Coronavirus in New England: Nearly 500 Cases, 1 Death

There are now over 300 cases of COVID-19 across the region's six states

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As the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise across New England, leaders of the region's six states are taking steps to help those who lose their jobs due to restrictions put in place to help control the outbreak.

Overall, there are now nearly 500 cases of COVID-19 across New England, including more than 250 in Massachusetts alone. And Connecticut reported the region's first coronavirus-related death on Wednesday.

Schools, restaurants and movie theaters have been shuttered as health officials warn against large gatherings and urge people to practice social distancing.

Here's the latest on what the six New England states are doing in response to the pandemic.


Massachusetts lawmakers have approved legislation that would waive the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits. The measure was filed by Gov. Charlie Baker to aid those out of work because of steps taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Those steps include closing all bars and restaurants in the state except for take-out and delivery. The move by lawmakers comes as unemployment claims are surging.

The MBTA is also again revising schedules to ensure that employees at hospitals, government offices and food distribution facilities can easily get to work during the pandemic. Starting Wednesday, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority added additional Blue Line service in the morning and additional Green Line E Branch capacity in response to crowding on Tuesday. That was the first day of the agency's revised schedule. The MBTA also added service on some key bus routes on Wednesday.

We are focusing on the state of the restaurant industry in this week's episode of Restaurant Recap. What you need to know, options for takeout/delivery and how you can help.


Maine Gov. Janet Mills ordered all restaurants and bars closed to dine-in customers effective at 6 p.m. Wednesday in response to the threat from the new coronavirus. Her order also prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people covering everything from faith-based events to fitness clubs.

She also urged public-facing businesses like gyms and malls to close their doors for two weeks. Excluded would be essential services like food-processing companies, banks, auto repair and hardware stores.

The Democratic governor made her announcement as the number of positive tests for coronavirus topped 40 in the state.

Mills also signed emergency legislation to temporarily expand unemployment benefits, establish a consumer loan guarantee program and authorize the governor to direct the manner of the June primary, among other things.

All Roman Catholic Masses in the state are also suspended.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills issued a state of civil emergency Sunday amid the coronavirus crisis.


Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has directed child care centers in the state to close to help slow the spread of the coronavirus but is asking those serving essential workers to remain open. That includes those serving nurses, doctors and law enforcement.

All schools had been ordered to close no later than Wednesday. Late Tuesday, Scott also ordered schools to provide child care for "essential persons working in response to the crisis."

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott provided an update for citizens of the Green Mountain State on Wednesday morning on the latest precautions being taken due to the coronavirus.


Connecticut's health insurance marketplace will be able to sign up for coverage under a special enrollment period that has been created in light of the coronavirus. Eligible residents can begin signing up Thursday for plans offered by Access Health CT's two insurance carriers, Anthem and ConnectiCare. The enrollment period ends April 2, and the coverage will begin on April 1.

Connecticut officials want to give supermarkets and grocers a greak. They have temporarily suspended any enforcement actions against retailers who fail to accept empty redeemable beverage containers. Effective through March 31, any retailer failing to comply with the law commonly known as the "bottle bill" will not be issued a violation notice by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

The state continues to take steps to combat the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on the public health and the economy.

Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training said Wednesday that 19,855 Rhode Islanders filed new unemployment claims from March 7 to March 17. Of those, nearly 18,000 cited the new virus as the reason.

Gov. Gina Raimondo is among the governors that have called for federal authorities to help states replenish their unemployment coffers as the virus' impact widens.

Health officials have so far reported 20 cases of the coronavirus in the state.

New Hampshire

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu asked for federal permission to create a special 60-to-90 day open enrollment period through the marketplace. A group of Democratic state senators also asked the state insurance department to help those who might lose their jobs and thus their health insurance.

Sununu also ordered the state-owned Cannon Mountain ski resort to close at the end of Wednesday due to "large amounts of public congregation."

Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and affiliated hospitals are no longer allowing visitors. Exceptions will be made for the neonatal ICU, partner or spouse of patients giving birth or those visiting patients receiving end-of-life care.

The state Legislature suspended all activities through April 10.

New Hampshire's largest city has put out a call to the community to donate cleaning wipes and disinfectant for its employees.

Manchester officials say the city is running out of supplies for essential employees who continue to have contact with the public, such as garbage collectors, police officers and firefighters. City officials said they are also asking the state for help. Earlier in the week, Mayor Joyce Craig asked that only essential employees report to work.

New Hampshire's public schools are closed and implementing remote learning until at least April 3.
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