MASSACHUSETTS

Coverage of Massachusetts from New England Public Radio, NPR, and other NPR stations.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has urged state residents to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Matt Stone / Boston Herald / Pool

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has issued many orders seeking to keep people at home. They include closing schools, non-essential businesses and others — but no full "stay-at-home" order as of yet. 

UMass Amherst scientist Richard Peltier used a mannequin to test a sterlized N95 mask.
Courtesy UMass Amherst

A UMass Amherst scientist says he's shown that a high-grade medical mask — often considered disposable — can be sterilized and re-used at least once.

So far more than 23,000 people in Massachusetts have been tested for coronavirus. That’s up nearly tenfold from from about 2,600 state residents tested a week ago.

Gov. Charlie Baker said the state continues to make progress to aggressively test people.

“But more tests means more people know for sure whether they have COVID-19,” he said during a daily press briefing Thursday. “And from there, those who test positive can work with their health care providers and others to take the steps that they and we need to limit the spread.”

As infections grow on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, so does stress for health care workers.

There were at least 184 hospital staff infected in Massachusetts as of Thursday night, and that’s only counting five hospitals that consistently report their numbers: Massachusetts General, Brigham and Women’s, Boston Medical Center, Tufts Medical Center and UMass Memorial Medical.

Then, this week, doctors, nurses and aides began learning of retirement cuts, furloughs and less pay.

An N95 mask at Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public / NENC

Massachusetts officials have reported a sharp increase in the number of deaths attributable to COVID-19. That state's public health department on Thursday said 25 people in the state have died of the disease, an increase of 10 from the day before. 

Baker Signs New Order Extending Mass. School Closure Through End Of April

Mar 26, 2020

All schools and non-emergency child care centers in Massachusetts will remain closed through the end of April, reopening “no sooner than May 4,” Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday during a daily briefing about the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The new measure extends the state’s earlier three-week school closure.

Millions of Americans in more than a dozen states are being urged — ordered, in many cases — to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus. As of Tuesday afternoon, Massachusetts became one of those states, following Governor Charlie Baker’s order that all non-essential businesses shut down until April 7.

The town hall in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
File photo / MassLive / masslive.com/photos

Municipal offices across Massachusetts are closed to the public because of COVID-19, but many employees are still required to come in.

A mobile field hospital is erected on the grounds of Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford by the Connecticut Governor's Foot Guard and Horse Guard on March 24, 2020.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public / NENC

Four new deaths in Massachusetts are now attributable to COVID-19, adding up to 15 dead in less than a week. 

Some Massachusetts prisoners are being released because of the COVID-19 outbreak. But whether someone is released depends in large part on where they’re incarcerated.

The largest number of prisoner releases will occur in Middlesex County, which has the most COVID-19 cases in the state. For the past week and a half, Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan has been reviewing cases with sheriff Peter Koutoujian and defense attorneys. As of Tuesday, more than 40 prisoners who have not yet been tried have been released.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker at a March 24, 2020, press briefing.
Matt Stone / MediaNews Group / Boston Herald / Pool

Massachusetts public health officials are reporting two more deaths related to COVID-19, as the number of people testing positive in the state pushed to 1,159. 

When Inmates Die Of Poor Medical Care, Jails Often Keep It Secret

Mar 24, 2020

Confined at the Worcester County jail in 2016, Michael Ramey was in agony. At various times, he couldn’t walk, see or hear.

As he awaited trial, he complained to medical staff of his worsening symptoms, jail records show. He told a nurse, “my head was about to explode.”

But hardly anyone believed him. Within a month, Ramey died of a treatable type of meningitis. He was 36.

A Worcester County jail report would say he died of “natural causes.”

An N95 protective mask, which Tufts medical staff would wear if they were assigned to treat a patient suspected of having an infectious disease such as a coronavirus.
Robin Lubbock / WBUR

Updated at 7:19 p.m. 

Nine Massachusetts residents have died as a result of contracting COVID-19, the state reported Monday. Confirmed cases of the disease in the state rose to 777, up from 646 the day before.

Over the weekend, the number of Massachusetts residents who tested positive for COVID-19 increased by more than 100 each day. Governor Charlie Baker appears to be preparing people for those numbers to keep going up. 

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker during a March 21 press briefing.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker outlined a stay-at-home advisory Monday, and ordered all businesses and organizations in the state that are not providing essential services to close physical operations to workers and customers, effective Tuesday at noon.

The governors of California, New York, Illinois and Connecticut, among others, have ordered their residents to stay home in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has, so far, resisted that step. But he’s facing growing pressure to do so.

As child care centers across Massachusetts close their doors Monday, an array of emergency sites are opening to allow frontline workers in the battle against the coronavirus to get to their jobs. The options include reopened childcare centers, as well as home-based care, offered by hundreds of individuals approved by state education officials to provide care on a temporary, emergency basis.

On Saturday morning, in the medical mecca some call Boston, Dr. Jessie Gaeta learned a valuable skill: the boola-boola knot. She used it to suspend a gray plastic basket holding a blood pressure cuff, a stethoscope and a thermometer from a rope inside a medical tent. Each of the 16 suspected COVID-19 patients in the tent, in bays separated by heavy white plastic walls, now has their own rigged vital signs kit.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker outside Morningstar Baptist Church in Boston on Sunday, March 22, 2020.
Office of Gov. Baker / State of Massachusetts

Updated Monday, March 23, 9:10 a.m.

Five Massachusetts residents have died as a result of contracting COVID-19, including the first deaths in western Mass., the state Department of Public Health announced Sunday — just a day after the second death in the state attributable to the coronavirus-caused illness was announced.  

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker gestured to Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders while giving his daily COVID-19 press briefing on Saturday, March 21, 2020.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

The death toll in New England grew to nine, as public health officials across the region reported increased COVID-19 testing has yielded nearly a thousand positives.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention activated its emergency operations center to assist public health partners in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.
James Gathany / CDC

Updated at 10:10 p.m.

Officials in New England have identified the deaths of seven people testing positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Four deaths have taken place in Connecticut — including one announced Fridaytwo in Vermont, and now one in Massachusetts.

The total number of people testing positive for the disease has grown to more than 800 across New England. 

Social workers with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families will start limiting face-to-face visits with children in the care of the state because of the threat of COVID-19.

DCF workers say they will still make emergency visits and see some children, but will assess the safety of each scheduled at-home visit.

The state issued guidance to the social workers Wednesday, saying DCF must continue to fulfill its responsibility to keep children safe, especially “at a time when they are less visible in the community and therefore more vulnerable.”

Massachusetts Governor Activates National Guard For 'Logistical Support'

Mar 20, 2020
In this file photo from April 16, 2013, National Guard members seal off Boylston St. in Boston following the marathon bombings.
Joe Spurr / WBUR

Gov. Charlie Baker activated the Massachusetts National Guard on Thursday, planning to use up to 2,000 members for "logistical support and other assistance" in the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak.

RN Alyssa Anderson administering the COVID-19 test to patients in their cars at Saint Francis Hospital & Medical Center drive-through mobile center on March 18 in Hartford.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public / NENC

Updated at 8:37 p.m.

As testing in the state ramps up, the number of cases of the new coronavirus in Massachusetts jumped to 328, an increase of 72 from Wednesday.

For the first time, the daily report includes a case in Hampshire County. Berkshire County's total is now 18 and Hampden County is at three — an increase of one case each. 

In Massachusetts, All Early Ed, Child Care Centers To Shut Down

Mar 19, 2020
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker holding his daily press briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

Updated at 7:59 p.m. 

Governor Charlie Baker ordered all Massachusetts early education and family child care providers to close in five days. They'll be replaced by emergency centers focusing on the needs of families on the front line of coronavirus response.

Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton.
Kevin Gutting / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

Reported cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts increased on Wednesday to 256, up from 218 a day earlier, and now include a patient from Franklin County.

Packages containing medical provisions like medications, supplies and equipment, shown in 2016.
Senior Airman Andrea Posey / U.S. Air Force

Massachusetts public health officials are recruiting volunteers for a medical reserve corps to help with the coronavirus response, though they say no medical training is necessary.

Massachusetts House Employee Tests Positive For COVID-19

Mar 18, 2020
The Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

An employee of the Massachusetts House of Representatives has tested positive for the coronavirus-caused COVID-19 illness.

Mass. Gov. Baker: 'Tough Days Ahead Of Us' As Battle Against Coronavirus Begins

Mar 18, 2020
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker on Tuesday: "Without question, we are likely to have some very tough days ahead of us."
Sam Doran / State House News Service

Cautioning of tough days ahead, Massachusetts officials said Tuesday they are pursuing multiple ways to ramp up the capacity for coronavirus testing in the state, and outlined several other new initiatives to address ramifications of the pandemic.

Edwin Nartowicz, 96, shoots pool at the senior center in Northampton, Massachusetts, last Friday before it closed because of the coronavirus. Nartowicz also likes to go to the YMCA, but it also closed.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Most people are limiting their contact with others to protect against the virus that causes COVID-19. This is considered especially important for senior citizens, whose immune systems may have more trouble fighting it. 

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