As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 17, 23 Maine residents have been confirmed positive and nine others are presumed positive for the coronavirus, according to the state. Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support this mission by purchasing a digital subscription.
BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday he’s not planning to issue a shelter-in-place order for the state but continues to urge people to limit their interactions with others to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Baker said he’s preparing for a surge in hospital visits by making it easier for nurses and technicians to work at other licensed facilities, allowing out-of-state doctors to practice in Massachusetts, and letting retired doctors reactivate their licenses.
A shelter-in-place order was issued this week for the San Francisco Bay area in California, among the strict measures taken in the U.S. as the pandemic spreads here.
Baker also said he has asked the federal Small Business Administration to issue a “declaration of economic injury” for Massachusetts to allow interest loans for businesses hurt by COVID-19.
State Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said the state is continuing to ramp up its testing capacity.
Other developments throughout Massachusetts:
The Supreme Judicial Court is restricting appearances at Massachusetts state courthouses to emergency matters only.
Tuesday’s order bars all in-person appearances except those in emergency matters that cannot be held by video conference or telephone. Each of the seven trial court departments will define emergency matters for their departments. Clerk’s offices will remain open to the public only to accept pleadings and other documents in emergency matters.
All trials in both criminal and civil cases scheduled to begin through April 17 are continued to no earlier than April 21, except for civil trials in which the parties and the court agree the case can be decided without an in-person appearance.
The restrictions begin Wednesday and will apply at least until April 6.
Cape Cod officials on Tuesday launched a drive-through site for coronavirus testing.
Cape Cod Healthcare officials said the location in the parking lot at Cape Cod Community College in Barnstable will be open only for patients with a doctor’s order who are showing symptoms of the virus, such as fever, coughing or shortness of breath.
Elderly residents and those who have serious medical conditions will be also prioritized, they said.
The site is staffed by medical workers in protective gear, who will administer the nasal swab tests and sent them to the state Department of Public Health’s labs.
Biogen Inc., the Massachusetts biotech company linked to a cluster of COVID-19 cases stemming from a meeting last month at a Boston hotel, is donating $10 million to fight the pandemic.
The money, donated through the Biogen Foundation, is designed to help nonprofits in Massachusetts and North Carolina, as well as Italy and other countries affected by the pandemic, the company said Monday.
There have been more than 200 cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, about half of which have been linked to the Feb. 26-27 conference.
Mayflower plans postponed
A celebration marking the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s arrival in North America has been postponed because of a ban on large public gatherings in response to the coronavirus.
Mayflower Sails 2020 was scheduled to take place May 14 through May 19 at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston, according to a statement posted on the event’s website.
The event was also to mark a multimillion-dollar restoration of the Mayflower II, a replica of the ship that brought the Pilgrims to the New World in 1620. The Mayflower II is still scheduled to return to Plymouth Harbor on May 21.
Protective equipment conservation
Nurses at one of Boston’s major hospitals are taking conservation measures to make sure they have enough masks, eye protection and other protective equipment.
That includes using equipment for as long as possible under federal guidelines, washing and reusing equipment when possible, and keeping nonessential personnel out of patient rooms, Madelyn Pearson, the chief nursing officer at Brigham & Women’s Hospital said.
The hospital’s nurses have been asking for donations and have been buying protective equipment, but whether they have enough depends on how long the crisis lasts, said Trish Powers, chairwoman of the nurses union.
Catholic Masses canceled
Another Roman Catholic diocese in Massachusetts is suspending all public Masses and other liturgical services indefinitely in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The Fall River Diocese, which covers the southeastern part of the state and Cape Cod, said weddings and funerals will still go on, but attendance will be limited to immediate family and must not exceed 10 people.
Bishop Edgar da Cunha called for churches to open for a limited time during the day, at the discretion of pastors, to allow people to visit for private prayer.
The Archdiocese of Boston and Diocese of Springfield had previously taken similar measures.
About the virus
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.