Note: Last week’s coronavirus live updates can be found here.
See all of the state’s updated data here.
MCI-Framingham reported that more than a third of its prisoners have tested positive with COVID-19.
Out of 191 prisoners at the state’s only female prison, 67 have contracted the virus, according to data from county sheriffs and the Massachusetts Department of Correction.
Fourteen staff members have also tested positive for the disease.
Below, see a full graph from the the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts outlining positive cases as reported at prisons across the commonwealth:
Civil rights and public health advocates have been urging Gov. Charlie Baker to step up his response to curbing the spread of COVID-19 in state prisons and jails.
In the coming weeks, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said the state will use 20,000 antibody tests on a random population sample to better understand the prevalence of the virus, according to a press release.
Alongside this effort, she announced a new COVID-19 Testing and Validation Task Force that will analyze the data after it has been collected.
See all of the state’s updated data here.
Hasbro, the toy-manufacturing giant, is shifting away from making board games like Monopoly and Clue to instead produce and donate thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment for local health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company has begun to transition its East Longmeadow partner factory with Cartamundi, so it is capable of producing 50,000 face shields a week, according to Hasbro President and COO John Frascotti.
“We’re doing this because it’s part of our purpose as a company to make the world a better place for children and their families and we’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do,” he said during a press conference Saturday.
Gov. Charlie Baker, who toured the facility with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Congressman Richard Neal, said Hasbro will donate the face shields to hospitals in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The company has already sent over 250 shields for staff at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, where reportedly 73 veterans had died due to COVID-19 complications as of Friday, according to WWLP.
“This is a big deal,” the governor said of Hasbro’s initiative. “They’ve re-converted some of their operations (and) created the space to safely make it possible to manufacture gear to support our front line workers and first responders.”
Hasbro is one of over 600 companies — including 400 based out of the Bay State — and agencies state officials are working with to provide PPE to frontline workers, according to Baker, who said the donations announced Saturday “will save lives.”
Neal said Hasbro transitioned to help out during the crisis “right away.”
“They called me. They called me to tell me what they’re doing,” he said.
According to Baker, the state has so far delivered over 6.1 million pieces of PPE, ranging from gloves to gowns, for health care workers and first responders across the state. Officials announced this week the commonwealth would dole out 200,000 respirator masks for law enforcement and firefighting agencies.
See all of the state’s updated data here.
Marty Walsh responds to Mitch McConnell’s suggestion that local governments should declare bankruptcy to address coronavirus costs (April 24)
Mayor Marty Walsh said Friday that the federal government should be providing more support to cities to address the deep financial costs of the coronavirus pandemic, though he added that bankruptcy “might be an option” for some.
During an MSNBC appearance Friday morning, Walsh was asked about the controversial suggestion this week by Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, that state and local governments should be allowed to “use the bankruptcy route” and that additional emergency funding from the federal government should be reevaluated.
“It’s the responsibility, in my opinion, of the federal government — the United States Senate, the United States Congress — to make sure that the resources are available for cities so they don’t have to file for bankruptcy,” Walsh said.
“I don’t feel that’s the appropriate way,” he added, noting that bankruptcy could bring other difficulties.
The pandemic has resulted in both increased costs and declining revenue for local governments, due to the twofold impact of the public health and economic crises. And unlike the federal government, state and local government are effectively unable to run a fiscal deficit.
As a result, congressional Democrats are calling for the next coronavirus bill to include additional financial support for state and local governments, which was not included in the interim legislation passed this week. McConnell’s comments this week signaled that Republicans may oppose such relief, arguing that it would “bail out state pensions by borrowing money from future generations.”
Walsh, who is a Democrat, said Friday that support should focus on cities — where coronavirus cases have been concentrated due to their density — that had preexisting financial challenges.
While Boston is generally well positioned when it comes to the city’s budget, the unprecedented pandemic may push other cities toward the bankruptcy route, the mayor said.
“Those folks that can’t make it work, then that might have to be an option for them — to file for bankruptcy,” Walsh said. “But a city like Boston, I can tell you right now we’re not filing for bankruptcy.”
Gov. Charlie Baker says he now feels “very good” about the number of ventilators in Massachusetts.
Once a point of concern for local officials, the Baker administration had requested up to 1,700 of the “desperately” needed breathing machines from the federal government’s stockpile to support the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. And even though that request has been nowhere near completely filled, the Massachusetts governor told WGBH in an interview Friday morning that they have acquired roughly half that number through a variety of sources to reinforce the state’s existing supply of ventilators.
“We got 400 from the stockpile, we got 50 from manufacturers, we got nine donated from people who weren’t in the COVID space, and we borrowed 400 from New York, whose surge happened a little bit before ours,” Baker said. “I feel very good about where we are with ventilators.”
His comments come amid optimism from medical experts that the state won’t need to refer to its controversial rationing guidelines as it weathers a surge in coronavirus hospitalizations. So far, Baker has said the surge hasn’t been as bad as some feared.
Still, the governor predicted that the state will continue to pursue much-needed personal protective equipment for health care workers and other frontline employees “for a long time.” He also expressed hope that the pandemic would force the country to develop a national strategy for how to supply PPE during future emergencies.
“Whether you’re talking about gowns or gloves or masks — one of my big lessons coming out of all this is you can never have enough of this,” Baker said.
Mass. officials report 178 new COVID-19 deaths, 3,079 new cases (April 23)
See all the state’s updated data.
Fifteen residents at a Raynham nursing home have died, while 105 other residents and staffers reportedly have tested positive for COVID-19.
In total, 85 residents and 20 employees at the Life Care Center of Raynham have tested positive with the virus, Tim Killian, a company spokesperson, told The Enterprise.
Killian told the newspaper that of the 15 residents who have died, 12 were relocated to area hospitals and three remained at the facility.
The Massachusetts National Guard, he told The Enterprise, recently tested all 120 residents still living in the facility.
Of those who have tested positive, he noted that 17 have moved to local hospitals, 49 remain living at the Life Care Center, and four have recovered.
More than 80,000 people filed for unemployment benefits in Massachusetts last week as the state becomes a coronavirus hotspot.
Data released by federal officials on Thursday shows more than 4.4 million laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits nationwide last week. There were 80,345 new claims in Massachusetts.
Roughly 650,000 people have filed for unemployment in Massachusetts in the last five weeks.
The Massachusetts death toll in the coronavirus pandemic surged past 2,000 on Wednesday. Public health officials said there were 221 new deaths, pushing the overall toll to 2,182.
It was the most deaths reported in a single day since the outbreak in Massachusetts began, and the first time the state has recorded more than 200 in a day.
There were more than 1,700 new cases reported Wednesday, bringing the number of confirmed cases close to 43,000.
— Associated Press
The MBTA reported that 103 of its employees have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Thursday.
Of those who have contracted the virus, 52 are bus operators, four are subway motor workers and five are trolley motor workers, a spokesman for the T said.
Six other employees have since recovered from the coronavirus and one has died, he added.
To protect MBTA workers during the pandemic, the agency said it has distributed masks, hand sanitizer, protective eyewear, and gloves to all employees.
Many workers have also been utilizing testing at the Patriot Place COVID-19 emergency responder testing site.
“On average, about 30 employees are being tested daily at the Foxboro facility,” the MBTA said in a statement. “The T is also conducting temperature checks at key bus and subway locations (about a dozen sites), where employees report to work for the beginning of their shifts. Any person with a temperature reading over 100 degrees is asked to leave the property immediately and contact her/his health care provider.”
Parking on the entirety of Plum Island is now restricted to residents only, and anyone violating the order will have their vehicle towed, authorities said.
Both the Newbury and Newburyport police departments announced the new restrictions on Wednesday on Facebook. Newbury police noted that this includes the Plum Island Turnpike, as well as Sunset Drive plus the parking lots near the Plum Island bridge. The gate to Parker River Refuge is also shuttered.
“All privately owned parking lots are deemed non-essential businesses and are closed,” part of the post said. “All municipal parking is designated Residential Permitted Only. ALL violators will be ticketed and towed at the vehicle owner’s expense.
“Please stay safe and stay home. With everyone’s cooperation, this emergency will pass.”
An online petition was created a week ago asking that access to the area, specifically the Newburyport side, be prohibited except to locals.
“Additionally these tourists are walking down to the beach and over the dunes (there is signage to indicate this is not allowed), which are severely eroded causing risk to themselves and our already at-risk dunes,” a description accompanying the petition on Change.org says. “Social distancing is scarce and folks are coming in crowds.”
The new restrictions come after there were reportedly groups of people visiting Plum Island and having a beach day last Sunday.
“We completely understand people’s need to get out and people going stir crazy, but now is not the time to be flocking to the beach,” Newbury police Chief Michael Reilly said earlier this week.
Former President Barack Obama commended Massachusetts’ for launching a COVID-19 community tracing collaborative, which looks to identify anyone who’s been exposed to COVID-19 and then asking them to self-isolate.
In his Wednesday tweet, Obama linked to a New Yorker article about the initiative, written by Jim Yong Kim, who is a co-founder of the organization working with Mass. to launch the tracing program, Partners in Health.
The former president also suggested that the Bay State’s efforts, implementing a strategy to track the virus’ spread, surpassed the federal government’s response.
“While we continue to wait for a coherent national plan to navigate this pandemic,” Obama wrote, “states like Massachusetts are beginning to adopt their own public health plans to combat this virus –– before it’s too late.”
While we continue to wait for a coherent national plan to navigate this pandemic, states like Massachusetts are beginning to adopt their own public health plans to combat this virus––before it's too late. https://t.co/Eb2Hz8H8vU
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 22, 2020
Here is the latest data on coronavirus cases and deaths available from New England states (April 23)
Mass. officials report 221 new deaths from the coronavirus (April 22)
See all of the state’s updated data.
At a time when internet access is more important than ever, as people are asked to use tele-helath services, move to online learning, and work from home, Lieutenant Gov. Karyn Polito said 53 Massachusetts communities are struggling with their connections.
“In areas of the commonwealth, that access through the internet is just not possible and so there are gaps,” Polito said in a Wednesday press conference.
As a “temporary step” to fill those gaps, she announced a partnership with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech and local internet service providers, who will now offer free wifi hotspots to unserved municipalities.
These hotspots will provide high-speed connections and will be offered on a rolling basis at a “public community anchor institution” as identified by the local internet provider, Polito said.
She noted that as people use these hotspots, they should follow all social distancing guidelines to keep themselves and others safe.
The hotspots will be posted here at the MassTech website as they’re established.
Gov. Charlie Baker said his administration’s community tracing collaborative is a key part of figuring out how the coronavirus spreads — but it only works if everyone participates.
“As a reminder, we need everybody out there to participate in this tracing program,” Baker said in his Wednesday briefing.
He said over 30 community health centers are participating in the collaborative, calling people in their communities and neighborhoods to track the spread.
And after working with cell phone service providers, he said all calls from contact tracers will show up unblocked on caller ID as “MA COVID TEAM.”
“Please pick up if you get that call,” Baker said. “This is your opportunity to help stop the spread of COVID-19 especially perhaps in your house, apartment, or neighborhood.”
With hopes of eliminating testing gaps in COVID-19 hotspots, Gov. Charlie Baker said Massachusetts will deem 12 community health centers throughout the state as new testing sites.
These designated centers will be located in Quincy, Brockton, Lowell, Fall River, New Bedford, Worcester, Provincetown, and multiple parts of Boston — at DotHouse Health, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Codman Square Health Center, the Whittier Street Health Center, and multiple online sites from Harbor Health Services.
Each health center will receive 2,200 tests a day from Quest Diagnostics, Baker said in his Wednesday briefing.
“Community health centers provide comprehensive health services for people across the commonwealth,” he said. “And these facilities are also deeply rooted in the fabric of their local communities. They’re trusted partners in addressing the broad health needs of underserved populations and they’re committed to eliminating health disparities, and facilitating access to health care for those they serve.”
With help from the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, Baker said the state identified which locales needed testing the most, including many densely populated communities.
Baker said as the pandemic progresses, his administration is committed to adding COVID-19 testing capabilities to more health centers soon.
Anyone looking to find a health center near them can visit the League’s website here.
Massachusetts reports 9,472 residents currently undergoing monitoring or quarantining for coronavirus (April 22)
There are currently 9,472 individuals undergoing monitoring or under quarantine for COVID-19 in Massachusetts, the state Department of Public Health said in an update Wednesday. A total of 22,952 people have been subject to quarantine in the state since the coronavirus pandemic began, and so far, 13,480 have completed monitoring and are no longer in quarantine.
The number of people being monitored for symptoms of COVID-19 is updated each Wednesday by the state. As of Tuesday, there have been 41,199 confirmed cases of the virus in the state and 1,961 people have died of complications from the illness.
Cohasset officials have sent letters to some parents saying they will issue a $300 fine for every day their child fails to comply with Massachusetts’ stay-at-home advisory to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The letters, as obtained by The Boston Globe, were sent from the town’s health agent, Pamela Fahey, who said police had recently broken up groups of youth involving the family’s child and urged all family members to take the state of emergency seriously “to literally save lives.”
Even with only a handful of letters sent, Cohasset Town Manager Christopher Senior told the newspaper, the word quickly spread.
“The letters had the desired effect, and no further enforcement actions have been necessary,” Senior told the Globe in an April 17 email. “Moral suasion can be very effective.”
Holyoke mayor says long-term care facilities ‘unprepared’ to handle pandemic, calls for immediate state intervention (April 22)
In a statement Tuesday, Mayor Alex Morse called on the state to take control of any Holyoke long-term care facilities with COVID-19 cases.
Morse is also asking the state to “implement a plan for direct emergency operational control or physical oversight of all long-term care facilities with positive cases in Massachusetts.”
He said the state’s recently released data outlining all the positive cases reported in long-term care facilities is troubling.
“But to the best of our local knowledge,” Morse added, “it is an undercounting of the true nature of the spread of this virus in these facilities. The Holyoke Board of Health has been speaking with local long-term care facilities weekly, and more recently, daily, regarding their ability to combat the virus. We believe the situation has become too dire to continue with status quo operations.”
Many facilities have called for assistance already, he said, while others have suggested they have everything under control.
“These facilities, regardless of ownership structure, have proven unprepared to deal with the veracity of this pandemic,” Morse said, noting that he believes the situation is similar at long-term care facilities across the state. “Rather than place blame, or trust the word of facility administrators, what we need most is urgent intervention to save lives.”
While the Massachusetts National Guard has provided testing and personal protective equipment, he said the city’s facilities need additional staffing, more PPE usage policies, and assurances of proper isolation and quarantine for healthy and sick residents.
“While these measures may come off as excessive, we don’t need to imagine what the alternative is, we are seeing it every day in growing case counts and obituaries,” Morse said in his statement. “These people are not just statistics, we can not ignore their names, faces, and families. Many of these facilities are being governed by boards and executives far removed from the crisis. It’s time we listen, and heed the call for action from the frontline workers who are treating and caring for these patients.”
Mass. officials report 152 new COVID-19 deaths, 1,556 new cases (April 21)
Cape nursing home reports 60 residents with COVID-19, accounting for roughly 80% of town’s cases (April 21)
Brewster town officials reported that well more than half of the residents in a single nursing home have tested positive with the coronavirus.
After voluntarily participating in three rounds of a new statewide COVID-19 testing program, Pleasant Bay Nursing and Rehabilitation Center reported Monday that 60 of the facility’s 92 residents have tested positive for the virus. Officials said five of their residents remain untested.
As of Saturday, the town of Brewster reported 76 positive COVID-19 cases among its residents, including the 60 cases recorded at Pleasant Bay.
This links about 80 percent of the town’s COVID-19 cases to the nursing home.
“Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality, the licensing and enforcement agencies responsible for long-term care facilities, are actively involved in overseeing the response at Pleasant Bay,” Brewster town officials said in a statement. “In addition, Cape Cod Healthcare and the Visiting Nurses Association are ensuring appropriate staffing and personal protective equipment are available to prevent further spread within their facilities and the community at large.”
While state agencies license and have authority over Pleasant Bay’s management, Brewster town officials said they will continue to monitor the situation and response efforts regarding the recently identified cases.
In a one-on-one interview with NBC10 Boston, Gov. Charlie Baker said the Trump administration needs to expand the nation’s COVID-19 testing capacity.
“The whole goal here is to create a set of rules around how we can so-called ‘reopen’ and then to make sure people abide by the rules, and then test like crazy and contact-trace people who have tested positive,” Baker said.
He noted that these testing efforts would be “hugely important to the future fight against this virus“ and to re-opening the economy.
“I think the country needs to dramatically expand its testing capability and this is an issue where the federal government, I feel, has to lead,” he said.
Increasing testing efforts, Baker said, may bring a possible solution to COVID-19.
“Those are things the federal government has to drive,” he said. “And I’m glad to see that in this next round of funding … there’s a significant amount of money there for the FDA and CDC do the work that needs to be done to accelerate both testing capability and treatment.”
Watch the full interview below:
Without a mask, you won’t be served in the City of Everett.
“No mask, no service,” Everett officials wrote in a Facebook post announcing the new executive order on Monday.
Going forward, anyone over the age of 5 in the city who’s using public transportation or entering an essential business or a building open to the public is required to wear a mask that covers both their nose and mouth.
People using outdoor self-service facilities, like pumping gas, are also required to wear masks.
Every workplace providing essential services and remaining open to the public will be required to place a visible sign on all entryways, making it clear to customers that a facial covering is necessary.
“Every store, workplace, or other facility subject to this Order is authorized to refuse service to any person who fails or refuses to wear a mask or other facial covering while in such facility and is further authorized to expel such person from the facility,” Mayor Carlo DeMaria and Everett Director of Health and Human Services Jerry Navarra wrote in the executive order.
Anyone who does not cover their face will be seen as trespassing on the property and may be arrested, or face civil or criminal prosecution.
Read the full executive order here.
Mayor Marty Walsh announced a new mobile testing access map Monday, making it easier for Boston residents to find and access nearby COVID-19 testing centers.
“The goal is to have every community health center able to provide testing to the residents in their neighborhoods,” Walsh said during his Monday press conference.
He said the map will be updated as new testing sites pop up.
— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) April 20, 2020
“We are also breaking new ground in transparency about testing access,” he said.
Starting Monday, the city will begin sharing testing data as reported by neighborhood and zip code.
“Now we can include the number of people tested and the rates of positive tests for each community,” Walsh said. “We are looking at this kind of information and data every day to inform our strategy for deploying resources, conducting outreach, and providing communications to the community.”
We are also breaking new ground in transparency about testing access. Starting today, we will be sharing data on testing at the neighborhood and zip code level.
— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) April 20, 2020
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center study identifies four new possible swabs for use in COVID-19 testing (April 20)
A clinical trial being conducted by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has identified four new prototypes of 3D-printed swabs that could be used for COVID-19 testing, the hospital announced Monday.
“Public health experts and government leaders agree that easy access to testing for COVID-19 will be critical to managing the virus’ spread and re-opening the world’s economies,” BIDMC said in a statement. “However, a shortage of specialized nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs used to collect samples from patients’ noses and throats for diagnosis is one of several bottlenecks in the way of widespread testing.”
The four prototype swabs, which were tested in the study against the standard swabs in 230 adults who got tested for coronavirus at BIDMC, showed “excellent concordance with the controls in a clinical trial,” the hospital said.
The effort to develop new swabs for coronavirus testing was launched at the end of March, and the trial is still in the third and final step.
3-D printing nasopharyngeal swabs to address pressing medical need. See BIDMC efforts spearheaded by Ramy Arnout including team members from the Kirby Laboratory and BIDMC microbiology fellows in collaboration with companies throughout the United States https://t.co/JQBgDxmU5N
— James Kirby (@KirbyLabMicrobe) April 2, 2020
“We are cautiously optimistic that the availability of swabs will soon no longer be a constraint on widespread COVID-19 testing, thanks to an extraordinarily hard-working, talented, and selfless group, including dozens of people at BIDMC, who came together from all over the country to do this work,” Ramy Arnaout, associate director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratories at BIDMC, said in a statement.
Massachusetts General Hospital and Partners HealthCare teamed up with industry experts to design and deploy personal protective booths, which reduce the risk of patients and medical professionals exposure to COVID-19.
The first booth began testing at Newton-Wellesley Hospital on Thursday.
Another was sent for installation at the MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center, which has expanded testing within the community to address a high concentration of positive cases.
Another busy week at the @MGHMedicine Chelsea #RIC. Chelsea has continued to be busy with #COVID19, but we have been working hard to keep pace. With the aid of @OlsonKristian1 & #DougMarsden who developed this #Hexapod, we can swab faster & save #PPE! @mgh_id pic.twitter.com/obQxo15hcl
— Jacqueline Chu (@jacquelinetchu) April 19, 2020
“The booth concept—based upon testing ‘phone booths’ that were developed in South Korea—allows a clinician to stand inside, apart from the patient and administer a swab test from gloved external hand ports, which are featured on three sides of the booth to increase throughput,” Mass. General said in a news release. “Because the individual inside the booth is not in direct contact with the patient, they do not use additional PPE beyond standard exam gloves and surgical masks which saves vital supply of items, including N95 masks, face shields and gowns.”
When developing the protective booth, the team had a working prototype within nine days, according to the director of Mass. General’s Respiratory Care Unit and co-leader of the project, Paul Currier.
He said to overcome key obstacles, the hospital enlisted help from “business, regulatory and process-oriented minds.”
“This project is really a product of design thinking and end-user feedback,” Kristian Olson, director of the Mass. General Springboard Studio, said in the release. “We’ve worked to combine the skills and talents of engineers, designers and care providers with the feedback and experience of actual users—like our colleagues in South Korea and here at home—to develop a device that works well for both patients and caregivers.”
The team is currently in the process of developing seven more booths to distribute across other Partners institutions in hopes of implementing safer COVID-19 testing.
The Westport Board of Health voted Friday to implement an emergency public health order requiring that residents wear cloth face coverings when entering or working in public facilities.
The new order takes effect Monday, and will remain effective until further notice. Anyone entering or working in a public facility without a mask will face a warning, and on the second offense, a $100 fine. A $250 fine will be issued on third and further offenses.
“Employees of all Essential Businesses, as defined by Governor’s Executive Order are also directed to wear a face covering when interacting with the public or within six feet of a co-worker,” Westport officials said in a press release. “It has been documented that transmission of the virus can easily occur before someone is symptomatic and also many people unknowingly carry the virus without ever becoming ill.”
Board of Health officials said people should wear cloth face coverings specifically when picking up take-out from restaurants, going to grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, or common areas in residential or commercial complexes with multiple units.
“The virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms,” officials said. “Thus, face coverings in public settings will help reduce the risk of spreading the virus to other people.”
Two more field hospitals set up to deal with an expected surge of COVID-19 patients are opening in Massachusetts on Monday.
The hospitals at Joint Base Cape Cod in Bourne and at the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Recreation Center can each handle about 100 patients who are not in critical condition, but are not well enough to be sent home.
Cape Cod Healthcare is managing and staffing the Cape Cod hospital, while Lowell General Hospital is managing the UMass site.
Massachusetts is currently in the middle of a surge of patients, Gov. Charlie Baker has said.
The state now has more than 38,000 cases and has reported more than 1,700 deaths, including 146 on Sunday, according to the state Public Health Department.
— Associated Press