Happening Today

OCPF search committee, Justin Root rally, and more

— FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets in open session to discuss emergency use authorization of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 single-dose vaccine, 9 p.m.

Massachusetts Biotechnology Council hosts Rare Disease Day to draw attention to rare diseases that impact roughly one in 20 people, 10 a.m.

— Search committee seeking a new director for the Office of Campaign and Political Finance meets via Zoom, with plans to discuss and evaluate candidates, 1 p.m.

Mass Action Against Police Brutality and the family of Juston Root host a rally outside of the State House calling on Gov. Charlie Baker Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey to reopen Root’s case and appoint an independent investigation, 4 p.m.

— Former Suffolk County District Attorney Ralph Martin II, the first Black district attorney in Massachusetts, talks to Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office about his experiences, 4 p.m.

For the most comprehensive list 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 coronavirus numbers: 33 new deaths, 15,657 total deaths, 1,928 new cases

NBC Boston has the latest coronavirus numbers for Massachusetts.

‘Lumpy and bumpy’: Lawmakers confront Baker over vaccine rollout

Looks like GBH’s Mike Deehan called it in advance: Yesterday’s legislative COVID-19 oversight hearing was no lovefest between lawmakers and Gov. Charlie Baker, but lawmakers also didn’t rake the governor over the coals either. It was something in between. One of the most quoted lines of the day came from state Sen. Sen. Eric Lesser, who objected to the governor’s description of the vaccine rollout as “lumpy and bumpy” due mostly to vaccine shortages. From Lesser: “It has not been lumpy and bumpy. It has been a failure.”

GBH’s Craig LeMoult, SHNS’s Colin Young, MassLive’s Steph Solis and the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett have more on yesterday’s legislative COVID-19 hearing.

Reopening the economy: Capacity limits loosened for ballparks, restaurants, concert venues and others

Here’s some good news: Thanks to the sharp decline in coronavirus cases in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday announced the state is moving forward with the reopening of the economy – and that means increased capacity limits at restaurants and other business venues and a limited number of people being allowed to attend sporting events for the first time since last year. So Sox, Bruins and Celts fans, rejoice. And parents of summer-camp kids can also rejoice, reports the Globe.

The BBJ’s Greg Ryan and CommonWealth’s Michael Jonas have more on the new Phase 3 and Phase 4 reopening plans in general.

Vaccine website update: Long waits (65,640 minutes), long waiting lines (108,555 people), lots of frustration (immeasurable)

And here’s some bad news: It looks like we’re going to need VaxFinder III. The state yesterday unveiled its latest newly improved vaccine website, complete with a new waiting list, and, well, it didn’t go over so well. State Sen. Jo Comerford tweeted how the site’s new “waiting line” at one point stated there was a 404-minute wait. CBS Boston easily outdid that figure, highlighting a 65,640-minute wait-list alert. A Universal Hub reader swears the site at one point listed 104,435 minutes of waiting time – or 72.5 days.

Meanwhile, MassLive’s Heather Morrison spotted this site message: ‘108,555 people in line ahead of you.” 

Needless to say, people aren’t happy with having to wait in line for long periods of time only to be told in the end that slots are filled – or, after filling out applications, getting bounced back to the waiting line. “It’s a zoo,” one 73-year-old applicant told the Herald’s Joe Dwinell. “I just gave up,” another applicant tells Hadley Barndollar at the Telegram.

But … but 50,000 hearty souls did manage to make appointments through the tortuous process, as SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall). 

Yet somehow, more than 1.5 million doses have been administered so far

Despite the state’s Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest/free-for-all vaccine registration process, there are people getting shots out there – 1.5 million shots so far, MassLive’s Tanner Stening reports. Keep in mind: The number includes second shots for many people who no longer have to go through the dreaded first-dose website process.

As usual, the Globe has an excellent stats-and-charts summary of the vaccine program so far.


Time to revisit the centralized pre-registration idea?

Here’s an interesting item from SHNS’s Colin Young. It appears the software developer of the state’s much-criticized vaccine website is now saying it’s always had the capability of operating a centralized sign-up system –and the Baker administration balked at the idea last year. But now … now the state may indeed be looking at a centralized system, as many have urged the administration to pursue. We’ll see.

SHNS (pay wall — free trial subscription available)

Another policy adjustment: Employer-hosted vaccine program quietly shelved

The Globe’s Jon Chesto reports how the Baker administration has quietly suspended an attempt to organize employer-hosted vaccine programs for employees. The stated reason: Lack of vaccine doses.

Boston Globe

Another policy adjustment, II: Sudders says mass-vaccination sites were always intended to be short-term solutions

We could have sworn the Baker administration touted mass-vaccination sites as the best and most efficient way to distribute vaccine doses. But Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders is pushing back against that notion, saying mass-vax sites won’t serve a primary role once vaccine supplies increase and smaller sites can be set up. OK. Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth has more.


So what’s the worst car ever built?

Strange how the mind works. There we were, thinking about the state’s latest new-and-improved vaccine website and all the rollout woes in general – and our minds yesterday drifted to the worst cars ever built. East Germany’s Trabant probably best describes the state’s vaccine website, based on Edmunds’ reviews. Like we said, it’s strange how the mind works. … Anyway, back to all things COVID-19.


Baker: Massachusetts governments, businesses and individuals have received $71B in fed aid so far

Not bad. And the amount of fed money flowing to Massachusetts could increase even more if Congress approves another COVID-19 relief package. Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth has more on the $71 billion that the state has already netted.


So what do Catholic schools grasp about science that public schools don’t get?

There’s an irony here, all right. Meg Woolhouse at GBH reports how local Catholic schools have somehow largely remained open during the pandemic by simply “following the science” of COVID-19. Science? The Catholic Church? “The irony of that is not lost on me,” says Thomas W. Carroll, superintendent of schools for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.

Meanwhile, the Baker administration is pushing public school districts to also follow the science and resume in-person classes by April – and a Globe editorial says Baker is right to push. In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh has “invited” more students to attend in-person classes, starting Monday, reports GBH’s Saraya Wintersmith.


Lawmakers take aim at insurers balking at covering COVID-19 business losses

Christian Wade at the Salem News reports that Sen. Diana DiZoglio and Rep. Dylan Fernandes are pushing legislation that would basically require insurers to cover pandemic-related business losses in Massachusetts. And it’s a lot of losses.

Meanwhile, Wade separately reports at the Newburyport Daily News that hundreds of companies have been cited for violating labor laws during the pandemic.

Salem News

Free no more: SouthCoast transit agency says it will start collecting fares again

It was great while it lasted. The SouthCoast Regional Transit Authority says after more than a year of free rides on its buses, it will begin collecting discounted fares again on April 1, with plans to restore fares to pre-pandemic levels later this year, Kerri Tallman at the Standard-Times reports. 

Standard Times

Trying times: Northampton school board urged to ban Confederate flag as FBI contacted

What year is it again? Students, parents and educators are calling on the Northampton School Committee to formally ban representations of the Confederate flag from the city’s schools as fallout from incidents at the JFK Middle School continue to reverberate through the community, Greta Jochem at the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports. 

Emily Thurlow at MassLive reports the district’s superintendent has already alerted the FBI about a ‘white student union’ Facebook page that popped up after students were warned against displaying Confederate flag images during Zoom learning sessions. 

Daily Hampshire Gazette

Special election alert: Holyoke Mayor Morse tapped as Provincetown’s town manager

He got it. Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, who isn’t running for re-election this year, has been named town manager of Provincetown, reports MassLive. And now the big question is whether there will be a special mayoral election, assuming Morse leaves office soon, before the scheduled fall general election. MassLive’s Dennis Hohenberg and WMPI’s Matt Szafranski have more.

No bingo yet: Appeals court tells island tribe to follow local rules

Yes and no. A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court’s ruling that found the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head has a right to build an electronic bingo hall on Martha’s Vineyard, but said it has to follow local approval processes along the way. George Brennan at the Martha’s Vineyard Times has the details. 

Martha’s Vineyard Times

‘Commendable’: Peabody mayor declines raise, citing pandemic impacts

Members of the Peabody city council are applauding Mayor Ted Bettencourt’s decision to forego a pay raise in the coming fiscal year, saying the move, while largely symbolic, is an acknowledgement that many people continue to suffer amid the pandemic, Erin Nolan at the Salem News reports. 

Salem News

MassMutual launches $50M fund for Black-owned and tech companies

This is called ‘stepping up.’ From the BBJ’s Greg Ryan: “Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. on Thursday unveiled a $50 million fund with a plan to invest half of the money in Black-owned and -managed businesses in the Bay State, and the other half in Massachusetts technology and sustainability-focused firms outside metro Boston.”


Sunday public affairs TV: Richard Neal, Ayanna Pressley and more

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Channel 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: Babson College’s Peter Cohan, who talks with host Jon Keller about the local post-pandemic economy and how some local businesses have survived and even prospered.

This Week in Business, NECN, 10 a.m. Steve Walsh, CEO of the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association, discusses COVID-19 treatments, vaccination efforts, and the future of healthcare; Greater Boston Chamber senior vice president Carolyn Ryan on the future of work at the office and other topics; and the Globe’s Shirley Leung reviews the top local business stories of the week.

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

CityLine, WCVB-TV Channel 5, 12 p.m. With host Karen Holmes Ward, this week’s topic: A Conversation with U.S. Rep. Anyanna Pressley.

Future of Health Care

How will the events and economic impact of 2020 shape what health care looks like in the future? Hear from top industry leaders regarding the changes brought on by the pandemic and who will share their views of the road ahead. What is the prognosis for this key piece of our economy? How is the delivery of care impacted? How will the cost structure change?

Boston Business Journal

8th International Data Science Summit

The 8th International Data Science Summit, organized by the DSF International supported by NASSCOM and in partnership with European Industry University Research Association and Guinness Enterprise Centre is coordinated from Dublin & Kolata in virtual mode.

Data Science Foundation International

An Evening with Kazuo Ishiguro

In his first global in-conversation event, Nobel Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro will talk about his much anticipated new novel, Klara and the Sun.

The Guardian Live

The Woman’s Era Club: A Story of Black Women’s Activism

In 1893, a group of Boston women founded the Woman’s Era Club, one of the first women’s clubs in the country led by African American women. In this talk, Student Conservation Association Public History Intern Katie Woods will explore the stories of several women behind this little-known yet influential club and publication.

Boston Public Library

Housing: The Only Thing to Really End Homelessness, A Virtual Discussion with Special Guest Dr. Sam Tsemberis

Ultimately, only one thing ends homelessness . . . housing! Join MHSA and our member agencies and supporters for a lively virtual discussion with Dr. Sam Tsemberis, CEO of the Pathways Housing First Institute. The discussion will focus on national and international strategies around the implementation of housing to end homelessness.

Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance

Annie McKay and the Untold Story of Boston Public School Nurses

Join author Dorothy M. Keeney to hear the story of Annie McKay, Boston’s first school nurse, and the early Boston school nurses prior to their becoming the professionals that we know today. Explore how they managed the 1917-1919 Spanish flu, contagious diseases such as diphtheria, scarlet fever, and many polio epidemics that occurred during the 20th century.

Boston Public Library

The Mapping Inequality Project

The Mapping Inequality Project created a foundational resource for unprecedented research, education, organizing and policy advocacy on redlining and current environmental challenges. It provides publicly accessible digitized versions of redlining maps for about 200 cities.

EPA Office of Environmental Justice

MIT Sloan FinTech Conference 2021

The 7th annual FinTech Conference is a student run event that brings together over 1,000 leaders, companies, and students dedicated to transforming and innovating the FinTech space across the globe. Join us in understanding what this critical juncture means for FinTech’s trajectory over the next 10 years.

MIT FinTech Conference

Dr. Esther Choo – Racism as a Public Health Crisis – Lowell Lecture

The Boston Public Library welcomes physician and popular health and science communicator Dr. Esther Choo for an online conversation moderated by BPL President David Leonard. This program, presented in partnership with GBH Forum Network, is part of both the Lowell Lecture Series sponsored by the Lowell Institute and the BPL’s Repairing America Series.

Boston Public Library

Heroes Breakfast

Honoring the Heroes Among Us. Join us and become part of this history making event. Help us honor these unsung leaders who exemplify the humanity and volunteer service of the American Red Cross. The Heroes Breakfast will be a marquee gathering in Boston for years to come. The momentous virtual launch of this event will take place on the one-year anniversary of the Coronavirus pandemic. If there were ever a time to honor heroes, this is it.

American Red Cross

The Biden-Harris Administration: International Policy

Join the McCormack Graduate School for the third of three panel discussions that explores the implications of the Biden-Harris Administration: International Policy.

UMass Boston: McCormack Graduate School

Be an Agent of Change: Achieve Health Justice

Join A Faith That Does Justice and Healthcare for All for a conversation about the actions you can take as an individual to work towards justice, equity, and inclusion in health care.

A Faith That Does Justice

Today’s Headlines


Walsh says state will expand capacity at Reggie Lewis Center vaccine site – Dorchester Reporter

Brockton reports 400th Covid death – Brockton Enterprise


Mansfield plans to return to in-person learning for kindergartners on Monday; teachers union not happy – Sun Chronicle

Taunton High Thin Blue Line flag mural replaced – Taunton Gazette

North Andover students, parents rally for in-person learning – Eagle-Tribune


Minimum-wage increase imperiled in covid relief bill by Senate official’s ruling – Washington Post

The Manhattan DA now has Trump’s tax returns – New York Times

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