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Massachusetts passes four thousand COVID-19 related deaths

Massachusetts Coronavirus Update

On May 3, the Massachusetts Public Health Department reported that the state added 1,824 more positive cases of COVID-19 bringing to total to 68,087. This is a decrease from Saturday’s 1,952 reported cases.

158 new COVID-19 related deaths were reported on Sunday bringing the total deaths in Massachusetts to 4,004. As of 4 pm today, 314,646 people in Massachusetts have been tested for COVID-19 – 15,652 new tests since yesterday – the highest single-day total yet.

As of April 28, 27,939 individuals in Massachusetts were subject to quarantine with 17,659 no longer in quarantine. 10,280 individuals are undergoing monitoring/under quarantine.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and Congressman Joe Kennedy III are calling for an independent investigation into a Friday night uprising at the ICE detention center at the Bristol County House of Correction. Full details here.

New Bedford Coronavirus Update

Mayor Jon Mitchell’s office Saturday reported 87 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Bedford, bringing the total positive cases in the city to 712, up from 625 on Thursday. COVID-19 related deaths remained at 19 in the city. New Bedford health officials do not report COVID-19 related information on Sundays.

Fall River Coronavirus Update

28 additional cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Fall River. This brings the total in Fall River to 586. Full details here.




ACLU, Kennedy seek probe of Bristol County Sheriff ICE detention uprising

Katie Lannan
State House News Service

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and Congressman Joe Kennedy III are calling for an independent investigation into a Friday night uprising at the ICE detention center at the Bristol County House of Correction.

The ACLU also asked for Gov. Charlie Baker to “use his executive powers to establish safe, humane, and transparent protocols to make universal testing available for all jails, prisons, and ICE detention facilities throughout the state.”

In a statement Friday night, Bristol Sheriff Thomas Hodgson’s office said a group of about 10 Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees “refused to get tested for COVID-19, then when notified they were required to be tested because of reporting symptoms, rushed violently at Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson and corrections officers, barricaded themselves inside the facility, ripped washing machines and pipes off the wall, broke windows and trashed the entire unit.” Three detainees were taken to the hospital after and are expected to be fine, Hodgson’s office said.

The advocacy group The FANG Collective said the detainees, worried about transmission risks and concerned they’d be sent to solitary confinement, asked to be tested in their own unit and that request “resulted in a violent assault by correctional officers, including the use of pepper spray.”

On Twitter, Congressman Joe Kennedy III said he was monitoring the treatment of detainees. Kennedy also called for an investigation and “the release of surveillance footage to ascertain exactly what happened and ensure accountability.”




Massachusetts has now conducted 298,994 COVID-19 tests, death total at 3,846

Massachusetts Coronavirus Update

On May 2, the Massachusetts Public Health Department reported that the state added 1,952 more positive cases of COVID-19 bringing to total to 66,263. This is a decrease from Friday’s 2,106 reported cases.

130 new COVID-19 related deaths were reported on Saturday bringing the total deaths in Massachusetts to 3,846. As of 4 pm today, 298,994 people in Massachusetts have been tested for COVID-19 – 9,358 new tests since yesterday.

As of April 28, 27,939 individuals in Massachusetts were subject to quarantine with 17,659 no longer in quarantine. 10,280 individuals are undergoing monitoring/under quarantine.

ICE detainees at the C. Carlos Carreiro Immigration Detention Center at the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office caused more than $25,000 worth of damage in a disturbance Friday evening. Full details here.

Gaming regulators voted Friday to prolong their mandated shutdown of the state’s slots parlor and casinos until at least May 18 in line with Gov. Charlie Baker’s latest order, and announced plans for an internal group to focus in-depth on issues around re-opening casinos. Full details here.

New Bedford Coronavirus Update

Mayor Jon Mitchell’s office Saturday reported 87 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Bedford, bringing the total positive cases in the city to 712, up from 625 on Thursday. COVID-19 related deaths remained at 19 in the city.

The Greater New Bedford Community Health Center will expand its COVID-19 testing capability by establishing an outdoor testing location at its downtown health center. Full details here.

The Port of New Bedford has partnered with Southcoast Health to pilot targeted COVID-19 testing for workers in the commercial fishing industry and others, beginning with commercial fishermen on the New Bedford waterfront Friday. Full details here.

Fall River Coronavirus Update

21 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 554. Full details here.




COVID-19 cases in New Bedford jump by 87, total rises to 712

Mayor Jon Mitchell’s office Saturday reported 87 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Bedford, bringing the total positive cases in the city to 712, up from 625 on Thursday. COVID-19 related deaths remained at 19 in the city.

The Greater New Bedford Community Health Center will expand its COVID-19 testing capability by establishing an outdoor testing location at its downtown health center. Full details here.

The Port of New Bedford has partnered with Southcoast Health to pilot targeted COVID-19 testing for workers in the commercial fishing industry and others, beginning with commercial fishermen on the New Bedford waterfront Friday. Full details here.

ICE detainees at the C. Carlos Carreiro Immigration Detention Center at the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office caused more than $25,000 worth of damage in a disturbance Friday evening. Full details here.

On April 30, the Massachusetts Public Health Department reported that the state added 2,106 more positive cases of COVID-19 bringing to total to 64,311. This is an increase from Thursday’s 1,940 reported cases. Full details here.

Governor Baker issued an order requiring the use of masks or face coverings in public places where they cannot socially distance from others. The Administration also announced expanded community health center COVID-19 testing capacity at centers throughout the Commonwealth. Full details here.

Gaming regulators voted Friday to prolong their mandated shutdown of the state’s slots parlor and casinos until at least May 18 in line with Gov. Charlie Baker’s latest order, and announced plans for an internal group to focus in-depth on issues around re-opening casinos. Full details here.

24 additional cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Fall River. This brings the total in Fall River to 533. The City has been notified of its seventh fatality due to COVID-19. Full details here.




ICE detainees allegedly cause $25,000 in damage, refuse COVID tests

ICE detainees at the C. Carlos Carreiro Immigration Detention Center at the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office caused more than $25,000 worth of damage in a disturbance Friday evening.

According to a spokesperson with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, on Friday, a group of about 10 detainees in the B Wing of the detention center reported to medical personnel having multiple symptoms of COVID-19. The detainees refused to get tested for COVID-19, then when notified they were required to be tested because of reporting symptoms, rushed violently at Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson and corrections officers, barricaded themselves inside the facility, ripped washing machines and pipes off the wall, broke windows and trashed the entire unit.

Bristol County Sheriff’s Office corrections officers, special response team members and the K9 unit entered the facility and were attacked by the ICE detainees. The Bristol County security team was able to quickly gain control of the wing and restrain the detainees.

No Bristol County personnel were injured in the incident. Three ICE detainees were transported to the hospital; one for symptoms of a panic attack, one for a pre-existing medical condition and another for a medical incident after being removed from the ICE wing. All three are expected to be fine, according to the BCSO.

“This all started because a group of 10 detainees each reported having at least two symptoms of COVID-19,” Sheriff Hodgson said. “The health care professionals told them they had to be tested in the medical unit because of the reported symptoms. The detainees refused to go to the medical unit for testing. Our medical team alerted me, and I advised the detainees that for their health and the health of their fellow detainees and our staff, they needed to be tested at the medical unit. The detainees refused to comply, became combatant and ultimately put the lives of themselves and many Bristol County officers at risk with their reckless actions.

“I want to commend our medical professionals and our security team for their amazing work for quickly resolving the disturbance.”

The damage to the Ice B Wing is extensive. Detainees have been moved to single cells in the special housing unit pending disciplinary action, COVID-19 testing and criminal charges.

Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, released the following statement in response to the reports.

“These reports are deeply disturbing. We are concerned for our clients, and everyone detained in the Bristol County House of Correction and ICE detention. Immigration detention has expanded at record levels under the Trump administration; now more than ever, we will not allow the increasingly horrific conditions of ICE detention to be normalized.”




Massachusetts State Police introduce “Chat with a trooper” as a way to reach out to the elderly during COVID-19 pandemic

The State Police Association of Massachusetts (SPAM) and the Massachusetts State Police today announced that they are starting a new program to help a vulnerable population during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Chat with a Trooper” connects a group of senior citizens with volunteer state troopers for a friendly conversation during the COVID crisis. The idea was the brainchild of Cathy Draine, the Director of Community Engagement for SPAM. Draine, who works part-time for SPAM, is a long-time community organizer who is familiar with the needs of the elderly population.

In order to identify grandparents who are most in need, the troopers are partnering with “Grandparents Raising Grandchildren”. This is a state commission formed in 2008 to assist grandparents who are facing the challenge of raising another generation after bringing up their own kids. SPAM members who choose to be participants in this charitable effort will be partnered with a particular grandparent and simply have a friendly chat about how that individual and his or her family is doing during these unprecedented times.

“We should be concerned for all of the elderly who may face social isolation during this pandemic,” said Draine. “However, grandparents who are raising their grandchildren may be particularly vulnerable because many are homeschooling children who also don’t have the usual opportunities for interactions with their peers. We saw this as the way for our troopers to lend some support through a friendly phone call.”

“Thanks to the leadership of the State Police Association and the commitment of our personnel to that goal, we are already sharing the expertise of our fitness unit with young people through our online Workouts With A Trooper,” said Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police. “Now, with Chat With A Trooper, we are reaching out directly to our senior citizens, to remind them they are not alone and are in our thoughts during these anxious days. As we continue to seek ways to serve others amid these unprecedented times, I am grateful to SPAM and to the many Troopers who have volunteered to make these calls. I have no doubt these conversations with our treasured elders will be richly rewarding for our Troopers, and I hope the recipients of these calls enjoy them as much as I know the callers will.”

Participating troopers will be given resource documents before making their first calls. These include tips for starting a conversation, responses to some anticipated questions and guidelines for the program. This initiative seeks to calm fears, provide companionship to those who are isolated and help the state police more fully integrate with the communities they serve.

The program is scheduled to run until the State of Emergency restrictions are relaxed. When it is safe to gather again, there will be some type of event held where the participants could meet each other in person. This would be a natural finale to the program. However, the hope is troopers, grandparents and perhaps the grandchildren will develop relationships that would continue well after ” Chat With a Trooper” is formally concluded.




Massachusetts casino closures extended until May 18

By Colin A. Young
State House News Service

Gaming regulators voted Friday to prolong their mandated shutdown of the state’s slots parlor and casinos until at least May 18 in line with Gov. Charlie Baker’s latest order, and announced plans for an internal group to focus in-depth on issues around re-opening casinos.

Without debate or discussion, the Gaming Commission made quick work of its short agenda for Friday morning’s conference call meeting, voting 5-0 to parallel the governor’s extension of his order that non-essential businesses be shut down and mass gatherings be banned. Commissioners who chimed in agreed that keeping their forced shutdown in place for at least the duration of the governor’s order was appropriate.

The commission decided on March 14 — when the limit on public gatherings was 250 people and more than a week before the governor ordered certain businesses shuttered — to close the three betting halls the next day. With the latest extension, the state’s casinos will be closed for at least two months.

Typically, the state can rely on about $20 million in monthly tax revenue from gambling. Before they closed on March 15, the state’s casinos and slots parlor collected roughly $35 million in gross gaming revenue, generating just under $10 million in tax revenue for the state. Since all three facilities will be closed for all of April, the state will see no tax revenue from gaming, further compounding an already nightmarish revenue picture for state budget managers.

The state’s three simulcast centers — at Plainridge Park, Suffolk Downs and Raynham Park — also remain closed to the public, the commission’s director of racing, Dr. Alexandra Lightbown, said Friday. Plainridge and Suffolk Downs, which offer remote betting via advanced deposit wagering, are allowed to continue that, the commission has agreed.

Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein said Friday that she is working with Interim Executive Director Karen Wells to assemble an internal “restart working group” that will help to develop “a responsible restart plan” for the casinos and the Gaming Commission’s offices. She said commissioners should expect more detail on that group at next Thursday’s meeting.

“There’s really two buckets; there’s the technical opening and then, because of the situation we find ourselves in now, we have health and safety issues we need to address,” Wells said. “The technical opening protocols and procedures will consist of an assessment of the regulatory process required to bring casinos back online, including an extensive operations checklist that ensures necessary compliance and integrity standards.”

The second chunk of issues the plan will have to address relate specifically to the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigation measures that are unique to a public health crisis.

“Topics there are going to include, but not be limited to, enhanced sanitation procedures, employee training, physical distancing, occupancy limitation and any other guidance provided by the public health authorities,” Wells said. “The plan will also need to account for what procedures will be necessary in the event of a restart setback.”

The commission has already begun looking into what it might be able to learn from Macau, China. After shutting down for two weeks amid the COVID-19 pandemic there, Macau casinos began to reopen in late February under tight restrictions. Only half of each casino’s table are allowed to be open, all gamblers must wear masks and have their body temperature taken when entering a casino, and casino employees must also attest that they are healthy before reporting to work.




FDA Issues Emergency Use Authorization for Potential COVID-19 Treatment

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the investigational antiviral drug remdesivir for the treatment of suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in adults and children hospitalized with severe disease. While there is limited information known about the safety and effectiveness of using remdesivir to treat people in the hospital with COVID-19, the investigational drug was shown in a clinical trial to shorten the time to recovery in some patients.

“FDA’s emergency authorization of remdesivir, two days after the National Institutes of Health’s clinical trial showed promising results, is a significant step forward in battling COVID-19 and another example of the Trump Administration moving as quickly as possible to use science to save lives,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “NIH, FDA, and scientists across America and around the world have worked tirelessly with patients to get us this new potential treatment for COVID-19. The seamless cooperation between government and private industry under the President’s all-of-America approach to COVID-19 is getting treatment options to patients in record time.”

The emergency use authorization allows for remdesivir to be distributed in the U.S. and administered intravenously by health care providers, as appropriate, to treat suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in adults and children hospitalized with severe disease. Severe disease is defined as patients with low blood oxygen levels or needing oxygen therapy or more intensive breathing support such as a mechanical ventilator.

“From day one, the FDA has been committed to expediting the development and availability of potential COVID-19 treatments. Today’s action is an important step in our efforts to collaborate with innovators and researchers to provide sick patients timely access to new therapies where appropriate, while at the same time supporting research to further evaluate whether they are safe and effective,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. “There’s tremendous interest among all parties to identify and arm ourselves with medicines to combat COVID-19, and through our Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program, the FDA is working around-the-clock and using every tool at our disposal to speed these efforts.”

Based on evaluation of the emergency use authorization criteria and the scientific evidence available, it was determined that it is reasonable to believe that remdesivir may be effective in treating COVID-19, and that, given there are no adequate, approved, or available alternative treatments, the known and potential benefits to treat this serious or life-threatening virus currently outweigh the known and potential risks of the drug’s use.

The EUA also requires that fact sheets that provide important information about using remdesivir in treating COVID-19 be made available to health care providers and patients, including dosing instructions, potential side effects and drug interactions. Possible side effects of remdesivir include: increased levels of liver enzymes, which may be a sign of inflammation or damage to cells in the liver; and infusion-related reactions, which may include low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, sweating, and shivering.

Following the declaration by the Secretary of HHS that circumstances exist justifying the emergency use of unapproved products, the FDA may issue an emergency use authorization to allow unapproved medical products or unapproved uses of approved medical products to be used in an emergency to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions caused by chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats when there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.

The issuance of an EUA is different than FDA approval. In determining whether to issue an EUA, the FDA evaluates the available evidence and carefully balances any known or potential risks of any unproven products with any known or potential benefits of making them available during the emergency.

The EUA was issued to Gilead Sciences Inc. The FDA previously allowed for study of the investigational drug under clinical trials, as well as expanded access use for individual patients and through a multi-patient expanded access program coordinated by Gilead.

The EUA will be effective until the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of the emergency use of drugs and biologics for prevention and treatment of COVID-19 is terminated and may be revised or revoked if it is determined the EUA no longer meets the statutory criteria for issuance.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.




Massachusetts reports 13,989 COVID-19 tests – second highest daily total

Massachusetts Coronavirus Update

On May 1, the Massachusetts Public Health Department reported that the state added 2,106 more positive cases of COVID-19 bringing to total to 64,311. This is an increase from Thursday’s 1,940 reported cases.

154 new COVID-19 related deaths were reported on Friday bringing the total deaths in Massachusetts to 3,716. As of 4 pm today, 289,636 people in Massachusetts have been tested for COVID-19 – 13,989 new tests since yesterday, the second highest total since April 23 when the state tested 14,614.

The Baker-Polito Administration today issued an order requiring the use of masks or face coverings in public places where they cannot socially distance from others. The Administration also announced expanded community health center COVID-19 testing capacity at centers throughout the Commonwealth. Full details here.

New Bedford Coronavirus Update

Mayor Jon Mitchell’s office Friday reported 27 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Bedford, bringing the total positive cases in the city to 625, up from 598 on Thursday. Three additional COVID-19 related deaths were reported today raising the total to 19 in the city.

The Port of New Bedford has partnered with Southcoast Health to pilot targeted COVID-19 testing for workers in the commercial fishing industry and others, beginning with commercial fishermen on the New Bedford waterfront Friday. Full details here.

The Greater New Bedford Community Health Center will expand its COVID-19 testing capability by establishing an outdoor testing location at its downtown health center. Full details here.

Fall River Coronavirus Update

24 additional cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Fall River. This brings the total in Fall River to 533. The City has been notified of its seventh fatality due to COVID-19. Full details here.




Pilot COVID-19 testing for commercial fishing industry started on Friday

The Port of New Bedford has partnered with Southcoast Health to pilot targeted COVID-19 testing for workers in the commercial fishing industry and others, beginning with commercial fishermen on the New Bedford waterfront Friday.

Using the Southcoast Mobile Health Van, testing began Friday afternoon for fishing crews whose vessels are slated to leave the port after their results are available. The testing Friday is a trial run to prepare for expanded testing capability by Southcoast Health as more COVID-19 testing becomes available. Targeted testing for essential and high-risk employees will be key to continuing to plan for reopening of the local economy and adjusting social distancing in the workplace.

Medical interpreters will be on site, and literature in multiple languages will be available at the mobile testing site. This site will pilot best practices for mobile testing as more tests become available to healthcare providers, preparing Southcoast Health and the City of New Bedford for expanded testing capabilities, including for targeted essential workers.

“COVID-19 has made the most dangerous profession even more dangerous,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell. “Because fishermen are required to work in confined spaces on board, they are at greater risk of viral transmission than most. For their protection, and to maintain New Bedford’s role as one of America’s primary sources for seafood, we’re proud to launch this effort with Southcoast Health to offer targeted testing to fishing crews.”

“Southcoast’s mission is driven by our commitment to the communities we serve every day. All people in all communities,” said Keith Hovan, President and CEO of Southcoast Health. “Especially now, when we must ensure that no one feels they are coping with this crisis on their own, providing full health care access close to home is more important than ever. Thank you to Mayor Mitchell and the city of New Bedford for helping to make this program possible. We look forward to expanding testing outreach through our continued partnership.”

“We’re excited to support essential workers, the commercial fishermen who supply food to the nation, and continue to keep America’s top fishing port going through this partnership with Southcoast Health,” said Port Director Edward Anthes-Washburn.

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