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Mass. Lawmakers Call For Pandemic Ban On Tear Gas

The House and Senate chairs of the Joint Committee on Public Health and Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery on Friday sent an email to Gov. Charlie Baker and top public health and safety officials in the administration calling for a ban on the use of tear gar, pepper spray and rubber bullets during the COVID-19 pandemic, and for guidance for law enforcement and demonstrators on mitigating the risks of COVID-19 transmission at large public gatherings.

Citizenship Concerns Remain As Immigration Agency Reopens

New citizens are sworn in while observing social distancing, outside the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building, Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Lawrence, Mass. (Elise Amendola/AP)
New citizens are sworn in while observing social distancing, outside the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building, Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Lawrence, Mass. (Elise Amendola/AP)

For Albert Baraka, the ceremony outside the federal immigration office in Lawrence, Massachusetts, was brief, but life changing.

The 20-year-old, who came to the country six years ago as a refugee from Congo, joined nine others Thursday morning to recite the oath of allegiance, the final, ceremonial step to becoming a U.S. citizen.

A junior studying business management at Norwich University, a private military college in Vermont, he said he’s looking forward to being able to cast his very first ballot this election.

Parents Sue DCF For Restricting Child Visitations During Pandemic

A group of Massachusetts parents has filed suit against the Baker administration, arguing it has unlawfully terminated visits with the parents' biological children in foster care. They argued the administration has imposed excessive restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawsuit, scheduled for a hearing Friday, alleged that the state Department of Children and Families' decision to end in-person visits between children in foster care and their biological parents was unconstitutional and traumatizing for already at-risk children. The suit asked a judge to immediately reinstate in-person visits, which were stopped because of the pandemic.

"The directive of the department goes significantly further than the guidance given by the federal or state governments and is excessive, imposing more severe restrictions on contact between children and parents, whose bond is protected by the constitution," the complaint read. "Plaintiffs have been aggrieved by the actions of the department and deprived of the family time they are entitled to at a time when it is critically important."

Coalition: No Further Mass. Reopening Until Those At-Risk, Including People Of Color, Are Protected

Armani White of the Black Boston COVID-19 coalition holds up a sign protesting in front of the State House for the black and Latino people who have died of COVID-19. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Armani White of the Black Boston COVID-19 coalition holds up a sign protesting in front of the State House for the black and Latino people who have died of COVID-19. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Gov. Charlie Baker on Saturday will announce whether to move Massachusetts into the next phase of its reopening from COVID-19 lockdown, but a group of doctors, union leaders and community and public health advocates on Thursday demanded the administration ensure that at-risk populations, including people of color, are adequately protected.

"We will not accept a reopening at the expense of workers, particularly low-wage workers and Black and Latinx communities," said Carlene Pavlos, the executive director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association.

6 Harvard Grad Schools Will Move Online For Fall

Six Harvard University graduate schools plan to hold their courses entirely online in the fall, amid continued uncertainty about what the public health landscape will look like in a few months.

The T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Law School, Kennedy School, Graduate Scoool of Education, Graduate School of Design and Harvard Divinity School all made the announcements Wednesday.

DPH: Nearly 80% Of Mass. COVID-19 Cases Have Recovered

Of the 97,964 people in Massachusetts whose COVID-19 diagnosis was confirmed with a molecular test, more than 78,000 of them — or roughly 79% — have recovered from the potentially fatal respiratory disease, the Department of Public Health reported for the first time Wednesday.

Of the nearly 98,000 people confirmed to have had COVID-19, DPH said that 78,108 have been released from isolation and "are considered for purposes of this report to be recovered."

COVID-19 Nursing Home Audits Show Progress, Concerns

A worker at a nursing home sanitizes a handrail. (David Goldman/AP)
A worker at a nursing home sanitizes a handrail. (David Goldman/AP)

More than four dozen nursing homes were flagged for concerning results in at least one category of a COVID-19 audit conducted in late May, the Baker administration announced Wednesday, adding that dozens more that previously received similar warnings fared well on follow-up investigations.

Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said 49 of the 230 nursing homes audited between May 18 and May 29 "remain in the red," indicating they failed to meet one or more core measures of competency for responding to the highly infectious virus that has swept through facilities across the state.

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