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Middlesex County Sheriff reduces jail population by 25% amid coronavirus crisis

Michael P. Norton
State House News Service

Electronic monitoring, bail review decisions and a decline in new arrests are among the reasons behind a nearly 25 percent reduction in the jail population in Middlesex County, Sheriff Peter Koutoujian announced Monday.

“On March 12, we had 787 people either sentenced or awaiting trial,” the sheriff said in a statement. “Today, we have 594.”

A recent high court ruling allowed certain individuals to revisit their bail conditions if they are being held on a pre-trial detention basis, and the jail population has also declined due to scheduled releases of sentenced individuals. The smaller population of incarcerated individuals has enabled the temporary closure of a fourth dorm-style housing unit and Koutoujian’s office says that move, combined with the lower jail population, has “allowed for an enhancement of social distancing practices” in the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction.

“The decisions we are making and the steps we are taking are focused on ensuring the safety of those in our custody, our staff and the communities we serve,” said Koutoujian. “We will not waiver from our commitment to meeting those objectives.”




2020 Buzzards Bay swim canceled due to ongoing concerns over the coronavirus

The following was posted by The Buzzards Bay Coalition:

“The Buzzards Bay Coalition has announced that the 2020 Buzzards BaySwim will be canceled due to the unprecedented and still-evolving conditions presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The health and well-being of our participants, volunteers, emergency personnel, staff, and our community is our top priority,” Coalition President Mark Rasmussen said in a message to this year’s swimmers. “Under the current circumstances, and based upon the guidance of public health officials, we concluded that this year’s event cannot take place safely.

The event, which has been run annually since 1993, brings hundreds of participants to New Bedford each June to swim across New Bedford Harbor to Fort Phoenix State Park in Fairhaven, where the event ends with a beach party brunch. Last year’s event raised more than $187,000 to support education, conservation, water quality monitoring, and advocacy work.

“I’m sure that you share our disappointment in this year’s cancellation of the swim, but I hope you take solace in the fact that your early fundraising has already contributed more than $25,000 to sustain Bay protection efforts,” Rasmussen told swimmers. “In the current environment, those funds are more critical than ever to continuing our water quality monitoring, land conservation, public education and clean water advocacy work.”

The Coalition has other events planned later this summer and fall. The organization will field a team of runners for the Falmouth Road Race, which will be held as a “virtual” run on August 16, 2020. And on Sunday, October 4, the Coalition will host the 2020 Watershed Ride—an event in which cyclists ride one of three overlapping courses, the longest of which stretches 100 miles from Sakonnet Point to Woods Hole.

Registered swimmers have multiple options due to the cancellation, including deferring registration until the 2021 swim or transferring their registration to participate in the upcoming Watershed Ride. Full details are included in the memo to registrants.”




Massachusetts reports lowest one-day COVID-19 count since April 5

Massachusetts Coronavirus Update

On May 4, the Massachusetts Public Health Department reported that the state added 1,000 more positive cases of COVID-19 bringing to total to 69,087. This is a decrease from Sunday’s 1,824 reported cases. 1,000 cases is the lowest single-day count since April 5 when 765 cases were reported.

86 new COVID-19 related deaths were reported on Monday bringing the total deaths in Massachusetts to 4,090. As of 4 pm today, 324,268 people in Massachusetts have been tested for COVID-19 – 9,622 new tests since yesterday. 86 deaths is the lowest single-day count since April 7 when 67 deaths were reported.

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.

New Bedford Coronavirus Update

Mayor Jon Mitchell’s office reported 67 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Bedford on Monday, bringing the total positive cases in the city to 779, up from 712 on Saturday. Two additional COVID-19 related deaths were also reported bringing the total to 21 in the city. New Bedford does not report COVID-19 data on Sundays.

Fall River Coronavirus Update

15 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 601. Full details here.




Two more COVID-19 related deaths reported in New Bedford on Monday

Mayor Jon Mitchell’s office reported 67 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Bedford on Monday, bringing the total positive cases in the city to 779, up from 712 on Saturday. Two additional COVID-19 related deaths were also reported bringing the total to 21 in the city. New Bedford does not report COVID-19 data on Sundays.

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. Full details here.

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.

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




In spite of half the usual rate of traffic, Massachusetts deadly crashes doubled for April

New data from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation showed that fatality rates on Massachusetts roads doubled for the month of April even though there are 50% fewer people driving during the pandemic.

“With 50% less traffic recorded on major highways, 28 individuals died in crashes, compared with a total number of 27 individuals dying as the result of motor vehicle crashes in April 2019,” said the MassDOT.

The cause? With fewer people on the road drivers are speeding.

This has caught the attention of both local and state police and the Massachusetts State Police stated that with these alarming statistics will come extra patrols to catch these violators.




Kennedy calls for $4,000 direct payments for Americans who earn less than $100,000 a year

Colin A. Young
State House News Service

There is a “disconnect” between the White House and everyday Americans who are dealing with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic while trying to keep themselves and their families healthy, U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III said Sunday. Asked Sunday about reports that the White House plans to pause further stimulus talks, Kennedy said it is important to listen to the concerns of people who are pushing to re-open states’ economies.

“They need help. The quest to re-open this country is coming from families that need help, that want to go back to work, that are concerned about making ends meet,” he said during an interview on WCVB’s On The Record. “We need to make sure those concerns are addressed so people can still focus on their health and make sure that we get in front of the spread of this virus.”

Kennedy said he’s been calling for a direct payment of $4,000 to every American who earns less than $100,000 a year “so they can afford to pay their bills, pay their credit card bill, their rent, their mortgage.” He said the next federal stimulus package should also include more money for small businesses, the health care sector, and state and municipal governments.




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.

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