New Bedford distribution of masks for Ward 5 and 6 residents this weekend

Through MaskNB initiative, City of New Bedford offers free masks to all city residents who want them.

MaskNB, an initiative announced by Mayor Jon Mitchell in partnership with the Southeastern Massachuestts chapter of the American Red Cross and Joseph Abboud Manufacturing Corporation, will continue mask distribution this weekend, June 13 and 14, at New Bedford High School’s parking lot.

Distribution began in May and has continued with thousands of masks provided to residents of Wards 1, 2, 3 and 4. The distribution of cloth masks at no cost to City residents continues with Ward 5 and 6 residents this weekend, as the distribution is organized by Ward. The distribution will be done through an organized drive-through system for cars, observing social distancing. Residents are asked to limit their mask requests to those in their household and/or any elderly or vulnerable neighbors (who have been advised against leaving their homes).

On Saturday, June 13, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., residents of Ward 5 may pick up masks at New Bedford High School’s parking lot, 230 Hathaway Boulevard. Ward 5 includes most of the West End of New Bedford, including the neighborhoods around Buttonwood Park, Hawthorn Street and its intersecting streets to the north and south, Orchard Street south to Thompson Street, and the neighborhoods around Rural Cemetery and St. Luke’s Hospital.

On Sunday, June 14, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., residents of Ward 6 may pick up masks at New Bedford High School’s parking lot, 230 Hathaway Boulevard. Ward 6 includes the South End of New Bedford, including the entire South End peninsula from Cove Street south to Fort Taber, as well as County Street and its intersecting streets south of Rivet Street, and neighborhoods around Ashley Park and Goulart Square.

Any resident who is unsure of the Ward in which they live may visit wheredoivotema.com and enter their address. This website provides polling location, and the first information noted is the Ward in which the resident lives. Residents do not need to be registered voters to use this online tool.

Under the MaskNB distribution plan, interested residents in each of the City’s six Wards will have an opportunity to obtain free cloth face masks at New Bedford High School, 230 Hathaway Boulevard, on the following assigned dates and times:

• Ward 5 Saturday, June 13 – 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
• Ward 6 Sunday, June 14 – 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Distribution of masks to Wards 1, 2, 3 and 4 took place over the last two weekends. The dates are listed at www.masknb.com. Additional dates may be announced based on available supplies.

Residents should arrive at the main vehicle entrance of New Bedford High School, located at 230 Hathaway Boulevard, and remain in their vehicles as Red Cross volunteers hand out masks based on their requests. Residents are asked to limit their mask requests to those in their household and/or any elderly or vulnerable neighbors (who have been advised against leaving their homes).

Mayor Jon Mitchell announced the MaskNB initiative on May 14. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the wearing of cloth face coverings in public where social distancing is difficult to maintain; cloth face coverings are not a substitute for medical-grade masks, but provide more protection against the spread of viruses than not covering one’s face. More information about the use and effectiveness of cloth face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html.

New Bedford residents invited to attend public meeting via Zoom on federal funding for COVID response

The City of New Bedford’s Office of Housing and Community Development will hold a community forum to discuss the best use of federal funding to improve the quality of life for New Bedford residents specifically related to preventing, preparing for and responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The public meeting will be held virtually via Zoom and can be accessed live on Thursday, June 11, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. at the following web address:

Meeting ID: 918 4297 6905
Password: 253364
Telephone Access: 1-646-558-8656

This public meeting is hosted by the City and designed to gather critical input from New Bedford residents. The public input will assist the City in formulating its strategy in the utilization of federal funding to address needs and priorities in the areas of public services, community services, homelessness resources and economic development. Input from the community is integral in shaping the priorities of these federal programs.

The City of New Bedford anticipates receiving $1,624,151 in Community Development Block Grant COVID (CDBG-CV) and $805,424 In Emergency Solutions Grant COVID (ESG-CV) funding for the purpose of serving low and moderate income residents and neighborhoods in Fiscal Year 2019 which runs from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020.

Residents are encouraged to attend the upcoming virtual public meeting and share their thoughts as to how the City may best allocate its supplemental federal funding intended to address our current public health crisis.

The public meeting will include a brief presentation by the City’s Office of Housing & Community Development staff, including results from an assessment conducted as to needs and priorities for CDBG-CV and ESG-CV funding. Information about the application process through an RFP will also be presented.

The meeting will be an excellent opportunity for citizens to voice their opinions about how the City can best use its federal money to improve the quality of life in New Bedford and to suggest specific programs or activities needed to address and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Questions regarding this public meeting may be directed to the Office of Housing & Community Development staff at OHCD@newbedford-ma.gov.

Massachusetts State Police pursue stolen car and man who spit on troopers saying he has COVID-19

When a Massachusetts State Trooper yesterday captured a suspect who fled from a stolen car in Plymouth, the suspect refused to give his name, resisted arrest, spit on the Trooper, and said he was COVID-19 positive.

The suspect continued to spit in the cruiser during transport to the State Police-Norwell Barracks and defecated in the cruiser and the barracks’ booking area.

According to Dave Procopio of the Massachusetts State Police, Troopers at the Barracks donned full-body personal protective equipment to gain control of the hostile suspect in the holding cell and fingerprint him. An MSP Crime Scene Services Trooper eventually was able to identify the suspect by fingerprints as Hamza Conner, 29, of Boston. Conner was charged with motor vehicle offenses, making threats, witness intimidation, refusing to identify himself, vandalism, and resisting arrest.

After booking, Conner was transferred to the Norfolk County jail in Dedham to be held pending arraignment. After determining the suspect’s true identity and address Troopers checked his name against a public health database in the city of Boston, where he lives, and determined he had never been tested for COVID-19. Upon transfer to the jail the suspect was determined to be showing no coronavirus symptoms and went through intake protocols. He has not yet been tested for COVID-19.

The sequence of events began shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday when Braintree Police advised area departments that they were looking for a white Ford Explorer stolen from a pet supply store parking lot. A pet dog belonging to the owner, a Quincy man, was in the car when the vehicle was stolen.

At approximately 10:50 a.m. yesterday a Trooper working a detail on Route 3 southbound in Kingston was almost struck by the stolen vehicle as it travelled past him at a high rate of speed. Another Trooper ahead of the fleeing suspect deployed a tire deflation device across Route 3; the spike strips impacted two of the Explorer’s tires but the vehicle kept traveling southbound on Route 3.

Troopers initiated a pursuit. The Explorer was involved in a crash on the ramp from Route 3 southbound to Route 44 westbound, and the occupant fled on foot toward Commerce Way in Plymouth. Troopers began searching for the suspect.

At approximately 11:15 a.m. a Trooper located the suspect on foot on Industrial Park Way in Plymouth. The suspect immediately become unruly and resistant, said he was COVID positive, and refused to identify himself. The suspect then spit at the Trooper as he was taken into custody and continued to spit inside the cruiser during transport. He also defecated in the back of the cruiser and in the barracks.

A hazardous waste cleanup company was contacted to clean the cruiser and the barracks. Three Troopers involved in taking the suspect into custody and then controlling him at the barracks were put on a brief leave and will be monitored for symptoms. The Department will be attempting to have Conner tested for COVID-19.

The dog that was in the vehicle when it was stolen was located yesterday in Somerville and has been reunited with his family. At this time we believe the suspect drove to the Boston area after stealing the vehicle and left the dog there. We are also investigating whether the vehicle was involved in a crash in or around Boston during that time.

Suspect Conner was expected to be remotely arraigned today in Plymouth District Court.

Dartmouth Mall re-opens Friday with restrictions

This Friday, June 12, the Dartmouth Mall will slowly begin to re-open while taking precautions to ensure the well-being of shoppers.

“We thoroughly cleaned the entire facility during our downtime and have removed common area seating. Based on government restrictions, the food area will remain closed. In order to enforce the CDC’s social distancing recommendations, our play area will remain closed.”

The mall will be operating with reduced hours:
• Monday-Saturday: 11:00am-7:00pm
• Sundays: 12:00pm-6:00pm (starting on June 12)

The following stores will be open, however, hours may vary.

• Buffalo Wild Wings – open 11:00am – 10:00pm for take-out and delivery through delivery apps like Grubhub
• Burlington – opening 6/12/20
• Cellaxs – opening 6/12
• Five Below – open
• Francesca’s – opening 6/12
• Good News – opening 6/12
• Herban Acres – opening 6/12
• Hollister – opening 6/12
• iParty – opening 6/12
• Jewelry Express – opening 6/12
• Khoury Jewelers – opening 6/12
• Macy’s – opening 6/15/20
• Name in a Frame – opening 6/12
• Newbury Comics – opening 6/12
• Olive Garden – 11am – 10pm (car-side pickup)
• Panera Bread – 11am – 7pm daily (pickup and delivery)
• Pier 1 – opening 6/19
• Taco Bell – 10am – 2am (drive-thru only)
• T-Mobile – opening 6/12

According to information from the mall, the following will be taking place:

• Offering sanitizing locations throughout the property
• We thoroughly cleaned the entire facility during our downtime
• Removed common area seating
• Based on government restrictions, food court seating has been eliminated.
• In order to enforce the CDC’s social distancing, the play area will remain closed
• Enhancing our cleaning and disinfecting protocols, utilizing recommended disinfectant, PH7Q
• Requiring security and maintenance personnel wear masks and gloves.
• Placing floor decals as a visual representation of social distancing

Massachusetts bars quietly moved to last phase of reopening

Chris Van Buskirk
State House News Service

Looking to grab a drink at your favorite watering hole? Unless it provides seated food service, you’ll have to wait until Phase 4 after administration officials delayed the reopening timeline for bars.

Bars were originally slated to open in Phase 3 of Gov. Charlie Baker’s restart plan but were moved to Phase 4 after administration officials determined that if they do not provide seated food service, they are more akin to nightclubs. Dance clubs and nightclubs aren’t allowed to resume operations until Phase 4, which the administration has said will require a vaccine or effective treatment for COVID-19. It is unclear when the change was made.

Wineries, beer gardens, breweries, and distilleries all opened as of Monday with some restrictions in place if they provide seated food service. Bars with licenses to serve food can also open in Phase 2 under the state’s restaurant reopening guidelines. State guidance prohibits seating customers at a bar, but it does allow restaurants to reconfigure the area to accommodate table seating.

A Housing and Economic Development spokesman said the list of businesses and activities is subject to revision based on the latest public health data and the issuance of sector-specific guidelines. As of Monday afternoon, a downloadable copy of the reopening plan on the state’s website still lists bars under Phase 3. An FAQ page on the same website categorizes bars under Phase 4.

COVID-19 testing slowing down in Massachusetts

Matt Murphy
State House News Service

Even as the state works to ramp up its testing capacity with a goal of being able to test as many as 45,000 people a day by the end of July, the actual number of tests for COVID-19 being conducted daily in Massachusetts has been declining for weeks.

Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday said that trend can be attributed to the decrease in the infection rate as people have stayed home and worn masks in public to control the spread of the virus. But he also expects it to change as more proactive testing becomes part of the state’s routine.

“I do think some of the issue with respect to testing generally is driven by demand,” Baker said on Tuesday from Lawrence, after touring the New Balance factory, where operations have been converted to produce personal protective equipment.

The administration at the end of May submitted a plan to the federal government to build its testing capacity from 30,000 a day currently to 45,000 by the end of next month, and has received $374 million from the Trump administration to put toward testing.

Testing also has been singled out as a key part of the administration’s strategy to prevent future outbreaks and a second surge by quickly identifying infected patients and geographic hotspots to isolate those with the virus and control the spread.

The state testing regimen, however, has never approached its full capacity.

During the week of May 11-17, when it appears from public data the state hit its high-water mark for testing, the Department of Public Health reported an average of 11,109 tests being conducted per day, totaling 77,768 for the week and a daily high of 13,864 on May 13.

Instead of continuing to climb, the ensuring weeks saw fewer tests being conducted with only 48,461 tests reported last week for an average of 6,923 a day between June 1 and June 7. The most tests reported on any given day last week was 9,409.

DPH spokeswoman Ann Scales told the News Service earlier this week that the decline in testing volume had to do with a reduction in transmissions that has led to fewer people with symptoms needing testing, and fewer close contacts of positive cases to test.

“The overall effect is to reduce the demand for testing. However, as we continue to move carefully through the reopening process, we anticipate an increasing demand for testing as the potential for exposures increases,” Scales said.

“The Commonwealth’s goal is to have sufficient testing capacity should we experience another surge,” she said.

A month ago, Baker said 13 percent of all tests being done were coming back positive for the coronavirus, but as infections and the spread of the virus have slowed, that positive test rate has fallen to under 5 percent.

The federal government has recommended that states put in place a plan to immediately be able to test at least 2 percent of its population each month, and to increase that capacity by the fall. With over 650,000 tests conducted so far, the administration reported in its testing plan to the federal government that it is currently testing roughly 4.4 percent of the population every month.

“The goal here, once we get the go-ahead from the feds, will be to test everybody’s who’s symptomatic, everybody’s whose asymptomatic and a close contact, everybody who works in the health care space, everybody who works with vulnerable populations, and to continue to expand the number of testing sites that are available for testing,” Baker said on Tuesday.

The governor said the state is currently in the process of adding 20 more sites for testing in areas the administration considers “underserved.”

“So I certainly believe that the number of tests and our testing capacity are both going to go up over time,” Baker said.

In additional to molecular tests for the presence of the virus, the governor said he also anticipates that over time, as serology testing for antibodies becomes more reliable, the state will be doing more of that type of testing as well to identify people who may have had the virus but either didn’t have symptoms or didn’t find their way into the health care system.

A top World Health Organization expert on Monday said that new research had shown the transmission of the deadly virus by asymptomatic individuals was “very rare,” which if true would dramatically change the public’s understanding of the virus and the protocols in place to prevent its spread.

But that official, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, walked back her statements on Tuesday and said there had been a “misunderstanding.”

Baker, who talks repeatedly about the risk of asymptomatic transmission as the reason people should take precautions like wearing facial coverings, had not read the research that Van Kerkhove cited, but believed it to be based on a very small sample size. The governor said he was on a call with health care professionals Tuesday morning, all of whom were “enormously skeptical of that conclusion for a whole bunch of reasons, and so am I.”

“I continue to believe that based on the advice that we’re getting from the health experts here that people who are asymptomatic who become symptomatic are absolutely capable of spreading the infection and so are many of the asymptomatic people who never show symptoms at all, and I would urge people to follow the feedback and the pushback that’s going to come from that broad declaration yesterday from a lot of other people who spent a lot of time trying to figure this virus out.”

Last week, as Baker prepared to make a decision about entering Massachusetts into the second phase of his economic reopening strategy, a coalition of public health and community organization urged Baker to wait until the state had better data collection, worker protections and testing capabilities in place.

The group said the state should be testing 32,000 people a day to remain on track to reach its testing goals, and Helena DaSilva Hughes, of the Immigrant’s Assistance Center in New Bedford, said testing, including for asymptomatic people, must be available “without people having to go through flaming hoops.”

“You can’t clean fish from home and you can’t be a personal care attendant without being close to the client, so many more people need to be tested, starting with our essential workers,” Hughes said.

Governor Baker visits Lawrence to tour New Balance’s PPE production line

Today, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito joined New Balance chairman Jim Davis for a tour of New Balance’s Lawrence factory, a facility that has helped the company produce more than 1 million masks in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The tour highlighted the company’s face mask models, including a new version being rolled out to consumers in the coming weeks, and a new surgical mask model for frontline health care workers.

Nearly 100 New Balance employees are manufacturing products at the factory and a nearby distribution center in Lawrence, an effort which began in late March with the production of general-use face masks. The company has been supported by the Massachusetts Manufacturing Emergency Team (M-ERT), which provided support around regulations and labeling for medical equipment, as well as feedback on the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE), which has risen greatly since the M-ERT’s establishment in early March. The M-ERT is a coordinated effort comprised of members from academia, industry and government to address the urgent need for PPE to support health care workers on the front lines of Massachusetts’ COVID-19 response.

“As the Commonwealth continues its fight against coronavirus, face coverings will remain critical to supporting public health,” said Governor Baker. “Our Administration remains committed to partnering with local companies such as New Balance to ensure there is a reliable supply of PPE to protect frontline workers and the general public.”

“With millions of pieces of PPE already produced by participating companies, M-ERT has played a key role in the gradual reopening of Massachusetts,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “We are thankful to New Balance and the other M-ERT companies that have leveraged this program to shift to the production of life-saving gear and supplies.”

New Balance was directly assisted by experts from the M-ERT team, including Ben Linville-Engler from MIT’s System Design & Management Group and Haden Quinlan from MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering (MechE), who hosted bi-weekly meetings with the company to confer over the regulatory environment for medical products, connect the company to testing resources, and deliver information regarding the demand and need for certain types of PPE. Another M-ERT expert, Dr. Michael Rein, the Senior Product Engineer at Advanced Functional Fabrics of America, provided critical guidance around product testing.

Starting today, New Balance will make available a new general-use face mask for the public, called the ‘NB Face Mask V3,’ a three-layer, lightweight and breathable, non-sterile physical barrier face mask with a moldable nose piece. In addition to the masks produced directly by New Balance, the company has also repaired straps on 50,000 N95 respirator masks for Brigham & Women’s Hospital, enabling them to be used by their medical staff.

Today’s tour featured several prototypes the company is looking to produce, including a disposable, 3D-printed stethoscope. In addition to founder Jim Davis, the Governor and Lt. Governor were joined by several New Balance leaders who highlighted the production teams making the masks, including: Joe Preston, President & CEO of New Balance; Dave Wheeler, Chief Operating Officer; and Kevin McCoy, Vice President of Made Product Development & Manufacturing.

“The incredible passion, industrial R&D ability and innovative thinking of our associates combined with our New England manufacturing resources enabled us to pivot quickly to produce PPE for frontline workers and health care facilities facing the COVID-19 health crisis,” said Joe Preston, President & CEO of New Balance. “We applaud the Baker-Polito Administration for establishing a strong and highly-engaged Manufacturing Emergency Response Team that has provided us with meaningful and expert guidance throughout our journey.”

“We are incredibly proud and humbled to do our part to help so many in our health care community by producing more than one million masks in the past two months,” said Dave Wheeler, Chief Operating Officer of New Balance. “We are thankful that the innovative thinking of our associates, our long history of domestic manufacturing and the work of our highly skilled teams in our factories have allowed us to quickly adapt to help meet the immense mask needs of the health care community, and now the general public.”

New Balance is one of the Massachusetts manufacturers featured on a new website launched by the MassTech Collaborative that profiles nearly 20 Massachusetts manufacturers that have shifted operations to produce critical PPE and other materials. The M-ERT effort is being managed by MassTech, the quasi-public economic development agency that oversees advanced manufacturing programs for the Commonwealth, and was devised as an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nearly 750 companies from around the world have submitted their interest to the M-ERT, including nearly 450 from Massachusetts. Of those, 27 companies have made it through the program, producing 4 million pieces of PPE and other critical materials to date.

New Bedford reports no COVID-19 related deaths since Saturday

New Bedford health officials reported no additional COVID-19 related deaths since Saturday, leaving the total at 81 in the city.

Mayor Jon Mitchell’s office reported 22 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Bedford on Monday, bringing the total positive cases in the city to 1.992, up from 1,970 on Saturday.

3 additional cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Fall River, according to the Mayor’s Office. This brings the total in Fall River to 1,449. Full details here.

Advocates: Mail method matters in voting reform bill

Chris Van Buskirk
State House News Service

As an extensive vote-by-mail bill moves to the Senate, one voting rights advocacy organization and the association representing town clerks hope the upper chamber will address several outstanding issues including delivery requirements for mail-in ballots.

The mail-in voting legislation (H 4768) comes as a response to public health concerns associated with COVID-19. As government officials urge social distancing, some voters might be discouraged from showing up in-person to the polls in September and November. The House, voting 155-1, sent the bill to the Senate Thursday night after tackling around 27 amendments.

MassVote Policy and Communications Manager Alex Psilakis said he hopes the Senate will address language in the bill dictating which mailing method the state will use — options include first class or bulk mail. Under the current bill, the state is required to pay for return envelopes but the postage class is not specified.

This poses an issue, Psilakis said, as the state could choose to use bulk mail, which is not postmarked. If the bulk mail arrives after Election Day, local clerks would not count it. To rectify the concern, Psilakis said the Senate could change the language to “mailed by” as opposed to “postmarked by.”

“That’s impacting thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of voters, that’s going to mean their vote isn’t counted,” he said in an interview. “Some legislators are worried that if you allow people to mail it by Election Day, that leaves more room for voter fraud and that’s just not the case.”

Rep. Natalie Blais (D-Sunderland) filed an unsuccessful amendment that would have required the state to pay for United States Postal Service first class mail for any mailing requirements detailed in the legislation.

Sen. Barry Finegold, Senate chair of Election Laws, said the legislation the House passed is a step in the right direction. The three options in the bill — early voting periods, voting in-person on Election Day, and voting by mail — help address public health concerns regarding physical distancing, he said.

Finegold said the House decision to institute the “postmarked by” deadline for mail-in ballots is sufficient.

“If you’re concerned about the pandemic, you don’t have to come to the polls, if you’re concerned about the crowd, you can vote early,” he told the News Service. “And if you’d like, the day of the election, you can show up the day of the election.”

A timetable for Senate consideration of the bill was not available Friday from Senate President Karen Spilka’s office. The Senate plans for next week currently include only two informal sessions.

Andy Dowd, legislative committee chair of the Massachusetts Town Clerks Association, said overall the bill addresses key concerns of local clerks such as allowing them to tabulate votes prior to Election Day. Dowd said he hopes the Senate will address the front-end process of requesting a ballot.

“The challenge on our end is that those application forms are going to be returned to us by mail or I believe there will be an option for folks to email them back, which is great. We like to make things as easy as possible,” he told the News Service. “But then once we receive it, again, that’s where the manual labor intensive process tends to bog down the system.”

The House bill would direct Secretary of State William Galvin to send out applications for mail-in ballots by July 15 and provide early voting options before the September primary and November general elections.

Over the course of two days, House lawmakers hashed out what voting-by-mail would look like during the 2020 primaries and general elections. On Wednesday, lawmakers abruptly paused mid-debate out of respect for protests on Boston Common and logistical concerns surrounding traffic associated with the demonstrations.

Legislators resumed their session Thursday and worked for nearly eight hours before passing the bill. The session was the first serious test of the House’s new remote voting format for a bill with multiple amendments drawing debate. Chairman Aaron Michlewitz said overall, the session went smoothly.

“A few hiccups here and there, but most members that wanted to speak on an amendment were able to do that,” he told the News Service after Thursday’s session. “We were able to have a good dialogue with the membership, even though they were [participating] remotely.”

Rep. Paul Mark (D-Peru), who represents rural communities, raised during debate the need for funding to aid in the implementation of the bill for smaller municipalities. House Election Laws Chairman John Lawn said he understands this election cycle will place an “enormous” pressure on clerks to deal with an increase in mail.

“So we listened to that and working with the central tabulation amendment was their number one priority and I think that amendment really accomplishes that and helps out the clerks,” Lawn said, referencing an amendment that would allow clerks to tabulate votes prior to Election Day.

Psilakis said MassVote is also disappointed that the bill would close the period to request an absentee ballot seven days before election day — another point he hopes the Senate will tackle. In years prior, he said, a voter could request an absentee ballot at noon the day before the election.

“That’s something that we really don’t want to see,” he said. “Because loads of people could be in that situation where something comes up, and they just want to go to their local local hall to get their ballot.”

Finegold said it was important to institute a cutoff time to give clerks time to handle absentee ballots.

“I feel there’s plenty of options for people to get to the polls and to vote,” Finegold said.

The Election Modernization Coalition, a group of seven voting rights organizations that includes the ACLU, Common Cause Massachusetts, and MassVote — praised the House bill in a joint statement, writing Friday that the bill is “a very strong reform to our election laws.”

“This election is going to be one of the most consequential in our lifetime, with enormous implications for communities of color,” said Rahsaan Hall, director of the Racial Justice Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts. “We’re grateful to the House for moving this vital bill quickly. We need to protect democratic participation, safeguard public health, and ensure equitable ballot access for all voters.”

New Bedford COVID-19 related deaths rise to 81 total

New Bedford health officials reported one additional COVID-19 related deaths since Friday, nine in the past four days, bringing the total to 81 in the city.

Mayor Jon Mitchell’s office reported 17 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Bedford on Saturday, bringing the total positive cases in the city to 1,970, up from 1,953 on Friday.

Mayor Jon Mitchell announced Saturday that the City of New Bedford will follow and implement the second phase of Governor Charlie Baker’s reopening plan, which allows for additional sector reopening on Monday, June 8. Full details here.

14 additional cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Fall River, according to the Mayor’s Office. This brings the total in Fall River to 1,433. Full details here.

The Baker-Polito Administration today announced that Phase II of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan will begin on June 8th. Full details here.

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