The vote must go on

Elected officials may be mindful of the coronavirus pandemic, but the horse race always continues in an emergency, one way or the other.

Stephanie Murray at Politico reported on newly-released campaign finance reports from the beginning of the year through March 31, and says Rep. Joe Kennedy III holds a financial advantage over Sen. Ed Markey in their primary contest.

Kennedy has $6.2 million in cash on hand, raising close to $2 million and spending around $1.3 million in that time period. Markey has $4.4 million in cash on hand, after spending $1.3 million and bringing in $1.2 million, according to his FEC filing.

Both candidates, with traditional campaigning on hold, are holding constant livestreams. For Markey, his latest featured Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi talking about a recovery home for frontline workers diagnosed with COVID-19 and other issues the sheriff is facing during the pandemic. Kennedy has held virtual town halls with state rep and Boston Medical Center doctor Jon Santiago, famed Chef José Andres, and others about the impacts of the crisis on frontline medical workers and the restaurant industry.

Kennedy’s campaign announced Thursday that it used his email list to raise $30,000 for organizations assisting Chelsea, a hotspot with many coronavirus cases.

But Election Day is always on everyone’s collective mind. On Thursday, US Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Jim McGovern, Katherine Clark, and Kennedy urged the Legislature to pass a vote-by-mail bill for the 2020 election, and for $4 billion in federal funding to increase voting by mail and election security nationwide.

Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Stone Creem proposed a bill that would enable any Massachusetts voter to request a mail-in absentee ballot for both the state primary and general election in 2020, as well as allow early voting in the September primary.

State Sen. Becca Rausch and state Rep. Adrian Madaro have filed a bill that would send every registered voter a ballot by mail with a prepaid return envelope for both the primary and the general election.

Without these type of measures, Kennedy said, the nation could see the “widespread impact of voter suppression.”

Candidate suppression may also be a problem, largely because some campaigns, including Markey’s, are finding it difficult and some say nearly impossible to gather the required number of voter signatures to appear on the ballot at a time when everyone is holed up in their homes and practicing social distancing.

The Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments on Thursday from lawyers representing three officials running for office who believe the court should reduce or eliminate the signature requirements for running for office. The court seemed receptive, but wary of stepping on the toes of state lawmakers who are also grappling with the issue.

The legislative picture is unclear. The Senate voted to lower signature requirements for candidates in certain races, but the bill’s fate in the House is far from certain. A single member can block consideration of the bill as the Legislature tries to take action in informal sessions where only a handful of members show up. Gov. Charlie Baker has indicated he would support reducing the signature requirements for various offices.

“Time is running short and we’re prepared to act promptly, but we’d be quite happy if the Legislature were to take this away from us,” Chief Justice Ralph Gants said.

SARAH BETANCOURT


BEACON HILL

Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Robert DeLeo say the crisis of care standards issued by the Baker administration discriminate against minorities. They promise legislative action, but don’t know what it will be yet. (State House News)

Judge rejects a bid to overturn Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision that recreational marijuana businesses are non-essential, but notes the governor’s concerns about these firms could have been addressed. (CommonWealth)

Meet Rupert Dubler, who signs the governor’s daily press conferences. (WBUR)

Gov. Charlie Baker says the state has offered lots of help to Chelsea that the city has turned down, but it seems to mostly amount to a question of doing mobile coronavirus testing, which the city turned down in favor of screenings in several large apartment buildings. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The State Ethics Commission finds that former Peabody Treasurer Jeanne Carnevale used city resources to guide the sale of three tax-delinquent homes to help her family and associates. (The Salem News)

The Lynn Public Health Department shuts down BD’s Furniture which was open in violation of the governor’s order that all non-essential businesses close. (Daily Item)

Gloucester makes a controversial decision to temporarily close its public boat ramps to recreational boaters. (Gloucester Daily Times)

Brockton is initiating a curfew. (Brockton Enterprise)

Springfield implements a hiring and spending freeze as expected municipal revenues drop. (MassLive)

The Fall River Community Development Agency, through the federal CARES Act, will get an additional $2.59 million to assist homeless and other programs directly related to the coronavirus pandemic. (Herald News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

President Trump released federal guidelines for a slow, staggered restart of the country’s economy. (Washington Post)

Members of Massachusetts’ congressional delegation are urging the US Department of Veterans Affairs to let its staff make verbal recommendations to patients on the use of medical marijuana. (MassLive)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Deaths at nursing homes, where 49 percent of all COVID-19 fatalities have occurred, appear to be increasing rapidly. At Belmont Manor, 30 deaths and 116 residents and 59 employees test positive. (CommonWealth) In Quincy, 10 deaths at one facility and two at another. (Patriot Ledger) Eght residents have died and 61 residents and 36 staff test positive at the Mary Ann Morse Healthcare Center in Natick. (MetroWest Daily News) Five die at Life Care of Raynham. (Taunton GazetteKathleen Columbus, the nursing director at Jewish Healthcare Center in Worcester, writes that the number of COVID-19 deaths and cases there don’t tell the whole story about the challenges the nursing home is facing. (Telegram & Gazette) Meanwhile in Quincy, 12 nursing home residents have died. (Patriot Ledger)

Critics say testing of residents and staff at nursing homes needs to be done repeatedly to catch newly acquired cases. (Boston Globe)

Experimental antiviral drug remdesivir shows continued promise against COVID-19 in a new study. (Stat) Another small study of the drug published a week ago also raised hopes, though doctors caution that the evidence to date is far from conclusive.

Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain and Tewksbury Hospital are hit with coronavirus outbreaks. (WBUR)

Dr. Jarone Lee of MGH reports that the hospital is handling the surge so far. He also explains the impact of COVID-19 on the heart and the emerging shortage of intravenous drugs used in the intensive care unit. (CommonWealth)

MGH physician Paul Biddinger says success at flattening the curve and avoiding an enormous spike in COVID-19 cases means the surge will last longer. (Boston Herald)

Accessible rapid response testing is being rolled out in Boston’s communities of color. (DigBoston)

St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester is going ahead with plans to furlough nurses after the nurses’ union rejected a proposed agreement. (Telegram & Gazette)

It’s not clear if hospitals will follow through on the state’s expectations that an influx of new state money will go toward boosting hazard pay for front-line workers. (MassLive)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Another 5.2 million Americans and 103,000 Massachusetts residents file unemployment insurance claims. (WBUR)

Mark Erlich says the COVID-19 outbreak demonstrates the importance of unions. (CommonWealth)

With the federal small business loan fund out of money, Gov. Charlie Baker calls on Congress to extend the benefits. (MassLive)

EDUCATION

Holyoke negotiates a deal with Comcast to provide free internet service to families of public school students without internet access. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

Emergency daycares are struggling to find needed supplies, like cleaning products and gloves. (MassLive)

TRANSPORTATION 

The US Department of Transportation denied a request by JetBlue Airways to let the airline suspend service to and from Worcester Regional Airport. (Telegram & Gazette)

All the state’s airports are getting federal money from the CARES Act. (MassLive)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that police use of data from four automatic license plate readers on Cape bridges did not invade the privacy of Jason McCarthy, a New Bedford man whose indictment for drug dealing on the Cape was supported by data gleaned from the cameras. (Cape Cod Times)

MEDIA

The Gloucester Daily Times and the Eagle-Tribune, both owned by North of Boston Media Group, are temporarily stopping to publish print editions of their newspapers on Tuesdays and Saturdays due to declining revenues. Online publishing will continue daily.

PASSINGS

Conservative scholar Abigail Thernstrom, whose writings on race and affirmative action stirred debate and who formerly served on the state board of education, died at age 83. (Boston Globe)

Former president and CEO of Health New England Maura McCaffrey, dies at 50 after a long illness. (MassLive)