Virus notes: Discrimination warning issued
Museums closing; Encore visitor tests positive; fed jury trials postponed
SUFFOLK COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY Rachael Rollins said she has received no official complaints about discrimination against Asian-Americans in connection with the coronavirus, but representatives of the community say incidents are occurring locally.
At a press conference on the steps of the State House, Rep. Tackey Chan of Quincy said most of the incidents are taking place on social media. “It’s no longer an in-person thing anymore,” he said.
The issue has gained attention in Washington as a number of Republican lawmakers have repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as the Wuhan virus, a reference to the city in China where it is believed to have originated. Democrats and public health officials have called the term racist.
Chen said discrimination occurs in a variety of ways. She said she knows of one instance where a student was told by her parents to wear a mask to school. When she boarded a train with the mask on, Chen said, the other riders on the train moved away from her.
Rollins said her office has received no complaints of discrimination, but she said she is “hearing that some incidents are happening in Boston.”
The district attorney said she is asking the public to contact her office if they are the victim of discrimination or witness bigotry. She said she intends to prosecute those involved, and she warned parents that they could be held liable in civil actions if their children are found to engage in such behavior.
“The coronavirus does not discriminate, but unfortunately people do,” she said.
Museums shutting down
The Boston Children’s Museum, the Museum of Science, and the New England Aquarium said they are closing to the public through April 3 and then will decide whether to reopen or remain closed.
“The closing will help the community with the ‘social distancing’ that is necessary to slow the spread of the virus at this critical stage,” the Children’s Museum said.
Encore visitor tested positive for COVID-19
An individual who visited Encore Boston Harbor on March 5 subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, and state and casino officials are now assessing the situation.
According to a statement released by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Encore concluded the individual was present at the casino for one hour and had contact with seven people. All of them have been alerted and have agreed to self-quarantine. The Boston Globe reported that the person was Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell, whose team played the Celtics on March 6,
“Public health authorities have informed the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that, based on their review of the facts, the individual was asymptomatic (not exhibiting symptoms) on March 5,” the commission statement said. “Consequently, the Department of Public Health has advised that the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by persons who came into contact with this individual at Encore is minimal.”
While museums and other venues where crowds congregate have been shutting down, the casinos across Massachusetts have remained open.
Federal courts postpone jury trials
The chief judge of the US District Court of Massachusetts issued orders on Thursday postponing indefinitely all jury trials scheduled to begin before April 27 and barring anyone who has had some form of coronavirus exposure from entering courthouses or probation offices.
The orders from F. Dennis Saylor IV said judges are being encouraged to conduct court proceedings where possible by telephone or video conferencing. Criminal matters before magistrates will go on, grand juries will continue to meet, and the clerk’s office, probation, and the bankruptcy court will remain open.
Saylor barred anyone who has traveled to or been in contact with someone who has traveled to China, Italy, Iran, Japan, and South Korea from entering a courthouse or probation office. In addition, anyone who has had close contact with someone who has been self-quarantined or has been diagnosed or has symptoms of COVID-19 is also barred.The order did not specify how the screening process at courthouses would be carried out.
State courts are still trying to decide how to respond. A spokeswoman for the Supreme Judicial Court could not be reached Thursday, but Gov. Charlie Baker, at a press conference in Pittsfield, said court officials are talking about how to respond. He said an announcement should be coming soon.