Happening Today

COVID-19 issues and updates

— U.S. Rep. Bill Keating holds a dial-in press call for regional reporters to discuss the HEROES Act, the latest Congressional COVID-19 aid package, 11 a.m.

— Sen. Adam Hinds hosts a Facebook Live interview with Joanne Marqusee of Cooley Dickinson Health Care and Eliza Lake of Hilltown Community Health Center to discuss the health care needs of those in rural areas, 1 p.m.

Metro South Chamber of Commerce holds COVID-19 economic recovery update phone call with Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan and a representative from the U.S. Small Business Administration, 2 p.m.

— Boston City Councilors Julia Mejia and Ed Flynn hold a first of its kind public hearing around language accessibility regarding access to access vital services, 3 a.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: 167 new deaths, 5,482 total deaths, 1,685 cases

NBC Boston has the latest confirmed coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

Report: Statistics appear to support a partial reopening …

Not that we should be following the guidelines set down by the White House (or any federal entity at this point), but the Globe’s Martin Finucane and Victoria McGrane report that the state’s coronavirus numbers, at least by one measurement, appear to justify at least a partial reopening of the economy.

Boston Globe

… and a reopening couldn’t happen soon enough for some towns and cities facing 40 percent unemployment

The BBJ’s Greg Ryan reports that 45,000 more workers applied for unemployment benefits last week in Massachusetts, pushing the state’s total UI claims to well over 1 million people.

Meanwhile, from the Herald’s Erin Tiernan: “Massachusetts communities with high levels of poverty and those reliant on industries hard-hit by layoffs in response to the coronavirus outbreak are seeing unemployment rates as high as 40%, according to a recent report suggesting some regional economies will need more help to recover from the pandemic.” The Pioneer Institute’s jobless numbers may seem a little far-fetched, but not that far-fetched when you look at the UI data.

Then again, there’s this: Brockton’s death toll exceeds 200

So you think it’s an easy call to reopen the economy at this point? Just remember: There’s a tradeoff. In hard-hit Brockton, the city earlier this week marked a “dark milestone” with the death toll exceeding 200 people, reports the Enterprise’s Marc Larocque. The mayor is calling the figure “tragic and devastating.”

And there’s this potential tradeoff to contemplate, via CommonWealth magazine: “At MGH, they worry about a second surge.”


Then again, there’s also this: DPH issues alert on virus-linked illness in children

The state Department of Public Health is confirming what media outlets have been reporting in recent days: There’s a small but still disturbing number of children in Massachusetts coming down with a somewhat mysterious illness referred to as “pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome,” reports SHNS Chris Lisinsk.

In New York, they’ve already seen more than 100 similar cases, the NYT reports.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

No beach volleyball? Strict reopening guidelines catch Cape lawmakers off guard

Christine Legere at the Cape Cod Times reports that some lawmakers have been caught off guard by the early release of proposed state guidelines on the reopening of state beaches. From Legere: “The draft guidelines, provided to the Yarmouth selectmen earlier this week, would cap parking at 50% of beach lots. The list also sets maximum group size at 10 people, includes strict ‘no loitering’ rules in parking lots and requires face masks when social distancing is not possible.” 

And another thing: No beach volleyball. Forget it.

Cape Cod Times

‘Perfect storm’: State to distribute $500M to towns and cities as experts warn of local-government meltdowns

As some experts warn of a “perfect storm” facing city and town budgets across the state as a result of the coronavirus emergency (Herald), the Baker administration last evening announced it’s distributing $502 million in federal relief funding to local government burdened by COVID-19-related expenses (MassLive).

The money won’t be enough, but it should temporarily quiet the calls for more state assistance, which, we suspect, is why the administration made the announcement last evening.

The meltdown begins: Framingham workers get layoff notices

Speaking of local-government meltdowns, just days after Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer told the city council she hoped to avoid cutting workers as she sought to trim her 2021 budget, at least two city workers have received layoff notices, Susan Petroni at Framingham Source reports. 

Meanwhile, more communities are starting to put solid numbers on the damage the coronavirus has wrought on their budgets. In Amherst, officials say it could run a deficit of up to $7.7 million in the next fiscal year, reports Scott Merzbach at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. And Nantucket officials say they expect local revenues to drop as much as $6.1 million, John Lavenburg at the Inquirer & Mirror reports. 

Framingham Source

The best in the world: Baker sets aggressive targets for testing

As the state prepares to partially reopen the economy, Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday announced aggressive coronavirus testing goals through the end of this year – goals that, if reached, would make the state the largest COVID-19 tester in the world. CommonWealth’s Sarah Betancourt and Bruce Mohl have more.


Fighting back: Pastor sues governor, city over gathering fines

He’s looking to turn the legal tables. Adams Square Baptist Church Pastor Kristopher Casey has sued Gov. Charlie Baker and the city of Worcester after being repeatedly fined and issued a criminal complaint for holding church services that violated the governor’s closure orders, Melissa Hanson and Scott Croteau at MassLive report.


Government auditors and inspectors are all over nursing homes these days

Yet more focus on the true outbreak epicenters in Massachusetts. From CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl: “Audits of more than 350 skilled nursing homes across the state indicate a minority but significant number of the facilities are not in adherence with a 28-point checklist of infection control procedures, industry sources said.” 

Meanwhile, from Paul Singer at WGBH: “Federal Inspectors Investigating COVID Deaths Of Mass. Nursing Home Workers.” 

Massachusetts casinos: Last to reopen?

Massachusetts was one of the last states to reopen golf courses. So why shouldn’t it be one of the last states to reopen casinos too? MassLive’s Jim Kinney reports the state’s three casinos are indeed expecting to be among the last on the list of state industries to reopen in Massachusetts – and CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenbergreports they may look mighty different inside if and when they do reopen.

Healey to insurance commissioner: It’s time for you-know-what

There are fewer drivers on the road these days. Therefore, there are fewer accident risks. And therefore … it’s time to order an auto-insurance rate cut, Attorney General Maura Healey has told the state’s insurance commissioner, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Crossing the line? Milford seeks to limit remote meeting access

Officials in Milford are mulling ways to limit access to public meetings being conducted online in a bid to limit “Zoom bombing,” but the town’s embrace of FBI guidelines for minimizing exposure to bad actors could cause open meeting law issues, Alison Bosma at the MetroWest Daily News reports. 

MetroWest Daily News

The debate is on: Kennedy and Markey to face off on June 1

Damn the coronavirus outbreak. U.S. Senate candidates Ed Markey and Joseph Kennedy III will finally debate each other on June 1 in Springfield, after initially delaying a planned March showdown due to the coronavirus outbreak. MassLive’s Benjamin Kail.


The ‘way out’ political question of the day

The Washington Post reports that U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris are emerging as the early VP favorites of Dem presidential nominee-in-waiting Joe Biden, though U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren still remains in the VP-pick running.

And speaking of Warren, Gov. Charlie Baker was apparently asked yesterday whether he had given thought to who he might pick if Warren’s seat should open if she becomes vice president. “Honestly, I haven’t spent two seconds thinking about that,” said Baker, who SHNS reports appeared shocked by the question. Baker added of the question: “That one is way out there.”

Sunday public affairs TV: Tanisha Sullivan, Ayanna Pressley and more

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: Tanisha Sullivan, president of the Boston chapter of the NAACP, who discusses the pandemic impact on the African-American community, the damage to education, and future plans for the now postponed NAACP convention in Boston.

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Jim Rooney, president of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, on the state’s phased-in approach to reopening the economy; DJ Craig Saraiva and photographer Nelly Saraiva from the Mass. Coalition of Wedding Vendors on the impact of COVID-19 on their industry; and Boston Business Journal editor Doug Banks on the top business stories of the week.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 11 a.m. This week’s guest: U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who talks with hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu, followed by a roundtable political discussion with analysts Mary Anne Marsh and Virginia Buckingham.

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s main topic: Diversity in Education, with Catherine Wong, director of Urban Outreach Initiatives at Boston College, among the guests.

Affordable ways to find new customers now.

Attracting customers doesn’t have to be expensive. Small business expert Steve Strauss talks with host Julie Hyman to share easy, affordable ways you can find new customers, even in these challenging times.

Verizon Small Business Webinar Series

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

A Virtual Conversation with Pierce Brosnan & Senator Ed Markey

Join Senator Ed Markey for a virtual conversation with Pierce Brosnan.

Ed Markey for Senate

Webinar: What Harvard Taught Me But My Kids Made Me Learn with Bea Wray

With grace, insight, and humor, Bea shares of her six year “break” on Daufuskie Island raising three children – and how it taught her that parenting is a breakthrough… not a break from a career.

Harvard Business School Association of Boston

The Electoral College

Mary Sarah Bilder, Boston College professor of law, Edward B. Foley, Ohio State University professor of constitutional law, and Jesse Wegman, author of Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College, discuss the history of and contemporary challenges to the Electoral College.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

US Foreign Policy and China

Lucy Hornby, a fellow at the Nieman Center for Journalism and former Beijing deputy bureau chief for the Financial Times, and Yasheng Huang, MIT professor of international management, discuss US foreign policy challenges and opportunities with Anthony Saich, Harvard professor of international affairs and director of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

A Virtual Conversation with Michael Douglas & Senator Ed Markey

Join Senator Ed Markey for a virtual conversation with Michael Douglas.

Senator Ed Markey

Today’s Headlines


Survey offers snapshot of Boston Public Schools families struggling to cope with crisis – Boston Globe

Medford biotech firm gets into vaccine race – Boston Herald


Worcester businesses quiz commission about expanding outdoors – Telegram & Gazette

Mayor says New Bedford will give free mask to all who want one – Standard-Times

Mayor Bernard can enforce conditions on Crane reopening, state confirms – Berkshire Eagle


Postal service to review package delivery fees as Trump influence grows – Washington Post

Appeals court greenlights emoluments suit against Trump – Politico

How to Contact MASSterList

Send tips to Matt Murphy: Editor@MASSterList.com. For advertising inquiries and job board postings, please contact Dylan Rossiter: Publisher@MASSterList.com or (857) 370-1156. Follow @MASSterList on Twitter.

Subscribe to MASSterList

Start your morning with MASSterList’s chronicle of news and informed analysis about politics, policy, media, and influence in Massachusetts. Plus, get an inside look at Beacon Hill’s hottest new job postings.