Happening Today

Sessions, MBTA meeting, and more

— The Massachusetts House and Senate both hold sessions, with House Democrats and Republicans likely to return to their disagreement over emergency House rules, 11 a.m.

MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board convenes a special meeting to review impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the fiscal year 2020 budget and plan scenarios for the fiscal year 2021 budget, 12 p.m., 

— Gov. Charlie Baker holds a regular meeting with legislative leaders by private conference call, 2 p.m.

Alliance for Business Leadership hosts Rep. Jon Santiago, who also serves as an ER doctor at Boston Medical Center, to discuss health equity and the racial disparities of COVID-19, 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: 158 new deaths, 4,004 total deaths, 1,824 new cases

WCVB has the latest confirmed coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts, including the death toll surpassing the 4,000 mark over the weekend. There were 442 additional confirmed deaths since MassterList last published.

Discouraging and encouraging numbers …

It’s hard to say where we are at this point in the coronavirus surge. There’s both discouraging and encouraging news out there. First, we’ll go with the discouraging news. From the Globe’s Andy Rosen: “Mass. death toll from coronavirus crosses 4,000.” … From the Globe’s Laura Crimaldi: “Rate of coronavirus deaths at Mass. long-term care facilities among highest in the nation.” … Put another way, via WBUR: “Nursing Homes Account For 60% Of COVID-19 Deaths In Mass.” … And from the Washington Post: “In educated and affluent Massachusetts, coronavirus cases surged. The decline has yet to come.”

But CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl does see some hope: “Signs of COVID-19 slowdown in Mass/Two key indicators drop; trend promising.” … And the following is welcome news that may initially lead to statistically unwelcome news, although it’s critical to containing the virus. From the Globe’s Andy Rosen and Lucas Phillips: “Boston, Mass. General will test 1,000 in hard-hit neighborhoods for coronavirus antibodies.”

Pardon us: Do you happen to have an extra protective mask?

Gov. Charlie Baker, who earlier in the pandemic regularly declined to wear a protective mask at public events, made it official late last week: Starting on Wednesday, people will be required to wear masks in public in Massachusetts, with some caveats, of course, as Roberto Scalese reports at WBUR. The fine for violating the order: $300.

Needless to say, as the Herald’s Hillary Chabot warns, the statewide mandatory face mask order could “thrust the cautious Republican into an already-roiling battle about personal liberties during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Our hunch: Polls will likely show overwhelming support for mandatory masks. Local pols have been ahead of the policy curve on this one. The latest example, via WCVB: “Revere starts distributing face masks at popular city beach as part of pop-up program.” And Mayor Walsh has a video on how to make your own mask, reports Universal Hub. It’s actually quite clever.


The reopen-now folks …

Speaking of personal-liberties types mentioned by the Herald’s Hillary Chabot in the above post, there were indeed reopening rallies in Massachusetts over the weekend, with some of them displaying distinct political/partisan traits. From the Gazette: “Dozens back reopening with MAGA rally in Northampton.” … From Wicked Local: “State lockdown protested at Rochester town hall.” … From MassLive: “Lawyers say coronavirus risk too great, ask sheriffs to quarantine jail guards attending Northampton Trump rally to ensure inmate safety.”

We’ll again refer to past, and likely future, polls showing overwhelming public support for most of the governor’s coronavirus measures.

Meanwhile, Worcester will fine pastor after dozens attend Sunday services

Then what? With the city’s police chief watching–and counting– Adams Square Baptist Church Pastor Kristopher D. Casey again defied Gov. Baker’s ban on large gatherings, welcoming some 45 people into his church on Sunday, Craig S. Semon reports at the Telegram. City officials say Casey will be served sometime today with a violation that carries a $300 fine. 


Too popular: Sunny weather brings out state park visitors – and temporary closures

It finally felt like spring over the weekend – and the sunny weather attracted hordes of visitors to various public parks. Except there were too many sun worshipers tired of being cooped up in their homes during these social-distancing times. So officials were forced to close and/or restrict access to some parklands, reports WCVB.

We’re going to see more of this as summer approaches. From the Globe’s Katie Johnston: “How do you socially distance on a beach? Summer uncertainty on the Cape, Islands.”


High Tech Council – and Steve Pagliuca – outline path to reopening economy

SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) and the BBJ’s Greg Ryan (pay wall) report that the Massachusetts High Tech Council, whose members are obviously eager to get their companies back up and running, has unveiled a very detailed plan to reopen the economy one day. It includes lots of testing that could cost an eye-popping $60 million a month.

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Jon Chesto takes a look at a key figure in developing the council’s plan, Steve Pagliuca, head of Bain Capital, co-owner of the Celtics and a member of a no-longer secret group of scientists and billionaires trying to develop national vaccine and treatment strategies (WSJ – pay wall).

Worker whiplash: Crane employees get mixed message, CEO blames mayor

This story feels like a metaphor for reopening struggles that lie ahead. Workers at Crane Stationery in North Adams received emails Sunday telling them to come back to work Monday, only to receive another missive hours later telling them to stay home. The company’s CEO says it had to reverse course after the city’s mayor set conditions for reopening it can’t meet, including asking to see work invoices to prove the work can be deemed essential. 

Berkshire Eagle

DeLeo draws a taped line in the non-sandy ground, daring GOP to cross it

So House Republicans are holding up online sessions due to parliamentary concerns? Fine. SHNS’s Matt Murphy reports Speaker Robert DeLeo may resort to drastic action to ram through emergency rules to hold virtual sessions, to wit: Calling back lawmakers, in person, to vote on the matter. And majority Dems have literally put social-distancing tape on the marble floor and steps outside the House chamber to show they’re serious.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Bristol County Jail brawl turns into all-out political brawl

WBUR’s Shannon Doolingreports on a major disturbance at the Bristol County Jail late last week, after guards apparently tried to remove some ICE detainees for coronavirus testing. And then all political hell broke loose. Well, sort of. From WBUR’s Quincy Walters and Ally Jarmanning: “After Brawl At Bristol County Jail Involving Sheriff, Advocates For Immigrant Detainees Call For Investigation.” … From the Herald’s Joe Dwinell: “Bristol sheriff and Joe Kennedy III clash over jail outburst by ICE detainees.” … And at the forefront of events stood one man. From CommonWealth’s Sarah Betancourt: “Hodgson said he confronted detainees himself/Accuses one of detainees of being a con man.”

Btw, in other prison-related news, via Universal Hub: “Frequently stuffed nose no reason for coronavirus early prison release for former Bulger enforcer, judge rules.”

Northeastern sued over ‘pedagogically inferior’ online courses

They don’t seem particularly impressed with Northeastern University’s online classes that have replaced on-campus courses during the COVID-19 crisis – and now a group of tuition-paying students are suing NU over its “pedagogically inferior” online offerings, reports the Herald’s Andrew Martinez.

Boston Herald

Massachusetts joins six other states to jointly secure/smuggle COVID-19 supplies

Nature abhors a vacuum, and since the feds have been largely AWOL when it comes to distributing badly needed COVID-19 supplies, this makes sense: A new seven-state consortium, which includes Massachusetts, has been formed to purchase PPE items. Left unsaid: It’s also an unofficial smuggling operation, considering the feds have only excelled at seizing supplies, not distributing supplies. The AP at WCVB has more.

Here’s one reason why states need to act on their own, from MassLive: “Trump moves to replace official who issued report on medical supply shortages during pandemic, naming attorney in Massachusetts.” Btw, from WCVB: “State of PPE distribution in US ’embarrassing,’ Rep. Joe Kennedy says.” And see post below.


Twitter rage: Cambridge police apologize for cop’s expletive-deleted tweet about Joe Kennedy

Speaking of PPEs and Joe Kennedy, a Cambridge cop faces possible disciplinary action for his profane weekend tweet against Joe Kennedy over the police department’s official Twitter account, accusing Kennedy of being just “another liberal fucking jerk who just happens to be better than the clown he’s running against,” reports Universal Hub.

Universal Hub

Walsh discovers pandemic cure … for his re-election

With Mayor Walsh getting free streaming time to teach the good people of Boston how to make protective face masks (Universal Hub) and nabbing headlines for donating campaign funds to the city’s coronavirus resiliency fund (Herald), yeah, you can say he has a built-in advantage heading into next year’s mayoral election, as the Globe’s Adrian Walker points out this morning.

Boston Globe

Polito: ‘20 feet from stardom’

Meanwhile, the Herald’s Peter Lucas thinks the Baker administration is underutilizing Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito during the coronavirus crisis, relegating her to mere “benchwarmer” status. Peter explains the “20 feet from stardom” line.

Boston Herald

A new surge: Sign-ups soar on Mass. health exchange

From Christian Wade at the Eagle Tribune: “The state’s health insurance exchange is seeing a surge of new members amid the coronavirus pandemic. Enrollment in the Health Connector, which allows people without insurance to sign up for coverage, is up 45,000 over the past two months.” 

Eagle Tribune

NAACP postpones national convention in Boston

Among all the recent event cancellations and postponements due to the coronavirus outbreak, this is one of the more disappointing ones, to wit: The NAACP has officially postponed its planned national convention scheduled for this July in Boston – and no new date has been announced, reports CBS Boston.

CBS Boston


We’ve often wondered why more struggling newspapers haven’t tried something like this, i.e. running a serialized “novella” over several days or weeks to boost readership. In the Globe’s case, the paper over the weekend launched a multi-chapter “novella,” titled “The Mechanic,” by best-selling author Ben Mezrich, as a sort of “diversion” from the you-know-what pandemic. 

Let’s see (and hope) the experiment works. Who knows? We might one day stumble upon the next Mike Hammer.

‘Novella’ (Chapter 1 – Globe)

Harvard office hours for Jeffrey Epstein are most definitely over

The late sexual predator’s ties to Harvard were clearly more extensive than just mere donations. From the AP’s Collin Binkley at CBS Boston: “Disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein visited Harvard University’s campus more than 40 times after his 2008 sex crimes conviction and was given his own office and unfettered access to a research center he helped establish, according to a review of his ties to the school.”

CBS Boston

Back on top: Poll says Warren is Democrats’ top choice for VP

They really like her. A poll released Sunday finds U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is the top choice of Democrats to join former VP Joe Biden on the presidential ticket, CBS News reports. 

CBS News

ROAR Web Series with Josefina Bonilla and Special Guest Bob Rivers

The ROAR Webinar Series with Josefina Bonilla and special guest Bob Rivers, Chief Executive Officer, Eastern Bank: Join us as we discuss the emergence of new leadership styles in trying times.


Civil Rights Working Sessions Hearing Notice

The City of Boston’s Committee on Housing and Community Development will hold a virtual working session on a hearing to discuss ways to support tenants facing eviction and displacement and a hearing regarding the creation of temporary rental assistance to support residents impacted by COVID-19.

City of Boston’s Committee on Housing and Community Development

ROAR Web Series with Josefina Bonilla and Special Guest Kamil Ali-Jackson

The ROAR Webinar Series with Josefina Bonilla and special guest Kamil Ali-Jackson, Co-Founder, Chief Legal Officer, Chief Compliance Officer, and Corporate Secretary of Aclaris Therapeutics Inc. Join industry Leaders as we discuss innovation and leadership, definition of success and the emergence of new leadership styles in trying times.


Re-Booting the Economy – Major Employer Issues: Part 1 “Bringing Employees Back to the Workplace”

Re-opening the Economy is such a big topic right now. We want to position the North Shore Chamber and our members as leaders, as plans become unveiled by Governor Baker on reopening the economy. The May 6th Seminar will focus on an internal perspective – “Bringing Employees Back to the Workplace.”

North Shore Chamber of Commerce

ROAR Web Series with Josefina Bonilla and Special Guest Jane Steinmetz

The ROAR Webinar Series with Josefina Bonilla and special guest Jane Steinmetz, Boston Office Managing Principal, Ernst & Young. Join industry Leaders as we discuss innovation and leadership, definition of success and the emergence of new leadership styles in trying times.


Leadercast 2020—Positive Disruption

Join Business Journal partner, Leadercast, digitally for Leadercast 2020 Positive Disruption the world’s largest annual one-day leadership event broadcasting on May 7, 2020.

Boston Business Journal & Leadercast

ROAR Web Series with Josefina Bonilla and Special Guest Phyllis Barajas

The ROAR Webinar Series with Josefina Bonilla and special guest Phyllis Barajas, CEO, Conexión. Join industry Leaders as we discuss innovation and leadership, definition of success and the emergence of new leadership styles in trying times.


Virtual event in support of Senator Ed Markey with Carole King

Please Join Us For a Virtual event in support of Senator Ed Markey with Carole King. This performance will be held on a video conferencing platform for everyone to enjoy safely from their homes. The link for the event will be available upon RSVP.

ActBlue / Senator Ed Markey

Today’s Headlines


NAACP national convention in Boston postponed due to coronavirus – Boston Herald

Boston’s rental relief fund begins making payments – WGBH


Worcester high schools to hold virtual graduations – Telegram & Gazette

Car rally outside MCI-Framingham calls for the release of more inmates – MetroWest Daily News

Cape Cod officials caution against low census response rate – Cape Cod Times


J. Crew Files for Bankruptcy in Virus’s First Big Retail Casualty – New York Times

Trump says he has been treated worse than Lincoln by the press – The Hill

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