Regional News

News from the region from New England Public Radio, NPR, and other NPR stations.

Pool Testing For COVID-19 Adopted In Nearly Half Of Massachusetts School Districts

55 minutes ago
Gov. Charlie Baker tours a pooled COVID-19 testing program during a visit Friday morning to the Nock-Molin Middle School in Newburyport.
Nicolaus Czarnecki / Boston Herald/Pool

About 950 schools in Massachusetts are administering weekly pooled COVID-19 tests to about 300,000 teachers, students and staff, Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday from a Newburyport school.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker tours the COVID-19 mass vaccination site at the Natick Mall on Wednesday, February 24, 2021, with Bill Haas of LabCorp.
Matt Stone / Boston Herald / Pool / State House News Service

This week, a Massachusetts legislative oversight committee grilled Governor Charlie Baker over his administration's COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Massachusetts Lawmakers Confront Gov. Baker On Vaccine Rollout

6 hours ago
Massachusetts state Sen. Eric Lesser of Longmeadow, at left, and Gov. Charlie Baker during a legislative oversight committee hearing on COVID-19.
Screenshot / State House News Service

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker spoke about the state's COVID-19 vaccine rollout and engaged in a back-and-forth on the particulars of the effort with the legislature's COVID-19 committee for an hour Thursday.

Parts of the Housatonic River are contaminated with PCBs, which the EPA considers a probable carcinogen.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Two groups are appealing the Environmental Protection Agency's permit to clean up the Housatonic River.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette is based in Northampton, Mass.
File photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette /

Updated at 10:59 a.m.

As one of western Massachusetts' major newspapers operates on bare bones, its staff hosted a public forum this week.

The state official in charge of Connecticut’s vaccine rollout believes Governor Ned Lamont’s decision to switch to an age-based plan is the quickest and most equitable way to get shots in the arm.

An empty classroom.
Violet Jiang / Creative Commons /

Some Massachusetts parents disagree with Governor Charlie Baker's plan to get students back in classrooms by the end of the school year, a proposal announced earlier this week. 

Legalizing recreational marijuana will be a major priority for Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and the state lawmakers this year.

Kim Steinberg had already registered her business in January on the state’s website so she could get her employees vaccinated. Now most won't qualify until May. 

Nurses talk to a patient at the COVID-19 mass vaccination site at Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican /

A day before Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is set to testify before lawmakers on the state's COVID-19 vaccine rollout, he announced 11 regional vaccination sites in the state, including locations in Berkshire, Franklin and Hampshire counties.

Unions for Connecticut’s grocery workers said they’re disappointed to be left out of Governor Ned Lamont’s changes to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in Malden.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker wants to phase out remote learning starting in April, making it possible for every student to return to the classroom before the school year ends.

Springfield City Council President Justin Hurst in June 2020.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican /

City Councilor Justin Hurst of Springfield, Massachusetts, is calling for an audit of all city contracts going back five years, looking in part at the city's support of minority-owned businesses.

Mass. State Sen. Eric Lesser Lays Out Landscape For Legal Sports Betting

Feb 23, 2021
Sports betting in action.
Thomas Schlosser / Creative Commons

Allowing adults 21 or older to bet on professional sports in person and online in Massachusetts would generate meaningful, but not game-changing, revenue for the state, a key senator said Monday as he highlighted a bill that's the product of nearly three years of study and consideration.

Vaccination Scheduling Vendor For Massachusetts Billed For $500K

Feb 23, 2021
A COVID-19 vaccine.
Pat Greenhouse / Boston Globe / Pool / State House News Service

The Maryland-based software company whose technology played a role in the COVID-19 vaccine scheduling system fiasco in Massachusetts last week appears to have cost the state almost half a million dollars, according to the Baker administration.

Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill wants lawmakers to support constitutional amendments that would allow for early voting and no-excuse absentee ballots.

Governor Ned Lamont said Connecticut’s priority for COVID-19 vaccinations will now be based on age instead of essential workers. He said starting next Monday the rollout will extend to residents 55 and older.

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal speaks at a press conference in Springfield, Massachusetts, on February 22, 2021.
Alden Bourne / NEPM

A U.S. Congressman from western Massachusetts is not joining other state politicians in criticizing Governor Charlie Baker for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program.

Eversource Energy is expecting regulators to allow the utility company to charge customers to pay back millions of dollars in costs from their response to Tropical Storm Isaias last summer.

The Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness finds that almost 30% of people in their shelters first became homeless after release from the state Department of Corrections. Lawmakers are considering legislation that could make it easier to find housing after leaving prison.

Razor wire on top of the perimeter fence at the Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow, Massachsuetts.
File Photo / The Republican / Masslive

A justice for the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held a hearing Friday on a case against sheriffs across the state, who oversee county jails.

It’s clear that some health conditions increase risk for a serious case of COVID-19. So, in their vaccination plans, Massachusetts and several other states are prioritizing residents with cancer, heart disease, obesity and other medical concerns.

A still image from a TV ad by the Connecticut Education Association promotes COVID-19 vaccines for educators.
Connecticut Education Association / YouTube

Though Connecticut educators are considered essential workers, they are not yet eligible for vaccination against COVID-19.

Vaccination for COVID-19 takes place at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican /

Western Massachusetts legislators are urging patience for those newly-eligible for the vaccine — but they're also frustrated at the state's glitchy rollout.

'Pissed Off' Gov. Baker Promises Fixes To Massachusetts Vaccination Website

Feb 18, 2021
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Feb. 17, 2021.
State House News Service

About 50,000 vaccination appointments for next week — mostly at Fenway Park in Boston and Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts — will be made available on the state's vaccine scheduling website once it is fully functioning again, Gov. Charlie Baker said during a radio interview just after noon Thursday.

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered at Baystate Medical Center.
Baystate Health / MassLive /

A coalition of health and community leaders wants Massachusetts to get more vaccines to people of color.

The American Hockey League All-Stars line up for the Canadian and American national anthems at the MassMutual Center during the 2019 all star event.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority needs to do a better job overseeing MGM Springfield's management of the MassMutual Center. That's according to a report from the state auditor's office.

Massachusetts will roughly double the population eligible for COVID-19 vaccines on Thursday, when people 65 and older, the residents and staff of affordable and low-income housing for seniors, and people with two or more health conditions that put them at higher risk will be newly able to make appointments and be vaccinated.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont received his first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday.

A witness to a 2016 shooting in Springfield, Massachusetts, looks through photos. NEPM has obscured her face.
Screen shot / Police video

Advocates for the wrongly convicted often say they’d much rather prevent mistakes than fix them after years of incarceration. But how to do that is up for debate.