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SHNS Coronavirus Tracker (Monday PM Update) .: The State House News Service

SHNS Coronavirus Tracker (Monday PM Update)

The Latest on COVID-19

JUNE 22, 2020.....Restaurants resumed serving diners indoors, nail salons got back to filing and painting fingernails, and tattoo parlors fired up the ink guns Monday as the state's reopening plan took another step forward.

As the economic reopening advanced a square Monday, most of the metrics used to determine the pace of reopening continued to trend in the right direction with one major exception. The three-day average number of daily COVID-19 deaths is on the rise, climbing from 22 as of June 18 to 26 as of June 19, the Department of Public Health reported Monday.

Gov. Charlie Baker did not give an update Monday on the latest round of reopenings, the state's progress in fighting the spread of the coronavirus or his thinking for later reopenings, the next wave of which could begin in two weeks. The governor has scaled back his public events -- State House press conferences and tours of medical or manufacturing facilities, mostly -- in recent weeks. After holding a press conference daily for weeks, Baker has settled into something close to an every-other-day schedule.

At the State House, the Baker administration and lawmakers on Monday handled a slew of budget-related matters. The administration told cities and towns that local aid will be level-funded for at least July and August, and that the new Student Opportunity Act education financing reform law will likely not be implemented on schedule.

The House and Senate fast-tracked Baker's $5.25 billion interim fiscal 2021 budget bill Monday, leaving it one Senate vote short of the governor's desk. The House also advanced a $1.1 billion spending bill to cover COVID-19 response costs and representatives are expected to finalize it on Wednesday.

As of Monday, Massachusetts has seen 107,210 cases of COVID-19 and 7,874 people here have lost their lives to the virus. The state's first case was confirmed Feb. 1 and the first COVID-19 death in Massachusetts was reported on March 20. -- Colin A. Young

  • Monday DPH Update: More than 775,000 people in Massachusetts have now been tested for COVID-19, including 6,730 whose tests were newly reported Monday. Of those new tests, 136 were positive. Another 13 probable cases were identified through antibody testing, and the state's total caseload now stands at 107,210 -- 102,469 cases confirmed by viral testing, and 4,741 probable cases indicated by antibody tests. Public health officials have reported 75 new deaths since Friday, including 17 on Monday. A total of 7,874 people in Massachusetts have now lost their lives due to the pandemic. The seven-day weighted average of positive test results has hovered at 1.9 percent since June 19, down from 8.6 percent on May 22. One month ago, the Department of Public Health's daily report included 805 new cases, 80 new deaths, and 2,323 COVID-19 patients in the hospital. A month before that, on April 22, the department reported almost 4,000 people hospitalized with the respiratory disease. Monday's report had 920 people hospitalized. - Katie Lannan 4:35 PM Mon
  • Baseball Returning to MA: With the fate of the 2020 Major League Baseball season murky at best, Bay State baseball fans got word Monday that they will be able to attend a ballgame in Massachusetts this summer, even if it's not at Fenway Park. The Futures Collegiate Baseball League, with four teams based in Massachusetts, announced Monday that it plans to start a 39-game regular season July 2. The four Massachusetts-based teams -- the reigning champion Worcester Bravehearts, Brockton Rox, North Shore (Lynn) Navigators and Westfield Starfires -- will each have at least 18 homes games before the regular season wraps up Aug. 19. The other teams in the league, the New Britain (Conn.) Bees and Nashua (N.H.) Silver Knights, will each have 21 homes games. The league's season will begin with three days of games (July 2, 3 and 5) in both Connecticut and New Hampshire since Phase 3 of Massachusetts' reopening plan will not be cleared to begin until July 6 at the earliest. The first games in Massachusetts are scheduled for July 7, with the Worcester Bravehearts traveling to Lynn to take on the North Shore Navigators and with the Nashua Silver Knights visiting the Brockton Rox. -- Colin A. Young 3:57 PM Mon
  • Harvard Pilgrim Issuing Premium Credits: Harvard Pilgrim Health Care plans to provide $32 million in premium credits to all its fully-insured employer groups and to Medicare Supplement members. "The pandemic, and the resulting need for stay-at-home orders and social distancing, has caused deferrals in elective procedures and non-emergent and routine care, which has resulted in temporarily lowered volume of health care claims," Michael Carson, the health plan's president and CEO, said in a statement. "While there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty surrounding health care spending and the impact of deferred care for the remainder of the year, we believe that it is appropriate to provide this material premium relief to our employer groups at this time." Employer groups and Medicare Supplement members will receive 15 percent credits on their September invoices, and for Medicare Advantage members, copays on primary care and specialty office visits will be waived through the end of 2020, starting July 1. Harvard Pilgrim is also extending financial support to independent primary care practices -- a slice of the health care sector that's been particularly hard-hit by the disruption -- and community health centers. - Katie Lannan 2:15 PM Mon
  • Boston Hosting Sector-Specific Webinars: Boston is hosting information sessions for business owners each day this week to discuss the state's industry-specific reopening policies and guidelines for businesses, Mayor Martin Walsh announced. "COVID-19 is still a threat to our community, and we must remain vigilant and exercise caution in our personal behaviors and in our organizations," the mayor said. "As we progress forward with a safe, phased reopening, it's imperative the City's public health and policy experts speak directly to businesses on social distancing, temporary operating policies, and resources the City has available." Monday's sessions focused on the retail sector and indoor dining, which was allowed to resume Monday. Tuesday's session will go over rules for close-contact personal care, Wednesday will focus on hair salons and barber shops, Thursday will zoom in on spas, massage parlors and more, and Friday's webinar will cover rules for fitness facilities like gyms and personal trainers. -- Colin A. Young 1:25 PM Mon
  • DCR Again Taking Campsite Reservations: Department of Conservation and Recreation began taking campsite reservation again Monday morning as it prepares to reopen most of its campgrounds on July 1. DCR had previously announced the closure of all campgrounds until July 1, and canceled and refunded all existing reservations. Though many campgrounds will reopen July 1, the experience will be different for lots of campers. DCR is not making group campsites, yurts, cabins, pavilions, picnic areas, or meeting rooms available at all during the 2020 camping season, and daytime visitors will not be allowed at any DCR campground. And if the camper is coming from another state, they will have to pay what DCR said is "a temporary 90-day camping fee increase." There will be no camping allowed in 2020 at Beartown State Forest, Boston Harbor Islands State Park, Federated Women's Club State Forest, Mt. Greylock State Reservation, Mt. Washington State Forest, Waquoit Bay - Washburn Island, or Willard Brook State Forest, DCR said. Appalachian Trail shelters, campsites and privies within Massachusetts state parks will also remain temporarily closed, the agency said. To make reservations, visit -- Colin A. Young 11:57 AM Mon
  • Site: Mass. Has Lowest Transmission Rate: Massachusetts now has the lowest COVID-19 transmission rate of any state in the country, according to a website that has been compiling state data and tracking transmission trends. The current Rt for the coronavirus in Massachusetts -- a measure of a virus's average transmission rate at a given point in time -- is estimated at 0.67, according to the website, comfortably below the 1.0 threshold that signifies rapid spread. The Rt value is essentially the number of people that one infected person transmits the virus to. "The way you really get in trouble with this virus is the reproduction rate -- you know, how fast does one person become two, become four, becomes eight, becomes 16, becomes 32 and the like," Gov. Charlie Baker said last week. The District of Columbia has the second-lowest transmission rate, 0.69 according to the site. In New England, Vermont is the only state with an Rt value above 1, estimated to be 1.03 as of Monday. New Hampshire's rate is estimated at 0.93, Maine's at 0.86, Rhode Island's at 0.78 and Connecticut's at 0.72. The highest Rt value in the country belongs to Hawaii, at 1.57. Overall, there are 31 states with an Rt value at or above 1. -- Colin A. Young 11:41 AM Mon


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