Coronavirus Crisis In New England

Volunteer Jabar Holley hands out boxed meals in front of Mount Olive Church in Hartford as part of an inter-ministry effort to provide hot meals, free of charge, during the COVID-19 crisis.
Credit Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public

The coronavirus pandemic has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, and shut down economies across the world. NEPR and its broadcast partners are covering impacts across New England — on health, the economy and culture.

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The Eastfield Mall on Boston Road in Springfield, Massachusetts, urges people to wash their hands frequently on its electronic billboard.
Steven E. Nanton / The Republican /

Black Friday traditionally marks the start of the holiday shopping season, a crucial time for retailers. But a group representing them in Massachusetts said it's impossible to predict how it will go this year.

For most people, Boston Logan International Airport is a place you pass through — a temporary stop on the way to some other destination, like a Thanksgiving family gathering.

But for Mario Seide, Logan has been his near-daily destination since he moved to the United States in 2018. Within days of leaving the southern coast of Haiti for Massachusetts, Seide said he began working as a wheelchair attendant at the airport. He enjoys the job because, he said, “I don’t like to sit still.”

COVID-19 Precaution Campaign, Called #GetBackMass, Built On 'Things We Love'

Nov 24, 2020
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito watched as a sample advertisement from the administration's new #GetBackMass campaign played on screens in the Gardner Auditorium during a press conference on Monday, November 23, 2020.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

Giving hugs, going out dancing, sitting in the stands at Fenway Park, traveling and seeing concerts are among the missed experiences highlighted in a new Massachusetts public awareness campaign that makes the case for keeping up COVID-19 precautions as the best way to return to such activities.

RN Alyssa Anderson administers a COVID-19 test at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford in March 2020.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public / NENC

With virus rates rising across the state and the holidays looming, western Massachusetts residents who want to get a COVID test are often waiting in hours-long lines, if they can get one at all.

Vermont reported a record 148 cases Thursday, and state officials predict there will be a 50% increase in cases over the next six weeks.

Nearly 60 Percent Of Nursing Homes In Conn. Now Have At Least One COVID Case

Nov 20, 2020

Nearly 60 percent of the state’s nursing homes have recorded at least one case of COVID-19 among residents or staff, state officials said Thursday, and plans are being made to test every resident in those facilities after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

The American Airlines counters at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.
Alden Bourne / NEPM

Despite a warning from the CDC to avoid travel for Thanksgiving, officials at Bradley International Airport say they expect to see increased traffic around the holiday. But it'll be nothing like previous years. 

Beginning Monday, Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks will add a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site open to travelers and all other community members.

The Connecticut Airport Authority is partnering with Hartford HealthCare to run the site in parking Lot 3 off Schoephoester Road. This will be the health organization’s ninth permanent testing location in the state. 

Mildred Stopa, at front, was 66 years old when she retired in December 1989. Behind Stopa at her retirement party, from left to right: daughter Sheila Pelczarski, granddaughter Julia, and daughter Christina Moriarty.
Submitted photo

Massachusetts recently passed a grim milestone in the coronavirus pandemic: the deaths of more than 10,000 residents.

Rapid Result Virus Tests Launching In 134 Massachusetts School Districts

Nov 18, 2020
An N95 protective mask.
Robin Lubbock / WBUR

Starting in early December, 134 Massachusetts school districts, charter schools and special education collaboratives will have access to rapid COVID-19 tests for students or staff members who show symptoms of the respiratory disease while school is in session.

The state’s new covid exposure app for cellphones has reached over 600,000 downloads in less than a week.  Launched last Thursday, the app for iPhone and Android systems lets people know they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Kristen Record, a physics teacher at Bunnell High School in Stratford, says a lot of her students are bailing on school.

Actor Alan H. Green was among those who performed "The Hills Are Alive with Rodgers & Hammerstein" this summer in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The performance was outdoors and actors wore masks.
Daniel Rader /

According the most recent survey from the Mass Cultural Council, Massachusetts arts and culture organizations have lost nearly $484 million in revenue from COVID-19 related closures and cancellations.

A sign outside MGM Springfield advising of COVID-19 precautions, in November 2020.
Sam Hudzik / NEPM

Updated at 2:10 p.m. 

The MGM Springfield casino took in $17.5 million from gambling last month, a decrease of less than 1% from September, but revenues remains well down from pre-pandemic levels.

The Massachusetts Statehouse.
Wally Gobetz / Creative Commons /

The Wampanoag tribe, in its promotional material, said the planned first light casino represented “growth, progression and opportunity.” The feds alleged it represents something less savory to the tribe's chairman.

Gov. Charlie Baker visited a second-grade classroom in Carlisle, Massachusetts, where students were learning about bats, on November 12, 2020.
Lane Turner / Boston Globe / Pool

As the number of COVID-19 cases remains on the rise, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is continuing his push to keep schools open as much as possible.

Field Hospitals Going Up, But Baker Says State 'Nowhere Near' Circumstances Of The Spring

Nov 12, 2020
Gov. Charlie Baker visited a second-grade classroom in Carlisle, Massachusetts, where students were learning about bats, on November 12, 2020.
Lane Turner / Boston Globe / Pool

In April when Massachusetts began setting up field hospitals in Boston, Worcester and elsewhere to deal with the crushing volume of COVID-19 patients expected to need care, more than 2,000 people a day were being diagnosed with the virus and hospitals were seeing coronavirus patient volumes creep close to 4,000 statewide.

Christina "Smiles" Remmes is a Northampton, Massachusetts, resident experiencing homelessness.
Carol Lollis / Daily Hampshire Gazette /

When someone gets diagnosed with COVID-19, they must separate from others — maybe hole up in a room, or the basement — in order to not spread the virus to others. But for folks without homes in western Massachusetts, that's nothing like what they may have to go through this winter.

Alana Chernila, marketing and events manager at Guidos Fresh Marketplace, stands in front of a sign saying masks are required.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

In Massachusetts, mask-wearing is required in places where the public is allowed to gather, like retail stores — unless wearing a mask presents a medical risk to a customer.

Virus Trends 'Show No Signs of Changing' In Massachusetts, Says Governor

Nov 11, 2020
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.
Stuart Cahill / Boston Herald / Pool / State House News Service

The second surge of COVID-19 in Massachusetts is showing no signs of slowing down, Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday as he and hospital officials outlined steps they are planning to treat the growing number of people with the disease, including plans for the re-establishment of emergency field hospitals.

A scene in Vermont.
famartin / Creative Commons

Updated Nov. 11 at 9:15 a.m.

As new COVID-19 cases continue to climb across the country, New England states are trying to limit the spread of the virus by travelers within the region.

The state released its COVID guidelines recently for skiing and snowboarding, and state officials have made it clear: This winter will be like none other at the resorts, and in the nearby communities that serve the mountains.

Roy Saigo is interim president at Westfield State University in Westfield, Massachusetts.
Don Treeger / The Republican /

Westfield State University has spent years in leadership crises.

Connecticut has reverted to a modified Phase 2 reopening plan after an increase in coronavirus cases. Among the changes, indoor dining at restaurants had to drop back to 50% capacity. They’re also required to close by 10 p.m., which is a change from the governor’s initial order to close at 9:30. 

Baker Administration: In-School Transmission Only Reason For Districts To Go Remote

Nov 6, 2020
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker gestured to a chart of municipal COVID-19 metrics at a news conference on November 6, 2020.
John Tlumacki / Boston Globe / Pool

In the midst of a COVID-19 surge and after weeks of prodding schools through press conferences and memos to bring more students back into classrooms, the Baker administration upped the ante Friday by formally urging all communities to avoid remote-only education wherever possible.

Two former top officials at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home pleaded not guilty to criminal charges related to their handling of one of the country’s deadliest coronavirus outbreaks at a long-term care facility during their arraignment Thursday.

Evening Activity In Massachusetts Scaled Back As Virus Regains Grip

Nov 2, 2020
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.
State House News Service

Starting Friday, everyone above the age of five in Massachusetts will be required to wear a mask or facecovering in public, regardless of whether social distancing is practiced. Restaurants and entertainment venues will be subject to a 9:30 p.m. curfew, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Monday.

A ballot drop box in Shelburne, Massachusetts.
Carrie Healy / NEPM

A record-breaking turnout is expected Tuesday, with a huge chunk of the ballots already cast in Massachusetts.

"I voted" stickers.
Creative Commons

Besides the presidential election, there are several contested Massachusetts legislative races in Hampden County on the ballot this year.

The elf display at the 2019 Bright Nights at Forest Park event, one of the projects that traditionally uses inmate labor.
Hoang (Leon) Nguyen / The Republican /

The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department said it may pause its practice of lending out inmates for community labor if COVID-19 cases continue to rise.