Virus news: Governor cautions students; layoffs at casinos
BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker urged college students Tuesday to “be smart” as thousands flock to Boston for the fall semester, bringing with them the risk of a coronavirus surge.
“I think the most important thing I would say to kids is, wear the face covering, follow the rules, and recognize and understand that if you do that, your chances of both staying healthy, but your chances also of not being in a situation where you would make someone else unhealthy, are much better,” Baker said during a news conference announcing improvements to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s trolley tracks.
He told students to think of the health of their professors, proctors and advisers.
“There are ways people can behave that either make this less of an issue or more of an issue,” Baker said. “And the more we do to make it less of an issue, the more we can do to get back to what people would like to say is something closer to normal.”
Tuesday’s news conference was held outdoors at the Museum of Fine Arts stop on the MBTA’s Green Line E branch.
A steep drop in ridership on the T caused by the coronavirus has allowed the agency to accelerate improvement projects, the Republican governor said.
The track replacements and crossing improvements on the Green Line that took just a month would have normally taken about a year, T General Manager Steve Poftak said.
The improvements will make service faster and more reliable, he said.
A Massachusetts casino has laid off nearly 400 workers who had been furloughed because of the coronavirus pandemic, saying their jobs are unlikely to return this year.
Encore Boston Harbor said Monday the 385 affected workers will lose their company benefits starting Tuesday, but could regain job seniority if they are rehired within 90 days.
“With continued efforts from the state to minimize the spread of COVID-19, Encore Boston Harbor continues to operate with a significantly reduced capacity in all parts of our resort,” Encore management said in a statement. “As we take a look at our business during these extraordinary conditions, we do not believe that all Encore Boston Harbor jobs will return in 2020.”
The Everett resort has 2,700 employees working now, with another 915 still on furlough.
MGM Resorts, owner of the MGM Springfield casino, said about 1,000 workers will be officially separated from the company this week, although they will retain their benefits through this month.
The state’s three casinos closed in March because of the pandemic and were not allowed to reopen until mid-July under capacity restrictions.
VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS
Massachusetts reported four newly confirmed coronavirus-related deaths and more than 350 newly confirmed cases Tuesday, pushing the state’s confirmed death toll to more than 8,830 and its confirmed caseload to more than 119,000.
The seven-day weighted average of positive tests was 1%. The true number of cases is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
There were more than 300 people reported hospitalized Tuesday because of COVID-19, and more than 50 in intensive care units.
The number of confirmed and probable COVID-19-related deaths at long-term care homes rose to more than 5,800 or about 64% of all confirmed and probable deaths in Massachusetts attributed to the disease.