Judge denies motion in suit over out-of-staters' quarantine

A look at the coronavirus-related developments around New England on Saturday.

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MASSACHUSETTS

City officials in Boston are concerned that many Asian American residents may not be getting tested for the new coronavirus.

Boston’s Chinatown zip code, where half the residents are of Asian descent, is one of city neighborhoods with the lowest percentage of positive coronavirus cases, Marty Martinez, the city’s chief of Health and Human Services told the Boston Globe. Only 13% of those tested were positive, compared to the citywide cumulative percentage of 26%.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up just less than 10% of Boston’s population but account for only 4% of confirmed COVID-19 cases and 6% of deaths, according the newspaper. At the same time, black residents, who comprise 25% of the city’s population, account for 38% of COVID-19 infections and 35% of deaths, in cases where the race and ethnicity is known. Latinos make up nearly 20% of the Boston population and account for 25% of cases and 11% of deaths.

Paul Watanabe, a political science professor and director of the Institute for Asian American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston who is on the mayor’s COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force, thinks the numbers, though incomplete, show a low level of testing among Boston’s Asian American population. The percentage of deaths may indicate that those Asian Americans with COVID-19 are getting tested late.

“It suggests people might be contracting the illness, unknown that they got it, and going straight to death... without having their situation diagnosed through a positive test or being dealt with, more importantly,” Watanabe said.

On Saturday, activists who say Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is moving too slowly to restart the state economy held a rally in front of the Statehouse.

The group calling itself Super Happy Fun America said Baker should open up the state completely, even as Massachusetts continues to record hundreds of new coronavirus cases daily. Super Happy Fun America was the group that organized a “straight pride” parade in Boston last year.

Baker is taking a phased-in approach to reopening the economy and is set to outline more details of the second phase of reopening on Monday.

On Saturday, the state reported that the number of individuals diagnosed with confirmed cases of COVID-19 topped 96,300 as the state reported more than 789 new cases. The overall number of confirmed COVID-19-related deaths since the start of the coronavirus pandemic climbed to 6,768 as another 50 deaths were reported.

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MAINE

A federal judge has denied a motion in a lawsuit by some Maine campground operators who believe a state quarantine order for out-of-state visitors is unconstitutional. The move came Friday, hours after the U.S. Department of Justice said it filed court papers in support of campground operators.

The campgrounds sued in federal court saying they believe the rule treats Maine residents more favorably than out-of-state residents, and that is hurting them economically.

U.S. District Judge Lance Walker on Friday denied a motion for a preliminary injunction, allowing the rule to stand while the lawsuit proceeds, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, said the quarantine is “a proven tool to prevent the spread of this deadly disease” and said the Justice Department is “making a concerted effort to undermine the health of the people of Maine.”

Mills said Saturday that restaurants in Androscoggin, Cumberland and York counties that she told to delay opening can sell their excess food to prisons. Mills plans to start the second phase of the state's reopening on June 1 but said restaurants in those counties won't be able to open that day. She said the Maine Department of Corrections commissioner has agreed to purchase excess food from restaurants in those areas, WMTE reported.

On Saturday, Maine reported four more deaths from COVID-19 for a total of 89. The state had 2,025 confirmed cases.

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CONNECTICUT

Health care workers rallied in New London on Saturday to protest what they called a shortage of personal protective equipment and pay tribute to a nurse’s aide who died earlier this month after contracting the coronavirus.

Gov. Ned Lamont, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., joined workers at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital and the Visiting Nurses Association of Southeastern Connecticut for the rally.

Union leaders said nurses, aides and other health care workers are risking their lives caring for COVID-19 patients while lacking sufficient protective gear to keep them safe.

People at the rally also remembered Elva Graveline, a 52-year-old nurse’s aide at Lawrence + Memorial who contracted the coronavirus and died May 19. Graveline’s daughter thanked hospital workers for caring for her mother, according to the AFT Connecticut labor union.

As of Saturday, more than 42,000 people in Connecticut have tested positive for the coronavirus and more than 3,900 have died, including about 2,400 nursing home residents. Hospitalizations declined by 44 patients since Friday, down to a total of 533.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE

The head of a group that represents New Hampshire nursing homes is begging the public to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Brendan Williams, president of the New Hampshire Health Care Association, says he supports Nashua’s ordinance requiring face masks in public.

“Considerable sacrifice was demanded of Americans in winning World War II. Are we now unwilling to wear masks, or socially-distance, to save those who lived through World War II?” he said in a statement.

Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette said May 6 that all nursing home residents would be tested within two weeks. On Friday, she said about 95% had been tested. Staff testing was expected to be completed over the weekend.

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RHODE ISLAND

Rhode Island has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in tourism revenue because of the coronavirus pandemic, tourism officials say.

The Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau books events in the Providence area and because most of them have been canceled due to the virus, the state has lost about $48.6 million in tourism revenue, according to Kristen Adamo, the bureau's president and CEO.

The pandemic has cost the city of Newport nearly $300 million in tourism revenue, Evan Smith, president and CEO of Discover Newport, told WPRI-TV.

“We’re going to be rebuilding one customer at a time,” he said. “Those early pioneers, the first to come out and travel, will be the ones to go back and report to people and say, ‘You know what, it’s OK out there. It’s actually pretty fun.’”

Rhode Island on Saturday reported 18 more deaths from COVID-19 and 171 new positive cases, WJAR-TV reported. That brings the state's totals to 711 deaths and 14,819 cases.

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VERMONT

Vermont's largest city has canceled its Independence Day fireworks.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger announced Friday that the annual July 3 show will not take place, saying there is no way to maintain social distancing, WCAX-TV reported. Weinberger cited the governor's order cancelling fairs and festivals.

Weinberger asked residents for ideas for alternative events to the fireworks and other summer events. The city has canceled all events at Waterfront Park through August.