Tensions Rise Over Stay-at-Home Measures: Today's Coronavirus Primer for New England

The latest updates on coronavirus cases across the region

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Here's a look at the latest news around New England related to the coronavirus pandemic:


Gov. Charlie Baker says Massachusetts is seeing hopeful data about efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The number of new confirmed virus-related deaths fell below 100 for the first time in weeks on Monday. The state reported 86 new deaths, bringing the statewide total to 4,090.

Also Monday, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Massachusetts Statehouse calling on Baker to lift his declaration of a state of emergency and stay-at-home advisory aimed at limiting the virus's spread. Few of those gathered were wearing masks. Most were crowded together and not staying 6 feet apart.

Calls to reopen Massachusetts continued with a large rally outside the state house Monday.

State transportation officials say they're concerned about the number of people dying on Massachusetts highways at a time when traffic volume has dropped significantly because of the pandemic.

Even though there was about 50% less traffic on the state's major highways last month, 28 people died in crashes, compared with 27 in April 2019.

"Reduced traffic volume is no excuse for excessive speed,'' Jeff Larason, director of highway safety for the Executive Office of Safety and Security said in a statement.

Public transit systems typically marked by jammed buses and subway trains are now grappling with the exact opposite: disappearing riders.

Some systems are reporting subway ridership of less than 10% of usual demand as fears of the coronavirus and stay-at-home orders have riders abandoning time-worn methods of navigating cities.

While agencies say public transit is still critical to help doctors, nurses and medical workers get to their jobs, no one is exactly sure when riders will begin returning in larger numbers -- and how. A $25 billion federal aid package is helping some systems maintain service in the meantime.


Republicans in Maine say the Democratic Gov. Janet Mills' phased reopening plan that includes an extended stay-at-home order through the end of the month will cost thousands of jobs and spur economic turmoil.

The GOP in the state has been signalling growing buyer's remorse since the Maine Legislature gave Mills more powers with a March vote that passed unanimously without a roll call.

Mills placed the state under a stay-at-home order until May 31 and has announced a phased plan of reopening that began on Friday. Officials report more than 1,200 total cases of the virus in Maine so far and over 50 deaths.

A Maine restaurant owner is ready for Round 2 of flouting Gov. Janet Mill's executive orders over the coronavirus.

Rick Savage said he's reopening his Sunday River Brewing Co. on Tuesday in defiance of the governor's orders, and he's continuing to criticize Mills for not acting fast enough to reopen the state's economy.

Savage opened his restaurant for dine-in customers on Friday and then closed over the weekend before deciding to reopen after determining that his federal beer-making license wouldn't be imperiled.

The state already revoked his food and liquor licenses, but he has said he'll pay the fines. The governor's orders allow restaurants to open only for takeout orders until June 1.

After hundreds protested to reopen the state, President Donald Trump tweeted that many are complaining about Maine's stay-at-home restrictions.


Vermont is allowing some elective health care procedures to resume as the state emerges from its COVID-19 shutdown.

Gov. Phil Scott says the state's testing and tracing program is allowing providers to resume offering some procedures that had been put on hold.

Separately Monday, more construction, distribution and manufacturing workers were allowed to return to their jobs.

Crews of as many as 10 people may now be on the job as long as they abide by safety measures. Scott says those businesses may expand to full operation on May 11 if they comply with additional safety requirements. 

Non-emergency medical appointments can now resume in Vermont after being on hold due to the COVID-19 crisis.


New Hampshire's Supreme Court has issued an order requiring people to wear a face covering when they enter a court because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The court said the order applies to judicial branch employees as well as litigants, lawyers, members of the media, and members of the public. The order was issued Monday and remains in effect at least until Monday, May 25.

Also, the annual sand sculpting competition at Hampton Beach in June has been rescheduled for Labor Day weekend, Sept. 3-5.

New Hampshire's beaches have been closed since the end of March when Gov. Chris Sununu announced his stay-at-home order because of the pandemic.  

New Hampshire's congressional delegation says housing agencies throughout the state will get nearly $3.6 million in coronavirus aid.  

The funding was distributed through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Public Housing Operation Fund that's used to support housing authorities for the operating and maintenance expenses of their buildings.

Money also will be distributed through the Housing Choice Voucher Program, used to help low-income, disabled and elderly poor people afford housing. Also, many libraries are closed during the coronavirus pandemic, but some, like Laconia, are providing ``take-out'' service for books and other items.

The second phase of New Hampshire's reopening plan has begun with the state's hospitals now being allowed to resume elective surgeries.


The state Department of Health on Monday reported 175 new cases of the coronavirus, the lowest daily count since April 6. The state now has more than 9,600 known cases.

The agency also announced 21 more deaths, bringing the state total to 341. Seventeen of those people were in their 80s and 90s, Director Nicole Alexander-Scott said.

Almost 340 people remain hospitalized with the disease, with 84 in intensive care, and 61 on ventilators.

Shopping in retail stores with limited numbers of customers, al fresco-only dining at restaurants, and some people returning to their offices for work are a few of the measures Gov. Gina Raimondo hopes to allow starting this weekend, she said at a news conference Monday.

Raimondo said she hopes to lift to the state's stay-at-home order Friday and launch a three-phase restart of the economy the next day. Details of the reopening plan are posted on the website

"I'm focused on getting people back to work," the Democrat said.

Retailers that have been closed during the coronavirus pandemic because they were deemed nonessential will be allowed to have one customer inside for every 300 square feet of floor space, which is the standard currently used in supermarkets.

Restaurants that reopen will have to arrange seating that allows for social distancing, reusable items like menus wont be allowed, and staff will have to wear masks, she said.

People who can work from home should continue to do so, but people who need to go into an office will be asked to maintain social distancing, and common areas such as breakrooms will remain closed, she said.

The bad news is that even with Mother's Day approaching, visitation to nursing homes still won't be allowed, given the vulnerability to the disease of many elderly people, she said.

On Saturday, Gov. Gina Raimondo reminded Rhode Islanders to remain steadfast in adhering to stay-at-home orders despite the beautiful weekend weather.


The deaths of 2,556 Connecticut residents have been linked to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. More than 30,000 residents have tested positive for the virus. As of Monday, hospitalizations had declined for 12 consecutive days, to over 1,460.

The Connecticut agriculture commissioner says he's considering buying food in bulk to provide to organizations that feed needy people. Bryan Hurlburt said Monday at a virtual roundtable that charitable food pantries and banks have seen huge upticks in demand coupled with challenges in getting supplies.

He says organizations are trying to outbid one another, and that can't be the solution. Hurlburt says his agency has reached agreements with state colleges and universities to use their refrigerators to store bulk purchases. Meanwhile, two more Connecticut inmates have died from complications related to COVID-19. That raises the total to five.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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