The rumor that won’t die — shelter in place

Gov. Charlie Baker on Sunday denied he was preparing to issue a 14-day shelter-in-place order, calling it “wild speculation.” On Monday, he dismissed the idea again, although he said he would review President Trump’s guidance for limiting gatherings to groups of no more than 10 people (15 less than what Baker has ordered).

“The larger point here, whether you’re talking 10 or 25, the big message to take from this is that nonessential gatherings of any significant size, given the contagious nature of this virus, are simply a bad idea,” he said.

Just hours later, however, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that sheltering in place was not out of the question.  “I think here in Boston, really, we’re working with the state, with our governor as far as potentially sheltering in place,” Walsh said. “I think it’s complicated in this scenario yet to have one city do it and not the rest of us do it. And I think that at some point, potentially, we’re headed that way. But right now, we’re asking people to be very cognizant of distancing from each other.”

Six San Francisco-area counties and Santa Cruz county outside the Bay Area adopted shelter-in-place orders effective Tuesday, the first such orders in the continental United States. The orders require the roughly 7 million people in those counties to stay in their homes and away from other people as much as possible over the next three weeks.

“My fellow San Franciscans, what we are asking for everyone to do is to remain at home for all but the most essential outings for your safety and the safety of those around you,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said.

Officials said limiting large gatherings, shuttering businesses, and closing schools had failed to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the San Francisco area. The Bay Area has reported nearly 300 cases since the outbreak began, but more than half of those cases were in the past four days. Health experts say the lack of testing suggests the number of cases will keep rising.

Public health officials decided even more aggressive action was needed, so they banned nonessential gatherings of any size as well as nonessential travel (even on foot bicycle, or scooters).

Residents are still allowed to travel to obtain food, medicine, and health care. And airports, taxis, and public transit will continue to operate, for essential travel only. The shelter-in-place order will be enforced by local police, with violations a misdemeanor. San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said his department would be “looking for voluntary compliance.”

BRUCE MOHL


CORONAVIRUS

Gov. Charlie Baker defends President Trump on his comment that governors should try to get ventilators, respirators, and other equipment themselves and not rely on the national stockpile. Throughout the crisis so far, Baker has avoided criticizing Trump directly. (CommonWealth)

Virus notes — Boston Mayor Marty Walsh shuts down all construction in Boston… State House closes to visitors…Baker creates small business loan fund…AA meetings shift online…eBay carries unusual coronavirus items. (CommonWealth)

Daily life —  People aren’t just panic buying toilet paper, they’re also panic buying guns and ammunition.(AP) Apparently, they’re also buying lots of freezers. (The Salem News) Food pantries are offering grab-and-go meals. (The Salem News) MassLive looks at how gyms are handling coronavirus and what it means for families holding funerals. Some grocers are limiting purchases to combat panic buying. (Gloucester Daily Times) Coronavirus myths debunked. (WBUR)

Medical — Marlboro company Hologic gets emergency FDA approval for a new diagnostic test that can test for coronavirus and give results within three hours. (Telegram & Gazette) The first coronavirus vaccine is tested on healthy volunteers. (AP)

BEACON HILL

Gov. Charlie Baker files bills to let individuals collect unemployment benefits more quickly and municipalities extend their budgets during the coronavirus outbreak. (State House News Service)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The Trump administration will propose a $850 billion stimulus plan as the economy teeters. (New York Times)

A federal judge blocks a Trump administration rule that would have tightened eligibility for SNAP benefits. (MassLive)

Sen. Mitt Romney proposes giving every American $1,000 during the outbreak. (MassLive)

ELECTIONS

The Ohio presidential primary has been postponed, but balloting is proceeding today in three other states, Arizona, Florida, and Illinois. (The Guardian)

Wellesley obtains a court order to postpone this week’s municipal elections. (MetroWest Daily News)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Stop and Shop announces daily hours for people ages 60 and over. (MassLive)

Restaurants close and workers lose their jobs as the ban on eating in goes into effect. (Telegram & Gazette) Bars are also closing. (Gloucester Daily Times) For restaurants, which already operate on tight margins, the shutdown will be devastating. (Boston Globe) Meanwhile, malls and plazas are ghost towns struggling to get people to shop. (Patriot Ledger)

But Amazon is looking to hire 100,000 new workers to keep up with demand. (AP)

Massachusetts utility companies are suspending bill collection. (Eagle-Tribune)

In a virtual town hall, Rep. Seth Moulton says the nation should expect a recession due to coronavirus. (Gloucester Daily Times)

Massachusetts gas prices are declining. (AP)

Working class families have been hit hard by coronavirus, especially as part-time retail workers have to stay home to care for children. (The Enterprise)

EDUCATION

While K-12 schools and colleges have all closed, child care centers remain open to care for children of health care providers and others who can’t work from home, but no “social distancing” is possible when caring for infants and toddlers. (Boston Globe)

What 10 Students learned from having to say their worst thoughts on race out loud (WGBH)

UMass Dartmouth postpones graduation ceremonies. (Herald News)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Steward Health Care is converting its Carney Hospital in Dorchester into a dedicated care center for patients with COVID-19, the first in the country. (Dorchester Reporter)

Drive thru testing sites for the virus are open on Cape Cod and Nantucket. (Cape Cod Times) Commonwealth covered how this works last week.

In New York, bleak fears that there may not be enough ventilators to sustain people when the crisis peaks. (New York Times)

With 160 employees in quarantine, Berkshire Medical Center hires 54 temp nurses. (Berkshire Eagle)

BayState Medical Center in Springfield is constructing  COVID-19 triage center. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

Hospitals are beginning to set up drive-up coronavirus testing sites. (Eagle-Tribune)

More hospitals are closing to visitors. (Gloucester Daily Times)

An outreach van addresses COVID-19 and other health conditions among the homeless. (DigBoston)

A health care provider at Mass. General Hospital has tested positive for coronavirus as has a provider at next-door Massachusetts Eye & Ear. (Boston Globe)

Those suffering from drug addiction are at particularly high risk for coronavirus because of underlying conditions and lack of access to good sanitation. (Boston Herald)

ARTS/CULTURE

COVID-19 shuts down the arts in Massachusetts, and takes a huge bite — an estimated $1.5 billion — out of the economy. (CommonWealth)

Could tiny paint chips hold the secret to the Gardner Museum art heist carried out 30 years ago? (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

MBTA ridership is plummeting — down 48 percent on Friday on the subways — so the transit authority is scaling back service. (CommonWealth)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

As the courts close for two days, judges are available by phone to deal with emergency proceedings like bail review for people who are incarcerated. (Telegram & Gazette)

Federal immigration agents are conducting immigration check-ins by phone. (MassLive)

MEDIA

What do sports reporters do when there are no sports to cover? (Nieman Journalism Lab)