Your daily dose of COVID-19 coverage.
Confirmed cases as of March 19
In Boston: 61 (up 12 from March 18)
Across Massachusetts: 328 (up 72 from March 18)
Tests conducted: 3,132 (at both state and commercial labs)
People currently officially quarantined: 1,168
The State Saw Its First Death Related to Coronavirus
The announcement came via the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The man was 87 and had underlying medical conditions, and passed away a Boston hospital, per WCVB.
Baker Brings in the National Guard—
To aid in the response as more cases of coronavirus emerge in Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker called up the Massachusetts National Guard on Thursday, activating up to 2,000 members of the force. These members will support requests from state agencies for “equipment, logistics, warehousing, and related duties,” the Baker administration says.
—But Is Struggling to Lock Down Supplies
Monday, President Trump advised states to purchase their own supplies of protective COVID-19 equipment in hopes of acquiring them faster. But in a governor’s conference call yesterday, Baker told President Trump that Massachusetts has been outbid for COVID-19 supplies multiple times—by the federal government. “If states are doing what the feds want and trying to create their own supply chain, then people should be responsive,” he said. “I’ve got a feeling that if somebody has a chance to sell to you or to me, I’m going to lose every one of those.” The reason the state is losing out, Trump responded, is probably price. “Price is always a component,” Trump told Baker. “Maybe that’s why you lost to the feds.” Helpful!
New England Sees Its First COVID-19 Fatalities
Three Connecticut residents and two Vermont residents, all elderly, have now died from complications related to the coronavirus. After news of the deaths broke, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont also announced that the state will postpone its presidential primary from April 28 to June 2.
The First Large-Scale Drive Through Testing Site in Mass. Is Now Open
Yesterday afternoon, a CVS parking lot in Shrewsbury was transformed into the first large-scale COVID-19 testing site in the state, the Boston Globe reports. At least 12 cars will be able to pass through the drive-through site, which will test health care workers and first responders, each hour.
Marcus Smart Tests Positive
A week after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus, test results for the Celtics, who played the Jazz on March 6, are coming back—and Marcus Smart revealed last night that he tested positive as well. Fortunately, Smart is asymptomatic, but has been in a precautionary self-quarantine since he was tested five days ago. “I can’t stress enough practicing social distancing,” he said in a video posted to social media. “Protect yourself, and help protect others by protecting yourself.”
Former Biogen Employee Now Under Coronavirus-Related Investigation in China
Biogen just can’t catch a break. The Globe reports that a woman who was working for the biotech in Massachusetts is now under investigation in Beijing for allegedly flying to China, where she’s from, while sick, failing to disclose her exposure to coronavirus to the airline and taking drugs to cover up her fever for mandatory temperature checks. It is unclear why the woman chose to leave her home in Belmont to travel to China, and Biogen says she did not inform her superiors of her plans. Her employment with the company has since been terminated.
Elizabeth Warren and Ayanna Pressley Advocated for the Incarcerated
The two lawmakers sent a letter to President Trump today calling on him to adopt and release decarceral guidelines to reduce the population of people in federal custody during the pandemic. “Governors and Mayors across the country have rightly taken unprecedented steps to ensure the safety of the American people, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health conditions,” they write. “In the interest of public health and public safety, we must make those same considerations when it comes to those in federal, state and local custody.”
A Bad Look for the Bruins
As the NHL season has been put on pause, all but one team have announced plans to provide financial assistance for the employees staffing their arenas part-time. The sole holdout? You guessed it—the Bruins. Delaware North, the company run by Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs that owns TD Garden, told the Boston Herald last week that the company was “actively exploring support options” for stadium employees, but has not made a clarifying statement since, CBS Boston reports.
Team Coco Pushes on
We may not have sports to watch or new movies to see, but at least we’ll be able to gawk at Conan O’Brien’s house soon. The Brookline native and Harvard grad has announced that, starting March 30, he will broadcast his TBS comedy show Conan from an iPhone in his home, with guests Skyping in. Other late night hosts, including Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, and Stephen Colbert, have shared short segments and monologues filmed in their homes this week, but O’Brien will be the first to try to cobble together an entire show. “The quality of my work will not go down because technically that’s not possible,” O’Brien said in a statement.
I am going back on the air Monday, March 30th. All my staff will work from home, I will shoot at home using an iPhone, and my guests will Skype. This will not be pretty, but feel free to laugh at our attempt. Stay safe.
— Conan O’Brien (@ConanOBrien) March 19, 2020
And for the Love of God, Do Not Flush Your Toilet Paper Substitutes
We get it. Things are getting increasingly desperate on the toilet paper front. If you did not manage to stockpile rolls before the supply was decimated in your local store, you may now have a roll of paper towels, or a box of baby wipes, or a stack of take out napkins next to your toilet. If so, we have an important message for you: Do not, under any circumstances, flush that stuff down your toilet! Per the Massachusetts Water Research Authority, sending anything other than toilet paper down the tubes can clog pipes and cause sewage backups, and that’s really, really just not what we need right now.
We understand due to high demand toilet paper might not be available, and wipes may be an alternative. We urge the public to please dispose of their wipes in a waste basket. Please do not flush wipes, even if they say they are flushable, they are not. pic.twitter.com/g6EPimsawi
— Needham DPW (@NeedhamDPW) March 18, 2020
A message from @CityofQuincy DPW to not flush your wipes. pic.twitter.com/7NjTyFofxs
— City of Quincy (@CityofQuincy) March 19, 2020