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LIVE UPDATES - CORONAVIRUS LIVE BLOG
As the World Health Organization declares the novel coronavirus spread a global pandemic and Governor Baker announced a state of emergency in Massachusetts, the effects are starting to be felt around the state.
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Thursday, March 19
Celtics’ point guard Marcus Smart announces he’s tested positive for COVID-19, pushes for more testing to be done
Boston Celtics point guard Marcus Smart has announced he’s been diagnosed with COVID-19. In a tweet, Smart said he’s been self-quarantined since testing positive for the virus five days ago. He pushed for more testing, tweeting that “COVID-19 must be taken (with) the highest of seriousness.”
Smart said he’s “had no symptoms and I feel great. But the younger generation in our country MUST self distance. This is not a joke. Not doing so is selfish. Together we can beat this, but we must beat it together by being apart for a short while. Much love!!”
First positive coronavirus case reported in Duxbury
The town of Duxbury is reporting its first positive case of COVID-19. Town officials are asking residents to maintain social distancing and limit exposure to others and continue handwashing as preventive measures.
Gov. Baker activating National Guard
Governor Charlie Baker has activated the National Guard to help with the coronavirus outbreak in Massachusetts.
Mass. General Hospital is looking for a 3D printer to make masks
MGH in Boston is looking for a 3D printer so they can make masks. There are now eight confirmed cases at the hospital and dozens more are under investigation. MGH told Boston 25 News that five people are in intensive care right now because of coronavirus.
Number of cases in Massachusetts increases to 328
Massachusetts health officials are reporting 72 new COVID-19 cases in the state Thursday, bringing the total to 328.
A total of 2,208 people have been tested through the state’s laboratory.
Boston Harbor Hotel closing
The Boston Harbor Hotel has decided to temporarily close starting Saturday, March 21, 2020 at noon.
If you have questions regarding a reservation, you may contact Reservations at 800-752-7077 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are working with Sales and Catering teams, you may continue to connect with them directly or at email@example.com.
Our community will get through this together, as long as we put the good of society before the good of ourselves. There is no perfect solution in a time like this, but please rest assured we are dedicated to doing everything we can to help our employees and our communities. We send our best wishes for your safety and wellbeing during this time of uncertainty. We are grateful for your loyalty and support and look forward to reopening our doors to deliver the same great hospitality you’ve come to know and love at our waterfront hotel – an iconic beacon of hope for the city of Boston.— Stephen Johnston, Boston Harbor Hotel General Manager
Confirmed case of COVID-19 at Cape Cod Senior Residences
There is a confirmed case of coronavirus at Cape Cod Senior Residences in Bourne, officials announced Thursday.
An elderly person with underlying health conditions living in the Independent Living wing of the community has been hospitalized in the ICU with a positive diagnosis and will remain in the hospital for treatment.
The entire community is under a self-quarantine. Residents and associates are and will continue to be monitored closely.
RMV announces new protocols for open locations
Eight of the RMV’s 30 locations will be open again on Thursday. Customers who do not have immediate needs for required in-person services are asked to delay their visits. Locations will only prioritize transactions that cannot be completed online, over the phone or by mail.
MassDOT announced new protocols in a press release and they are as follows:
- To assist with social distancing, customers are asked not to bring others with them
- AAA locations will offer select RMV services to AAA members
- Road tests are suspended indefinitely
- Tickets will be given on a first-come, first-served basis and will designate the time a customer will be served
- Limited tickets will be issued based on the service center capacity
MGH reports five patients with COVID-19 in intensive care
The Senior Public Affairs and Media Relations Officer with Massachusetts General Hospital confirmed that Mass. General Hospital has five people in the intensive care unit for COVID-19.
A doctor from the hospital is urging people to stay home and practice social distancing.
Wednesday, March 18
Connecticut reports first COVID-19 death
Governor Ned Lamont announced that a man in his 80s was the state’s first coronavirus death.
Cambridge halts construction
The City of Cambridge instituted a temporary emergency construction moratorium on all construction activity on public and private property until further notice.
Simon Property Group closing all locations
Simon Property Group announced it will close all of its retail properties, including Malls, Premium Outlets, and Mills in the U.S.
Mass. DPH announces 38 new COVID-19 cases
There are now 256 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, according to the latest update from the Mass. Department of Public Health. That total is a 38 case increase since yesterday’s announcement.
Day cares must close by Monday
Governor Charlie Baker has announced all day cares in the state must close by Monday.
Government officials provided guidance for parents and providers on their website.
Cardinal Seán O’Malley posts video message to Boston-area Catholics
Cardinal Seán O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston issued a statement to area Catholics, calling on them to take care of one another.
Market Basket to implement senior shopping hours
Market Basket, the New England-based grocery store, announced on Wednesday afternoon that they will be implementing senior shopping hours starting on Thursday, March 19. The new hours are meant to accommodate those in the 60+ community.
Senior customers will be able to enter the store beginning at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays before the locations open to all shoppers at 7 a.m.
RMV re-opening seven locations
The Mass. Registry of Motor Vehicles announced that it will reopen eight of its 30 service center locations.
Customers that do not have immediate needs for required in-person services are asked to delay their visits.
To assist with social-distancing, customers are asked not to bring multiple people with them.
The locations re-opening are:
- Fall River
Home Depot changes store hours
Home Depot announced it is temporarily adjusting store hours to better serve customers in response to COVID-19.
Beginning Thursday, stores will close at 6 p.m. Opening hours will remain the same.
Stand-alone testing site opening in Somerville
Another stand-alone testing site for COVID-19 is set to open in Somerville Wednesday morning.
The site, run by the Cambridge Health Alliance, is located in a tent parking lot across from Somerville Hospital. Only patients of CHA who are have screened by their primary care doctor and who meet federal CDC criteria for testing are eligible, according to a news release from CHA.
The testing site is scheduled to be open daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. More information on testing can be found here.
MBTA tweaking reduced schedule on certain lines, routes
The MBTA will adjust schedules and service for Wednesday after many riders complained of packed trains on certain lines as the T began a reduction in service due to many people working from home. As the state continues to institute regulations and orders to limit the spread of COVID-19 and encourage social distancing, many pointed out that they were elbow-to-elbow on the Blue Line. The T says it will add additional Blue Line service in the morning, increase service on the E branch of the Green Line and certain bus routes.
“As we continue monitoring the situation, we are making adjustments to ensure we can provide service for essential trips in the safest manner possible,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak.
For a complete list of changes to MBTA service for Wednesday, visit mbta.com/covid19.
Tuesday, March 17
Mayor Walsh to launch text updates service for COVID-19 info
Mayor Marty Walsh announced on Tuesday night that the City of Boston will launch a daily, text-based service to provide those who opt-in with the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak in the city. The service will be free and can be accessed by texting BOSCOVID to 99411.
Mass. DPH announces 21 new COVID-19 cases in state
The Massachusetts Department of Health has announced there are now 218 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state as of March 17. The number marks an increase of 21 cases since Monday’s announcement.
Brigham & Women’s employees test positive for COVID-19
Two Brigham & Women’s employees have tested positive for COVID-19, officials announced Tuesday. Officials say 93 employees are currently furloughed.
South Shore Health physician tests positive for COVID-19
A South Shore Health physician has tested positive for COVID-19, health officials announced Tuesday. Officials say the physician has been at home in quarantine since being diagnosed and will stay at home for 14 days.
Mass. NOT planning shelter-in-place orders, 197 positive cases in state
During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Governor Charlie Baker told residents they are “NOT planning any shelter-in-place orders.”
The state also announced that there are 197 cases in the state and all presumptive positive cases are now considered positive.
Red Cross asking for blood donations
The Red Cross is urging eligible donors to schedule an appointment to donate blood.
Emergency orders take effect
New regulations issued by Gov. Charlie Baker, including reduced MBTA service, the suspension of private and public schools in the state and a ban on dining on-site at bars and restaurants begin today.
Drive-thru testing site opens on the Cape
A drive-thru testing site for COVID-19 will open at Cape Cod Community College at 8 a.m. Only people who have been screened by a Cape Cod Healthcare provider, have a test order from a doctor, and have an appointment for the test will be allowed to use the drive-thru, which was set up by the Barnstable County Department of Health and Cape Cod Healthcare.
Many states are establishing drive-thru testing sites to limit the potential for those infected with the virus to spread it to others. The patient stays in their vehicle and is swabbed for the virus by a nurse in protective equipment. Results are expected in one to three days, according to Cape Cod Healthcare, and patients will not be charged a copay for the test.
You can find more on eligibility and testing here.
Homemade cleaner warning
Are you making your own disinfectant to keep surfaces around your home clean? Make sure you aren’t mixing anything that could cause a toxic chemical reaction.
Monday, March 16
Mass. DPH announces 197 total cases of COVID-19 now in state
The Massachusetts Department of Health has announced on Monday evening that there are now 197 total cases of COVID-19 in the state. On Sunday, 164 cases were confirmed in the state; Monday’s total number means that there were 33 new cases of COVID-19 announced today.
Mass. DPH usually breaks down how many cases of COVID-19 are presumptive positive and how many have been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, Monday’s description of COVID-19 cases did not show that breakdown.
Stop & Shop changes hours to accommodate older customers
Starting Thursday, Stop and Shop will create hours specifically geared to accommodate customers 60 and older. From 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., only customers older than 60 will be able to shop.
Walsh announces further restrictions for the City of Boston
Mayor Marty Walsh addressed local media at a press conference on Monday afternoon. There, he announced that he is suspending activity on construction sites in Boston effective on Tuesday, March 17.
Construction sites must be safe and security measures should be taken to prevent trespassers.
Walsh also announced that the Boston Public Library will close all branches at 6 p.m. on Monday.
Canada to close its borders
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will close his country’s border to non-citizens amid pandemic, according to the Associated Press
Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone declares local state of emergency
Curtatone ordered that, effective 12 a.m. on Tuesday, March 17, all gyms, health clubs, theaters, entertainment venues, social clubs and house of worship in the city close and remain closed through at least April 6, according to the State House News Service. Playgrounds will close to the public and the city’s field and courts will be open only “for passive use” with no team games.
“We are living in unprecedented circumstances, and we cannot go on with business as usual,” Curtatone wrote in a message dispatched through the city’s emergency alert system. “As a community, we must drastically change our way of life in the short-term to prevent even more dire consequences in the long-term, particularly for our most vulnerable.”
Curtatone said he and his staff are working with state and federal lawmakers to provide economic aid to workers, families and small businesses affected by virus-related closures.
MBTA announces schedule revisions
The MBTA has announced it will begin changing service as of Tuesday, March 17.
|Trains every 9 to 13 minutes
|Trains every 9 to 11 minutes
|Red Line between Alewife and JFK/UMass
|Trains every 7 minutes
|Red Line Ashmont and Braintree Branches
|Trains every 14 minutes
|Trolleys every 7 to 13 minutes; more frequent on the trunk
|Bus (with exceptions)*
|* Express Bus routes 325, 326, 351, 352, 354, 501
|Regular Weekday Schedules
|Reduced service, schedules posted on MBTA.com
|Trolleys every 12 to 26 minutes
First clinical trial for vaccine underway
The first clinical trial for a coronavirus vaccine is underway. The first participant in the trial will receive an experimental dose of the vaccine Monday. It will involve 45 young and healthy volunteers at a research hospital in Seattle.
Public health officials say it will take a full year to 18 months to fully validate any potential vaccine.
Sunday, March 15
Boston Public Schools free meal sites during COVID-19 closure
During the statewide school closure, the City of Boston will provide free breakfast and lunch meals to all Boston students.
Here is information on how to get meals from the city of Boston:
Governor Baker announces new statewide restrictions
In a Sunday evening press conference, Gov. Baker announced the following:
- All commercial health insurance carriers must allow providers to deliver services via telehealth
- Hospitals will postpone elective surgeries
- No visitors are allowed at nursing homes and longterm care facilities
- RMV will extend renewal timeline for certain credentials
- Requirements for unemployment claims will be relaxed
- Emergency registration will be filed to assist with unemployment benefits
- Gatherings with more than 25 people are prohibited (This does not apply to grocery stores and pharmacies).
- Restaurants, bars and establishments cannot permit onsite consumption. Food is to be consumed through takeout and delivery only.
- All public and private schools in Mass. will be closed from Tuesday, March 17, 2020, until April 7, 2020 (Meal services will still be available to families who need them).
Federal Reserve cuts rates to near zero
The Federal Reserve took emergency action Sunday and slashed its benchmark interest rate by a full percentage point to nearly zero and announced it would purchase more Treasury securities to encourage lending to try to offset the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The central bank said the effects of the outbreak will weigh on economic activity in the near term and pose risks to the economic outlook. The central bank said it will keep rates at nearly zero until it feels confident the economy has weathered recent events.
Brookline closes town playgrounds and buildings
The town of Brookline announced that it is limiting access to all public buildings and all public playgrounds will be closed until further notice.
Mass. DPH announces 26 new cases
In the Department of Public Health’s daily coronavirus report, 26 new cases were announced in Mass. This brings the total number of cases in the state to 164 with 45 confirmed and 119 presumptive.
Here is the breakdown of confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Mass.
|Number of Confirmed or Presumptive Cases
Mayor Walsh declares public health emergency in Boston
In a press conference on Sunday afternoon, Mayor Marty Walsh declared a public health emergency in the city.
Boston Public Schools will be closed from Tuesday until April 27th. Meals will be available to students who need them.
You can find a list of meal sites here.
BPS is also working with internet service providers to get internet access into homes and students will be given Chromebooks so they can complete their assignments.
Bars, restaurants and clubs will face additional restrictions during the outbreak. The establishments must reduce capacity by 50%, close by 11 p.m. and prohibit lines from forming outside. Violators of these restrictions will have to shut down for 30 days.
New Hampshire schools move to online instruction
Governor Sununu issued an emergency order directing all schools to move to online instruction from March 16, 2020, to April 3, 2020.
799 patients tested by Mass. State Public Health Lab
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said that as of 10:45 a.m. today, 799 patients had been tested by the Massachusetts State Public Health Lab. Yesterday, the number was 475, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders.
Clinicians are required to only submit one nasal swab, rather than the previous requirement to submit both nasal and throat swabs, according to the statement. With this change in clinical testing protocols, the State Lab’s testing capacity will increase to approximately 400 patients a day, up from 200 patients a day.
Third Framingham resident tests positive for COVID-19
The city was told that a third Framingham resident has tested positive for the virus. They say the resident is in isolation at home and isn’t related to two previous positive cases in the town.
South Boston bars and restaurants to close
Following advice of public health officials to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, South Boston bars and restaurants will be closed today as part of a voluntary agreement, according to Massachusetts State Senator Nick Collins.
Collins posted on his official Facebook page writing, “Thank you to Mayor Walsh, my fellow South Boston elected officials and neighbors, the Licensing Board and license holders in South Boston for working with us and taking these sound proactive measures to protect the public’s health. We are all in this together and it’s imperative now that we all do all that we can to keep our communities safe.”
Here’s a list of establishments that have agreed to voluntarily close on March 15:
- Fat Baby
- The Junction
- The Playwright
- Roza Lyons
- Back Yard Betty’s
- Cambria Hotel (will service hotel guests only)
Barnstable Public Schools, Community Innovation Schools closed for two weeks
The Cape’s first confirmed case of coronavirus has affected a spouse of a staff member at Barnstable Community Innovation School, according to a release by Barnstable Public Schools. That staff member, whose last day of work was March 6, is symptomatic, in self-quarantine, and undergoing testing.
BPS recommends that all staff and students from Barnstable Community Innovation School quarantine for at least the next few days while awaiting test results. A full quarantine would be through March 20.
Barnstable Community Innovation School is immediately closed to all staff, and will undergo deep cleaning this week.
All Barnstable Public Schools are closed for at least two weeks and will undergo deep cleaning beginning the second week.
Stop and Shop adjusting hours, pickup and delivery services
The grocery store chain released a statement saying it’s continuing to "prioritize the safety and well-being of our customers and associates.”
Because of such high demand for groceries and so many stores having shortages, most locations are changing their hours to 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. starting March 16 until further notice. This is so associates can unload deliveries and restock shelves. Check your local location as there may be some exceptions.
Also because demand is so high, pickup services are temporarily suspended and home deliveries may be delayed as associates need to shock shelves. Pickup services will resume once more product is available.
Stop and Shop said it is continuing to maintain high levels of hygiene and sanitation, wiping down checkout areas including the belts and pin pads.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital says worker tests positive for the virus
The hospital released a statement Sunday morning saying it was “inevitable that health care workers will be infected, as is now the case at the Brigham.” They said they are in the process of contacting patients and staff who may have been exposed.
They have been in close contact with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Boston Public Health Commission.
“We will continue to follow their and CDC’s guidance, as well as the advice of our own infectious diseases experts as the situation continues to evolve,” they said in a statement.
“The Brigham Health community has been preparing for this eventuality and has taken every precaution to protect our patients, their loved ones and our staff during this unprecedented pandemic.”
>> You can find additional information on coronavirus here.
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