The Hill

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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


Expanded contact tracing effort begins in Brockton, a coronavirus hot spot – Brockton Enterprise

Northeastern students granted hardship housing required to move out by April 24, leaving some in limbo – Huntington News


WRTA awarded $5 million in federal aid – Worcester Business Journal

MCI-Framingham sees increase of coronavirus in inmates, staff – MetroWest Daily News

Temporary WiFi zones to help fill broadband gap in Berkshires – Berkshire Eagle


Trump Organization, Written Out of U.S. Bailout, Taps Europe Aid – Bloomberg News

McConnell says states should consider bankruptcy – New York Times

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