Cities and town officials are laying off staff members, cutting budgets and more to try to account for the expense that goes along with the coronavirus outbreak.
But, money is coming in from the federal and state governments. Will it be enough? How will it offset increasing costs and decreasing revenues? Those questions are still unanswered, but legislators are hopeful.
"I am pleased to see federal funding now available to help our local communities," state Rep. David Linsky said in a press release earlier this week. "We are seeing budget crises across the board in all sectors and it’s important that we assist our local governments in any way we can during these uncertain times, especially with funds that will go directly to supporting local COVID-19 relief."
Municipalities can direct this funding towards necessary expenditures including paying for first responders, procuring PPE, testing, cleaning and disinfection services for public buildings, social distance learning, food assistance and shelter for vulnerable populations.
And, just so everyone knows, municipalities that request less than the amount for which they are eligible do not forego the opportunity to ask for more money later, according to the state’s guidance.
Framingham, Marlborough, Natick, Milford and Franklin are eligible for the most money in the MetroWest-Milford regions. According to the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, the area's communities are eligible for funding in the following amounts:
Ashland — $1,564,007
Bellingham — $1,514,898
Framingham — $6,447,088
Franklin — $2,929,813
Holliston — $1,317,137
Hopedale — $526,009
Hopkinton — $1,610,736
Hudson — $1,759,828
Marlborough — $3,511,279
Medway — $1,183,828
Mendon — $545,141
Milford — $2,566,121
Millis — $729,147
Natick — $3,194,228
Northborough — $1,331,421
Southborough — $896,577
Sudbury — $1,730,468
Wayland — $1,223,944
Westborough — $1,691,850
Weston — $1,069,827
After long layoff, Markey and Kennedy to debate June 1
U.S. Sen. Edward Markey and U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy will debate for the first time since February on June 1 after the campaigns and debate organizers agreed on a new date for the U.S. Senate debate to be broadcast live from Springfield.
The one-hour debate will take place live on a Monday from 7 to 8 p.m. and be broadcast on multiple stations, in multiple states, from Western Mass News. It was one of six debates originally agreed to by the two Democrats' campaigns before the coronavirus pandemic, and was originally scheduled for March 18.
The debate will be moderated by Western Mass News anchor Dave Madsen, WBUR's Morning Edition host Bob Oakes, Boston Globe columnist Adrian Walker and WCVB On the Record anchor Janet Wu. The sponsors are part of a media consortium that includes Western Mass News in Springfield, The Boston Globe, WBUR, WCVB NewsCenter 5 and the University of Massachusetts Boston’s John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies.
The first and last time Markey and Kennedy debated was on Feb. 18 at WGBH's Boston studios. Since then, both candidates have been forced to move their campaigns online, hosting events on Facebook Live and other platforms to reach voters.
WRPI in Providence is due to hold a third debate on June 8, and another debate hosted by NBC 10 is still being rescheduled.
Two additional debates on WBZ TV with host Jon Keller and WCVB have been agreed to for August before the Sept. 1 primary.
State rep. and her extended family 'doing OK' in COVID-19 fight
Rep. Liz Miranda, D-Boston, is "on the mend" after receiving a COVID-19 diagnosis almost two weeks ago, she said in a TV interview.
Miranda said on WGBH's "Greater Boston" that about 18 members of her extended family tested positive for the coronavirus, including her father, who is now home after a hospital stay.
The family members who tested positive range in age from a 2-year-old cousin to a 78-year-old. Miranda, 39, said most were not experiencing symptoms, but got tested because her father tested positive and because her grandmother, who died in April, "had such a sharp decline right before she passed."
The family is unsure if Miranda's grandmother had COVID-19.
A few relatives are now "in the clear," Miranda said, while a handful of others "are still battling flu-like symptoms, headaches, body aches, stomach aches, the loss of taste, smell and appetite."
"But we're doing OK," she said. "Thankfully, we're a really resourced family and we were able to get tested quickly and self-quarantine."
Miranda said the respiratory disease's sharp impact in communities with large minority populations — she named Chelsea, Brockton, Randolph and Boston neighborhoods like the one she represents in Dorchester and Roxbury — has highlighted disparities in access to care.
"What we have here is sort of a shining light on the disproportionate nature of our public health system and our social safety net," she said.
Looking for a new job?
And on a side note for those of you looking for a new career, the U.S. Coast Guard has one for you to consider: steward of a lighthouse.
The Coast Guard will begin the process to transfer control of Light Station Boston, commonly known as Boston Light, to another entity.
The decision will "ensure the future historic preservation and public access" to the facility, which is 304 years old and is considered the oldest staffed lighthouse in the country, according to the Coast Guard.
The National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000 allows lighthouses to be transferred at no cost to government agencies, nonprofit corporations and educational and community development organizations.
Boston Light sits on Little Brewster Island, about 9 miles from downtown Boston.
The original lighthouse was built by the British in 1716 but was destroyed during the American Revolutionary War. It was rebuilt by Massachusetts after the war ended.
The Coast Guard, which has been the steward of the lighthouse since 1939, says it will continue to maintain the facility's navigational light and fog signal.
They Said It:
“For starters, nobody’s ever had an election during a pandemic. The pandemic won’t be over in time, at the time the election is scheduled, but we’re working to make sure that’s manageable and conducted safely.”
— Milford Board of Selectmen Chairman William Buckley said as the board voted that all residents will vote at Milford High School, 31 West Fountain St. on June 16, instead of at the normal four voting locations.
“We continue to see increasing consensus among the models, which are showing similar upward trends, but there is still quite a bit of uncertainty about what will happen four weeks from now. Among seven models, the spread of best-guess predictions for deaths in the U.S. by early June ranges from around 103,000 to 120,000. This range covers 17,000 deaths, which is still more than the number of people who sometimes die in a flu season. Two weeks ago, the spread between models was almost twice as high, around 35,000.”
— Nicholas Reich, director of the UMass Influenza Forecasting Center of Excellence and associate professor of biostatistics and epidemiology in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences.
Daily News Director of Multimedia Caitlyn Kelleher, the State House News Service and the Associated Press contributed to this article.