ADJOURNED 'til Monday at 11 a.m.
ADJOURNED 'til Monday at 11 a.m.

SHNS Coronavirus Tracker

SHNS Coronavirus Tracker

The Latest on COVID-19

  • Kennedy & Santiago: Revise Ventilator Guidelines 7:41 AM Fri
  • Pfizer Presses For COVID-19 Treatment, Vaccine 6:57 AM Fri
  • Eighth Inmate Case of COVID-19 at Billerica Jail 6:12 AM Fri

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Disagreement Forces Housing Security Bill to Conference

The Massachusetts Legislature is about to have its first conference committee of the COVID-19 era.

Senate Session Summary - Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Senate passed two important COVID-19-related bills on Thursday, but only one of them - waiving MCAS testing requirements and easing other deadlines - made it to Gov. Charlie Baker's desk before the branches adjourned for the weekend. A bill to impose an evictions moratorium and other relief to renters and homeowners during the coronavirus emergency stalled out after the House did not agree to the Senate's language. In the upper branch, Sens. Brendan Crighton, Michael Rodrigues, and Bruce Tarr were appointed to negotiate with the House on that bill. The Senate adjourned in memory of Don Kelley, a North Shore community leader who died in March after battling COVID-19. The next sessions are scheduled for Monday at 11 a.m. - Sam Doran

House Session Summary - Thursday, April 9, 2020

In the midst of a pandemic when people are worried about losing their housing, the House and Senate have been unable to agree on a housing security bill and the House on Monday voted to stand up a conference committee to try to reach an accord with the Senate. The disagreement comes 18 days after House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka issued a joint statement higlighting their plans to work together on a bill to "provide a crucial safety net for renters and homeowners" during the COVID-19 crisis. The House and Senate did make progress on another issue, sending Gov. Baker a bill that would require Education Commissioner Jeff Riley to waive MCAS requirements for the current academic year. After a more than six-hour session Thursday, the House is off for the weekend and plans to return Monday. - Michael P. Norton and Chris Van Buskirk

Unemployment System Catching Up To High Demand

More than 600 state employees are now working to field a record level of unemployment claims, and the administration will soon launch a Spanish-only application to remove language barriers some applicants face, Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday.

Supports Expanded During Pandemic For Domestic Violence

Help and resources are still available for people experiencing domestic violence and sexual assault during the pandemic, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said Thursday.

Baker Open to Reducing Signature Threshold

With some campaigns turning to the courts for help as Beacon Hill drags its feet in weighing whether to relax ballot access rules, Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday he would be open to reducing signature requirements to qualify for the ballot, particularly for county and federal office-seekers.

Feds Eye More Cash, Borrowing Help for States

Talks between Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill about another "interim" COVID-19 relief package totaling between $250 billion to $500 billion fell apart on Thursday over the size and scope of the bill, but the Federal Reserve outlined $500 billion in new lending that could help Massachusetts and other states address potential cash shortfalls.

Logistical Hurdles Compound State Budget Challenges

In an alternate universe, Beacon Hill is anxiously waiting to see which direction the House will take when it rolls out its fiscal year 2021 budget next week and lawmakers are busy preparing hundreds of amendments for debate later this month.

New Orders Aim to Help Staff Up For Surge

[Story Developing] Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday signed three executive orders intended to expand the state's health care capacity as it prepares for a coming surge in COVID-19 cases.

New Rule Extends Life of Uncashed Gaming Prizes

Massachusetts gaming regulators granted a reprieve Thursday to any gamblers whose unclaimed winnings are close to expiring.

Third Wave of Jobless Claims Crashes Nationwide

New unemployment claims remained at near-historic levels this week in Massachusetts and nationwide, and the Federal Reserve on Thursday morning took sweeping action to direct $2.3 billion in relief loans to help businesses and state and local governments address cash flow needs.

Spilka Still Seeking “Consensus” To Address Ballot Access Concerns

Senate President Karen Spilka has a BYOP policy for the nomination papers sitting on a table on her porch -- bring your own pen. Spilka, an Ashland Democrat, said she got many of the 300 voter signatures she needs to secure a spot on the September primary ballot before the coronavirus crisis hit Massachusetts.

AG Healey Will Also Investigate Holyoke Home

Attorney General Maura Healey launched her own investigation Wednesday into the state-run Holyoke Soldiers' Home, where at least 25 veterans have died since late March amid an outbreak of the coronavirus.

Lawmakers to Field COVID-19 Liability Legislation

Gov. Charlie Baker is expected to file legislation Wednesday afternoon that would extend liability protection to health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic to address a fear of some front-line medical personnel who are being asked to work in abnormal conditions, according to an administration source.

Pandemic Model Offers Range of ICU Bed Needs

Massachusetts will need to build out more intensive care beds to meet peak coronavirus demand expected in the coming weeks, with existing capacity insufficient, according to a new model launched Wednesday.

Fed Moves to Facilitate Wells Fargo Lending

A growth restriction imposed in 2018 by the Federal Reserve Board on Wells Fargo due to the bank's compliance and operational breakdowns will be modified to enable the bank to make small business loans to businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Mass. Census Response: Above Average, But Not Among Leaders

Massachusetts remains above average in response rates to the 2020 U.S. Census as Secretary of State William Galvin prepares for the next phase in the decennial population count.

Report: Mass. Jobless Rate Could Hit 25 Percent

The Massachusetts unemployment rate could race up to more than 25 percent by June, according to a new policy brief that suggests large federal block grants are the state's best hope for staving off a severe budget crisis.

Auto Insurers Under Pressure to Share COVID-19 Savings

Massachusetts regulators are urging all the state's automobile insurance companies to at least consider joining several that have announced plans to give partial rebates or discounts to policy-holders amid a sudden decline in driving brought about by COVID-19 restrictions.

Gov. Charlie Baker said the COVID-19 surge in Massachusetts is on track to land somewhere between April 10 and April 20. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS]

New Orders Aim to Attract Staff for COVID-19 Surge

A trio of executive orders Gov. Charlie Baker signed Thursday aims to expand the health care system's capacity and ensure access to COVID-19 treatment, including in field hospitals.

Holyoke Soldiers' Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh spoke at the 2020 Iwo Jima Day ceremony at the State House. [Photo: Chris Van Buskirk/SHNS/File]

Suspended Super Says He Flagged Holyoke Home Problems

The suspended superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home, where more than two dozen veterans have died amid a coronavirus outbreak, pushed back Thursday on Gov. Charlie Baker's suggestion that the home did not properly inform his administration about the issues there.

New Mass. Jobless Claims 18 Times Higher Than Pre-Virus Level

[Story Developing] New unemployment claims in Massachusetts remained elevated but dropped from record levels last week, while federal officials reported nearly a repeat of the never-before-seen surge in demand amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to data released Thursday morning.

Uncaptioned image for story:Senate Bill Directs Waiver of MCAS Requirements

Senate Bill Directs Waiver of MCAS Requirements

[Coverage Developing] State Education Commissioner Jeff Riley would be required to waive MCAS requirements for the current academic year, under COVID-19 legislation that could emerge for a vote in the Senate on Thursday.

Culture Council Distributing $1 Mil in Emergency Funds

The Massachusetts Cultural Council will direct almost $1 million in emergency funding to nonprofits, cultural institutions and individual artists facing coronavirus-induced economic strain.

Gas Project Construction Continues in Weymouth

The construction of a major natural gas infrastructure project in Weymouth is one effort that hasn't been hindered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Seven Dead, Infections Widespread at Wilmington Home

Residents of a Wilmington nursing home that was targeted last week for a transition to COVID-19-only care have themselves become infected by the respiratory disease in large numbers, and seven have died.

"We see evidence that we're still on the upward slope of this pandemic," Gov. Charlie Baker said at his COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday. [Photo: Matt Stone/Boston Herald/Pool]

Mass. Still Climbing “Upward Slope” of Pandemic

With the surge of coronavirus infection weeks, if not days, away from washing over Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday said the state had not yet seen the peak and urged residents not to grow "complacent" as he announced a new mobile testing site in West Springfield and legislation to protect health care workers from lawsuits.

Uncaptioned image for story:Spilka: State Exploring "New Ways" to Pass Budget

Spilka: State Exploring “New Ways” to Pass Budget

Bills aimed at providing protections for renters and homeowners are among the Senate's short-term COVID-19 response plans, and beyond that, Senate President Karen Spilka is looking at ways to keep the body running with most senators working remotely amid the ongoing public health crisis.

Uncaptioned image for story:Mass. Residents Turning to Public Assistance Programs

Mass. Residents Turning to Public Assistance Programs

A flood of new applications surged into state social safety net programs in recent weeks, another piece of evidence reflecting widespread economic hardships brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago. [Photo: Sam Doran/SHNS/File 2018]

After Going Remote, Public Higher Ed Faces Uncertain Future

While still grappling with the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, state higher education officials on Wednesday looked ahead to the longer-term challenges expected to face public campuses and their students.

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Latest COVID-19 Figures in Mass.

Data as of 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Confirmed cases18,941

The Massachusetts Almanac

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