Window Into The State House

The surge: It sure looks like it’s already arrived in Boston   A three-reporter team at WBUR reports on an ominous sign that the coronavirus surge has already arrived in Boston, or at least the early stages of a surge, to wit: Boston Medical Center’s ICU unit temporarily reached capacity on Sunday, forcing the hospital to send patients to other facilities. So it looks like Dr. (and state Rep.) Jon Santiago was right: It’s gotten worse out there. But exactly when a surge arrives — and its level of severity — is anyone’s guess at the point. Dates vary from expert to expert. From Hannah Uebele at WGBH: “Vanessa Kerry: Massachusetts’ Coronavirus Cases To Peak In ‘Next Couple Weeks.’ … It seems peak timing may vary from one region to the next. From MassLive’s Peter Goonan: “Peak in Western Massachusetts cases may come in May, Springfield hospital officials say.” … From CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl: “Tyer rallies Pittsfield to ‘crush the curve.” … From the Herald’s Joe Dwinell: “Coronavirus guru: Massachusetts not out of ‘danger zone’ yet.” And, finally, SHNS’s Colin Young (pay wall) reports that Gov. Charlie Baker says the state’s emergency actions of late may have indeed bent the curve a bit, but he’s cautioning against reading too much into the recent somewhat encouraging data.  
  Public Safety Secretary Turco tests positive for COVID-19   First the public health chief. Now this: SHNS’s Michael Norton reports that state Public Safety Secretary Thomas Turco has tested positive for COVID-19, as he announced Monday night, and is now working from home. They’re both frontline workers, too, and deserve credit for their sacrifices.  
  ‘No mask! No sale!’   With Mayor Marty Walsh’s recommendation on Sunday that people start wearing protective masks when venturing outside, it seems masks have become all the rage – and a requirement at one 7-Eleven store across the street from City Hall. The sign outside the store reads: “No mask! No sale!” Universal Hub and WCVB have more. Meanwhile, the Herald has a slideshow on various protective-mask fashions, for lack of other words. Fyi: Our own protective masks include one winter scarf and three leftover masks from a home-repair project last summer.  
  Baker and Walsh: Going where no leaders have gone before   Both CommonWealth magazine and the Boston Globe have separate pieces this morning on how two leaders, Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, are dealing with the coronavirus emergency. Baker’s view: You just need to play the hand dealt to you, as CommonWealth’s Bruce Mohl reports. Walsh’s view: “There’s no playbook for this,” as the Globe’s Danny McDonal reports.  
  Still waiting, Part II   The state is still waiting for assistance, guidance and other action from you-know-who. Sampling of some of today’s headlines on the shortage of supplies, delays in small business loans etc. etc. etc. From SHNS’s Chris Lisinski and Michael P. Norton (pay wall): “Delegation: Fed Ventilator Shipment ‘Grossly Insufficient.’ … From Benjamin Kail at MassLive: “Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey urge Small Business Administration, Treasury to speed up $349B loan program.” … From the Globe’s Janelle Nanos and Shirley Leung: “Small businesses are struggling with the coronavirus and the federal loan process/’It’s a damn mess,’ one Mass. co-owner said.”  And, finally, from the BBJ: “Mass. business outlook hits worst-ever drop.”  
  As homeless coronavirus cases mount, workers put finishing touches on planned BCEC field hospital   WBUR’s Lynn Jolicoeur reports on the ‘significant surge’ in the number of homeless people testing positive for COVID-19 – and, just in time, workers are finishing up the conversion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center into an emergency care shelter, largely for homeless people and noncritical patients. Definitely check out the BBJ’s photo slideshow accompanying Greg Ryan’s story on the new BCEC field hospital. Very impressive.   
  Boston University lays off 1,600 amid coronavirus   From Ron Chimelis at MassLive: “In a painful but unmistakable example of the coronavirus pandemic’s economic toll, Boston University has laid off 1,636 employees, state filings show. The layoffs were listed in the weekly Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act report through MassHire Department of Career Services. The layoffs were effective Friday, April 3.”  
  Meanwhile, is Pine Manor College the next victim of the coronavirus?   The coronavirus crisis has exacerbated the financial woes facing many small colleges around the region, particularly Chestnut Hill’s Pine Manor College, whose “future beyond this semester has grown increasingly bleaker,” reports the Globe’s Deirdre Fernandes.  
  DeLeo on budget: We’ll deal with everything one crisis at a time   As state budget writers virtually meet today to try to get a handle on state finances amid the coronavirus crisis (see our Happening Today calendar section above), House Speaker Robert DeLeo is ruling nothing in nor out when it comes to past, present and future budget priorities – and that means education, transportation and other spending items that were on the legislative table before the current public-health emergency. SHNS’s Matt Murphy has the details.  
  Baker heaps praise on government workers as he downplays prospect of layoffs   SHNS’s Chris Van Buskirk (pay wall)  reports that Gov. Charlie Baker is praising public workers for stepping up to the challenges of dealing with the coronavirus emergency – and he’s largely casting aside the idea of layoffs in the executive branch during the current all-hands-on-deck crisis.  
  For family of WWII veteran, Holyoke group home has become a ‘nightmare’   WBUR’s Mariam Wasser has a good story about how relatives of 99-year-old John MacKay, a veteran of World War II, are dealing with all the controversies at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home – and how MacKay is doing after being tested positive for COVID-19. The lack of information and communications have become a “nightmare” for relatives. Meanwhile, the Globe’s Shelley Murphy and Meghan Sorenson report on how both adults and children are faring in groups homes in general around the state.  Fyi – Back to the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home tragedy, the Globe’s Joan Vennochi writes about Gov. Charlie Baker’s “perception vs. reality.” And from the Globe’s editorial board: “The investigator of the coronavirus tragedy at the veterans home should scrutinize the state’s history of oversight at the facility.”    
  Baker announces new COVID-19 relief fund for residents   From the BBJ’s Greg Ryan: “The Baker administration on Monday launched a new corporate- and foundation-backed fund that will support health care workers, the homeless and others in Massachusetts that have been especially affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The fund, called the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund, is already stocked with more than $13 million, drawing contributions from the likes of the One8 Foundation and Boston Foundation. It is open to donations from the general public.” MassLive’s Steph Solis has more on the new fund announced yesterday by the governor and First Lady Lauren Baker.  
  Health care updates: Community health centers under strain, foreign-trained medical personnel stand ready, MGH tests ‘miracle’ treatment   Let’s go straight to the headlines. From CommonWealth magazine’s Sarah Betancourt: “Foreign-trained medical professionals waiting to help/Baker urged to grant provisional licenses to them.” … From WGBH’s Saraya Wintersmith: “Community Health Centers In Mass. Face Financial Strain.” … From the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett: “How one Mass. hospital is solving a national shortage of coronavirus testing swabs.” … From MassLive: “Baker says COVID-19 testing sites to launch in Lowell, West Springfield.” And, finally, from the Herald’s Alexi Cohan: “Massachusetts General Hospital among first to test nitric oxide on pandemic patients/Nitric oxide has been considered a miracle drug for helping oxygen-starved newborns.”  
  Union: Thousands of carpenters refused to work yesterday   From WBUR’s Callum Borhcers: “One of the state’s largest construction unions says almost all of its roughly 10,000 members are refusing to work, as of Monday. Massachusetts members of the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters are concerned about health and safety, as the coronavirus continues to spread, said Executive Secretary-Treasurer Tom Flynn.” Meanwhile, from the Herald News: “Union carpenters suspend work on new Durfee High School over coronavirus concerns.”  
  Virtual consensus on Beacon Hill: How long can it last?   Things are virtually proceeding well among lawmakers on Beacon Hill, in more ways than one, as legislators pass relatively non-controversial measures to deal with the coronavirus emergency. But what happens when non-controversial bills, such as those calling for housing protections amid the crisis, arise? CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg explores the thorny issues of remote bill writing, remote lobbying, remote voting and remote consensus and non-consensus during these tense times.