Happening Today

Somerville testing, MBTA meeting, and more

— The House and Senate both meet in session, 11 a.m.

Somerville Mayor Curtatone, Cambridge Health Alliance CEO Assaad Sayah and Doug Kress of the Somerville Board of Health meet with the media to discuss the launch of a testing, tracking, contact tracing, and safe social isolation plan, Somerville City Hall, 11:30 a.m.

MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board meets virtually to discuss the fiscal year 2020 budget, which officials expect to fall $231 million below its fare revenue estimates due to the coronavirus pandemic, 12 p.m.

— Gov. Charlie Baker and legislative leaders plan to talk by phone in lieu of their traditional in-person meeting at the State House, 2 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: 169 new deaths, 2,899 total deaths, 1,590 new cases

The Patriot Ledger has the latest confirmed coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts. The number of confirmed deaths is up 539 since MassterList last published.

Patriot Ledger

‘Rules for engagement’: Baker’s metrics for reopening

Gov. Charlie Baker spent much of the past weekend reiterating that he’s using statistical metrics, or what he now calls “rules for engagement,” to guide his ultimate decision about when he might partially reopen the economy – and, right now, those rules point to a continued lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic, reports Josh Brogadir at WCVB.

But even the governor is indicating some sort of decision, or at least decisions about forthcoming decisions, may be near, with perhaps an announcement or two later this week. From CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl: ‘Baker leaves ‘reopening’ door open.” From Jack Mitchell at WBUR: “ ‘A Lot More To Say’ Next Week On Mass. Reopening ‘Rules For Engagement.’” Meanwhile, the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky talks with doctors and epidemiologists about what they think a reopening should look like.

To be clear: The numbers (see above post) and anecdotal evidence (see next post) indicate we’re still in the middle of the surge – so don’t expect major changes too soon.


Dr. Santiago’s take: The backside of the surge is within sight but …

First, the good news: State Rep. and Dr. Jon Santiago, who’s been serving in the frontlines at Boston Medical Center and who’s been pretty good about seeing and predicting COVID-19 trends, says we’re still in the middle of the surge and yet he does see light at the end of the coronavirus-surge tunnel. The bad news: The tunnel stretches into June. SHNS’s Michael Norton has more.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Boston and Somerville to start aggressive next-stage testing

They’re not waiting for state (and certainly not federal government) action. From Universal Hub: “Boston and Massachusetts General Hospital said today they’ve begun recruiting 1,000 people in East Boston, Roslindale and in 02121 and 02125 for antibody testing that might help show just how widespread the virus is in those communities.”

Meanwhile, Somerville doesn’t appear to be eyeing antibody tests, but it is expanding its overall testing program, reports the Herald’s Andrew Martinez. Btw, also from the Herald: “MIT team races to perfect cellphone tracing of coronavirus.”

Universal Hub

Attention SJC: You may have to settle another signature-gathering dispute

It’s like playing whack-a-mole. From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski: “The state’s highest court this month slashed signature-gathering thresholds by half for candidates hoping to earn spots in September and November elections, but proponents of this year’s statewide ballot questions remain in limbo with key deadlines approaching amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Neal already working on another federal relief package as firms press state to do something too

The ink is barely dry on the latest federal relief legislation approved by Congress and signed into law late last week by President Trump – and U.S Rep. Richard Neal is already talking of another emergency package, which could include funds for unemployment insurance benefits and state and municipal aid, reports SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall)

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Jon Chesto reports that some small-business advocates are hoping the state can chip in some funds, perhaps $40 million, to help struggling business owners who got frozen out of federal funding programs. In addition, the Globe’s Shirley Leung reports that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is calling for a probe of the federal loan program, which she says is favoring larger companies.

State to use National Guard to step up testing at nursing homes

As the coronavirus continues to ravage nursing homes – such as Belmont Manor, where 49 residents have now died (Miriam Wasser – WBUR) – Marylou Sudders, the governor’s secretary of health and human services, says the state is dramatically stepping up testing at all state nursing homes, with the help of the National Guard, reports Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth magazine.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse says the state should go further: A state takeover of nursing homes, reports Shira Schoenberg at CommonWealth magazine. Question: Is he referring to the same state that was running the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home before the outbreak there? See post below.


He faced down the head of the Hitler Youth at Nuremberg and now he’s gone

MassLive’s Jeanette DeForge has an update on the death toll at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, where 66 veterans have now died of COVID-19. 

Separately, MassLive’s Cynthia Simison profiles one of the victims, WWII veteran Emilio DiPalma, who served as a guard at the Nuremberg trials and verbally put Baldur Von Schirach, head of the Hitler Youth, in his place when the latter tried to compare Hitler Youths to Boy Scouts.


Salem church’s virtual services resume after ‘zoom bombing’ by KKK types

Speaking of good people standing up to fascists, it seems some Ku Klux Klan devotees recently zoom-bombed a virtual Sunday church service in Salem, complete with racial slurs and images of a burning cross. This past weekend, the Tabernacle Church held its first virtual service, with extra security measures, since the ugly incident, reports the Globe’s Lucas Phillips, who writes of numerous other zoom-bombing attacks of religious services across the region.

Boston Globe

Frontline workers too: Boston Archdiocese to send priests into hospitals to bless the dying

And speaking of spiritual matters, they initially weren’t welcome in hospitals for logical coronavirus-containment reasons. But WGBH’s Tori Bedford reports that the Boston Archdiocese has apparently gotten the go-ahead from some hospitals and is now organizing teams of priests to provide last rites to patients dying of COVID-19. 


College campus doomsday?

Lots of stories this morning about the impact of the coronavirus on local colleges. From Michael Jonas at CommonWealth magazine: “Coronavirus campus unrest /Pandemic is walloping higher ed at the worst moment.” … From the BBJ’s Hilary Burns (pay wall): “Mass. colleges face a big question: Will international students come back?” … From the Lowell Sun: “UMass Lowell plans virtual commencement amid pandemic.”

And, finally, and most ominously, from WPRI: “Colleges could permanently close if they don’t reopen this fall, Brown U. president warns.”

Death notices: The obituary pages continue to expand

Non-modeling proof that the coronavirus surge isn’t over in the area: The Globe’s Jaclyn Reiss has an update on the sadly ever-expanding Sunday obituary pages at the paper amid the coronavirus outbreak – and the count this past weekend was 21 pages, triple the number of obit pages a year ago.

Boston Globe

Baystate Health: Not sold on ventilators. Not at all

MassLive’s Douglas Hook has yet another story on the debate over the effectiveness, and desirability, of putting people on ventilators for COVID-19 treatments. Count Baystate Health’s Dr. Mark A. Keroack among the skeptics. He makes a persuasive case about why ventilators should be considered treatments of last resort for many.


Cutting deep: Gannett layoffs hit SouthCoast papers

Even as its journalists take turns on unpaid furlough, the Gannett family of newspapers conducted yet another round of layoffs late last week and, once again, Bay State newsrooms weren’t spared the axe. New Bedford Standard-Times reporter/columnist Susan Pawlak-Seaman announced on Twitter her position had been cut–after 45 years on the job. 

And still-employed journalist Jo C. Goode at the Herald-News in Fall River says in a tweet that her paper cut loose city hall and health reporters as well as a copy editor.

Full(ish) disclosure: Berkshire Eagle says it got PPP loan

Still on the topic of the media, the publisher of the Berkshire Eagle informed readers in a front-page editorial that the paper had obtained a loan through the Paycheck Protection Plan to help it weather the coronavirus storm. The paper did not disclose the size of the loan, but says it should be enough to sustain operations through the end of June amid plunging ad revenues. 

Berkshire Eagle

She’s back: Ex-Rep. Kerans tosses hat in ring as Speliotis steps away

It’s a return engagement. Former state Rep. Sally Kerans says she intends to run for the 13th Essex District House seat being vacated by Rep. Ted Speliotis, reports John Castelluccio at the Salem News reports. The Danvers Democrat, who served three terms in the seat in the 1990s, threw her hat in the ring less than two days after Speliotis said he would not seek re-election. 

Salem News

With one word, Warren opened the floodgates of vice presidential speculation

SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) reports how U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s one-word answer (“Yes”) to a Rachel Maddow question on MSNBC has led to an uncountable number of words devoted to whether Joe Biden might pick her as his Dem VP running mate. The Herald’s Hillary Chabot knows of some people who dearly hope the VP speculation comes true: Pro-business types who want Warren off the Senate Banking Committee.

Non-virtual reality: Kennedy out-fundraising Markey

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey and U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy have lately been reduced to mostly virtual campaigning as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. But they’re still raising real money – and Kennedy had $6.2M-vs-$4.4M edge over Markey as of the end of last month, the AP reports at 7 News.

7 News (WHDH)

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


Gamble pays off for DraftKings with impressive first day on market – Boston Globe

Brockton receives $814,000 in federal coronavirus funds for rental assistance and business relief – Brockton Enterprise


Western New England University President Anthony Caprio prepares to retire after 24 years – MassLive

Pressure builds for mail-in voting – Gloucester Times

Virus forces Cape Cod Baseball League to scrap 2020 season – Cape Cod Times


Large, troubled companies got bailout money in small-business loan program – New York Times

Coronavirus exposes scars of great recession – The Hill

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