Keller at Large
Why we can’t give speeders the green light
In his latest Keller at Large on MassterList, Jon Keller notes how some pedal-to-the-floor types have taken advantage of empty roadways during the lockdown to recklessly drive as fast as they want – and he’s worried some companies may do a similarly reckless thing if Congress suspends corporate COVID-19 liability during the reopening of the economy.
Cannabis Control, Gaming Commission, and more
— The Cannabis Control Commission meets to review license applications and to perhaps discuss the current emergency closure of retail marijuana stores, 10 a.m.
— The Gaming Commission meets to discuss live harness racing at Plainridge Racecourse and the formation of a ‘restart working group’ to develop policies for the eventual reopening of casinos, 10 a.m.
— Sens. Mike Moore and Harriette Chandler host a digital town hall with Worcester Medical Director Dr. Michael Hirsh of UMass Memorial Health Center to discuss COVID-19 updates in central Massachusetts, 11 a.m.
— Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack and MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak headline a virtual panel hosted by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce to discuss the future of commuting and transportation connectivity, 1 p.m.
— Criminal Justice Reform Caucus co-chairs Sen. Jamie Eldridge and Rep. Mary Keefe hold a forum with advocates on COVID-19 in prison and jails, 3 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.
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: 208 news deaths, 4,420 total deaths, 1,754 new case
MassLive has the latest confirmed coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.
BREAKING NEWS – Report: Golf courses to reopen … Repeat: Golf courses to reopen!
It’s the news nursing-home residents, lower-income people of color, frontline hospital workers, Walmart employees, grave diggers, grocery-store clerks and others have been hoping and praying for: Golf courses are reopening in Massachusetts! MassLive’s Scott Croteau reports, citing sources, that Gov. Charlie Baker plans today to announce that golf courses in Massachusetts will reopen, perhaps as early as today, with strict guidelines. … Meanwhile, the Herald has switched its headline on a golf-related story from “Baker not budging” to “Baker might budge” on golf course closures. So it must be true! … And so now duffers and golf-course owners who have spent the better part of the past week grousing about closed courses can finally rejoice. …
And now onto the deaths of hundreds of people across the state.
Nursing-home deaths: The tragedy continues
Duffers may soon be hitting the links, but the coronavirus numbers still point to a very deadly outbreak under way in Massachusetts. CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl reports on the spike of 208 reported deaths yesterday – 133 of them at long-term care facilities. Meanwhile, the Globe’s Laura Crimaldi and Shelley Murphy report on the disturbing tragedy now unfolding in Medford: “Same company, same city, two coronavirus outbreaks at separate Medford nursing homes.”
In related news (sort of), from the Globe’s Robert Weisman: “Critics assail law shielding nursing homes, hospitals from liability during crisis.”
Baker’s balancing act between closures and reopenings
As the Globe’s Shirley Leung puts it, Gov. Charlie Baker is “doing everything he can to buy himself more time” to analyze the coronavirus data before approving a widespread partial reopening of the economy. But the pressures are great, as Leung’s piece and the following closure-vs-reopening headlines make clear this morning. From a three-reporter team at the Globe: “Baker aims for some business to start reopening May 18, but coronavirus numbers are still fluctuating.” … From SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall): “Boston Biz Group Wants to See Reopening Plan by Friday.” … From MassLive’s Tanner Stening: “Despite 208 new coronavirus deaths in Mass., Gov. Baker remains encouraged by overall trend lines, citing ‘significant reduction’ in hospitalizations.”
Boston, Brockton and Chelsea see signs of hope in the numbers
According to WGBH, Mayor Marty Walsh reports he’s beginning to see a decline in the rate of new COVID-19 cases in Boston, though he cautions the virus is still lurking everywhere in the city. Meanwhile, from the Herald’s Lisa Kashinsky: “Chelsea, Brockton show signs of hope even as infection rates rise.”
Reflecting the improving numbers in Boston, via WBUR’s Callum Borchers: “Boston Relaxes Construction Ban But Limits Work To Essential Projects.”
Then again: Rep. Miranda tests positive, Sen. Brady loses a brother, Secretary Turco returns to duty after COVID-19 battle
The stats may show a bending of the coronavirus curve in some parts of the state. But there’s still a lot of cases and mourning out there. State Rep. Liz Miranda reported yesterday that’s she contracted the virus, becoming the second Beacon Hill lawmaker to test positive for COVID-19 (SHNS – pay wall). Meanwhile, state Sen. Michael Brady is mourning the death of his older brother, Avon Selectman Robert F. Brady Jr., who had tested positive for COVID-19, though it’s not clear yet whether he died as a result of the virus (Enterprise).
And, finally, some good news: Public Safety Secretary Thomas Turco, who announced early last month that he had tested positive for COVID-19, has recovered from the illness and is finally back at work (SHNS – pay wall).
Historic remote vote sends House borrowing bill to Senate
A little bit of history was made yesterday. From MassLive’s Steph Solis: “House lawmakers on Wednesday voted from their homes for the first time in the body’s nearly four-century history, passing a bill that lets the state treasurer borrow money to cover costs during the coronavirus pandemic.” SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall) has more on the historic unanimous vote, which, as one lawmaker put it, gave “new meaning to serving in the ‘House.'”
Good thing lawmakers stayed home: State House gets deep clean after building employee tests positive
As House members made history yesterday by remotely voting from their district homes and offices, an environmental cleaning crew was apparently finishing up a “deep clean” of the State House after a building employee tested positive for COVID-19. The infected worker’s job at the State House: cleaning the State House. SHNS’s Katie Lannan has more.
As a precaution, two more Walmart stores in Massachusetts are closed
What’s going on at Walmarts? WCVB reports two more Walmart stores in Massachusetts, in Avon and Abington, were closed yesterday so employees could be tested for the coronavirus. The closures were in reaction to the recent death of a Walmart employee in Quincy and recent widespread infections at a Walmart store in Worcester.
Neal predicts another stimulus bill is on the way (with bait to attract GOP support)
Some Congressional Republicans, after approving trillions of dollars in economic-stimulus spending during the coronavirus pandemic, have suddenly re-discovered their alleged aversion to spending. But U.S. Rep. Richard Neal thinks another relief bill, with more funds for hospitals and local governments, is probable – if it includes tax cuts. And Neal says Republicans are biting. MassLive’s Jim Kinney has more.
Time to go vegan? Some supermarkets are now rationing meat
Just as rolls of toilet paper start to return to supermarket shelves after an epic early-pandemic round of panic buying, now this: Stop & Shop, Costco and other grocery stores are putting limits on how much beef, pork and poultry products customers can buy at one time, due to apparent hoarding caused by fears of meat shortages to come. MassLive’s John Karalis and WCVB’s Rhondella Richardson have more on the meat-shortage fears and hoarding.
‘Not safe:’ Plymouth officials want state senate election delayed yet again
Delay it again. Plymouth officials are formally asking state leaders to postpone further the special state Senate election slated to be held on May 19, Geoff Spillane reports at the Cape Cod Times. Plymouth Town Clerk Laurence Pizer cited the cautionary tale of Wisconsin’s primary election in calling for another one-month delay, but other clerks in the district say they’re ready to go.
Encore Boston Harbor loses staggering $60.6M in first quarter
Maybe casino owners can hire the same folks who successfully pressed the state to reopen flower shops and golf courses? From the Globe’s Andy Rosen: “Encore Boston Harbor Casino in Everett lost $60.6 million in the first three months of the year, a period that concluded with the closure of the state’s casinos as the coronavirus crisis accelerated.”
Kennedy and Markey battle over anti-COVID-19 bragging rights
MassLive’s Benjamin Kail has the latest on the U.S. Senate race that, for the time being, is focused on who’s been the most responsive during the coronavirus pandemic, with U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy pressing the issue hard in new TV spots and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey touting his own efforts during the crisis.
Latest media hit: Boston Globe announces layoffs
It’s just the latest media outlet to announce something like this. From CommonWealth magazine: “The Boston Globe laid off two union employees and an unspecified number of nonunion employees on Wednesday in response to a downturn in revenue caused by the COVID-19 business shutdown.
Spending spat: Springfield mayor takes umbrage at Holyoke counterpart’s deficit comments
Maybe the pandemic pressure is getting to them. Peter Goonan at MassLive reports Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is taking issue with comments by Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse that seemed to criticize Springfield’s deficit spending amid the coronavirus crisis. Morse says he wasn’t singling out his neighbor at all.
In Framingham, meanwhile, some members of the city council are miffed that Mayor Yvonne Spicer won approval from state officials to deficit-spend as much as $1 million without ever consulting them, reports Zane Razzaq at the MetroWest Daily News.
Welcome back: Hampshire says campus will be open in fall
There’s plenty of room. Hampshire College says it fully intends to open its Amherst campus to students again in the fall, Jacquelyn Voghel at the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports. All students already live in single rooms, the school notes, and the decline in enrollment — which pushed the college to the financial brink last year– is now a social-distancing plus, with more than 1 acre of space for each student.
In other higher-ed news, SHNS’s Chris Lisinski (pay wall) reports all five UMass campuses will hold virtual graduations this spring. And Rick Carapezza at WGBH reports that some private colleges around the region and country are cutting tuition in a bid to keep enrollment from dropping off a cliff.
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.
Virtual Duckling Day
Join Friends of the Public Garden on Sunday, May 10, at noon for a special “virtual” Duckling Day on Facebook!
Building a New Era of Offshore Wind
The U.S. offshore wind industry finds itself at a crossroads, facing an array of opportunities and pitfalls as initial projects move forward and infrastructure-related challenges increasingly come into focus. A fundamental question persists: How can Massachusetts and New England most effectively scale its ocean resource? What policies do we need now to jumpstart the industry after the profound impact of the Covid-19 epidemic?
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