Number of COVID-19 deaths in Massachusetts jumps to 25
BOSTON (AP) — The number of people in Massachusetts who have died from COVID-19 jumped by 10 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 25 since the start of the outbreak.
One of those who died was a man in his 50's with preexisting conditions. The others were in their 70s or 80s except for one man in his 90s. Eight of the ten were men.
Public health officials said the number of residents who have so far tested positive for the disease increased to more than 2,400.
More than 23,600 have been tested, and more than 200 have been hospitalized.
DISASTER DECLARATION REQUEST
Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday submitted a request to the federal government for a major disaster declaration for Massachusetts.
If approved, the declaration would provide Massachusetts with additional assistance beyond what was included in an emergency declaration issued by President Donald Trump on March 13, the Republican governor said.
The request would make financial assistance available to cities and towns, state agencies, and some nonprofits.
Baker also announced that a state-owned facility in Boston is being opened to care for homeless individuals showing symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
He said the facility, which will also be used to help care for those of them who test positive for the disease, will be operated by a consortium of providers including Boston Medical Center and the Pine Street Inn.
More on the latest coronavirus-related updates in Massachusetts:
INMATE RELEASE HEARING
Massachusetts' highest court will hear arguments over the telephone next week in a case seeking the release of inmates amid the coronavirus pandemic.
An emergency petition was filed by public defenders and defense attorneys in the Supreme Judicial Court this week. It asks the justices to reduce the number of people entering jails and prisons, order the release of certain pretrial detainees, and free those serving sentences who are nearing the end of their term who are vulnerable to COVID-19 or who don't pose a threat to the public.
Several district attorneys in Massachusetts have already agreed to release certain inmates in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus behind bars.
US REP. PRESSLEY TESTED FOR COVID-19
A second member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation has experienced symptoms of COVID-19.
U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley sought medical treatment after experiencing flulike symptoms and has been tested for the virus, according to a statement late Wednesday from her spokesperson, Lina Francis.
The Democrat is awaiting test results, the statement said. No other information was released.
U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton said Wednesday he decided to self-quarantine after experiencing symptoms. Moulton, a Democrat and former presidential hopeful, sought medical advice and was told that because the symptoms were minor and a test would not change his treatment, he did not qualify for a test.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
The number of people filing for unemployment benefits in Massachusetts skyrocketed as the country grapples with the outbreak.
The claims in Massachusetts soared to 147,995 in the week ending March 21, up from the 7,449 claims filed during the prior week, according to figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday.
That includes the first week when state and local officials asked people to stay at home as much as possible, but before the governor's order this week requiring the closure of all nonessential businesses and instructing the state Department of Public Health to issue a stay-at-home advisory.
AT ODDS ON CONSTRUCTION
Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh are staking out different positions about whether construction sites should remain open.
Baker has said the state needs to continue building more housing. He issued an order on Wednesday deeming construction workers “essential.”
Walsh said Thursday that construction is still not allowed in Boston.
“The workers who work on those sites, they’re as prone to contracting coronavirus as anyone else,” Walsh said.
On Thursday, Baker said his order gives cities and town leeway.
“I am very sympathetic to the mayor’s point of view that until he feels comfortable with the actual act of overseeing and enforcing those guidelines — which we care a lot about too because we don’t want people to be working in an unsafe manner — he’s not going to open back up,” he said. “I get that.”