Happening Today

9 a.m. | Supreme Judicial Court sits to hear oral arguments in five cases.

11 a.m. | Veterans and Federal Affairs Committee meets to hear testimony on 27 bills.

Today’s Stories

The COVID picture looks grim after the winter holidays

Hospital staff are calling out sick with COVID at high rates as a surge fueled by omicron tears through the state.

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Boston Globe’s Kay Lazar reports that top executives and even retired workers are taking to the front lines to help fill gaps in staffing. Hospital systems are putting out calls to volunteers to help run vaccination clinics and testing centers, the latter of which continue to have long lines following the holiday season.

This comes as the number of coronavirus hospitalizations passes last winter’s peak — a time when people were not yet vaccinated. Boston Herald’s Rick Sobey reports there are now 2,524 daily patients, more than last year’s high of 2,428.

In schools, the picture is no better. MassLive’s Alison Kuznitz reports the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education said there were 38,887 cases of COVID among public school students and 12,213 among staff members.

That’s more than four times the cases among students than before the winter holidays.

And through all of this, lines at testing centers remain long. But why? WBUR’s Callum Borchers reports it’s not due to a shortage of testing equipment but rather a lack of sites and people who operate them.

Kevin Hayden to take over as Suffolk County DA

Gov. Charlie Baker’s pick is in for the next Suffolk County district attorney. The Republican governor selected the chairman of the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board to take over as the next DA. MassLive’s Alison Kuznit reports that Kevin Hayden will take over on Monday, the same day Rachael Rollins is scheduled to be sworn in as U.S. attorney for Massachusetts.

MassLive

Decision on masking in public schools expected next week

A decisions on extending a mask mandate in public schools is expected next week. State House News Service’s Michael P. Norton reports that Education Commissioner Jeff Riley informed local school officials Wednesday to keep an eye out for word on masking up in the classroom.

More from Norton: “In October, Riley notified school districts he was extending the mask requirement in K-12 public schools through Jan. 15, citing consultations with medical experts and state health officials. Education Secretary James Peyser said the extension represented ‘another big step forward in our efforts to keep schools safe for our kids.’”

State House News Service

Prosecutors want Tsarnaev’s COVID checks to head to victims

Prosecutors want the money Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev received from federal stimulus payments to head to victims of the bombing. Associated Press’ Mark Pratt reports prosecutors also asked that other money held in Tsarnaev’s inmate trust fund account help pay millions he has been ordered to give victims.

Boston Herald’s Joe Dwinell has the full text of the motion to seize the money.

MTA: Baker admin show ‘gross incompetence’ with COVID and schools

Have someone else make the decisions regarding COVID-19 measures in schools. That’s what the Massachusetts Teachers Association is calling for as questions circulate over masks sent to school employees. Boston Globe’s Sahar Fatima reports that MTA is accusing Gov. Charlie Baker and Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley of making “false statements” and demonstrating “gross incompetence.”

More from Fatima: “In a statement to the Globe on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the state’s Executive Office of Education touted DESE’s launch of the nation’s first universal COVID screening program for all public and private schools, ‘which tests thousands of students and teachers each week.’”

Boston Globe

Parting shot: Rollins reveals criminal probe into T

In one of her final acts as Suffolk County District Attorney, Rachael Rollins said her office is conducting a criminal probe into the MBTA over the July 2021 Green Line crash that injured 27 people and a series of smaller incidents, Travis Andersen and Taylor Dolven of the Globe report. Rollins, who will assume her role as US Attorney on Monday and once served as general counsel for the transportation agency, said the T failed to take action to address known safety concerns.

Boston Globe

Commissioners selected to find next Boston police commissioner

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu selected five people to search for the city’s next police commissioner. GBH News’ Saraya Wintersmith reports that the group includes: former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis III; Bishop William E. Dickerson II of Greater Love Tabernacle Church; Abrigal Forrester of the Center for Teen Empowerment; and Jasmine Gonzales Rose of Boston University. Retired Supreme Judicial Court Justice Geraldine Hines chairs the commission.

GBH News

The 11 New England people arrested after Capitol riot

A group of 11 people were arrested by the FBI in New England in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington D.C. But who exactly were they? Boston Globe’s Tanya Alanez introduces us to them and provides updates on where their cases stand.

MassLive’s Heather Morrison also has more details on the cases, including where cases stand against a Natick Town Meeting member and a former Massachusetts pizza delivery driver.

Snowstorm expected Friday morning

Snowstorm inbound. The entire state has some sort of snow watch, advisory, or warning with Boston and southern Massachusetts bracing for a possible six to eight inches of snow. David Epstein for WBUR reports that hazardous condition could impact Friday morning commutes, so leave yourself some extra time today or tell your boss that you want to work remotely (if you can).

WBUR

Star witness: Former teacher who was at Jan. 6 riot headlines Diehl fundraise

A former Braintree teacher who resigned under pressure after photos surfaced of him at the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was slated to be a featured speaker at a political event for Geoff Diehl, the only Republican who has formally declared a bid for governor in 2022. Matt Murphy of State House News Service has the details.

State House News Service

Fight breaks out on Red Line car after Celtics game

We’re really glad we weren’t on this Red Line car Wednesday evening. A pack of Celtics fan broke into an all-out brawl following a game that night. Boston Herald’s Meghan Ottolini has the video and more details on what went down.

Boston Herald

Out of the shadows: Northampton mayor calls out anonymous anti-Semitism

Northampton Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra made a passionate plea for members of the community to call out and face up to a rash of anti-Semitic speech aimed at city officials trying to address the COVID pandemic. Brian Steele of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports Sciarra’s comments come after several Zoom meetings have been disrupted by anti-Semitic language and symbols coming from anonymous sources.

Daily Hampshire Gazette

No sale: California company made pitch to buy Worcester Red Sox

A California investment company offered to buy the Worcester Red Sox for $50 million – double what current lead owner Larry Lucchino and his partners paid for the team six years ago – but Lucchino says the talks have not progressed. Michael Silverman of the Boston Globe and the Telegram & Gazette’s Joe McDonald report the offer came from Endeavor, which bought up 10 minor league teams during an acquisition spree last fall.

Sunday Public Affairs: Michelle Wu and more

Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Ch. 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: Boston Mayor Michelle Wu talks vaccine mandates, testing plans, and the search for a new police commissioner.

On The Record, WCVB-TV Ch. 5, Sunday, 11 a.m. Guest: Boston Mayor Michelle Wu speaks with hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu followed by a political roundtable discussion with analysts Mary Anne Marsh and Andrew Goodrich.

CityLine, WCVB-TV, Ch. 5 Sunday 12 p.m., This week’s topic: A conversation with Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr., the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. He is the also of the Center for African American Studies and chair of the Department of African American studies.

The Federal Money Spending Challenge: What’s Next for Massachusetts?

Looking for a comprehensive rundown on the state’s plan to spend billions in federal aid dollars? Join MASSterList and the State House News Service for a comprehensive discussion with key players from the Legislature and around Beacon Hill virtually at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, January 25. Sign up here.

(Sponsorship opportunities are available for groups and organizations. For more information, contact Dylan Rossiter, Dylan.Rossiter@StateHouseNews.com).

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Need lab space in Boston or Cambridge? Good luck. – Boston Business Journal

Margaret Adams chosen to lead Hingham schools as permanent superintendent – Patriot Ledger

Massachusetts

Lori Trahan touts infrastructure spending at LRTA – Lowell Sun

UMass Memorial Health employee pay affected by ransomware attack – Worcester Business Journal

Nation

Biden takes on Trump in fiery address on Jan. 6 – The Hill

White House, USPS finalizing plans to begin shipping coronavirus test kits to U.S. households – Washington Post

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