Regional News

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

A sign upon entering Amherst, Massachusetts.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / Masslive /

Updated at 5:44 p.m. 

The town of Amherst, Massachusetts, will keep in place capacity limits and a business curfew — both of which were set to loosen on Monday — as part of efforts to contain a COVID-19 outbreak at its flagship University of Massachusetts campus.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.
Jonathan Wiggs / Boston Globe / Pool / State House News Service

Massachusetts COVID-19 metrics looked good enough to Governor Charlie Baker to roll back some business restrictions, effective Monday.

Voting Rights Lawsuit Targets Worcester School Committee

Feb 8, 2021
A school bus in Worcester, Massachusetts.
File photo / Masslive /

Several organizations representing Black and Hispanic residents of Worcester sued the city Monday over its at-large system for electing members to the School Committee.

Former State Sen. Ben Downing Launching Campaign For Massachusetts Governor

Feb 8, 2021
Former Massachusetts state Sen. Ben Downing.
Facebook / Downing campaign

Democrat Ben Downing, a former Massachusetts state senator who went on to work in solar energy, is announcing Monday that he'll run for governor in 2022, mounting a campaign he said will aim to infuse state government with a sense of urgency.

A PCB disposal site that was allowed under the consent decree to clean up the Housatonic River, abuts the Allendale Elementary School playground in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in a file photo.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Officials in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, are asking the state Department of Public Health to do a cancer study in a neighborhood near two General Electric toxic waste disposal sites. 

Police cruisers in Springfield, Massachusetts.
File photo / The Republican /

This week, a group of Springfield, Massachusetts, city councilors continued their calls to reform the city's police department. 

The UMass Amherst campus.
Mark Bonica / Creative Commons /

UMass Amherst is announcing new restrictions on students due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

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

The sheriffs of Hampshire and Hampden counties say a growing number of inmates in their jails are getting vaccinated, despite some initial hesitation.

Vaccine Call Center In Massachusetts Opening To 75 And Older Group

Feb 5, 2021
Nurses talk to a patient at the COVID-19 mass vaccination site at Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican /

Massachusetts residents 75 and older who struggle to use the state's COVID-19 vaccine website may now call 211 to get live phone-based assistance booking an appointment.

The state of Connecticut doesn’t have enough housing for tens of thousands of its poorest residents, and the problem is getting worse. That’s according to a new report from affordable housing advocates.

Officials at Hartford HealthCare say their plans to open numerous mass vaccination sites across Connecticut are on hold because they don't have the supply of vaccine to operate them.

A new book sheds light on one of history’s most memorable art heists — and the woman behind it.

“The Woman Who Stole Vermeer” explores the life of Rose Dugdale — an aristocrat-turned-revolutionary. She became the first and only woman to pull off a major art heist.

WBUR’s Morning Edition spoke with Anthony Amore, the book’s author and director of security and chief investigator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum about the infamous art thief and Amore’s quest to recover the items stolen in the Boston’s museum’s own unsolved heist.

Massachusetts Business Restrictions Easing Due To Positive Virus Trends

Feb 4, 2021
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker in January 2021.
State House News Service

Restaurants, gyms and other businesses in Massachusetts will be able to step their capacity back up to 40% starting Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Thursday.

When the first doses arrived in a small, insulated cube, Dr. Sheena Sharma felt a thrill of joy and terror. Packed inside were vials of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines: 700 chances to protect someone from the coronavirus, Sharma thought, and begin loosening the grip of the pandemic.

“I felt like this huge burden of responsibility,” she says, “like someone just gave this to you, and do not screw it up.”

At the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in northern New Hampshire, the pandemic broke a decades-long streak of field research. Now, scientists there are adapting with new technology – recording the sounds of the forest, which they hope will transform their long and influential record of a changing world.  

It Has Been Slow To Arrive, But High-Speed Rail Could Be Coming

Feb 4, 2021

In 2016, federal officials unveiled a plan for high-speed rail along the Northeast Corridor that included a 50-mile passage from Old Saybrook to the village of Kenyon, R.I.

The route went through Old Lyme and other historic small towns while bypassing New London. The plan, called NEC Future, met with heavy — almost unanimous — opposition. Hundreds turned out at meetings to oppose the plan. Sen. Richard Blumenthal seemed ready to lash himself to the tracks, calling the idea “half-baked and hare-brained” and “unworthy of any sort of taxpayer dollars.”

Massachusetts Gov. Baker Outlines Additional Vaccine Access Points, Appointments

Feb 4, 2021
Vaccination for COVID-19 takes place at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican /

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday that 120,000 new appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations will be made available for next week, including 55,000 at the state's four mass vaccination sites, as the state continued to scramble to improve the rollout of its vaccination program.

Joe Gratz / Creative Commons /

For Efrem Sigel, serving on a jury was life-changing — and eye-opening. Sigel was one of 12 who sat in the jury box in 2017 and ultimately convicted Abraham Cucuta.

Immigration Enforcement Bill Supporters In Massachusetts See Improved Climate

Feb 2, 2021
More than 200 people turned up at the corner of Washington and School Streets to the SEIU immigrant rally in reaction to statements made by President Trump threatening to strip federal funding from so-called "sanctuary cities."
Jesse Costa / WBUR

Massachusetts lawmakers and immigration reform activists are hopeful that a national reckoning on racial justice can generate enough momentum to secure passage this session on a bill divesting local police from most interactions with federal immigration enforcement.

Massachusetts Lawmakers Question Plans For Smaller Holyoke Soldiers' Home

Feb 2, 2021
The Holyoke Soldiers' Home in March 2020.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

A bipartisan group of 82 Massachusetts lawmakers wrote to Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday, voicing concerns with proposed plans for a new Holyoke Soldiers' Home facility.

A Massachusetts State Trooper accused of assaulting a woman and then fleeing from police last weekend in Exeter, N.H. will be held in preventative detention pending a bail hearing next Wednesday.

According to an affidavit, Exeter police responded to a 9-1-1 call early Sunday morning. 

The alleged victim said Sgt. Bryan Erickson, 38, had assaulted her, resulting in bruises and scratches.

About half of Massachusetts high school students said they’d prefer to learn in-person full-time, according to a Gallup poll commissioned by the Barr Foundation.

The poll of 1,000 Massachusetts high school students and the accompanying report released Tuesday also showed that 34% of 14-18 year olds preferred a hybrid learning model while 16% said they liked remote learning best.

Richard Bodo of Auburn, Massachusetts, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Massachusetts, on February 1, 2021.
Alden Bourne / NEPM

A major winter storm may be hitting western Massachusetts, but a COVID-19 mass vaccination site in Springfield is open, and has a plan to accommodate those who can't make it because of the snow.

Distrust of the medical system for Deicin Garcia goes back to when she arrived from Mexico 15 years ago as an undocumented teenager. She and her family came to pick tobacco on a ranch about half an hour’s drive north of Hartford. 

The great seal of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, from a gravestone in the Stockbridge Cemetery.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

Updated Feb. 4, 2021  

Williams College and the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians are launching a new collaboration focused on historic preservation. The school is providing a three-room office for the tribe in downtown Williamstown, Massachusetts, and funding student interns.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.
Stuart Cahill / Boston Herald / Pool / State House News Service

From lawmakers to seniors to local officials, Massachusetts residents have plenty to say about the Baker administration's rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, and little of it has been positive.

Two health care workers speak with a man before he gets vaccinated at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Massachusetts, on January 29, 2021.
Alden Bourne / NEPM

Widespread vaccinations for those 75 and older in Massachusetts begin on Monday. But two of the state's mass vaccinations sites — the Eastfield Mall in Springfield and Gillette Stadium in Foxborough — began offering them a few days early.

MGM Springfield reopened in July 2020 after a four-month closure due to COVID-19.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican /

As they shift back to 24/7 operations now that Gov. Charlie Baker's 9:30 p.m. curfew for businesses has been lifted, none of the three gaming facilities in Massachusetts have come close to encroaching on the 25% capacity limit that remains in effect, regulators at the Gaming Commission said Thursday.

Lutitia Tibbetts, in a file photo from 2018, doesn't have a computer and has not been able to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine through the Massachusetts state website.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

Frustration about the state’s rocky COVID-19 vaccine rollout and its impact on older adults continued to escalate Thursday, even as Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker promised more appointments would become available and the launch of a new call center to help with scheduling.

Bishop Talbert Swan, president of the Springfield NAACP.
Douglas Hook / Masslive /

Advocates for police reform in Springfield, Massachusetts, say it's time for the federal government to force the police department to be accountable for its actions.