5/27/20 COVID-19 Update

  • Education chief working to have schools open this fall amid daunting issues
  • Local health departments worried as they brace for reopening calls amid frequently changing guidelines and inadequate resources
  • After two successful elections, vote-by-mail bills remain stalled in Legislature
  • Supreme Judicial Court will allow alcohol sales question to advance toward ballot
  • State Senate adopts ground rules for upcoming formal session; voting procedures
  • While offices begin to reopen, many remain working remotely
  • Wednesday’s Silver Lining: First US launched space mission since 2011 – today!

 

  1. State Commissioner of Education Jeff Riley has convened a working group to help draft guidelines to safely reopen schools in the Commonwealth this fall. The 44-member working group includes public health officials, school superintendents, teachers and other education leaders examining issues and reviewing reentry plans from other countries. Meanwhile, a recent USA Today poll shows 1 in 5 teachers say they would return to their classroom if schools reopened this fall.

 

  1. This week, thousands of previously closed businesses will reopen all at once – with many new COVID-19 related rules and restrictions. Local health departments are voicing concern with their new role as the enforcers of Governor Charlie Baker’s required “COVID-19 Control Plan.” Without proactive inspections ensuring compliance, it will be up to consumers to contact their local boards of health or the state to report a violation. Reduced staff levels and scarce resources create a paradox for compliance enforcement.

 

  1. COVID-19 is rapidly changing this year’s elections, transforming how people cast their ballots and pitting election officials at the center of a political fight as they rush to adapt with limited time and funding. Nationwide, 30 states have changed rules or practices for this year’s primaries or the general elections in response to the public health threat. Massachusetts held two special elections two weeks ago with a successful and safe vote-by-mail program, yet bills creating a statewide vote-by-mail program remain stalled in the Legislature.

 

  1. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled a proposed ballot question allowing for expanded alcohol and beer sales at convenience stores can proceed to the November ballot. If approve by voters, the question would gradually lessen the population-based quota system that currently limits the total number of licenses issued per municipality as well as create “food store licenses” allowing retailers such as Cumberland Farms to sell beer and wine.

 

  1. The state Senate has adopted rules for socially-distance roll call votes and can procced with a full formal session tomorrow on multiple non-controversial land-takings which, under the rules of the Senate, require a roll call vote. The Senate’s newly adopted emergency rules mirror those adopted last month and are in effect for the next 30 days allowing the Senate to hold additional formal sessions, if needed, on timely matters.

 

  1. Many office buildings across Massachusetts were officially allowed to reopen their doors this week but few workers hurried back and most employers didn’t ask them to. Several large Boston-area companies already indicated they’ll stay mostly remote at least through the summer months, while those heading back to formal office settings are limited to 25 percent of normal capacity.

 

  1. UP, UP & AWAY: For the first time since 2011, the United States today will send two astronauts into space from a spacecraft launched from the NASA Kennedy Space Center as part of Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s Demo-2 launch.
2020-05-27T10:23:54+00:00