Live updates: The latest news on the coronavirus outbreak in New England

Note: Last week’s coronavirus live updates can be found here.

Mass. death toll from the coronavirus surpasses 4,000 (May 3)

See all the state’s updated data here.

Mass. officials report 130 new deaths from the coronavirus (May 2)

See all the state’s updated data here.

Here is the latest data available on coronavirus cases in New England states (May 2)

Connecticut

Rhode Island

New Hampshire

Maine

Vermont

Mass. officials report 154 new deaths from the coronavirus (May 1)

See all the state’s updated data here.

Here is the latest data available on coronavirus cases in New England states (May 1)

Connecticut

Rhode Island

New Hampshire

Maine
Vermont

Mass. officials report 157 new deaths from the coronavirus (April 30)

See all the state’s updated data here.

Somerville detective slowly recovers from COVID-19 as former Northeastern police officer dies from virus (April 30)

Detective Ozwaldo Martinez, a 13-year-veteran of the Somerville Police Department, has been battling COVID-19 since March 25.

At 35 years old, Martinez has spent the last month in a coma and on a ventilator, Somerville police said in a recently organized GoFundMe

“He has been critical at points but he continues to fight,” officers wrote. “Whether you have known Ozzy for 10 minutes or 10 years, you know he is the type of person that brings positivity to your life. He treats all his friends like family, and we all know family is the most important thing to him.”

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With a long road to recovery still ahead, police organized the fundraiser for Martinez in hopes of helping him get back on his feet. 

As of Thursday afternoon, it had garnered $62,952.

“Ozzy is the most kind-hearted, genuine person most of us know. He is always a guy you can count on,” Somerville police said. “He will always answer your call no matter what. He has gone out of his way for so many people. He lives to help others in whatever way he can, and now it is our turn to try and help him.”

They said while Martinez is “a warrior,” he’ll still need all the support he can get. 

News of Martinez’s slow recovery comes just as a former Northeastern University police officer died Wednesday after being hospitalized with COVID-19 complications.

Officer Conrad Buckley left Northeastern University in 2017 and headed to join the Clermont Police Department in Florida as a patrol officer, but his former colleagues felt the impact of his death all the same.

Officers said in a Tweet that they are devastated, noting how he had been atremendous, positive presence” for the NUPD.

“His feet were in Central Florida, but in every respect his heart was still with Northeastern and with the Huskies,” Northeastern University Police Sgt. John Farrell told Boston 25 News. 

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“It’s just a big void on our heart, in our hearts,” Farrell told the station. “He left but he was always here.” 

Some Boston hospitals are now testing all pregnant women for COVID-19 (April 30)

The Boston Medical Center andTufts Medical Center are beginning to offer universal COVID-19 testing for pregnant mothers before they give birth. 

While BMC rolled out testing for expecting mothers at the hospital Monday, Tufts began testing pregnant women before admitting them on Saturday, Boston 25 News reported

Recent data, the news station reported, shows that about 10 percent of delivering moms have been infected with COVID-19. 

A soon-to-be mom who tests positive with the virus is given strategies on how to best protect herself and her baby, making the decision to either have a healthy partner care for the newborn, or keep her infant beside her, six feet away, according to Boston 25 News.  

“This testing is recommended, but it’s absolutely not required,” Dr. Tina Yarrington, BMC’s Director of Labor and Delivery, told the station Wednesday. “And the design of the information is not to protect us; it’s to empower the mom.”

Veteran deaths at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home up to 82, Chelsea at 30 (April 30)

The Holyoke Soldiers’ Home reported 82 veteran resident deaths during the coronavirus pandemic as of Wednesday.

Of those who died, 70 tested positive for COVID-19, 11 tested negative, and one cause of death remains unknown, according to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. 

Officials said 80 other veteran residents and 81 employees have also tested positive. 

As cases grow, the facility reported that 105 residents have remained onsite while 39 have been moved offsite. 

Officials reported that another 31 residents are currently at a dedicated skilled nursing unit at Holyoke Medical Center, and eight veteran residents are receiving acute care elsewhere.

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At the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home, 30 veteran residents have died, 23 of whom tested positive for the coronavirus. 

The facility reported Wednesday that 198 other veteran residents have tested negative for COVID-19, and 24 have tested positive. 

Fifty-three staffers have also contracted the virus, according to state officials. 

On Tuesday, a group of residents who had been transferred to Veterans Affairs facilities for medical treatment after testing positive for COVID-19 were welcomed back to the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home, officials said. 

While veteran residents’ health is continually being monitored, officials added that they have been retesting people on- and off-site as necessary. 

The majority of those who test positive, they said, are being transferred to other facilities for the option of higher acuity care.

Worker safety group calls out lack of labor representation on Mass. board planning reopening (April 30)

A Massachusetts worker safety group is criticizing the makeup of the board formed by Gov. Charlie Baker to plan the state’s reopening, noting it does not have a member representing labor or occupational health and safety expertise. 

In a letter, the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, MassCOSH, urged the governor to expand the board to include new representation of those sectors, pointing to the estimated 2,500 workers known to have fallen ill with coronavirus as a result of workplace exposures. 

Frontline workers, the group argued, have had to put their own personal health at risk amid the pandemic and “deserve a seat at the table.”

“This pandemic has created an unprecedented worker health and safety crisis,” the group wrote to Baker. “It will be critically important to carefully phase-in the reopening of the economy and involve workers and employers during each phase to maximize the safety, health and financial well-being of everyone. 

“At a minimum, a safe, just return to work will need to include effective and stringent health and safety protections, backed by robust enforcement, and designed with meaningful input by workers and unions,” the group wrote. “It will also need a planned and detailed system of screening, testing and epidemiological surveillance.” 

In response to a request for comment, Baker’s office pointed to statements the governor made about the board during a Wednesday press conference. When asked by a reporter if the representation on the board was “broad enough,” Baker said groups can come to the board with proposals and ideas for reopening.

“What we would like you to do is get together with your colleagues, if you’re in insurance, if you’re in banking, if you’re in retail, if you’re in hotel, if you’re in restaurant, whatever your particular space is, figure out what you think the right safe operating model would be for you — unions can do the same thing with regard to what they think the issues are in their particular industries that they work in — and then come see these folks, and pitch your proposals, and work through them with this group to come up with a set of guidelines and standards that these verticals would each develop together so that they would be speaking with one voice instead of 75,” Baker said Wednesday.

The governor announced the creation of the 17-member board on Tuesday, charging the group of public health officials, three municipal officials, and business leaders with producing a report to inform the reopening of the state’s economy by May 18.  

Here is the latest data available on coronavirus cases in New England states (April 30)

Connecticut

Rhode Island

New Hampshire

Maine

Vermont

Mass. officials report 252 new COVID-19 deaths; cases surpass 60,000 (April 29)

See all of the state’s updated data here.

High school seniors who’ve yet to pass MCAS get a reprieve (April 29)

About 1,000 Massachusetts high school seniors at risk of failing to graduate because they have not yet passed the MCAS exam, which was canceled this spring because of the coronavirus pandemic, have been given a reprieve by the state Board of Education.

Those seniors can now graduate by showing that they successfully completed a course with the same subject matter that would have been on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exam, officials determined Tuesday.

State education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley recommended that the state review the students’ transcripts to help move them along to graduation.

Details are still being worked on.

— Associated Press

Massachusetts reports 27,939 residents have been subject to quarantine for the coronavirus; 10,280 currently being monitored (April 29)

Connecticut announces coronavirus contact tracing initiative; Maine unveils plans for reopening (April 29)

Connecticut

Officials announced Tuesday announced a widespread contact tracing initiative will be launched statewide starting in May in Connecticut, where the total number of coronavirus cases has reached 26,312 and 2,089 people have died from the virus. 

 

Rhode Island

With Rhode Island reporting 7,926 coronavirus cases and 239 fatalities from the virus, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is bringing a mask-decontamination unit to Providence, the Providence Journal reports

New Hampshire

Maine

On Tuesday, Gov. Janet Mills announced a phased plan for restarting the state’s economy, while extending the stay-at-home order in Maine through May 31. Under the extended order, Maine residents are asked to continue to stay at home with the exceptions of existing permitted activities, such as grocery shopping and exercising, but the new version of the order will allow individuals to visit businesses or participate in activities that are deemed safe to open under Stage 1 of the reopening plan. The first phase begins May 1. 

“Our work is far from over,” Mills said in a statement. “While this plan presents a path forward for gradually and safely restarting our economy, it should not lure Maine people into thinking that this pandemic is almost over or that things will be back to normal soon. The hard truth is that they are not; that they likely will not be for a long time; and that, with this plan, we are inventing a new normal – a different way of doing business, shopping, traveling, and enjoying the Maine outdoors in ways that keep us all safe.”  

Vermont

Mass. officials report 150 new COVID-19 deaths, 1,840 new cases (April 28)

See all the state’s updated data here.

Mass. courts to postpone trials, remain closed to the public through at least June 1 (April 28)

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued an updated order Monday postponing certain bench trials until at least June 1 and pushing jury trials into July.

“Under the new order, until at least June 1, 2020, all courts of the commonwealth will continue to be open to conduct court business, but courthouses will continue to be closed to the general public, except where entry is required to address emergency matters that cannot be addressed virtually (by telephone, videoconference, email, or comparable means, or through the electronic filing system),” officials said in a statement.

Bench trials in both criminal and civil cases have been pushed back until June 1 at the earliest under the mandate, while cases in jury trials have been postponed until at least July 1.

Bench trials, however, may be held before June if they can be conducted virtually by agreement of the parties involved and the court.

The order also directs Trial Court departments to identify non-emergency matters that may be able to be addressed by the court virtually and to provide that guidance to the public and attorneys.

The SJC and Appeals Court will continue to hear oral arguments for non-emergency matters virtually, officials said. The updated order takes effect on May 4.

CVS to expand COVID-19 testing, adding 1,000 sites around the country (April 28)

By the end of May, CVS hopes to offer 1,000 new self-swab COVID-19 testing locations across the country with the goal of processing up to 1.5 million tests every month.

“Our industry has been united by the unique role we can play in addressing the pandemic and protecting people’s health,” CVS Health President and CEO Larry J. Merlo said in a statement from the company Monday. “We all share the same goal, and that’s dramatically increasing the frequency and efficiency of testing so we can slow the spread of the virus and start to responsibly reopen the economy when experts tell us it’s safe.”

Testing at these select new sites will be scheduled online and take place in parking lots or at drive-thru windows.

A CVS spokeswoman, Tara Burke, said the company’s “primary limitation is the availability of testing equipment and capacity of the labs to process the tests.”

She said CVS will focus on setting up these additional 1,000 sites at pharmacy locations with MinuteClinics.

There are five MinuteClinics based in Boston and a total of 59 across Massachusetts. As of now, it is not clear how many of these locations will act as self-swab testing sites.

 Burke said while this testing will not be available at all CVS pharmacy locations, the company is “looking to provide additional access in areas of the country that need additional testing.”

Currently, CVS Health is operating a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in Lowell, where up to 1,000 Massachusetts residents can be tested daily, receiving their results within 30 minutes.

Appointments for testing at the Lowell location can be made here.

Notary publics can now verify signatures remotely, thanks to a new law (April 28)

Notary publics can now perform notary actions using video conferencing after Gov. Charlie Baker signed a remote notarization bill Monday afternoon.

The law, which will last until three days after Massachusetts lifts its COVID-19 state of emergency order, allows notary publics to virtually serve as witnesses for any documents requiring notarization — including mortgages, wills, guardianship nominations, caregiver authorization affidavits, real estate title transfers, and other legal matters.

“During the public health emergency it has been difficult for the public to process certain legal transactions especially those on behalf of those who are sick or dying, therefore the Legislature acted to ensure notaries can conduct business virtually in order to adhere to physical distancing measures,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo said in a statement Friday after the Legislature passed the bill. “We must make sure that families, individuals, and businesses can execute wills, proxies, real estate transactions, and other important documents during the COVID-19 public health crisis.”

In passing these temporary provisions, Massachusetts joins over 30 other states across the country allowing remote notarization during the crisis.

Senate President Karen Spilka noted how the law will aid the state’s economy, too.

“Allowing for virtual notarization will mean important legal transactions can continue unimpeded, which is good for our economy and the commonwealth as a whole,” she said in a statement.

Under this new law, everyone involved in the recorded video conference is required to provide identification before notaries can witness signatures. For these actions to be valid, both the notary and those involved are also required to be physically located in the commonwealth.

Once someone’s ID and location has been confirmed, the signed documents must then be mailed to the notary public who will stamp and sign them, along with a certificate explaining that the document was notarized remotely.

Veteran deaths from the coronavirus rise to 66 at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home (April 28)

The number of veterans who have died at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home since the start of the coronavirus outbreak had risen to 77 as of Monday, with 66 of the residents who died testing positive for COVID-19. Ten of the residents who died tested negative, and one case remains unknown. 

As of Monday, 83 veteran residents and 82 employees at the state-run facility, where federal and independent investigations have been ordered to determine how the COVID-19 outbreak unfolded and whether it was mismanaged, had tested positive for the virus. Two veterans had tests that were pending, and 64 residents had tested negative. 

Two new veteran resident deaths associated with the coronavirus were reported Monday at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home, where 26 residents have died since the outbreak began. Nineteen veterans who died at the Chelsea home tested positive, while seven tested negative. 

As of Monday, 28 residents and 53 staff members at the state-run facility had tested positive; 198 veterans at the home had tested negative. 

Connecticut reports it is in a ‘downslope’ of its outbreak, as Rhode Island presents a plan for phased reopening (April 28)

Connecticut

With Connecticut reporting a 25,997 coronavirus cases and 2,012 deaths from the virus, Gov. Ned Lamont estimated the state is about seven days into a “downslope” of the outbreak. 

Rhode Island

On Monday, Gov. Gina Raimondo presented the state’s phased plan for reopening. Rhode Island has reported a total of 7,708 coronavirus and has reported 233 fatalities. The governor aims to lift the state’s stay-at-home order on May 9, according to the Providence Journal

“It’s not going to be a flick of a switch,” Raimondo said, according to the newspaper. “This is an adaptive recovery. We’re going to be doing a bit of a dance during the next 12 months.” 

As experts point to extensive testing as key to reopening, data shows that more residents per capita have been tested in Rhode Island than in any other state.

New Hampshire

Gov. Chris Sununu announced Monday the state is working to increase community testing for coronavirus to 1,500 individuals daily, with the goal of making it easier for residents to get tested closer to their homes. The state has reported 1,938 coronavirus cases and 60 virus deaths. 

Maine

Gov. Janet Mills is expected to reveal her plan for reopening the state on Tuesday, the Portland Press Herald reports. Maine has documented 1,023 coronavirus cases and 51 deaths.

Vermont

Vermont’s health commissioner Mark Levine said Monday the state is doubling down on its contact tracing initiative as a phased reopening plan begins, Vermont Digger reports. The move follows after Vermonters reportedly complained about a lack of follow up from state investigators tracing points of contact for coronavirus cases. 

“Going forward, that’s an absolute necessity that every contact be contacted and understood exactly what likelihood they may have of further spreading disease,” Levine said, according to Digger. 

Death toll from the coronavirus in Mass. surpasses 3,000 (April 27)

See all the state’s updated data here.

‘May 4 is too early’: Walsh says city will not reopen by Gov.’s deadline (April 27)

During his Monday press conference, Mayor Marty Walsh said Boston will not reopen May 4, even if the state’s stay-at-home advisory and shutdown of all non-essential businesses end as scheduled that day.

“There’s no question that May 4 is too early,” Walsh said. 

“The lives of our residents and the work of our businesses have been uprooted for weeks. Many are facing financial hardships, and we know that the economy and the people’s livelihood are on the line,” the mayor acknowledged.

But Walsh said there needs to be a hard look at data that’s being collected by state and city officials before Massachusetts can evaluate which protocols need to be in place to safely lift the shutdown orders. 

“I’d have serious concerns if we start relaxing some of the measures we’ve taken in Boston and across the commonwealth on May 4,” he said. “Especially if it’s done without a clear and thoughtful plan. Our residents and our businesses need transparency, whatever level of predictability we can offer during this unpredictable time. I can tell you right now, Boston will not reopen on May 4. We need to determine what the public health benchmarks are.” 

Currently, Walsh said the city is establishing short-, medium-, and long-term recovery frameworks.

“This will need to be a plan that can be adapted as quickly as the virus can change,” he said. 

Walsh said the city’s plan is also being made to prevent further spikes in COVID-19 cases and reduce any health or economic inequities that may arise during the recovery efforts.  

“We can’t afford to make any mistakes,” he said. “We are not going to sit back and wait for the coronavirus to go away to take the next step, but we are going to approach it very thoughtfully. We should never put ourselves in a position where we move too quickly, and undo the progress that’s been made.” 

And Walsh said the public will know as soon as officials have established a clearer idea of what these paths to reopening might look like.

“We may not have all the answers at once,” he said, “but as soon as we know our plans, what they are in Boston, we’re gonna share them with you.”

Gov. Baker announces mandatory nursing home guidelines, $130 million in additional support (April 27) 

Massachusetts will issue a set of mandatory criteria that all nursing home operators must adhere to in the continuing fight against COVID-19, Gov. Charlie Baker said during his Monday update on the state’s response. 

With nursing homes accounting for more than half the state’s deaths from the virus, Baker said Mass. is ramping up efforts to help, and establishing more accountability measures. 

Some of these new requirements include testing all staff and residents for COVID-19; following a 28-point infection control checklist based on guidance from the CDC and the Department of Public Health; and meeting all clinical care, personal protective equipment, and staffing requirements. 

“Facilities will be audited to make sure they’re meeting these requirements and providing the safest possible environments for some of our most vulnerable residents,” Baker said. “Clearly protecting our most vulnerable citizens in nursing homes, rest homes, and assisted living residences, has emerged as among the greatest challenges we face in our fight against COVID-19.” 

As Massachusetts remains in the surge, he also announced efforts to support temporary staffing shortages at nursing homes across the state. 

A clinical response team of 120 nurses and certified nursing assistants will be on call, ready to be sent in groups of 10 to any facilities facing emergency situations, he said.  

Baker said the state will also allocate an additional $130 million to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to support other staffing costs, infection control, and PPE. 

To be eligible for the new funding, he said facilities will have to meet the new mandatory criteria. 

“We will be as aggressive as we possibly can be, working with our colleagues in the long-term care industry to ensure that we’re taking all the necessary precautions and providing the resources that are necessary to get this job done,” Baker said. 

State creates map pointing residents to open parks, reminds people to social distance (April 27)

As warmer weather slowly rolls through the commonwealth amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation said all of the state’s parks are experiencing more visitors than normal. 

To support social distancing efforts, Mass. DCR created a ‘Find a Park’ webpage that outlines park rules and etiquette, while showing residents which parks are open and closest to them. 

As park conditions change, officials said the webpage will be updated.

Anyone visiting a state park is asked to stay in small groups, leave at least six feet between others, participate in only non-contact activities, and carry in and out all their trash, including dog waste.

People who are ill, over 70, or part of a vulnerable population are asked to stay home.

Here is the latest data on coronavirus cases in New England states (April 27)

Connecticut

Rhode Island

New Hampshire

Maine

Vermont

 

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