Working from home, with kids

In 2017, a video went viral of a little girl walking in on her dad as he tried to conduct a live interview with the BBC. How many parents had a moment like that this week?

If humorous social media memes are any indication, the struggle is real for parents trying to work remotely while watching or entertaining a child, or overseeing a child’s homeschooling or virtual learning.

Massachusetts schools are already closed for three weeks to avoid spreading coronavirus. But life is about to get harder for many working parents in Massachusetts, as Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision to order most daycare centers closed goes into effect Monday. That means more children too young to entertain themselves will be home.

In making his decision, Baker had to address competing interests. On one hand, 27,000 people signed an online petition asking Baker to close childcare centers. The petition notes that toddlers cannot perform “social distancing,” and keeping childcare centers open puts teachers at risk of contracting coronavirus, since children can be carriers without showing symptoms.

Many daycares are already closed. The Watertown-based childcare chain Bright Horizons said Wednesday that it would close more than half its US centers through April, although Boston Business Journal reported that the company would keep some centers open to serve the children of medical professionals and to meet a spike in demand for backup care.

On the other hand, the Baker administration is licensing emergency childcare providers to care for particularly vulnerable children and children of parents who need to go to work, such as medical professionals and those whose jobs are otherwise essential for health or safety reasons. Concord Public Schools superintendent Laurie Hunter tweeted earlier this week that Emerson Hospital employees are in desperate need of childcare and are seeking babysitters.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu actually expanded daycare coverage for that reason, even as he closed the state’s schools, letting daycare centers enroll more children and allowing businesses to set up emergency daycares for their employees.

In the meantime, as BBJ notes, employers will need to provide flexibility, understanding the needs and family obligations of their employees.

Parents have a plethora of online resources to draw from, from free educational resources to tips on entertaining children at home to a list of locations to pick up free lunches. Organizations like Boston Children’s Museum are offering free online learning resources while the New England Aquarium is posting educational animal videos online. Anyone want to watch Myrtle the green sea turtle eat breakfast?

SHIRA SCHOENBERG


BEACON HILL

The Baker administration sets a goal of processing 3,500 COVID-19 tests a day by next week. (CommonWealth)

The Department of Public Health’s daily statistical report on COVID-19 is a good barometer of how the state is doing in some areas — but not all. (CommonWealth)

Gov. Charlie Baker has activated the National Guard, with up to 2,000 guard members expected to aid in state efforts dealing with the coronavirus. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Worcester delays implementation of its single-use plastic bag ban, since germs are more likely to live on the surfaces of reusable bags. (Telegram & Gazette)

The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has turned to social media to maintain adoption operations as it braces for a possible surge in animal surrenders in the fallout of the public health emergency. (Cape Cod Times)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has imposed mandatory stay-at-home restrictions on the state’s 40 million residents. (Los Angeles Times)

North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, who as chair of the Intelligence Committee has access to classified information on security threats and whose committee was getting regular briefings on coronavirus, sold as much as $1.7 million in stocks in mid-February after assuring the public the government was prepared for the crisis. (ProPublica)

New York, where testing has accelerated, now has more than 40 percent of the country’s confirmed COVID-19 cases. (New York Times)

Gov. Charlie Baker told President Donald Trump that he was outbid by the federal government when trying to buy personal protective equipment. (Newsweek)

A mystery has emerged around a former statistician at Biogen, whose employees account for the bulk of initial Massachusetts coronavirus cases, who fled to China while sick with the virus. (Boston Globe)

LIVING WITH CORONAVIRUS

People still have to wash their clothes at shared laundromats, and hold funerals for their loved ones. (The Salem News)  Worship services shift online. (Gloucester Daily Times)

ELECTIONS

Virus notes: The House and Senate on Monday plan to lay the groundwork for postponing upcoming municipal and state elections…The Transportation Department and T Fiscal and Management Control Board plan to meet on Monday and limit attendance to 25 people, including board members….Gov. Charlie Baker calls out the National Guard. (CommonWealth)

State Senate Republican candidate John Cain does not want to see the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire special election postponed, while Democrat John Velis says he won’t fight the effort. (MassLive)

IMMIGRATION

Attorneys working at Boston’s immigration court say an individual who was presumptive positive for COVID-19 appeared in court this week. (CommonWealth)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

US Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey urge banks and credit unions to waive fees. (MassLive)

The Massachusetts life-sciences industry is playing a big role in efforts to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, from work on vaccine development to looking at ways to make better protective masks. (Boston Globe)

Massachusetts hoteliers say there have been more than 17,000 job losses since the coronavirus pandemic hit. (WGBH) Unsurprisingly, state unemployment claims are spiking. (Telegram & Gazette)

The Springfield Republican editorial board urges an end to import tariffs in order to boost the economy.

Delivery people and cleaners are still working but changing how they do business. (Eagle-Tribune) In New Bedford, restaurants handling delivery and takeout are having workers handle cash with gloves. (Herald News)

TJX, the parent company of Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, and HomeGoods, is shutting its stores for two weeks. (The Salem News)

Fishermen question a lack of precautions taken by the federal NOAA Fisheries. (Gloucester Daily Times)

A Lee medical device company is trying to switch gears and begin making masks for health care providers. (MassLive)

EDUCATION

A team from Worcester Polytechnic Institute developed a model to map how an infectious disease will spread. (Telegram & Gazette)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Touching base with Mass. General Hospital intensive care doctor Jarone Lee — he says the hospital is getting COVID-19 patients of all ages. (CommonWealth)

MGH and Brigham and Women’s Hospital are running separate trials testing whether a drug developed to treat other viruses is effective in treating COVID-19 patients. (Boston Globe) A common anti-malarial drug is also being looked at as a possible treatment. (Boston Herald)

The state’s first drive-through testing site opens in Shrewsbury. (Boston Globe)

Treatment providers say that the coronavirus epidemic is impacting the amount of inpatient detox beds that they have. (Herald News)

Larry Brilliant, the doctor who helped defeat smallpox, explains what’s coming. He says more testing is needed. (Wired)

200 of Baystate Health’s employee are out on quarantine. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

Lawrence General Hospital officials are worried about all kinds of shortages – of personnel, test kits, supplies and money. (Eagle-Tribune)

South Shore Health will soon offer an alternative COVID-19 testing site at the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station. (Patriot Ledger) Meanwhile, Signature Healthcare will open drive-thru testing in Brockton. (The Enterprise)

TRANSPORTATION

It can be complicated, but MBTA riders with monthly passes ought to be able to get credit for April if they don’t use their pass for the entire month. (Boston Globe)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Only six guards would have been affected by an unauthorized and now disavowed memo put out by a deputy corrections commissioner lifting guard suspensions and eliminating disciplinary actions. (CommonWealth)

Suffolk County DA Rachael Rollins takes steps to release “vulnerable” inmates. (WBUR) Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson says his jail can protect inmates from COVID-19. (The Enterprise)