Pence, Gov. Baker meet on Nantucket to talk virus response
BOSTON (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence met briefly Saturday with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker while he visited the famous island getaway of Nantucket to headline a $25,000-ticket fundraiser for President Donald Trump administration’s reelection campaign.
Pence, who heads the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, praised Baker’s efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, which has among the highest death tolls from the virus in the nation, at more than 8,200.
“We’re with you, and we’re going to stay with you every step of the way until we put the coronavirus in the past,” Pence said in an appearance with Baker at Nantucket Memorial Airport.
Baker, a Republican who didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 and has at times been critical of his administration’s response to the pandemic, thanked Pence for his task force’s work, which he said has been “enormously helpful and supportive.”
He said he’d spent about an hour with Admiral Brett Giroir, who oversees coronavirus testing as Trump’s assistant secretary for health, before meeting with Pence to talk about “all the things that keep me up at night” concerning the virus.
Baker on Friday announced strict new travel restrictions to control spread of the virus, including mandating anyone travelling to the state to self-quarantine for 14 days. Massachusetts has been among the hardest hit states for the virus, with nearly 8,300 recorded deaths.
Baker was not expected to attend the lunchtime fundraiser at the home of Putnam Investments CEO Robert Reynolds.
Pence’s visit, which was greeted with a mix of curious onlookers and protests on the island off Cape Cod, came as Nantucket is seeing an increase in coronavirus cases.
Local health officials say 24 of the island’s total 38 cases have come in the past month, with nine of them reported in roughly the last week.
Roughly 60% of those who have tested positive on the island are in their 20s and 30s, though a man in his 80s has died, town officials said.
Nantucket officials say the rise in cases is attributed to increased virus testing and the arrival of the summer vacation crowd.
Massachusetts health officials reported 12 new deaths and 210 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to more than 108,000 cases since the pandemic started.
A look at other coronavirus developments in New England:
Law enforcement officials will once again step up presence in Rhode Island’s popular beach communities this weekend to enforce the state’s virus restrictions.
The state Department of Environmental Management said environmental police, state police and local police departments will be deploying extra officers to limit crowds, manage traffic, and crack down on illegal parking in the coastal communities of Narragansett, South Kingstown, Charlestown and Westerly.
State health department officials will also again pass out free face masks to beachgoers not wearing them.
The measures, including drastically cutting down parking at major state beaches, were rolled out last weekend after complaints that large crowds not following virus safety guidelines were packing the state’s shoreline.
Connecticut officials on Saturday closed several state parks as parking lots reached capacity limits set under coronavirus-related restrictions.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said the closed parks included Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme, Silver Sands State Park in Milford and Bigelow Hollow State Park in Union.
State environmental officials have limited parking at state parks to as low as 25% of total parking capacity to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Nearly 48,800 people have tested positive for the virus to date and more than 4,400 people have died of the virus in Connecticut.
Restrictions on in-person proceedings in New Hampshire state courts will be extended at least through Aug. 17, the Supreme Court said Friday.
The order, which covers all circuit, superior and supreme court functions, means judges will continue to conduct court proceedings by video and other remote means. Face coverings must also be worn by anyone entering Judicial Branch buildings.
Court buildings will remain open for certain functions, but clerk’s offices will not be open to the general public. Residents can request case files electronically through the court’s e-filing portal or by calling the court’s information center.
Meanwhile, Gov. Chris Sununu’s office announced Friday that applications are now open for a new $2 million state program meant to expand youth summer program options during the pandemic.
The Empowering Youth Program is geared to initiating or expanding summer and fall offerings for middle and high-school aged students. Activities such as day camps, sports, and other recreational programs are eligible for the funding.
The program is administered by the state Department of Health and Human Services with funding from the $2 trillion federal coronavirus relief bill.
State health officials Saturday reported 45 additional positive cases of the virus, for a total of more than 6,400 since the pandemic started.
A Vermont town and a summer youth camp for New York-area girls have reached a deal to resolve complaints of excessive noise at the former college campus where it operates.
Zichron Chaim camp in Bennington will move its assemblies from a large outdoor tent into the former South Vermont College gymnasium and take steps to reduce loud noise, the Bennington Banner reported.
The camp operator will also install air conditioning in the gym for the assemblies, at a cost of more than $120,000. The deal was reached Wednesday after the town had obtained a restraining order.
The newspaper previously reported that the camp was being monitored for compliance with COVID-19 regulations, but had incurred no violations on that front.
State health officials Saturday reported 13 additional positive cases of the virus, bringing the state’s total to nearly 1,400. The death toll remains at 56.
The state’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 33 additional confirmed coronavirus cases and one new death on Saturday.
That brings Maine’s death toll to 119 and its total confirmed COVID-19 cases to about 3,790. About a dozen people are currently hospitalized with the virus, state officials said.