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    1. Governor Provides Update on COVID-19 Testing Capacity and Strategy

      Governor Provides Update on COVID-19 Testing Capacity and Strategy

      The Baker-Polito administration announced an expanded COVID-19 testing capacity and strategy. As required to secure COVID-19 testing resources allocated in legislation passed by the U.S. Congress on April 24, the administration will submit its plan to expand testing to the federal government this month. The plan builds on previously expanded testing criteria, and calls for a boost in overall testing capacity to 45,000 daily tests by the end of July, and 75,000 daily tests by the end of December, with the goal of decreasing positivity rate to less than 5%. Lab processing capacity is also planned to ...

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    2. Peter Pan Bus Lines to resume service June 5

      Peter Pan Bus Lines to resume service June 5

      Peter Pan has been mostly shut down since March due to travel restrictions meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus. It’s the first time the family-owned company has not offered bus service in its 87-year history. Peter Pan carried 5.7 million passengers in 2019 and serves more than 100 communities up and down the East Coast from New England to Washington, D.C., but only as far west as Albany, New York.

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    3. Coronavirus reopening plans from MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park call for fewer slots, more Plexiglas

      Coronavirus reopening plans from MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor and Plainridge Park call for fewer slots, more Plexiglas

      When Massachusetts’ three casinos reopen from the coronavirus shutdown — and there is no date yet — they’ll look different. Stools will be removed from the bars, every other slot machine will be out of service and there will be fewer seats at table games. Players might even find themselves fully enclosed in clear plastic booths. “We want this to be a safe environment for all concerned,” Brian Gullbrants, president of Encore Boston Harbor told members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission Thursday. “Whatever it takes. That will be done.”

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      Mentions: Springfield MGM
    4. Massachusetts casinos may be last in the country to reopen, companies tell Gaming Commission; shutdown extended to at least June 1

      Massachusetts casinos may be last in the country to reopen, companies tell Gaming Commission; shutdown extended to at least June 1

      Representatives for Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park told the Massachusetts Gaming Commission Thursday that they expect the state’s casinos to be among the last in the country to reopen following shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. And when they do reopen, the casinos are exploring measures to mitigate an expected drop in the number of visitors — including the potential to open fewer days each week.

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    5. UMass Amherst Students Receive $8.3 Million in Emergency Federal Financial Aid

      UMass Amherst Students Receive $8.3 Million in Emergency Federal Financial Aid

      Emergency federal financial-aid grants totaling $8.3 million were distributed to more than 7,700 undergraduate students this week by UMass Amherst, the latest in a number of steps the campus has taken to support students experiencing economic distress due to the coronavirus pandemic. The funds were allocated through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities (CARES) Act. Grants were calculated based upon a number of factors, including financial need and an estimate of additional costs of food, housing, course materials, technology, healthcare, and childcare. To receive the grants, the law requires that students must be U.S. citizens or ...

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    6. Future for Boston Convention and Exhibition Center uncertain as Massachusetts tourism drops amid coronavirus outbreak

      Future for Boston Convention and Exhibition Center uncertain as Massachusetts tourism drops amid coronavirus outbreak

      With a 1,000-bed field hospital for COVID-19 patients occupying its main hall, the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center is full for now, but numerous analyses suggest that once the hospital closes it will take the BCEC months or longer under a best-case medical scenario to resume its role as a major driver of Boston’s tourism economy. Business travel will return slowly after COVID-19 begins to loosen its grip on the country, analysts said, and the large-group excursions that support the BCEC and the clusters of hotels that serve it will be among the last sectors of the economy ...

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    7. Rep. Richard Neal cites low interest rates, need for infrastructure improvements

      Rep. Richard Neal cites low interest rates, need for infrastructure improvements

      U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, citing support from the Trump White House, once again called for an infrastructure construction plan to get the country moving again in the wake of the coronavirus emergency. “We are in the phase now of stability and renewal,” Neal, D-Springfield, said following a news conference. “I think in terms of recovery, these kinds of longterm investments in infrastructure are going to be needed.”

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    8. Rep. Richard Neal calls for action on $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill

      Rep. Richard Neal calls for action on $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill

      U.S. Rep. Richard Neal said Wednesday he is confident that the new $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill that he and his House Democratic colleagues unveiled a day earlier will soon get money flowing to states and to cities and towns grappling with the enormous expenses and revenue shortfalls of COVID-19.“We are moving to stabilization and recovery,” Neal said of the legislation, about two-thirds of it falling under the purview of the House Ways and Means Committee he chairs in Washington.

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    9. MGM Resorts Releases Health And Safety Plan for Reopening Properties

      MGM Resorts Releases Health And Safety Plan for Reopening Properties

      MGM Resorts International released a report outlining the comprehensive health and safety protocols the company is implementing prior to reopening its domestic properties and resorts that were temporarily closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including MGM Springfield. The report details MGM Resorts’ “Seven-Point Safety Plan,” a multi-layered set of protocols and procedures designed in conjunction with medical and scientific experts to deter the spread of the virus, protect customers and employees, and rapidly respond to potential new cases.

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    10. Baker-Polito Administration Authorizes $1 Billion in COVID-19 Spending

      Baker-Polito Administration Authorizes $1 Billion in COVID-19 Spending

      The Baker-Polito administration filed a supplemental budget bill for FY20 that will authorize $1 billion in spending necessary to cover incurred and expected costs during the COVID-19 public-health crisis. It is expected that this spending will result in no net cost to the Commonwealth, after anticipated federal reimbursement and other federal funding sources. These expenses include the purchase of personal protective equipment, rate adjustments for providers of congregate care and other essential human services, incentive pay for state employees on the front lines at certain facilities in operation 24 hours a day, costs of temporary field hospitals and shelters, National ...

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    11. MASSACHUSETTS PHASED REOPENING ANNOUNCED

      MASSACHUSETTS PHASED REOPENING ANNOUNCED

      Today, Governor Baker announced a four-phased approach to reopening the Massachusetts economy, and published Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards that will apply universally to all workplaces that are open in Phase 1, and are designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission to employees and customers. As the Lt. Governor and I have mentioned on our weekly calls, this phased reopening (driven by public health indicators and guidance) charts a course to allow some businesses, services, and activities to resume, while protecting public health and limiting a resurgence of new COVID-19 cases.

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    12. Northampton using $125K in federal funds to aid small businesses

      Northampton using $125K in federal funds to aid small businesses

      Mayor David Narkewicz said the city is allocating $125,000 in federal block grants to help keep afloat nearly two dozen small businesses impacted by COVID-19 public health restrictions. “We need to support our small businesses during this incredibly challenging time,” Narkewicz said in a statement on Tuesday. “I’m proud of our collaboration with Valley CDC to issue these emergency grants. It is only a first step, however, as the need is far greater than our limited CDBG funds could address. We are working to secure additional state and federal resources to hopefully expand the program.”

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      Mentions: Northampton
    13. Amherst survey: 61% of shops closed; 54% of workers unemployed

      Amherst survey: 61% of shops closed; 54% of workers unemployed

      Data presented to the Town Council by business advocates — gleaned from a survey 60 Amherst businesses — showed 61% of them were closed by the pandemic and 54% of those workers unemployed. In addition to the data, they shared ideas about how to begin the process of reopening businesses in Amherst, which have been closed – save for essential ones – since March because of the COVID-19 state of emergency.

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      Mentions: Amherst Easthampton
    14. Sale of The Deuce in Northampton scuttled by coronavirus

      Sale of The Deuce in Northampton scuttled by coronavirus

      The proposed sale of the World War II Club, also known as The Deuce, to a contingent from The Parlor Room has collapsed after the financing was pulled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The sale, which was moving along after the City Council approved a zoning change to allow for the bar to become a concert venue, needed only to get the liquor licenses transferred— a move that could have happened as early as May 4.

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      Mentions: Northampton
    15. American Hockey League, Thunderbirds Cancel Remainder of 2019-20 Season

      American Hockey League, Thunderbirds Cancel Remainder of 2019-20 Season

      The Springfield Thunderbirds, in conjunction with the American Hockey League (AHL) and CEO David Andrews, announced that the league’s board of governors has voted to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 AHL regular season and the 2020 Calder Cup playoffs due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. “After a lengthy review process, the American Hockey League has determined that the resumption and completion of the 2019-20 season is not feasible in light of current conditions,” Andrews said. “The league’s operational focus has turned toward actively preparing for the 2020-21 season. We are very grateful to the National ...

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      Mentions: Springfield
    16. Hot Table completing Tower Square renovations; downtown Springfield restaurant to reopen Thursday

      Hot Table completing Tower Square renovations; downtown Springfield restaurant to reopen Thursday

      the Springfield-based quick-service panini chain — had closed its Tower Square location, but for planned renovations, not the coronavirus. The $75,000 renovation includes new floors, tile furniture, paint and a second production line dedicated that will be solely dedicated to filling online pick-up and delivery orders so in person customers are not kept waiting, said John DeVoie, president of the company.

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      Mentions: Springfield
    17. After slow start, Florence Bank says partner Kabbage is processing 500-600 Paycheck Protection Program coronavirus relief loans

      After slow start, Florence Bank says partner Kabbage is processing 500-600 Paycheck Protection Program coronavirus relief loans

      Florence Bank prides itself on being a local bank with local decision makers and personal service. But to handle Paycheck Protection Program loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration as quickly as possible, it outsourced work to online processor Kabbage, said Florence Bank President Kevin R. Day. But Kabbage got a slow start, missing out on first-round funding from the coronavirus relief program and frustrating local borrowers and Florence Bank itself.

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    18. Baker-Polito Administration Announces Four-phase Strategy for Reopening

      Baker-Polito Administration Announces Four-phase Strategy for Reopening

      The Baker-Polito administration announced a four-phase approach to reopening the Massachusetts economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, and published mandatory workplace-safety standards that will apply across all sectors and industries once reopening begins. The goal of the phased reopening, announced on May 11 and based on public-health guidance, is to methodically allow certain businesses, services, and activities to resume, while protecting public health and limiting a resurgence of new COVID-19 cases.

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    19. Big E Projected to Go On, but Some Things Will Be Different

      Big E Projected to Go On, but Some Things Will Be Different

      Gene Cassidy likes to say those at the Big E ‘manufacture’ the 17-day annual fair that is by far the biggest single event on the region’s calendar. “It’s like putting an automobile together,” he told BusinessWest. “You really can’t cut components out and expect the vehicle to run; it costs ‘X’ number of dollars to produce the fair, and we’re still going to spend that — we have to produce a fair that people are going to want to come to.” And so, those planning the 2020 edition of the Big E are proceeding with the mindset ...

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    20. Jane Loechler named executive director of Valley Community Development in Northampton

      Jane Loechler named executive director of Valley Community Development in Northampton

      After a national search, Valley Community Development has selected Jane Loechler as its new executive director. Loechler brings over 25 years of experience working within the community development and affordable housing field with both small and large nonprofits. “We are thrilled to welcome Jane to Valley Community Development. She has a strong reputation in New England that grows from her remarkable record of helping community development organizations grow and thrive, said Peter Jessop, president of the organization’s Board of Directors.

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      Mentions: Northampton
    21. Providence Behavioral Health Hospital plans 202 layoffs in Holyoke as state mulls decision to close inpatient beds

      Providence Behavioral Health Hospital plans 202 layoffs in Holyoke as state mulls decision to close inpatient beds

      Mercy Medical Center plans to lay off 202 employees at its Providence Behavioral Health Hospital in Holyoke when it permanently closes all 74 of its inpatient psychiatry beds there at the end of June. Mercy, itself owned by Trinity Health Of New England, filed a WARN notice under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act with the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development May 1. The state Labor Department made the notice public Monday.

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    22. MGM Springfield: Nearly 1,900 layoffs possible this summer due to coronavirus

      MGM Springfield: Nearly 1,900 layoffs possible this summer due to coronavirus

      MGM Springfield told state labor officials this month that it will lay off as many as 1,887 employees at the end of August after their temporary furloughs necessitated by the coronavirus emergency come to an end. MGM Springfield filed a notice May 5 with the state under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act. The state made the notice public Monday. The two-year-old resort in the South End had just more than 2,000 employees this winter, short of the 3,000 employees MGM Resorts International promised state regulators it would hire when campaigning for the licence.

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