Regional News

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

Some shoreline cities and towns in Connecticut are reviving a controversial practice by restricting beach access to residents only on weekends in response to COVD-19.

The Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, the site of the worst COVID-19 outbreak in a Mass. nursing home, is once again suspending all outside visitors. The move comes one day after a veteran who had “clinically recovered” from COVID-19 started showing symptoms and was transferred to a local hospital where he tested virus-positive, a spokeswoman for Health and Human Services said.

Community organizers "Real Recognize Fake" held a Black Wall Street Protest July 7 on Court Square in Springfield, Massachusetts. Events like this the city says it will not allow to take place without permits.
Courtesy realrecognizefake413.org

Officials in Springfield, Massachusetts, say they've learned through social media that several unauthorized group events are being promoted on city properties and they have issued a warning.

Mass. Schools To Start 2 Weeks Later After State, Teachers Union Ink Planning Period Deal

Jul 28, 2020
Massachusetts Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley in June 2020.
Pat Greenhouse / Boston Globe / pool / State House News Service

Officials in Massachusetts signed a memorandum of understanding (PDF) Monday that will officially reduce the 180-day school year requirement to 170 days. The agreement accommodates a 10-day period for districts to prepare to reopen school buildings that have been closed since March.

Connecticut state senators will consider a police reform bill on Tuesday, which includes a controversial change that would allow officers to be sued for misconduct. The measure has drawn intense lobbying from supporters and opponents ahead of the special session.

Sabrina Buehler didn’t expect to make much from her Airbnb rental in North Stonington this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The 2020 U.S. Census form.
Ɱ / Creative Commons

Census workers are expected to start going door-to-door in western Massachusetts to collect information this week. But an official with the U.S. Census said it’s already had a strong response from households in the region.

The UMass Amherst campus.
Mark Bonica / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/23119666@N03

At UMass Amherst, prospective first-year students will have the option not to submit scores from tests like the SAT for the next three years when they apply to the university.

Massachusetts House Judiciary Chair Claire Cronin and Rep. Paul Tucker, a retired police chief, conversed in a chamber entryway.
Sam Doran / State House News Servic

The Massachusetts House and Senate have both passed their own bills changing some rules for police in the state. Now, the hard part: working out their differences before the session ends.

COVID-19 Case Counts On The Rise Again In Massachusetts

Jul 27, 2020
A packaged COVID-19 test at the Urgent Care Center of Connecticut in Bloomfield on March 25.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public / NENC

There were nearly 500 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Massachusetts over the weekend, and the percentage of tests that come back positive for the coronavirus is rising.

Black Lives Matter murals have been popping up across the country since the killing of George Floyd by police. In Hartford, a mural is tucked away in the city’s North End, with another in the works downtown. And in Stamford, the affirmation Black Lives Matter has been painted on a main street.

Despite agreeing on most issues, Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Joe Kennedy III found plenty to argue about in their latest debate Sunday night, five weeks before the Sept. 1 primary. They sparred about their records, who is the most progressive and who is best prepared to lead during a pandemic and a racial justice movement.

Chris Dostal at Eye Physicians of Northampton in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Courtesy of Chris Dostal

Massachusetts had the highest rate of unemployment in the country in June, at 17.4%. That’s according to data released late last week by the federal government. One reason could be the decision to reopen Massachusetts businesses more slowly than some other states.

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse at the Holyoke Elks Lodge in January 2012.
File photo / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

This week, the heat was turned up a bit in the Democratic race for Massachusetts' 1st Congressional District. The challenger, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, sent out mailers and unveiled a TV commercial, highlighting his late brother's struggles with opioid addiction.

Maggie Melchiorre of Lyonsville Farm wears a mask as she helps a customer at the Greenfield Farmers Market in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
Mary Byrne / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

Some members of the Massachusetts public expressed their displeasure on Friday about a proposed state regulation that would formalize the mask order Governor Charlie Baker issued in early May.

The words "BLACK LIVES MATTER" were painted Sunday in Springfield's Court Square. Mayor Domenic Sarno wants the mural removed this weekend. Another city-sanctioned BLM mural will be painted in September.
Douglas Hook / MassLive / masslive.com/photos

The organizers behind a mural painted Sunday in Springfield's historic Court Square are asking Mayor Domenic Sarno to let it stay there. He’s announced he plans to have it removed this weekend.

When Massachusetts urgently needed masks and other supplies for frontline workers facing a surge of infections, the federal agency handling protective gear sent large shipments to states with smaller populations and far fewer coronavirus cases.

Downtown Northampton, Massachusetts.
Carol Lollis / The Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

The characters in Holyoke, Massachusetts, writer Sara Rauch's short stories largely live and work around western Massachusetts. But also in Vermont and California, and New York City after 9/11.

In her new collection, "What Shines from It," some characters make art. Some grapple with pregnancy. Others cheat on their partners — or get cheated on. They drink too much, get hurt and try to figure out life.

Downtown Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 2019.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Two groups in Berkshire County — one focused on helping immigrants, the other on economic development — are launching a project to support immigrant-owned or operated businesses. 

The mail-in voting application sent to Massachusetts voters.
Adam Frenier / NEPM

Some city clerks in western Massachusetts say they're ready to deal with an influx of mail-in voting applications and — eventually — ballots.

Massachusetts recently announced that it was ending its pandemic moratorium on reusable shopping bags, saying towns could go back to reinforcing their bans on single-use plastic bags. 

Meanwhile, New Hampshire and many other states are still not letting shoppers bring their reusable bags to stores. But is that actually helping to slow the spread of coronavirus?


Pause on Evictions, Foreclosures Extended To Oct. 17 Across Massachusetts

Jul 21, 2020
Foreclosure sign.
Niall Kennedy / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/35034351734@N01

Most evictions and foreclosure will remain banned in Massachusetts until Oct. 17 under an extension to the COVID-prompted moratorium Gov. Charlie Baker triggered on Tuesday.

Gov. Ned Lamont pledged Monday to add teeth, including a $1,000 fine, to his 14-day quarantine policy for travelers coming to Connecticut from coronavirus hot spots around the nation.

Newly released videos filmed by Boston police during last year’s “Operation Clean Sweep” show what attorneys say are the unconstitutional stops of dozens of people near the South Bay House of Correction.

In a glimpse of the sporting “new normal,” Connecticut’s top pro soccer club hosted a league game in the middle of a pandemic.

Hartford Athletic held its home opener at Dillon Stadium, four months after it was supposed to be played.

Rich Hall at Wilbraham and Monson Academy in Wilbraham, Massachusetts.
Wilbraham and Monson Library / Creative Commons

Some private schools in western Massachusetts say the uncertainty over how public schools will operate this fall has led to a significant jump in inquiries from prospective parents.

Classroom chairs.
maxpixel.net / Creative Commons

Some staff at a Holyoke, Massachusetts, school for special needs students are alarmed that they’ve been called back into the building for in-person instruction; they don’t believe it’s safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, or beneficial to students.

UMass Pairs Tuition Freeze With Layoffs, Spending Cuts

Jul 20, 2020
UMass President Marty Meehan, in a file photo, at WBUR.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

The University of Massachusetts system, the third-largest employer in the state, will cut about 6% of its full-time equivalent workforce and furlough thousands as part of its efforts to close a $264 million budget gap ripped open by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Springfield, Massachusetts, police and detectives at the scene of a shooting in 2017.
Patrick Johnson / creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/paddyj1325

There's less than two weeks left in the legislative session and Massachusetts lawmakers say they're working hard to pass a bill addressing police accountability.

Public health officials often refer to heat as a “silent killer.” While an estimated 12,000 Americans die from heat-related health problems every year, high temperatures tend to get less attention than other weather extremes.

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