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

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

Mass. reports 139 new COVID-19 deaths, 1,050 new positive cases (May 10)

Here’s the latest on coronavirus cases in New England states (May 10)

Connecticut 

Gov. Ned Lamont released documents Saturday detailing specific rules for businesses that will be eligible to reopen on May 20. 

The first phase of Connecticut’s reopening plan, Lamont said, includes restaurants, offices, hair salons, barbershops, retail stores, outdoor museums, and zoos. 

Read each business’s required reopening rules here.

Rhode Island 

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order Friday, officially lifting the state’s stay-at-home order. 

The new order, according to her office, gives the Rhode Island Department of Health the ability to enforce public health guidelines and business regulations such as levying fines against individuals or businesses.

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New Hampshire 

Maine

Vermont 

 

Mass. officials report 138 new COVID-19 deaths as total cases surpass 76,000 (May 9)

See all the state’s updated data here.

Here’s the latest data on coronavirus cases in New England states (May 9)

Connecticut

Rhode Island

New Hampshire

Maine

Vermont

Mass. officials report 150 new COVID-19 deaths; total cases pass 75,000 (May 8)

See all the state’s updated data here.

No parades or festivals in Boston through Labor Day, mayor says (May 8)

Here is the latest information on the coronavirus outbreak in New England states (May 8)

Connecticut 

Rhode Island

New Hampshire

Maine

Vermont

Walmart employee who died from the coronavirus identified (May 7)

Yok Yen Lee, 69, died from the coronavirus on Sunday at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The Quincy Walmart employee was a wife, a “cherished mother,” a “loving grandmother,” and a “beloved sister,” according to her obituary.

“Lee leaves behind a legacy of being a wonderful and amazingly kind woman,” her obituary reads. “She will be dearly missed by her family, relatives, colleagues and friends.”

Before catching the virus, Lee was healthy, babysitting her two grandchildren and taking Zumba every day, WBZ-TV reported

“She deserved better, she was like such a great woman,” Lee’s daughter, Elaine Eklund, told the station. “She was selfless; she was a great mother, a great grandmother.”

132 new COVID-19 deaths reported in Mass.; total surpasses 4,500 (May 7)

See all the state’s updated data here.

Six Flags to require reservations when park reopens (May 7)

When Six Flags New England reopens its park for the 2020 season, pass holders and members will need to make reservations before visiting. 

“To meet state social distancing guidelines and ensure the health and safety of our guests, all visits to the park must be pre-scheduled using our online reservation system,” Six Flags stated in a message on its website.

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The Agawam park was scheduled to open in early April, but now, under local and regional COVID-19 health directives, officials said it “will open as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Gov. Baker reminds Mass. residents it’s ‘vital’ they answer when contract tracers call (May 7)

As the state ramps up efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through its Community Tracing Collaborative, Gov. Charlie Baker stressed the importance of answering your phone when a contact tracer calls.

“If you get a call or a text from your local board of health or from the MA COVID Team, it’s vital that you take that call,” Baker said during his Thursday press conference. “Doing so means you’re helping your family, your friends, and your community, and the rest of us by reducing the spread of the virus. This call is your chance to fight back against COVID-19.” 

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will get a call or text from a number with an 833 or 857 area code. The caller ID will also read “MA COVID Team.” 

The phone call, Baker said, focuses on connecting confirmed positive COVID-19 patients to support and resources for quarantine, and identifying any of their close contacts who may have been exposed to the virus. 

“Then we need those people to pick up the phone,” Baker said. “We want them to know why they should stay home, and we want to make sure that they also have what they need to isolate and quarantine effectively.”

Since calls began on April 12, he said tens of thousands of Massachusetts residents have answered, but he’s hoping more will take the step. 

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“For this effort to be successful and grow quickly, we need residents to answer the phone and to talk to our contact tracers when they call,” Baker said. “Please, if you’re contacted by the collaborative, please take the call and provide the relevant information to the caller.”

The initiative is staffed by more than 1,600 contact tracers who have connected with nearly 14,000 positive COVID-19 cases. 

Baker said on average over the last few weeks, the people who’ve tested positive have been naming just two people that they have been in close contact with, a sign that people have been following social distancing guidelines. Callers, he added, are neighbors and community members who are focused on keeping you and your information safe. 

Below, watch a video further outlining how the process works. 

Marty Walsh announces plans to drastically increase testing in Boston (May 7)

As Boston Mayor Marty Walsh expands testing efforts in the city, he’s looking to reach an average of at least 1,500 diagnostic tests per day for Boston residents.

This next phase of testing, according to his office, will also prioritize the most vulnerable neighborhoods. 

As of now, about 1,100 tests are conducted on residents every day, showing an increase from the previous week’s average of 680 tests per day, the mayor’s office said.

“Testing helps people get the care they need and avoid passing the virus on to others,” Walsh said in a statement. “Increasing our testing efforts allows our public health experts to better track the outbreak and it will continue to be essential in our progress toward recovery. 

“Public health models tell us that the more testing we can do, the more we can reduce our positive infection rate, giving us the data and confidence we need to move forward safely,” the mayor wrote.

As part of the expansion, city officials said Boston will use the current testing infrastructure to increase the number of community health centers offering testing and increase their testing capacity by 50% over the course of the next month.

Through mobile testing, officials said they hope to test 150 residents a day and operate six days a week.

The city is also working to complete universal testing for those experiencing homelessness before beginning universal testing for other high-impact populations, like first responders.

Additionally, authorities said that East Boston, which has shown the highest rate of positive coronavirus results of any other city neighborhood, saw testing increase by 76 percent last week.

Currently, Boston offers testing at five hospitals and 18 community health centers. 

Any residents hoping to get tested can find a map of the city’s sites here

House votes to authorize borrowing billions in first-ever virtual session (May 7)

Massachusetts House lawmakers held their first-ever virtual session on Wednesday.

Lawmakers used the session — which allowed them to debate and vote remotely — to approve a bill filed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker aimed at authorizing state borrowing during the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency.

The bill would allow the state treasurer to borrow any “necessary” amount this fiscal year and pay it back by June 2021, The Boston Globe reported. House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s budget chairman Aaron Michlewitz said that amount could be “in the range of $3 billion,” according to the Globe.

The bill now heads to the Massachusetts Senate.

— Associated Press

 

Here’s the latest data on coronavirus cases in New England states (May 7)

Connecticut

Rhode Island

New Hampshire

Maine

Vermont

Mass. officials report 208 new deaths due to the coronavirus (May 6)

See all of the state’s updated data here.

2 Walmarts close due to coronavirus concerns; a Boston Target employee tests positive (May 6)

Walmart announced Wednesday that they have decided to temporarily close their Avon and Abington locations for a second time to test employees for the coronavirus.

“We’ve been monitoring our stores, executing cleaning practices and bringing in third-party experts to sanitize stores while also working with local officials on additional proactive actions. Those efforts have also included voluntarily closing stores temporarily — an especially tough decision when customers are relying on us more than ever for the essential items they need,” Walmart Boston-area Regional General Manager Eddie Bostic said in a statement. “Since the temporary closure of our Abington store we have been made aware of at least one new case of COVID-19. In Avon, we’ve seen the impact in the local community, which has also been felt in our store.”

The closings come after an employee at the Walmart in Quincy died from the coronavirus. That location was temporarily closed as well.

The company said they will be working with Avon and Abington health officials to test more associates and others who work at the stores for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, a Target employee working at the store in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood has tested positive for the virus.

After getting news of the positive case, a spokesperson for the company told 7News that the store quickly deep cleaned and sanitized all surfaces.

The employee is now on paid leave, the spokesperson told the station, and is following all health department guidelines, including self-quarantining.

Local businesses can now apply for Facebook grants (May 6)

Small businesses in Greater Boston have until Friday to apply for a $4,000 grant from Facebook’s $100 million worldwide effort to help businesses get back on their feet despite the pandemic’s economic toll. 

Facebook will dole out grants, which will come as $2,500 in cash, and an optional $1,500 in ad credits, to 156 local companies. 

To be eligible to apply, businesses must be a for-profit company, have between two and 50 employees, have been in business for over a year, and have experienced challenges from the COVID-19 crisis. 

Facebook also created a website with additional resources on how local businesses can prepare for and manage emergencies like COVID-19. 

Baker ‘cautiously optimistic’ as data begins showing positive downward trend (May 6)

In his Wednesday press briefing, Gov. Charlie Baker said he’s been encouraged to see some key data — like positive test rates, hospitalizations, and fatality rates — trending downward in the past six to eight days. 

“We’re still very much in this fight with COVID-19, but it Is encouraging to see some positive progress,” Baker said. “As we come through the other side of this and determine our next steps for a path forward, we need to see those numbers continue to drop.”

He said a phased-in reopening can’t begin until those downward trends are sustained. 

“We are cautiously optimistic about some of this data, but we should certainly not let up now,” Baker added. “And as I stand here, with Gillette Stadium behind me, I have to say that no one quits, no one stops, no one slows down in the fourth quarter.” 

Since the coronavirus is a new disease, there’s no historical data indicating how it will act going forward, making it hard to predict what the future trends will look like, Baker said. 

“It’s very risky to make broad prognostications about what’s going on, where it’s going, how it’s gonna get there — so much of what we know about this virus has changed in the last 60 days,” he said. “Some people might even say that everything we know about this virus has changed in the last 60 days. So when I say here that we have seen encouraging trends, that’s because I’m talking about the past. I’m not gonna speak to the future. The future’s gonna be what it’s gonna be.”

But if people continue to social distance, wear face coverings, and hunker down at home as much as possible, Baker said the positive trends may continue. 

“People need to keep doing the things that got us to this point if we want to see that downward trend continue,” he said.

COVID-19 testing center opens for Malden and Everett residents (May 6)

Everett and Malden residents over the age of 8 now have expanded access to free coronavirus testing in their communities, regardless of insurance or immigration status.

Cambridge Health Alliance opened a standalone testing tent at its Malden Care Center on 195 Canal St. a week ago. 

Testing is available both as a drive-thru service and for bicyclists and people who arrive on foot from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. 

“Providing a stand-alone testing location in Malden supports multiple public health goals: increased ease of testing, limiting risk of incidental infection and preserving hospital resources for the sickest patients,” the alliance’s CEO Dr. Assaad Sayah said in a statement

Malden Mayor Gary Christenson said this new site will ensure that every resident has access to testing. 

“Stopping the further spread of COVID-19 relies heavily on our ability to test quickly and safely,” Christenson said in a statement, noting that now the city has the ability to do just that.

Anyone who wants to be tested must schedule an appointment ahead of time by calling the Malden Care Center’s hotline at 617-665-2928. 

Each community’s Department of Public Health will contact residents with their results five days after they have been tested, according to the center. 

Here is the latest information on the coronavirus outbreak in New England states (May 6)

Connecticut

Gov. Ned Lamont announced Tuesday that schools in the state will remain closed for the rest of the academic year, with distance learning continuing, due to the pandemic. 

Rhode Island

Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order on Tuesday that will require state residents to wear a face covering in public spaces — both indoors and outdoors. The order goes into effect on Friday, with only children under the age of 2 and individuals whose health would be negatively affected by wearing a face covering exempted from the requirement. 

New Hampshire

Maine

Vermont

 

Mass. officials report 122 new COVID-19 deaths, 1,184 new cases (May 5)

See all the state’s updated data here.

Here is the latest data on coronavirus cases in New England states (May 5) 

Connecticut

Rhode Island

New Hampshire

Maine

Vermont

Mass. officials report 86 new COVID-19 deaths, 1,000 new cases (May 4)

See all the state’s updated data here.

Chelmsford nursing home worker dies of the coronavirus (May 4)

Catherine Drouin, a social worker at a Chelmsford nursing home, died from the coronavirus on April 27 at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen.

“She was always above and beyond in her job; she was never selfish,” her husband of 42 years, Dennis Drouin, told The Boston Globe. “She was always so caring, she never stopped, even when she got sick.”

The 69-year-old had worked at the Palm Center nursing home for more than two decades, the newspaper reported.

Dennis Drouin told reporters his wife had even volunteered to work 10 days straight despite the evolving pandemic.

In a statement, the Chelmsford facility noted, though not directly by name, that she “was a well-loved colleague of more than 20 years and the entire community is mourning her loss, along with many residents who were also taken by this terrible virus.”

As of Sunday, 53 residents and 46 Palm Center staff members had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Globe; 29 other residents had died.

Marty Walsh donates $500,000 in campaign money to Boston Resiliency Fund (May 4)

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh promised Sunday to donate $500,000 of his campaign money to the city’s coronavirus resiliency fund.

“To all those who have supported me in the past, I want to say an extra thank you today. This is your donation as well. You put your trust in me to lead. That’s what this moment calls for,” Walsh wrote in an email to supporters obtained by the Boston Herald.

The Herald reported that the money will go directly to the Boston Resiliency Fund, which city officials established in March to fund nonprofit organizations that are providing food, health care, and other vital resources to residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far, the fund has distributed $15.2 million in emergency grants to 165 local organizations.

As of April 30, Walsh’s campaign account held $5.6 million in cash and savings, according to the state’s campaign finance database. He is up for re-election next year.


“We all have to stay the course,” says Walsh (May 4)


Boston up to 19 coronavirus testing sites; Walsh reminds residents to call first (May 4)

By the end of the week, Mayor Marty Walsh said Boston will have stood up 19 coronavirus testing sites throughout the city.

He also noted that Boston’s positive rate of tests is at 32% and trending downward from last week’s 34%. Four percent of the city’s population, or 28,000 people, have already been tested.

As the city establishes more local testing sites, Walsh reminded people to call ahead and secure an appointment.

“Contact the health center, and I ask you to be patient with them because some of them are experiencing high volumes of calls,” Walsh said during his Monday press conference. “As we see more and more of these sites go up, the increase and the desire to get more testing is going to increase as well.”

Residents, he added, need to be pre-screened over the phone before scheduling an appointment.  

“That is key, you cannot show up and just get a test,” Walsh said. 

In more efforts to increase testing, he said Brigham and Women’s Hospital will also host testing at the Boston Centers for Youth and Families’ Roxbury location this week. 

For more information on each individual testing site, check the city’s COVID-19 testing map.

Boston adds 8 more adult meal site locations, launches new program to deliver 45,000 pounds of food (May 4)

Mayor Marty Walsh said Boston will be adding eight new adult meal sites across the city by the end of the week. 

The additional sites will be located in East Boston, Charlestown, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Hyde Park, Roxbury, and Mattapan, he said during his Monday press conference.

“This almost doubles the numbers of meals available for adults,” Walsh noted. 

Locations and each meal site’s hours will be listed on the city’s food resources map

Walsh said Boston is also launching a partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank, Boston Public Schools, the Boston Housing Authority, and the Age Strong Commission to deliver 2,400 boxes of food to households in need. 

“This is a great example of our city coming together to support our residents in their biggest and most immediate needs,” he said. 

Food will be delivered to households within the Boston Housing Authority and households identified by the Age Strong Commission. 

“If you’re hungry and you can’t access food,” Walsh added, “call 311 and we will take care of you.”

Massachusetts unites with 6 other states to buy personal protective equipment in bulk (May 4)

Massachusetts will join a seven-state partnership to develop a regional supply chain of personal protective equipment, other medical equipment, and testing. 

The commonwealth will work with New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Connecticut to buy nearly $5 billion worth of PPE and other supplies. 

Gov. Charlie Baker announced the Northeast Consortium during his daily briefing Monday

“Over the weekend we joined with the other Northeastern states in the united front around procuring PPE on a go-forward basis in a more organized fashion so that we can maximize our orders and bring in quantities we’ll need for healthcare workers, public safety people, and others as we go forward,” Baker said. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also announced the consortium during a press conference on Sunday.

“That will then increase our market power when we are buying,” Cuomo said. “And we will buy as a consortium, price as a consortium, for PPE equipment, ventilators, medical equipment, whatever we need to buy. When you put all those hospitals together, all that public health capacity together — which will make us more competitive in the international marketplace — I believe it will save taxpayers money.”

Many states are still having trouble getting PPE, Cuomo said, adding that this new consortium will help Northeastern states get the equipment they need at a better price. 

Baker said Mass. is continuing to chase down protective gear “to ensure the safety of our frontline health care workers, our nursing home workers, our emergency responders, vulnerable residents and others.” 

As of Sunday, he said the state had delivered over 8 million pieces of PPE. 

Worcester Walmart where 81 employees contracted COVID-19 to reopen soon, say officials (May 4)

Worcester city officials are looking to reopen the Walmart Supercenter, which reported a recent COVID-19 outbreak, in the next couple of days — but there’s still testing to be done.

Out of the store’s 391 employees, 81 have contracted the virus. This includes 58 workers who were tested on Thursday and Friday, and 23 other employees who tested positive during the initial outbreak, according to a public update.

The store, at 25 Tobias Boland Way, has been professionally cleaned since shutting down, City Manager Edward M. Augustus said during Sunday’s press briefing at City Hall.

“And the goal is to allow the store to open sometime in the next couple of days,” Augustus said Sunday. “It won’t be tomorrow. But we will let you know when the store will be cleared for opening.”

Dr. Michael P. Hirsh, the city’s medical director, said his team has a few more COVID-19 tests to see through before conducting another inspection of the building.

“We’re very close to be able to get them back online,” Hirsh said. “There were some stray employees that were on leave and weren’t around to be tested on Thursday and Friday, and we want to make sure that they’re tested so that we know that they are not going to be the ones that start an outbreak in the group that we have as negative. Once we know that, and we’re again going to do another inspection from our division in inspectional services, then we should be able to get this store back online.”

As of Sunday, city officials said they’re still preparing and determining an official date to reopen the Supercenter.

Here is the latest data on coronavirus cases in New England states (May 4)

Connecticut

Rhode Island

New Hampshire

Maine

Vermont

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