Happening Today

Today | The MBTA, Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority, and the Massachusetts Port Authority kick off a two-year pilot program that will allow buses to use the breakdown lane during rush hour along a seven-mile stretch of Interstate 93 in Woburn, Stoneham, Medford and Somerville.

10 a.m. | Mass. Gaming Commission meets to go into an executive session to “evaluate a matter relative to the Nondisclosure Agreement between the Commission and Wynn MA, LLC.”

10 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu holds a press conference at City Hall Plaza to make “an announcement related to the city’s COVID-19 response,” an advisory said.

11 a.m. | House meets an informal session and Senate meets without a calendar.

12:30 p.m. | U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern and state Sen. Jo Comerford hold press conference with UMass researchers to highlight work to combat PFAS chemical contamination.

12:30 p.m. | Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley tour the Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee to highlight the federal funding that has helped to reduce food insecurity, including the monthly Child Tax Credit payments.

Today’s Stories

Harvard shifts to remote model for start most of January

What will it take to stop the spread of the new omicron variant?

Is it shutdowns? Remote learning and work? Additional mask mandates? All three? These are the questions that public and private leaders are grappling with as hospitalizations continue to climb and flu season starts up.

For weeks, health officials have called on Gov. Charlie Baker to implement a statewide universal mask mandate. He hasn’t budged on the issue, instead pointing to targeted mandates in places like congregate care settings and public schools. If you want to read more, we wrote about mask mandates on Friday.

But at least one major institution in Massachusetts is making a move intended to stop the surge of local COVID cases. Harvard Crimson’s Cara J. Chang and Isabella B. Cho report that the university is moving to remote operations for the first three weeks of January. The duo also report that 344 affiliates tested positive in the last seven days.

The decision is somewhat reminiscent of the first few months of the pandemic when colleges and universities quickly transitioned to all remote learning and work. It was a hectic time when many students had to quickly formulate plans to either get home or stay in the city.

The interesting question here is whether other campuses will follow suit? This isn’t a perfect rule of thumb to follow, but Harvard sometimes leads the way on decisions like these within Boston’s education community.

Nurses, hospital reach agreement to end strike

More than 280 days later, an agreement has been reached. Telegram & Gazette’s Marco Cartolano reports that St. Vincent Hospital and the Massachusetts Nurses Association reached an agreement to end a nurses strike that will go down in history as one of the longest in the state. About 700 nurses started striking on March 8.

More from Cartolano: “If the agreement is ratified, all striking nurses will be returned to their prior positions while hired replacement nurses will also keep their position, possibly resolving the biggest roadblock to ending the strike which entered its historic 285th day Friday.”

Telegram & Gazette

Cronin confirmed to ambassadorship in Ireland

Shipping over to Ireland. The U.S. Senate on Saturday confirmed state Rep. Claire Cronin to serve as ambassador to Ireland. State House News Service’s Michael Norton reports that Cronin serves in House Speaker Ronald Mariano’s leadership team and her confirmation sets up another slot to fill in the House.

State House News Service via WBUR

Showdown coming? Wu poised to announce tougher vaccine mandate

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu is poised to announce new steps the city will take to address the latest surge of coronavirus on Monday – likely including a toughened vaccine mandate that could lead to a showdown with city employee unions, Rick Sobey of the Boston Herald reports. Wu is expected to eliminate the option city workers currently have of being tested regularly and may also announce a vaccine passport program for accessing city businesses and services.

Boston Herald

Lawmakers crack through differences, find common ground on egg bill

A group of lawmakers have hatched a compromise on legislation that leaders in the egg industry say could stave off a surge in price for the breakfast staple. State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski reports that the two lead negotiators of a six-member panel of legislators tasked with finding a deal announced a consensus Sunday night. The bill looks to make tweaks to a 2016 voter-approved animal welfare law that would alter requirements for housing egg-laying hens.

State House News Service

Breakthrough: Warren among Dems to announce Covid infection

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced Sunday she tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing mild symptoms, Jim Puzzanghera of the Globe reports. Warren, who lost her older brother to the virus last year, said she is vaccinated and has received a booster shot. Fellow Democratic Sen. Cory Booker and at least one House lawmaker also reported testing positive.

Warren, meanwhile, is still seen among the most-likely 2024 Democratic presidential nominees not named Joe Biden, with Aaron Blake of the Washington Post ranking her third behind only VP Kamala Harris and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in his oh-so-early look-ahead.

Winds of change: Salem big winner in next phase of offshore wind project

Wish granted. They’re rejoicing in Salem after state officials announced Friday that Commonwealth Wind had been tapped to provide 1,200 megawatts of power with an offshore wind project based out of Salem Harbor. Dustin Luca of the Salem News reports Mayor Kim Driscoll hailed the news as “transformative” for the city’s working waterfront.

Bruce Mohl of CommonWealth reports Brayton Point in Somerset, where a deep-sea cable manufacturing plant will be built, is another winner in this third and largest round of wind-power procurement.

Prior police, prosecutorial misconduct leading to releases

Police or prosecutorial misconduct is leading to peoples’ release from prison. Boston Globe’s Andrew Ryan reports that since 2020, nine men have been freed from prison because of misconduct, cut-rate investigations, or evidence pointing to a another culprit. All the released men were Black and served two decades or more each.

More from Ryan: “The driving force behind many of the cases is Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins’s Integrity Review Bureau. With each new revelation of wrongdoing or injustice come increasing questions about the police department’s willingness to reckon with the sins of its past and reexamine its work, particularly when victims of that injustice remain behind bars.”

Boston Globe

City school officers union warry of effects of police reform law

They’re feeling toothless. A memo from city school officers to administrators lays out how they feel like a new police reform law stripped them of powers to intervene and breakup fights. Boston Herald’s Joe Dwinell reports that administrators were worried about a “communication” from the city school officers union advising members to “not to break up fights.”

Boston Herald

Bruins season put on hold as team deals with COVID cases

Shut them down. The National Hockey League put the Bruins’ season on hold Saturday as an outbreak of COVID-19 engulfed the team. Associate Press’ Jimmy Golen reports that the shut down takes effect immediately and will last at least through the start of the new year.

Associated Press

Long way down: Sagging enrollment, empty dorm signal woes at Mass. College of Liberal Arts

The pandemic has been bad for all colleges, but especially for this one. Danny Jin of the Berkshire Eagle chronicles the flagging fortunes of the Mass. College of Liberal Arts, where enrollment has fallen 35 percent in the last two years. One dormitory at the North Adams campus of the UMass system is closed entirely and some students say a shortage of professors makes finding the right classes a challenge.

Berkshire Eagle

‘Worcester is his life’

Who is the man behind Worcester’s Renaissance? MassLive’ Douglas Hook takes an inside look into the mind of City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. who helped lead Worcester’s revival over the last eight years and even saw it land on Bloomberg’s top 10 cities to bounce back after the pandemic.


Today’s Headlines


Federal marshals won’t provide a security detail for confirmed US Attorney Rachael Rollins despite recent threats against her life – Boston Globe

Boston police bought spy tech with a pot of money hidden from the public – WBUR


Easthampton earmarks cannabis money for roadwork, library, police contract expenses – Daily Hampshire Gazette

Cape Cod hospital beds filled to capacity as COVID-19 cases rise – Cape Cod Times


Burlington, Vermont decided to cut its police force 30 percent. Here’s what happened next. – NBC News

Manchin Rejects Landmark Legislation, Putting Biden’s Climate Goals at Risk – New York Times

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