MARCH 27 -- Massachusetts logged 10 new COVID-19 deaths and 823 new confirmed cases on Friday, as another work week came to a close for many of the state's residents who have been working remotely or are suddenly unemployed due to business closures.
The Department of Public Health on Friday reported a total of 35 deaths from COVID-19, the second day in a row that the deaths of 10 more people were announced. The total case now count stands at 3,240, with more than 29,000 people now having been tested for the coronavirus across more than a dozen labs.
A $2 trillion economic stimulus package cleared the U.S. House, and Congresswoman Lori Trahan said it would steer about $2.67 billion to Massachusetts state and local governments with more going to other areas. Meanwhile, in the Massachusetts House, lawmakers approved a version of Gov. Charlie Baker's bill to provide flexibility to municipal governments and allow restaurants to sell beer and wine with takeout and delivery orders.
Another Baker bill, associated with the freshly announced three-month delay of the state tax filing deadline, is now before the House Ways and Means Committee.
Next week will be the first full one under a stay-home advisory for Massachusetts residents, and schools will remain closed into May. Students at the University of Massachusetts are set to hear over the next three weeks about refunds for the dorms and meal plans they won't be using while they learn remotely off-campus.
At a Friday morning press conference where he asked people in other states to stay out of Massachusetts, Baker said the state would not "be up and running by Easter," contrary to what President Donald Trump has suggested. All 11 members of the state's Congressional delegation have joined Baker in asking Trump to issue a major disaster declaration for Massachusetts. - Katie Lannan
Two ICE Detainees Released After Lawsuit: Federal authorities released two immigrants Friday from detainment in the Plymouth County Correctional Facility due to coronavirus risks the individuals faced, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. Both detainees have health conditions — 63-year-old Ray Anthony Marzouca, has prostate cancer, while 59-year-old Mario Rodas has uncontrolled diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure — their attorneys and the ACLUM argued in a lawsuit filed Wednesday. Separate groups also sued ICE and Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson on Friday alleging that immigrants held in civil detention are being exposed to the virus with no health protections. - Chris Lisinski 4:39 PM
Pressley Negative for COVID-19: U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley has tested negative for the coronavirus-caused COVID-19, her office announced Friday. Pressley's office had said on Wednesday night that the Boston congresswoman "sought professional medical treatment out of an abundance of caution" after experiencing flu-like symptoms. "I am relieved to report that I have tested negative for COVID-19. I am, however still recovering from the flu, but feeling much better and continuing to work remotely with my team on COVID-19 response," Pressley said in a statement Friday. -- Colin A. Young 4:17 PM
Latest Case Numbers: Ten more deaths in Massachusetts were attributed to COVID-19, and 823 people newly tested positive for the respiratory illness, according to a Friday afternoon update from the Department of Public Health. The department reported that 29,371 people have been tested for the coronavirus, with 3,240 confirmed positive cases, 35 deaths, and at least 288 hospitalizations. The newly reported deaths were of men and women in their 60s, 80s and 90s. Of the 10, four were from Norfolk County, two from Berkshire County, and one each from Franklin, Middlesex, Barnstable and Bristol counties. - Katie Lannan 3:55 PM
[Graphic: Chris Lisinski/SHNS]
Dispensary-made Hand Sanitizer is Ready: Medical marijuana provider Revolutionary Clinics plans to donate its first batch of hand sanitizer, 35 gallons in all, to be distributed to local hospitals on Monday and expects to have another 80 to 90 gallons ready for donation by the end of next week. More than a dozen cannabis companies, already familiar with distillation processes from their work with cannabis concentrates and other products, were cleared earlier this week to produce the high-demand product in a partnership between the Commonwealth Dispensary Association and the Mass. Health & Hospital Association. Revolutionary Clinics has been producing hand sanitizer at its cultivation facility in Fitchburg, separate from its ongoing medical marijuana operations. "I am proud of a Fitchburg-based operation making a pivot from its usual activities to support the fight against COVID-19. Revolutionary Clinics is a prime example of how businesses can leverage their resources to help our communities tackle this pandemic together," Fitchburg Mayor Stephen DiNatale, a former state rep, said. "Efforts like this demonstrate the potential for good that exists when all members of the community band together to face these historic challenges." The CDA said its members involved in hand sanitizer production will apply guidelines from the World Health Organization and will fill five gallon jugs to be transported to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency for distribution to individual hospitals. -- Colin A. Young 3:43 PM
Staff at Revolutionary Clinics in Fitchburg plan to donate their first 35-gallon batch of hand sanitizer on Monday. [Courtesy: Revolutionary Clinics]
Congressional Delegation Backs Disaster Declaration Request: All 11 members of the state's congressional delegation on Friday urged President Donald Trump to approve a major disaster declaration in Massachusetts, writing that the additional federal aid it would bring is "critically needed" to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. One day after Gov. Charlie Baker filed a request seeking the declaration, the delegation submitted its own letter to the president supporting his effort. "Agencies, municipalities and organizations throughout Massachusetts ha(ve) taken efforts to slow the COVID-19 outbreak through strong social distancing measures, as recommended by public health experts," they said. "Federal assistance through FEMA and a major disaster declaration, however, is critically needed to help the Commonwealth’s cities and towns, state agencies, and nonprofit organizations statewide address the pandemic as aggressively and effectively as possible." - Chris Lisinski 3:24 PM
State Police to Islands: Additional troopers will be deployed to barracks on Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket by the start of next week, the State Police said Friday, to "bolster public safety capabilities during the coronavirus emergency." Col. Christopher Mason has ordered two additional troopers be deployed to Nantucket and one more trooper be sent to Oak Bluffs. MSP also has added several commissioned officers to its Commonwealth Watch Center at headquarters. The Watch Center "monitors developing incidents and public safety threats across the state and provides real time situational awareness to State Police Command Staff and Divisions to inform decisions about deployment of MSP assets and other tactical issues." -- Colin A. Young 3:04 PM