Happening Today

Flavored tobacco testimony, Kennedy and Markey virtual events

Department of Public Health hosts a moderated teleconference to accept testimony on draft regulations restricting the sale of flavored tobacco, in accordance with a law signed by Gov. Baker last year, 10 a.m.

1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East plans to distribute thousands of surgical masks to home care workers at three different pop-up sites in Lawrence, New Bedford, and Worcester, 10 a.m.

— Boston Mayor Marty Walsh participates in an ‘Ask the Mayor’ segment on ‘Boston Public Radio,’ WGBH-FM 89.7, 12 p.m.

— As part of a regional series for his U.S. Senate campaign, U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy holds virtual town hall focusing on the North Shore and Merrimack Valley, 2:30 p.m.

— U.S. Sen. Ed Markey hosts livestream discussion with Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins on how the criminal justice system is adjusting to COVID-19, 5 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: 178 new deaths, 2,360 total deaths, 3,079 new cases

MassLive has the latest confirmed coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts, including the highest daily number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Dramatic increase in testing reveals disturbing depth of pandemic

First the good news: The number of state tests for the coronavirus is soaring. The bad news: The tests are revealing more confirmed cases of the virus (see post above) and it suggests the pandemic in Massachusetts may be more widespread than feared. A three-reporter team at the Globe and Universal Hub have more. Back to the good news (relatively speaking): Gov. Baker remains cautiously optimistic the state currently has enough hospital capacity to handle the ongoing surge.

Meanwhile, the NYT reports that the coronavirus may have spread far earlier than previously thought — and Boston may have had as many as 2,300 undetected cases before March 1, based on Northeastern University research.

Modeling the virus: ‘We have uncertainty on top of uncertainty on top of uncertainty’

The NYT has an interesting story on all the various coronavirus-tracking models out there, including models developed by experts at Northeastern University and MIT. Bottom line: The models show similar broad trends, but differ in key ways due to “uncertainty on top of uncertainty on top of uncertainty,” as one expert puts it.


Rationing of ventilators may not be needed …

Even though the current coronavirus stats look grim, here’s more encouraging news that that the surge, whenever it peaks, plateaus or subsides, isn’t going to be as bad as originally feared. From SHNS’s Matt Murphy: “Several of the leading medical experts who developed the state’s controversial plan to ration access to life-saving equipment like ventilators say they believe the state’s hospitals will be able to weather the surge of coronavirus infections without having to implement those protocols.”

Btw, from the Telegram: “Worcester is at peak, UMass head says.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

State urges people to seek medical treatments despite COVID-19 fears

Christian Wade, who earlier this week wrote about the lack of non-coronavirus patients showing up at regional hospitals in recent weeks, reports at the Eagle Tribune that state officials are “making a major push to convince sick people not to put off seeing a doctor out of fear of getting COVID-19.”

Universal Hub puts it more bluntly: “Hospitals report increases in amputations, ruptured appendixes as patients put off seeking medical care due to coronavirus fears.”

Salem News

Donald Reed Herring, brother of Elizabeth Warren, dies from coronavirus

This is sad – and one of many sad deaths these days. The Globe’s Jess Bidgood reports on the coronavirus-related death of Donald Reed Herring, 86, the older brother of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warre, who yesterday described her late sibling “charming and funny, a natural leader.” Donald Reed Herring, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, RIP..  

Boston Globe

Recovering: DPH’s Bharel and Newton resident describe harrowing COVID-19 battles

SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) and WCVB’s Sharman Sacchetti have pieces on the return to work of state Department of Public Health commissioner Monica Bharel, who describes her weeks-long “frightening” experience battling COVID-19. Meanwhile, the Globe’s Emily Sweeney reports on Newton resident Ann Langenfeld’s battle with the virus, which included her being put in a medically induced coma and spending 16 days on a ventilator. 

And, finally, send your prayers to this frontline hero, via the Herald’s Rick Sobey: “A Massachusetts doctor who treated coronavirus patients — now ‘fighting for his life’ on a ventilator at Tufts Medical Center after contracting the disease — has started receiving plasma in the hopes of beating back the illness, his wife told the Herald.”

Protesters outside governor’s home demand reopening while gun shop owner goes full vulgar

Wicked Local’s Chris Stevens and William Dowd report that dozens of protesters, many wearing MAGA hats and pro-Trump T shirts, rallied yesterday outside the Swampscott home of Gov. Charlie Baker to demand the reopening of the state’s economy. OK, fine. It’s their constitutional right to protest.

But get a load of the comments of the Middleborough gun shop owner who has defied Baker’s non-essential closure order, as MassLive’s Michael Bonner reports. His comments about Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey are beyond vulgar and they raise the question: Do principled Second Amendment supporters really want such a foul-mouthed person as their spokesman?

Wicked Local

Gaming Commission looks to Macau, China for reopening tips

Speaking of the reopening issue, Gov. Charlie Baker will have say over when casinos in Massachusetts can open their doors again. Still, the state’s Gaming Commission is “starting to look into how gambling facilities in Macau, China got back up and running after having closed due to the coronavirus pandemic,” reports SHNS’s Colin Young.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Reopening: The experiment, the plans, the longings

One more reopening item: The Globe’s Rebecca Ostriker has an interesting story on how the Ragon Institute in Cambridge plans to experiment on its (voluntary) employees on how to properly reopen a work site. Hint: It involves a lot of protective masks, social distancing, and checking of temperatures.

Meanwhile, the Herald’s Marie Szaniszlo and the Globe’s Jon Chesto report on the planning and longings of local CEOs eying an eventual reopening of the economy, whenever it happens.

Boston Globe

As jobless claims continue to rise, Baker seeks $1.2B loan to pay benefits

Shifting economic gears a bit, from SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall): “In the midst of five straight weeks of surging unemployment claims, Gov. Charlie Baker asked the federal government for a $1.2 billion loan to help Massachusetts meet unprecedented needs and ensure that people do not suffer through payless paydays.”

Two quick notes: 1.) Jobless claims last week didn’t rise as fast as in previous weeks. 2.) It’s normal during recessions for states to borrow from the feds to replenish UI funds.

Financially, many are making out better collecting unemployment insurance than working

Speaking of unemployment insurance, the NYT reports that many workers are now making more money collecting unemployment insurance compared to what they were paid while working. It all has to do with that federal $600 booster. On average, Maine recipients are doing quite well. Massachusetts recipients, not as well, though the booster has definitely helped.


For local governments, fiscal punches two, three, four, five and six are on the way

Shira Schoenberg at CommonWealth magazine reports on the possible revenue losses local governments can expect to see in coming months, from falling state aid to plunging vehicle excise-tax revenue. Geoff Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, measures the hits in terms of punches – and a lot of punches are on the way.

Here’s one local-aid punch to come, via Christian Wade at the Eagle Tribune: “Lottery sales sink amid pandemic.” Community colleges are already feeling the punches. From the Gazette: “Holyoke Community College laying off 33 part-time staffers.” From the Sun Chronicle: “Bristol Community College union decries job cuts.”


Protective masks: They really do work

It seems almost incredible that a month or so ago there was a debate over whether wearing protective masks helped combat the spread of the coronavirus. The debate is now over: They work. At least at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where virus infections among staff members have been halved since mandatory mask wearing was imposed, reports Carey Goldberg at WBUR.


Suddenly, a lot of people need medical marijuana in Massachusetts

This is shocking. Retail pot shops are closed. Suddenly, the number of people in need of medical marijuana soars by 245 percent. The Globe’s Dan Adams has more on the mystery maladies hitting so many people these days.

Boston Globe

Battle to release prisoners and immigrant detainees heats up again

There’s a lot of activity on the release-prisoners/detainees front this morning, so we’ll just go with the headlines. From MassLive: “7th prisoner in Massachusetts dies from coronavirus, DOC says; 127 inmates, 53 correction staff in total infected.” … From Wicked Local: “Class action suit seeks to release federal pretrial detainees from Plymouth County jail.” … From WGBH: “State Lawmakers Urge Governor To Reduce Prison Population Faster As COVID-19 Spreads.” … From WBUR: “Mass. Congressional Members Fear Denials Of Medical Deferral Of Deportations Amid Crisis.” … From MassLive: “DOC yet to provide ‘missing’ data about prisoners and staff with coronavirus dating back to April 3, Public Defender Agency of Mass. claims.” … And from WBUR : “Sheriff: Coronavirus Should Not Mean Release Of People In Jail For Addiction Treatment.”

Wide awake? Romney sees pandemic as opportunity for US-China reset

Former Mass. governor turned U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney sees China’s behavior amid the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity for America to join with like-minded allies to fight back against China’s “predatory” economic aggression.” Writing in the Washington Post, Romney argues that the communist country’s behavior during the pandemic is changing the public’s view of China and should be “a clarion call for America to seize the moment.” 

Washington Post

No. 13: Rep. Speliotis is the latest House member to call it quits

SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) reports that Rep. Ted Speliotis, who was in line to become the new ‘Dean of the House,’ is the latest senior House member to announce he won’t be seeking re-election this fall, after serving 16 terms in the legislature. Thirteen representatives have now announced they won’t be returning to Beacon Hill next year. Young has the full list.

Damn the coronavirus torpedoes, DraftKings set to go public today

The Globe’s Andy Rosen reports that Boston’s DraftKings, after completing a complex merger, will officially become a public company today. It’s actually not a bad time to go public, considering online gambling and game-playing are booming during these social-distancing times.

Boston Globe

Difficult transition: Brady wanders into wrong house in Tampa

In his defense, houses in Florida do all look alike. Former Patriot Tom Brady’s reinvention of himself as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer hit another bump in the road this week when he walked into the wrong Tampa house while trying to visit one of his new coaches. The shocked homeowner had a colorful reaction, TMZ has the details. Earlier this week, Brady was asked to leave a public Tampa park due to social-distancing restrictions.


New York and Boston: We really are different – and so are our pigeons

The governors of New York and Massachusetts may be getting along lately due to shared concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak. But deep cultural divisions and rivalries still exist between the two – Sox vs Yankees, frappes vs shakes, hoagies vs grinders etc. Now it seems we have two genetically distinct species of pigeons, according to a new Fordham study. And the boundary line between the two runs right through Connecticut, as it does for Sox-Yanks fans, the NYT reports.


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MassterList Reader Survey

Sunday public affairs TV: Joseph Kennedy, Jon Santiago and more

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, who talks with host Jon Keller about the federal stimulus plan, the economic recovery, and his U.S. Senate campaign against incumbent Ed Markey.  

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. MassMutual CEO Roger Crandall talks about his firm’s new program to provide free term life insurance for 140,000 healthcare workers on the coronavirus frontlines in Mass. and Conn.; Edx CEO Anant Agarwal on the future of online learning and his firm’s free course teaching doctors around the world how to use ventilators; and the Globe’s Shirley Leung reviews the top business stories of the week.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: Dr. and state Rep. Jon Santiago, who works at Boston Medical Center and who talks with hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu, followed by a political roundtable discussion with analysts Mary Anne Marsh and Rob Gray.

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s topic: Gentrification and displacement, with guests including Tufts University’s James Jennings of Shomon Shamsuddic.

Health Equity in Real Time with COVID-19: Harvard Psychologist Margarita Alegria On How the Pandemic Is Impacting the Mental Health of Latino Communities

Studies show that COVID-19 is affecting Latino mental health at higher rates than whites. Like blacks, Latinos work in frontline jobs and are overly impacted by the virus. In NY alone, data show that COVID-19 is killing Latino people at 1.6 times the rate of white people. Many resist seeking care because they lack health insurance or fear it will expose them to immigration authorities.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Webinar: The Transformative Transit Oriented Development Planning & Design Competition Award Ceremony

Want to see what Massachusetts Gateway Cities are doing to plan for Transformative TOD? Join MassINC on April 27 from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM for a digital webinar as we announce the winner of the 2020 Planning & Design Competition!


Government Affairs Forum: Senate President Karen Spilka

We will be joined by Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka. With past experience as the Senate Chair of Ways and Means and Economic Development, she will address the Chamber community on helping to lead the state’s response to COVID-19, as well as the Senate’s current policy efforts.

Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce

Helping your (newly) remote teams stay productive—and satisfied.

Working remotely can take some adjustment. And in our new webinar, Anita Campbell speaks with host Ramon Ray about creating a successful and satisfied remote workforce.

Verizon Small Business Webinar Series

The First Amendment in Times of Crisis

This class will serve as a First Amendment primer, highlighting examples from other times of crisis and focusing on defamation and freedom of speech. Students will learn about the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the five freedoms it protects.

New England First Amendment Coalition

How Do We Get Back to the Future?

Does your organization have a plan to resume operation after the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you know how your organization will recover, restore & revitalize its core functions and profitability? Do you have a staffing plan and communications strategy for employees and clients?

Tenax Strategies

Keeping your business operating effectively in the new normal.

Let’s talk about being effective in this challenging time. Rieva Lesonsky and Ramon Ray talk about looking at your business operations now and pinpointing areas for improvement.

Verizon Small Business Webinar Series

Today’s Headlines


Hot Pockets heiress, former PIMCO chief want to serve prison terms in college admissions scandal case at home due to coronavirus – Boston Globe

Manufacturers convened by Beth Israel on track to fix the nation’s swab shortage – Boston Business Journal


Milton looks at virtual town meeting – Patriot Ledger

Haverhill board of health allows vehicle parades with restrictions – Eagle-Tribune

Greenfield supplying masks to retailers, residents – Greenfield Recorder


Trump owes tens of millions to the Bank of China–and the loans are coming due soon – Politico

This project is paying out of work journalists to keep covering Oklahoma – Poynter.org

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