ADJOURNED 'til Monday at 11 a.m. (Informal)
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SHNS Coronavirus Tracker

SEPT. 25, 2020.....The criminal charges announced Friday against Holyoke Soldiers' Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh and former medical director David Clinton put the dozens of COVID-19 deaths at the facility back in the spotlight.

Those indictments could also set a national precedent -- at least in the eyes of Attorney General Maura Healey -- for the tens of thousands of deaths that have occurred in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities during the pandemic.

"We believe this is the first criminal case in the country brought against those involved in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic," Healey said during a press conference, later adding that she is also investigating other facilities that experienced high infection rates.

About two-thirds of the COVID-19 deaths in Massachusetts have occurred in long-term care facilities through Friday.

Statewide public health metrics such as the positive test rate and total number of patients hospitalized ticked upward this week, but the status quo has mostly remained in the early days of schools returning. -- Chris Lisinski

  • Positive Test Rate, Hospitalizations Up: There were more than 450 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Massachusetts on Friday and public health officials announced the recent deaths of 10 people with the virus. The Department of Public Health said Friday the 454 new cases it confirmed came from tests of 15,854 people -- meaning about 2.86 percent of all tests came back positive. The seven-day average of the state's positive test rate ticked up from 0.8 percent to 0.9 percent in Friday's report and hospitalizations continued to climb. The 389 hospitalized COVID-19 patients as of midday Friday represented an increase of 14 from Thursday and the sixth day in the last seven that the hospitalized population rose. As a three-day average, the number of COVID-19 hospital patients in Massachusetts is up 25 from about three weeks ago, according to DPH. -- Colin A. Young 4:06 PM Fri
  • Rent Relief, Tax Credits Among Pioneer Suggestions: Congress and state governments should pursue a package of rent relief, loosened regulations, tax credits, and improved long-term savings practices to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for any future crises, Pioneer Institute authors argued in a new report. While both Massachusetts and the country as a whole have shown signs of economic recovery, unemployment remains high more than six months into the COVID-19 outbreak and many businesses are facing significant strain. In a report published Thursday, Pioneer Institute's Greg Sullivan, Andrew Mikula and Rebekah Paxton said governments should implement a graduated system of rent relief loans for small businesses and commercial landlords, scaled based on the number of tenants, and also expand tax credits to generate more consumer spending in industries that are struggling, such as in-person retail and restaurants. Credits could also help small businesses acquire personal protective equipment and other COVID-related safety gear, they said. As Massachusetts lawmakers weigh a withdrawal from the $3.5 billion "rainy day" savings account, the think tank's authors stressed the importance of investing in the fund during times of prosperity. Moving forward, they suggested, lawmakers should raise the limit on how much can be deposited in the fund every year and add revenue streams directly into it. "The bottom line is that we need public sector investments now to support small businesses during the pandemic, and proposals that do not increase government costs in the long-term are especially appealing," report authors concluded. "Regardless, a full economic recovery from COVID-19 will require government and individual business leaders to develop a long-term strategy to re-assert Main Streets as the most viable and resilient symbols of American commerce." - Chris Lisinski 3:25 PM Fri
  • Oregon Removed From Low-Risk List: Massachusetts will scrap Oregon's exemption from travel restrictions this weekend, placing it back onto a larger list of states subject to quarantine or testing requirements. Starting Saturday, travelers heading to Massachusetts from Oregon must fill out a form explaining their trip and, upon arrival, either self-quarantine for 14 days or test negative for COVID-19. Tests up to 72 hours before departure from Oregon will be considered valid. The Baker administration changes which states are deemed lower-risk based on COVID-19 transmission rates, and travelers from those on the list are not subject to the requirements. Following Oregon's removal, nine states will remain on the lower-risk list: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Colorado, New Mexico and Washington. - Chris Lisinski 2:43 PM Fri
  • RMV Extending Senior-Only Hours: A new feature the Registry of Motor Vehicles implemented to minimize health risks during the pandemic will remain in place through October. On Wednesdays next month, more than a dozen service centers will open only to residents 75 and older who are required by law to renew their licenses in-person. All services for the exclusive hours will be available by appointment only, with reservations open at or at for AAA members. Eligible patrons who have a license or ID card that expires in October will receive renewal reminders, the RMV said in an information flyer. Service centers with designated hours for 75-and-older customers are in Brockton, Danvers, Fall River, Greenfield, Lawrence, Leominster, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, New Bedford, North Adams, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Revere, South Yarmouth, Springfield, Watertown and Worcester. - Chris Lisinski 1:52 PM Fri
  • In-Person Prison Visits to Resume: In-person visits will resume at all Department of Correction facilities on Sept. 28, DOC officials announced Thursday. General in-person visitation was suspended in March, and personal visits have been phased back in at six facilities with new health and safety precautions in place. Attorney visits remain ongoing, and personal visits, starting Monday, will be limited to one visit per prisoner per week, with up to two visitors at a time. Personal visits must be scheduled 24 hours in advance, and visitors will be required to use hand sanitizer, wear face coverings and participate in a screening that will involve having their temperatures taken and answering questions about their health. The no-contact visits will be in designated areas with barriers in place between the visitor and inmate, the department said. - Katie Lannan 10:03 AM Fri

SHNS Campaign Monitor

  • Campbell Joins Next Year's Race for Boston Mayor 10:41 AM Thu
  • Markey: Prez Debates Must Cover Climate Change 2:46 PM Wed
  • Mermell Joins Push for Ranked-Choice Voting 1:53 PM Wed

Latest COVID-19 Figures in Mass.

Data as of 4 p.m. Friday.
Individuals tested2,160,250
Confirmed cases127,317

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