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SHNS Coronavirus Tracker

SHNS Coronavirus Tracker

The Latest on COVID-19

  • 476 New Cases in K-12 Schools 5:30 PM Thu
  • Berkshire County is the Vaccination Leader 5:21 PM Thu
  • Hospitals Still Getting Most Doses 5:21 PM Thu

Last update:

State Launching ID Verification Process For Some UI Claims

Facing what it calls a "continued surge of fraudulent claim attempts," the state Department of Unemployment Assistance announced a new identity verification process Thursday aimed at speeding up payments to claimants.

Senate Pauses Mail-In Voting Push to Take Public Input

A fast-tracked push to extend mail-in voting and early in-person voting for springtime elections in Massachusetts, and extend flexibility for cities and towns to re-schedule municipal elections, is taking a short breather so the public can weigh in.

House Session Summary - Thursday, March 4

The House sent legislation to House Ways and Means on Thursday creating a bill of rights for foster parents and new reporting requirements for the Department of Children and Families. The legislation (H 87), sponsored by Reps. Paul Donato and Bills in Third Reading Chairwoman Denise Garlick, passed both branches last session but stalled out in the Senate when the branches could not agree on a consensus version.

Senate Session Summary - Thursday, March 4

The bulk of the action in the Senate Thursday was around setting borrowing terms under the new transportation infrastructure and economic development bond laws. The bulk of the conversation was about voting by mail. Legislation to extend mail-in voting through June was tacitly referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee, after which Chairman Michael Rodrigues announced during the session that his panel would accept written testimony until Monday at 10 a.m.

Half of State Workforce Could Stay Remote After Pandemic

The Baker administration has been quietly planning for a permanent "hybrid" work model for as much as half of the state workforce, and over the course of 2021 will be redesigning office space and equipping employees with the technology they need to be able to continue to work remotely after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coalition: State Benefits Stuck in “Deep Poverty” Range

A coalition that has had recent success advocating for the expansion of state welfare programs to help low-income parents is kicking off its latest campaign Thursday, this time to boost benefits to some of the state's poorest families.

Pandemic Triggered Biopharma Bounce in 2020

The Massachusetts biopharma industry had its best funding year on record in 2020, when venture capital investment in Bay State-based companies hit $5.8 billion, according to a report out Wednesday.

J&J Vaccine Generates Optimism on Cape Cod

Cape Cod officials are optimistic that the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine will play a leading role in the ongoing effort to immunize the region's most vulnerable and hard-to-reach residents.

Early On, Dems Opt to Move Bills Without Public Hearings

Legislative Democrats this session have been touting rules reforms to boost transparency but they've also shown an early aversion to holding public hearings on key bills before passing them.

Independence, Benefits at Crux of App-Based Worker Debate

Four months after California voters approved a company-backed worker classification overhaul for app-based drivers, a similar debate that pivots on the interests of drivers and employers is coming into focus in Massachusetts.

February Tax Haul Shatters State’s Expectations

Tax collections exceeded the Baker administration's expectations by $372 million in February and surpassed the total of collections in February 2020, a development that positions the state to end this budget year having collected more tax revenue than it did last year.

Pandemic Forces Planners to Rethink Everything

Gov. Charlie Baker isn't the only one thinking about what work will look like after the pandemic.

Pandemic Served New Lessons in Caring for Homeless

A group of shelter, health care, and emergency services providers for people experiencing homelessness is asking the state to level fund their services in the upcoming fiscal 2022 budget. The Coalition for Homeless Individuals gathered legislators and advocates on Wednesday morning to press for continued funding that they say is crucial to helping shelters provide roofs over people's heads and care during the pandemic.

State Flags Problems at Worcester’s Becker College

Worcester's Becker College is facing a precarious enough financial situation that officials at the Department of Higher Education believe the school "is unlikely to sustain full operations through the next academic year" and have engaged in contingency planning in case of a closure.

Senator Angling to Keep Sports Betting Out of Casinos

For some people, Massachusetts is well behind the pack and cannot legalize sports wagering soon enough. But others say lawmakers should pump the brakes, learn from research conducted in mature gambling markets and take the time to ensure that as many of the unknowns around sports betting are addressed in any bill that moves forward.

Uncaptioned image for story:Turco Wins Four-Person House Primary

Turco Wins Four-Person House Primary

Democrat Jeffrey Turco prevailed in a four-person Democratic primary Tuesday and will compete with a Republican and an unenrolled candidate in the race to succeed former House Speaker Robert DeLeo in the Massachusetts House.

During a virtual forum hosted by JVS Boston on Tuesday, Idil Ahmed told her story of resettling in Boston after her family fled their native Somalia and lived in a refugee camp in Kenya. [Screenshot]

Outlook Brighter for Refugee Resettlement Under Biden

Idil Ahmed had just turned 15 when she boarded a flight to Boston as the sole member of her family approved for refugee resettlement in the United States.

State Secretary William Galvin told budget-writers Tuesday that he is concerned about the accuracy of Census data as lawmakers begin the decennial redistricting process this year. [Screenshot]

Galvin Wants Resources For Possible Census Challenge

After the U.S. Census Bureau pushed back by six months its delivery date of population and redistricting data, Massachusetts legislators will face a late-year scramble and a need to change the due date for redrawing local voting precincts, Secretary of State William Galvin said Tuesday.

Baker in Florida After Death in Family

Gov. Charlie Baker traveled to Florida on Thursday night to join his wife, First Lady Lauren Baker, after a death in the family, according to his office.

House Poised to Restart Push on Child Protection Bill

Calling the drop during the pandemic in reports of suspected child abuse a "troubling" sign, House Speaker Ron Mariano said Thursday he would move a bill to the floor soon that would implement new protections for foster parents and impose new reporting requirements on the Department of Children and Families.

Uncaptioned image for story:Mariano Expects Climate Bill Won't Change Much

Mariano Expects Climate Bill Won’t Change Much

Almost a month after Gov. Charlie Baker returned sweeping climate legislation to lawmakers with a series of recommended amendments, House Speaker Ronald Mariano said he's willing to work with the governor on some technical changes but will "not back down on our ambitious emissions reduction targets."

Uncaptioned image for story:Mass Vaccination Site Shifting From Fenway to The Hynes

Mass Vaccination Site Shifting From Fenway to The Hynes

As Fenway Park prepares to welcome back players, coaches and a limited number of fans next month for the start of the new baseball season, the home of the Red Sox will be saying goodbye to the patients who have been churning through the turnstiles of the iconic ballpark since early February for more than peanuts and Cracker Jacks.

Henry De Groot, executive director of Boston Independent Drivers Guild (Far Right), holds a sign that reads "Rep. Cusack + Rep. Gonzalez, Uber's Favorite Union Busters." [Chris Van Buskirk/SHNS]

Independent Drivers' Group Seeks $20 an Hour Minimum Wage

Representatives of a group representing around 800 rideshare drivers gathered outside the State House Thursday afternoon in support of legislation (SD 2359) that would set a minimum wage of $20 an hour for drivers and codify the right to unionize.

Decision Time Nears on Unemployment Insurance Rate Hikes

When a bill filed by Gov. Charlie Baker to limit unemployment insurance rate increases on employers in 2021 died on the vine in the frenzied finish to the legislative session in early January, it didn't seem like a big deal.

Michlewitz Backs Delegation Mate Santiago for Boston Mayor

After considering running himself, Rep. Aaron Michlewitz is endorsing his House colleague Rep. Jon Santiago for mayor of Boston, describing the South End Democrat and doctor as someone able to see the "bigger picture" for the city.

Uncaptioned image for story:Kennealy Cheers "Easier Path" to More Housing Production

Kennealy Cheers “Easier Path” to More Housing Production

A new housing production law has been on the books in Massachusetts for nearly two months, and communities should proceed "full steam ahead" to embrace the changes, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Michael Kennealy said Wednesday.

[Courtesy/Dept. of Agricultural Resources]

Pesticide Limitation Seen as Victory in Bee Protection Movement

New state regulations will limit the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, products that advocates for years have been pushing to restrict as a way to protect bees.

Gov. Charlie Baker watches a kindergarten teacher work with students on Wednesday as he visits West Parish School in Gloucester, where they have been holding in-person learning for 101 days. [Nancy Lane/Boston Herald/Pool]

Mass. Teachers Now Eligible For Vaccines on March 11

Starting March 11, teachers, early educators and school staff members will be able to try to sign up for COVID-19 vaccine appointments through any of the state's 170 vaccination sites and mass vaccination sites plan to block off certain days to vaccinate educators, Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday morning.

Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley speaks at a press conference on Feb. 26 during a visit to the Nock-Molin Middle School in Newburyport. [Nicolaus Czarnecki/Boston Herald/Pool]

Education Commissioner Seeks Emergency Authority Over Learning Models

In another sign of the push to return to traditional in-person schooling, the state Board of Education is scheduled to vote Friday on emergency regulations granting the state education commissioner authority to determine when hybrid and remote models will no longer count towards required student learning time hours.

Treasurer Deborah Goldberg told lawmakers Tuesday that around 13 percent of Alcohol Beverages Control Commission license-holders have not renewed for 2021. [Screenshot]

Alcohol Deliveries Soar During Pandemic

A surge in home deliveries of alcoholic beverages, disproportionate job losses among women during the pandemic, and long-sought authorization for cashless lottery sales are all on Treasurer Deborah Goldberg's mind as the Legislature kicks off its annual budget review.

Read more in the Front Page Archives

Latest COVID-19 Figures in Mass.

Data as of 5 p.m. Thursday.
New Confirmed Cases1,410
Total Confirmed Cases554,630
Total Deaths16,296
Full Vaccinations614,589

Of Interest

State House Takeout Podcast

The Mass. Almanac – free to subscribers through 2020 – includes up-to-date info on replacements in the Executive agencies, a quick reference to legislators not returning in 2021, and much more info on the people who make the government run.

Click here to learn more

State House News Service