AP NEWS
ADVERTISEMENT

COVID-19 hospitalizations fall; teacher union pushes changes

June 18, 2020 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 continued to fall to about a quarter of those hospitalized in April, state health officials reported Thursday.

The total number of confirmed and probable deaths in Massachusetts attributed to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic rose to 7,770 with the addition of 36 deaths reported Thursday.

There were about 271 newly reported cases of the disease reported Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 to more than 106,400.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 fell to 968, down from about 1,637 two weeks ago. The number of people in intensive care remained at 227, down from 401 two weeks ago.

ADVERTISEMENT

The number of probable and confirmed COVID-19 deaths at long-term care homes rose to 4,899, or 63% of all deaths in Massachusetts attributed to the disease.

Here are other coronavirus-related developments in Massachusetts:

___

TEACHERS UNION

Requiring the state to pay for personal protective equipment and changing the school curriculum to counter institutional racism are some of the proposals included in a package of changes the state’s largest teachers’ union is pushing for when schools finally reopen.

The platform unveiled by the union on Thursday not only addresses health and safety issues related to the pandemic, but also focuses on institutional racism, Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy said in an email.

“Our schools are harmed by a lack of support for multilingual students and families, a wholly inadequate number of educators of color, and a limiting, test-driven, Eurocentric curriculum that serves far too often as a pipeline to prison instead of to college or to employment in well‐paying jobs,” the platform states.

The platform also calls for eliminating MCAS testing and replacing police in schools with social support systems.

___

POWER SHUT TO GYM

A central Massachusetts town has cut off power and water to a gym that defied government orders and reopened amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Mark Reich, a lawyer for the town of Oxford, told WBZ-TV on Thursday that “domestic water and electricity service have been discontinued” at Prime Fitness & Nutrition.

A judge this week ordered the town to shut down the facility, which opened last month even though gyms are supposed to remain shuttered until Phase Three, which could begin on June 29 at the earliest.

ADVERTISEMENT

The gym’s owner, Dave Blondin, told WBZ on Wednesday that he “will continue to fight if this goes on two years, then so be it.”

“Mr. Blondin is flouting the law and making no effort to respect public health and safety guidelines,” Reich told The Boston Globe on Wednesday.

An email seeking comment was sent to the gym Thursday.

___

TESTING PROTESTERS

After demonstrators crowded the streets of Boston to protest the death of George Floyd, the city opened a coronavirus testing center aimed at offering tests to those who participated in the demonstrations and other large gatherings.

Democratic Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said Thursday that of the 1,300 people who got tested, the rate of tests that came back positive for the virus was just 1%.

Walsh said one possible reason for the relatively low rate of positive tests was the fact that many protesters were wearing masks.

“This is all positive news,” said Walsh, who cautioned that the tests were available to anyone.

Massachusetts has also offered free coronavirus testing at 52 sites across the state this week for anyone who has attended large gatherings in recent weeks, including protesters.

Floyd died May 25 pleading for air as a white Minneapolis police officer held a knee to his neck for nearly eight minutes

___

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

Nearly 30,000 people filed initial claims for standard unemployment benefits in Massachusetts from June 7 to June 13.

That’s a decrease of more than 14,600 over the previous week. Since March 15, nearly 998,900 initial claims have been filed for standard unemployment benefits.

Initial claims for a separate program — pandemic unemployment assistance — also saw a decline.

Nearly 15,900 people filed initial claims for the assistance for the week ending June 13 — about 5,100 fewer than those who filed initial claims the prior week. That marks the third week of declining initial claims.

Since April 20, nearly 610,000 individuals have filed initial claims for pandemic unemployment assistance.