Happening Today

9 a.m. | Supreme Judicial Court sits to hear oral arguments in two cases focused on appeals of previous judgements.

9 a.m. | Regional leaders and health providers gather virtually for the 2021 Merrimack Valley Substance Use Disorder Symposium.

10 a.m. | Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region joins the North Quabbin Community Coalition to host an annual sober housing summit focused on safety net options for unhoused individuals with a history of substance misuse.

1 p.m. | Senate Post Audit and Oversight Committee convenes a virtual hearing to examine how the state’s unemployment insurance system, including the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, fared during the COVID-19 emergency.

Today’s Stories

Hospitalizations climb as state reports 5,472 new cases

The numbers continue to look grim.

For the 14th straight day, COVID-19 hospitalizations climbed as state health officials reported 5,472 new cases of the virus on Thursday, reports Boston Herald’s Rick Sobey. It’s safe to say that the winter surge is upon us as infections spikes and the Omicron variant spreads in Massachusetts.

It can’t all be bad news, though. Gov. Charlie Baker said he does not currently have plans for the state to stand up field hospitals to help increase capacity as cases climb. MassLive’s Alison Kuznitz reports that hospitalizations in the state have grown 50 percent over the last two weeks.

And much like he did to help out a school bus driver shortage, Baker is debating whether to call in the National Guard to help backup nurses and doctors with cases on the rise. State House News Service’s Colin A. Young reports that the governors of Maine and New Hampshire recently made the call to bring in the Guard to help ease the burden at hospitals.

What does the situation look like in public schools here in Massachusetts? Boston Globe’s Felicia Gans and Colleen Cronin report that education officials reported 6,879 new cases among students and 1,105 among staff for a total of 7,984 cases. That’s 19 percent fewer cases than last week.

With more students attending school in person, the Globe duo note that weekly COVID-19 case reports have been higher this school year than at any point last year. More than 2,200 schools have signed up for the state COVID-19 testing services, compared to the roughly 1,000 last year.

And it’s worth taking a look at this interesting read on WBUR from four healthcare professionals who declare that the winter surge is upon us and offer Baker some advice on what to do, including suggesting a “statewide data-driven mask policy” and free rapid tests for communities with high case counts.

Our bad

In our pursuit to get your morning dose of MASSterList to your inbox on time Thursday morning, we forgot to include the link to ABCD’s toy drive donation page. We wanted to make sure you saw it. Check it out here.

‘Red tape’

Gov. Charlie Baker only has a few days left to act on the Legislature’s American Rescue Plan Act spending bill. MassLive’s Alison Kuznitz reports that Baker expressed concern about “red tape baked” into the legislation like a Premium Pay Advisory Panel that would help design a premium pay program for eligible, low-income essential workers who worked in person during the COVID-19 state of emergency. 

Reporting for the State House News Service, I write that Baker said the administration “would rather put a premium pay program together and get the dollars out to people” instead of dealing with the 28-member panel. Senate leadership told me that the final bill and the decision to create the panel is reflective of an approach to include “those most impacted by this public health crisis in decision-making around our recovery process.”

When will Baker announce his pick for interim Suffolk DA?

Gov. Charlie Baker isn’t telling. At least, not yet. Julia Carlin for the Boston Globe reports that Baker wouldn’t say when he would announce a new district attorney for Suffolk County now that the U.S. Senate confirmed Rachael Rollins to U.S. attorney for Massachusetts. Some names that have been floating around: Rollins’ first assistant Daniel Mulhern, Boston City Councilor Michael Flaherty, Linda Champion, and Rahsaan Hall, Carlin writes.

Boston Globe

Wu administration looks to Roundhouse Hotel to house homeless

There’s a new plan for the Roundhouse Hotel in the Mass and Cass area. Boston Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reports that Boston Mayor Michelle Wu plans to use the building to house 60 people experiencing homelessness, setup a medical “triage” area, and a site where people can seek medical supervision while under the influence of drugs.

More from Cotter: “The next day, questions about whether the presentation went over well were met with open laughter from multiple different people present. The community members said no one on their side spoke up in favor; rather everyone who spoke in the Zoom meeting pushed back on what they see as further centralization of services in the rough area.”

Boston Herald

Last gasp: Now-defunct vaping company agrees to pay state $51 million

A now shuttered e-cigarette company accused of targeted minors with its marketing and product design agreed to a $51 million settlement with the office of Attorney General Maura Healey, Jessica Bartlett of the Boston Business Journal reports. Healey’s office said Eonsmoke “intentionally targeted young people” with vapes that had some of the highest concentrations of nicotine on the market.

Boston Business Journal

Pay them off: Globe-hopping Kerry builds support for buying off big polluters

Karl Mathiesen of Politico catches up with U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry as he tours European capitals to build support for what would be a multi-trillion dollar effort to pay the worst polluters in key countries to change their ways. Kerry says the details of the plan are still being filled in but involves getting wealthier nations to help fund moves to greener economies in countries like India that are among the biggest producers of carbon emissions.


From the WBUR and GBH radio waves

Missed yesterday’s WBUR and GBH radio programs? No worries, here are some interesting tidbits from the shows.

From WBUR’s “Radio Boston:” An exit interview with Marty Martinez, who served as Boston’s chief of health and human services under three mayors. He’s stepping down at the end of the week.

From GBH’s “Boston Public Radio:” Boston Globe’s Shirley Leung discusses Gov. Charlie Baker’s legacy surrounding businesses in the state and Chuck Todd talks status of Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin on the Build Back Better plan, among other segments.

Covid reprieve: Trial of Correia chief of staff halted by coronavirus case

A federal judge halted proceedings in the corruption trial of Gen Andrade, the former chief of staff to convicted former Mayor Jasiel Correia, because a key witness for the prosecution was diagnosed with COVID. Jo C. Goode of the Herald News reports the judge dismissed the half-empaneled jury and said the court would try again next March.

Herald News

Mass. Port Authority looking to build mixed-income residential site in Seaport

The Massachusetts Port Authority wants to diversify the Seaport. Boston Business Journal’s Catherine Carlock reports that Massport released a request for qualifications for developers looking to build a residential property with a mix of “unit affordability levels.”

More from Carlock: “The mixed-income project would be the first mixed-income residential development in the Seaport district, Massport said in a release. The site could house an 18-story residential building with about 200 units.”

Boston Business Journal

Moving on: Salem City Council sees 45 years of experience depart in a single night

Lots of new faces. The Salem City Council bid farewell to four members who collectively served 45 years in elected office, led by Arthur Sargent, whose 22 consecutive years of service is among the longest in recent history, Dustin Luca of the Salem News reports.

Salem News

New commission seeking solutions as deaths from stimulant overdoses increase

A new commission looking into who is most affected by cocaine, crack, and methamphetamine, why, and what officials can do about it released new data Wednesday around meth supply. WBUR’s Martha Bebinger reports that at the commission’s first meeting, statistics show that most meth supply is in the Boston area and meth users are mostly white.

More from Bebinger: “The commission on meth and other stimulants will look at all of these issues as it wrestles with ways to address drug use, overdoses and deaths. Most fatal overdoses in Massachusetts involve more than one type of drug. The commission is scheduled to hold three more meetings and send a report to the Legislature by the end of March.”


Sunday Public Affairs: Ronald Mariano, Catherine D’Amato, and more

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Ch. 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: Peter Cohan, Babson College expert on the economy, discussing inflation, economic recovery from the pandemic, and the future of the Massachusetts economy.

This Week in Business, NECN, Sunday, 10 a.m. This week’s topic:  Working to end hunger during COVID with Catherine D’Amato, Greater Boston Food Bank CEO; holiday travel tips with Willis Orlando of Scott’s Cheap Flights; and this week’s developments in COVID with Doug Banks, editor of The Boston Business Journal.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Ch. 5, Sunday, 11 a.m. Guest: House Speaker Ronald Mariano talks with host Janet Wu and political reporter Sharman Sacchetti followed by a discussion with political analysts Mary Anne Marsh and Rob Gray.

CityLine, WCVB-TV, Ch. 5 Sunday 12 p.m., This week’s topic: Gary Bailey, Assistant Dean for Community Engagement and Social Justice at the College of Social Sciences at Simmons University discusses how structural racism, social injustice, and stress impact the physical and mental health of Black men. Artist and activist Dana Chandler talks about how he challenged the Boston Museum of Fine Arts to diversify its collections to include artists of color.

Today’s Headlines


Berkshire Hills school officials say the vaccine policy is not a mandate. Repeat: Not a mandate – Berkshire Eagle

Long waits, confusion at City Hall’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic – Boston.com


Iconic Strand Theatre in Clinton will permanently close at end of year as COVID continues to cripple revenue – MassLive

As COVID-19 cases rise, Ashland High steps back from lifting mask mandate – MetroWest Daily News


New York City Gives 800,000 Noncitizens Right to Vote in Local Elections – New York Times

Democratic worries grow over politics of SALT cap – The Hill

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