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

SHNS Coronavirus Tracker (Thursday PM Update)

The Latest on COVID-19

JULY 2, 2020....Massachusetts is forging ahead with its economic and social reopening, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Thursday, and the designated Phase 3 businesses like gyms, movie theaters museums and casinos are cleared to resume restricted operations in most of the state starting Monday.

In Boston, Phase 3 will begin the following week, on July 13. As part of this next phase, professional sports teams will be able to once again hold games, but without spectators in the stands. Baker joined Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on an afternoon trip to Fenway Park "to mark this progress."

"The success is due in no small part to the vigilance and dedication that has been shown by the people of Massachusetts, but we should not and cannot slow down or step back now," Baker said earlier in the day, during his State House press conference. "We know that COVID-19 won't be taking any time off this summer, and we need to maintain vigilance if we wish to continue to move forward."

Before breaking for the holiday weekend -- when Cape Cod officials, pleased with relaxed quarantine guidelines for travelers arriving from neighboring states, are still cautioning to avoid large gatherings -- the House and Senate shipped Baker a compromise bill expanding early and mail-in voting options for this year's election.

Lawmakers who want to see action on housing protections before formal sessions end just over four weeks from now have started counting down the time left for their bill to advance. - Katie Lannan

  • Guv Puzzled by Maine Targeting Bay State: Like many in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker said he does not know why Maine kept in place restrictions on travelers from the Bay State even as it loosened them for visitors from other northeastern states. Out-of-state visitors to Maine do not have to quarantine for 14 days if they come from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont, but officials did not lift that requirement for Massachusetts. "I don't know the answer to that question, but I'm going to call the governor of Maine today and I'm going to ask her and see what she says," Baker told reporters Thursday when asked about the disparity. "I'm surprised to hear that given our positive test rate and everything else, but I will reach out to them." - Chris Lisinski 5:45 PM Thu
  • Sheriff's Staff Donates Plasma: Eleven staff members from the Middlesex Sherrif's Office who have recovered from COVID-19 donated their plasma to help others fighting the respiratory disease, Sheriff Peter Koutoujian announced Thursday. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, convalescent plasma, from the blood of recovered patients, contains antibodies that might fight the infection and is being investigated as a possible treatment for COVID-19. "If I have the ability to give back by donating plasma to those who may not be as lucky to recover on their own, it's a no brainer for me," Crystal Miske, program coordinator for the Medication Assisted Treatment and Directed Opioid Recovery program in the sheriff's office, said in a statement. "If it could save only one person, or buy a family a few more moments or days with their loved one, I'd still do it." Koutoujian also announced Thursday that all 14 COVID tests conducted among people newly incarcerated in the Middlesex jail over the last five weeks came back negative. - Katie Lannan 4:56 PM Thu
  • Baker: "We Need to Start Planning" for Fall: Massachusetts will loosen more restrictions on business and public activity starting Monday, but Gov. Charlie Baker said his team will need to keep one eye on the horizon amid growing infections elsewhere and the looming threat of a second surge. Asked about the likelihood of restoring some shutdowns in the future during a Thursday press conference, Baker said he is confident that "if people comply and do the things they're supposed to do," Massachusetts can maintain momentum in stopping the spread of the virus. "What am I starting to spend some real time thinking about? It's the fall, what's going to happen in the fall," Baker added. "We all know that there are a lot of predictive models out there about the fall with respect to COVID, and that's something we need to start planning for." - Chris Lisinski 4:44 PM Thu
  • Thursday DPH Update: The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients fell below 700, according to Thursday's report from the Department of Public Health, declining by 79 to 681. Fifty-two of those patients were intubated and 113 were in intensive care, both numbers down from the previous day. The latest report shows that the number of hospitals using their surge capacity ticked back up to four on Wednesday,from three on Tuesday and one on Monday. Another 16 deaths of people confirmed to have COVID-19 and 35 deaths from people deemed as probable COVID cases brought the total fatality count to 8,321. A cumulative total of 104,016 people in Massachusetts have been confirmed to have COVID-19 in Massachusetts, including 158 whose positive tests results were included in a batch of 7,786 tests reported Thursday. A total of 73,613 people have received antibody tests, resulting in 5,322 probable cases. - Katie Lannan 4:12 PM Thu
  • Baker, Businesses Ask SJC to Decide Emergency Powers Case: Plaintiffs who sued Gov. Charlie Baker alleging his response to the COVID-19 pandemic exceeded his authority and the governor himself jointly asked the state's highest court to decide the case. Massachusetts businesses, backed by a national interest group, filed a lawsuit last month in Worcester Superior Court, arguing that Baker's executive orders and state of emergency declaration should be nullified. The plaintiffs, supported by the New Civil Liberties Alliance, argued that the governor adopted emergency powers under the Civil Defense Act that is designed for other kinds of crises such as invasions and natural disasters. On Thursday, Baker, the plaintiffs and Attorney General Maura Healey submitted a joint petition asking a Supreme Judicial Court justice to take up the matter. "While the Governor believes those claims are invalid and subject to dismissal, the parties agree that the Amended Complaint presents questions of law that can be efficiently decided by the Supreme Judicial Court and that the full Court's resolution of those questions will provide clarity regarding the Governor's authority to act in response to the COVID-19 pandemic," they wrote. - Chris Lisinski 4:12 PM Thu
  • Weekly Recoveries Report: Ninety percent of Massachusetts residents who tested positive for COVID-19 since February are now considered to have recovered, according to a weekly report from the Department of Public Health. The department releases figures each Wednesday afternoon showing how many people confirmed to have COVID-19 are isolated and how many have been released from isolation. People are counted as recovered and released from isolation after 21 days of illness or 21 days past the date of their positive. Of the 103,858 people with a test-confirmed COVID-19 case as of Wednesday, less than three percent -- 2,799 people -- were isolated. Another 7,902 have died, and the remaining 93,157 were released from isolation. - Katie Lannan 3:59 PM Thu
  • Boston Launches Arts, Culture Fund: Boston officials announced Thursday that the city has created a $1 million Arts and Culture COVID-19 fund, using its allocated CARES Act money to help "small and mid-sized arts and culture nonprofits adapt their programs, spaces, and operating models as a result of COVID-19." Nonprofits that have an organization address in Boston, budgets under $5 million and hold the majority of their public programming in Boston are eligible to receive grants that will range from $3,000 to $10,000 depending on the organization's budget. "We know that many artists and arts and culture organizations had to suddenly cancel their programs and performances as a result of COVID-19," Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement. "It's important that we provide them with the support they need to adapt and continue to share their work with the public, until we can safely gather in person again." - Katie Lannan 2:44 PM Thu


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