Happening Today

MBTA-MassDOT meeting and more

Department of Transportation Board of Directors and the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board hold a joint meeting, with topics on the agenda including a COVID-19 workforce update, pay equity discussion and a potential discussion and vote on contract options with rail operator Keolis, 11 a.m. 

— Gov. Charlie Baker is scheduled to talk with legislative leaders via conference call, 2 p.m.

Joint Committee on Public Health is accepting written testimony on two bills, one that would give the Department of Public Health authority to take control of a nursing home or appoint a receiver during a public health emergency and the other to help the state prepare for the coming mosquito-borne illness season.

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: 139 new deaths, 4,979 total deaths, 1,050 new cases

WCVB has the latest confirmed coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

As bad as they look, the numbers are still improving

The Globe’s Andy Rosen and John Hilliard report that the state’s coronavirus death toll, as a result of hundreds of deaths over the weekend, is now approaching the 5,000 mark. It’s indeed a grim milestone during the pandemic. But SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) and CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl report that the data clearly shows the numbers are improving, as measured by the number of daily infections and hospitalizations, etc.

The death toll: Disparities among disparity studies

There seems to be no doubt that lower-income people of color are getting infected by the coronavirus at a higher rate than most others. But what about the death toll? There appears to be some research disparities on death-toll disparities. The Globe’s Andrew Ryan and Kay Lazar report that a “new type of analysis during the early weeks of the pandemic finds that the mortality rate surged higher in Massachusetts cities, towns, and ZIP codes with larger concentrations of poverty, economic segregation, people of color, and crowded housing.”

But CommonWealth magazine’s Bruce Mohl writes that an analysis of those who have died from COVID-19 in Massachusetts, based on tentative state data, indicates “blacks, Hispanics, and whites are dying from COVID-19 at fairly similar rates” as others. So what gives? Any number of things could be complicating statistical analysis, including the high rate of deaths within nursing homes.

Btw, still on the subject of disparities, via SHNS (pay wall): “DA: ‘Alarming’ Photos Reflect Continued Enforcement Disparities.” Btw II, via the Herald: “Leaders of hard-hit cities push for regional, phased reopening.” And Btw III, via Boston Magazine on economic disparities: “Bar Owners Launch a ‘Survival’ Coalition to Support Boston’s Black-Owned Restaurants through COVID-19.

Praying for relief: Pastors send letter to Baker asking to reopen

As a Worcester pastor over the weekend continued to defy Gov. Charlie Baker’s closure orders (Globe), a group of 260 pastors, most representing smaller churches, have sent the governor a letter “requesting that they be labeled as essential and included in the first phase of re-opening plans on May 18th,” reports CBS Boston. They say they’re prepared to comply with all social-distancing guidelines.

Bottom line: The letter is just the latest example of the pressure building on Baker to start lifting stay-at-home restrictions.

CBS Boston

Reopenings: The good, the bad and the truly ugly

Speaking of reopening: With the nation’s unemployment rate soaring to 14.7 percent last month and with the Trump administration warning it will likely get much worse (WBUR), the pressure is indeed building on Gov. Charlie Baker and other governors to reopen their respective economies. But the Globe’s Shirley Leung and Larry Edelman report that states across the nation are taking different approaches toward loosening coronavirus restrictions, creating a “patchwork” of strategies in the process.

Some local establishments have already started reopening, such as gun shops via court order (WCVB) and some local stores in Chicopee via local government order (MassLive). Then there’s the reopening confrontation in North Adams involving Crane Stationery and Mayor Thomas Bernard (Berkshire Eagle).

Last but not leas: A Cape Cod ice-cream shop owner discovered reopening is not exactly a pleasant thing when it comes to take-out customers apparently not liking, and/or not understanding, social-distancing requirements and then taking it out on teenage staffers (Boston 25 News). File under: Massholes, ice-cream customers variety.

Will Boston really be Boston without the Fourth fireworks?

CBS Boston reports that Mayor Marty Walsh has cancelled the city’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration, as well as other summer festivals and parades, as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Boston Magazine’s Spencer Buell ponders if it’s possible to even have a Fourth without fireworks in Boston.

Boston Magazine

Howie goes there: Hey, it’s mostly older people dying, so reopen the economy, damn it

The Herald’s Howie Carr brags that a tweet he recently made got an “amazing” thumps up from President Trump. And what was the tweet about? How most of the people dying from the coronavirus in Massachusetts are old, averaging 82 in age, and how younger people aren’t dying. So he writes it’s OK and vital to reopen the economy, even though he acknowledges that so many older folks dying is indeed a “problem.”

Irony of all ironies: President Trump and others like him (i.e. Howie) seem to be advocating a reopen policy already pursued by socialist Sweden, as the NYT’s Tom Friedman writes. So there you have it: conservative socialists!

Boston Herald

Those handy delivery services like GrubHub? They’re taking a big bite out of struggling restaurants’ earnings

CommonWealth magazine’s Shira Schoenberg takes a look at all those new and hip delivery services, like GrubHub and DoorDash, and how they’re gobbling up a large portion of restaurants’ take-out revenues via delivery commissions – and now some communities and legislators are looking into capping those commissions during the pandemic.


If at first you don’t succeed: Feds announce new distribution plan for COVID-19 drug

WBUR’s Beth Healy reports that the federal government is effectively trying to sort out the confusion it created when it originally distributed doses of an experimental coronavirus drug to local hospitals, some of which simply didn’t need the drug as much as other hospitals. We’ll see if the new “clarity” works.


State fishing industry finally catches a break: $28M in fed aid

SHNS’s Michael Norton (pay wall) reports that the state’s reeling fishing industry will receive $28 million in federal relief funds, as announced late last week. Meanwhile, the Herald’s Erin Tiernan reports local fishermen are scrambling to find new ways to stay afloat amid the lockdown-closure hit to one of their main customers: restaurants.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Baker extols telehealth’s rise during pandemic

Gov. Charlie Baker pushed for insurance coverage of telehealth visits before the coronavirus emergency. Now he’s extolling telehealth’s demonstrated virtues during the current pandemic. Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth magazine has more on what looks like a policy that could become a permanent feature of the health-care landscape after things settle down on the pandemic front.

Healey to landlords: Stop with the eviction scheming

Even though Beacon Hill lawmakers have passed a moratorium on evictions during the coronavirus crisis, it seems some landlords are still threatening and scheming to get rid of tenants – and Attorney General Maura Healey has a message for them: Cut it out. The AP at WBUR has more.


The U.S. Senate race: Maybe it’s not a dead heat

A UMass Lowell poll late last week showed U.S. Senate candidates Ed Markey and Joseph Kennedy in a virtual dead-heat race. But an Emerson College poll released a little later shows Kennedy leading Markey by 16 points. So take your pick. SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall) has more on the tale of two polls.

Meanwhile, numbers further down in the Emerson press release caught the attention of New Boston Post’s Tom Joyce, i.e. how many Massachusetts Dems would like to see U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren as Joe Biden’s vice-presidential running mate. And that makes Joyce wonder about what could happen if Warren’s Senate seat ever became open in Massachusetts.

Momentum building for local surcharge on top of hotel taxes

It was a proposal that pre-dated the coronavirus outbreak, but it may have gotten a boost from the coronavirus outbreak, to wit: Legislation that would give local hotels the authority to impose a surcharge, on top of hotel room taxes, to pay for tourism marketing district by district. The Globe’s Jon Chesto has more.

Boston Globe

Pox on both their houses? Ayyadurai accuses fellow anti-vaxxer RFK Jr. of being a libeling liar

From Universal Hub: “Shiva Ayyadurai, who is making yet another bid for a Senate seat this year, is suing Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose nephew is running for that same Senate seat. At issue is who is the biggest, most libeling liar.” And lying about what? Seems like everything under the anti-vaxxing sun.

Universal Hub

Challenge accepted: Moulton draws primary foes

Looks like U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton has drawn two primary challengers hoping to wrest away his Sixth District congressional seat. Ethan Forman at the Salem News reports both Angus McQuilken and Jamie Zahalaway Belsito secured the signatures needed to get on the September primary ballot.

Salem News

Nice try: Judge denies bid to toss out Varsity Blues cases

Not so fast. A federal judge has denied an attempt by lawyers for actress Lori Loughlin and others accused in the Varsity Blues scandal to have their charges tossed because of investigative missteps, John Ellement and Jeremy Fox at the Globe report. The judge found prosecutors should have turned over some investigative notes to defendants sooner but said they did not mislead or lie to the court as lawyers alleged in a March filing.

Boston Globe

JALSA Impact Activist Monday

Join your JALSA Impact community on Zoom to write postcards, hang out with your social justice friends, and hear from Claire Muller from Toxics Action Center speaking about environmental justice in the time of coronavirus.


Innovate for Big Impact: Rewrite the Rules for Your Small Business Now

Back by popular demand, entrepreneur Mike Michalowicz has something new to share: fresh strategies, tips and success stories to help evolve your business and innovate in a fast-changing world. Sign up to hear bright new ideas—and start reinventing what you do.

Verizon Small Business Webinar Series

JALSA Schmoozefest with Extra Special Guest Maura Healey

JALSA Schmoozefest with Extra Special Guest Maura Healey, Music from Charlie Kramer, Legally Blind singer, songwriter, and Jewish Rock Radio host and political humorist Jimmy Tingle!


Coronavirus: The Health, Medical, and Societal Challenges Ahead

Helen Branswell, senior writer on infectious disease at STAT, and David R. Williams, Harvard professor of public health, African and African American studies, and sociology, discuss challenges presented by Covid-19 with Rick Berke, co-founder and executive editor of STAT.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Joe Gravellese To Host Virtual Town Hall on Transportation with Jim Aloisi

Joe Gravellese, Democratic candidate for State Representative in the 16th Suffolk District (Revere, Chelsea, Saugus) will stream a “Virtual Town Hall” on Tuesday, May 12 at 6 PM with Jim Aloisi, former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation. Aloisi is currently a board member at the nonprofit TransitMatters, and a lecturer in urban studies and planning at MIT.

Joe Gravellese for State Representative

Re-Booting the Economy – Major Employer Issues – Part 2 “Welcoming Customers Back”

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 13th Seminar will provide an external perspective – “Welcoming Customers Back.” We hope this new endeavor will provide valuable information to our members.

North Shore Chamber of Commerce

Please Join Us for a Virtual Conversation with Alyssa Milano and Senator Ed Markey

Alyssa and Senator Ed Markey will be discussing the issues that matter most to the people of Massachusetts and our country, from our nation’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, to the Green New Deal and the climate crisis, to jobs and justice, to women’s rights, and keeping the internet open and free for everyone.

Senator Ed Markey

Natural Climate Solutions: The Role of Agriculture and Carbon Capture in the Transition

U.S. forests store the equivalent of 52 years’ worth of the country’s carbon emissions, and even in today’s highly partisan political climate, conserving our forests, planting more trees, and improving agricultural practices are initiatives with bipartisan support. But how exactly can policy effectively incentivize farmers and landowners to reforest their lands and improve their management?

Climate XChange

JALSA – GBIO Virtual House Party

Are you interested in social justice in the time of the coronavirus? Would you be willing to share your stories and thoughts with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization as we develop our communal agenda? We want to hear about your experiences in this highly unusual time.


Building a New Era of Offshore Wind

A virtual panel discussion featuring industry experts at Tufts University, the Brattle Group, and the Responsible Offshore Science Alliance.

State House News Forum

Virtual Taste of Forum Meeting: Navigate the Crisis with Trusted HBS Peers

For the last eleven years HBS Association of Boston’s alumni forums have offered members that kind of safe port in a stormy world. Current forum members appreciate their monthly meetings now more than ever, and this special program invites all Boston-area alumni to a “pop-up” one-time forum meeting.

Harvard Business School Association of Boston

How Nonprofit Leaders are Weathering the COVID-19 Storm

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on nonprofits’ programs and operations–and on the communities they serve–are immense. This free webinar will feature a moderated panel discussion with Bob Gittens of Cambridge Children’s and Families Service, Priscilla Kane Hellweg of Enchanted Circle Theater, and Celina Miranda of Hyde Square Task Force on the impacts of COVID-19 on their organizations.

Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) and State House News Service

Coronavirus and the 2020 Elections

EJ Dionne, Washington Post columnist and political commentator, and Janet Hook, staff writer at The Los Angeles Times, discuss implications of the novel coronavirus for the 2020 elections.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Brands With A Purpose Series: “Redefining Success with Social Impact” – Virtual Fireside Chat with CEO, David Heath

David Heath the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Bombas will discuss the evolution of product offerings and how Bombas’ mission plays into the company’s culture and social impact.

Harvard Business School Association of Boston

Today’s Headlines


How Newton bridged the housing divide – CommonWealth Magazine

Mayor Walsh cancels all large festivals and celebrations through Labor Day – Universal Hub


Carl Pitaro, Brockton mayor during 1980s, dies from coronavirus – Brockton Enterprise

Car thefts spike, other crimes decrease in Worcester during pandemic – Telegram & Gazette

Rockport postpones town election – Gloucester Times


California becomes first state to switch November election to all-mail balloting – Politico

Biden campaign is secretly building a Republican group – The Daily Beast

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