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State gets aggressive in virus control measures in 5 cities
AP

State gets aggressive in virus control measures in 5 cities

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BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts is pouring more resources into five communities that are being particularly hard hit by the coronavirus, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Thursday.

Chelsea, Everett, Lawrence, Lynn, and Revere have experienced persistent and dangerously high transmission rates, the Republican governor said at a Statehouse news conference.

“To take a more aggressive approach to dealing with COVID in cities and towns where cases are higher, we've launched a COVID-19 enforcement and intervention team," he said. “And these teams have been working closely with leaders in high risk communities to help identify what's causing the high rates of COVID and how the state and they can work together."

The effort includes increased enforcement, outreach and education to inform people about what they can do to stop the spread of the virus and what resources are available to help them.

The state has set up a website, mass.gov/stopcovid19, and will advertise on billboards and social media in multiple languages, he said.

Revere, just north of Boston, had an average of more than 12 new confirmed coronavirus cases a day in August, about double the July rate, Mayor Brian Arrigo said. The city's positive test rate is more than three times the state average.

The densely populated, working-class city has many residents who live in multifamily and multigenerational homes, he said.

“We continue to see clusters of cases emerge at single addresses," he said.

The city has already canceled all public events and will hold school remotely this fall.

“It would be easy for us to throw up our hands and give up. But instead we have to dig in, and we have to do more,” he said. “We have to think of new ways to communicate with our residents. We have to think of new ways to bring awareness to the risk levels, and we have to bring new ways to implement new policies, encourage greater compliance with public health guidelines.”

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ARCADE LAWSUIT

A Massachusetts video game arcade and bar has filed a lawsuit alleging Baker's executive orders keeping such businesses closed until there is a proven vaccine for COVID-19 is unconstitutional.

Salem-based Bit Bar in its federal suit says the orders violate its free speech and due process rights, and questions why the state's three casinos have been allowed to reopen when it hasn't.

The executive orders “clearly give preferential treatment to casinos over video game arcades, despite there being no conceivable public health or safety related reason for doing so,” the suit said.

An email seeking comment was left with the governor's office Thursday.

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CULTURAL GRANTS

Nearly 150 Boston arts and cultural organizations are sharing in $815,000 worth of grants from the city's Arts and Culture COVID-19 Fund, the city announced Thursday.

The fund was established this summer with federal stimulus money to support small and mid-sized nonprofits to help them adapt their programs, spaces, and operating models to comply with coronavirus health regulations.

“Supporting the organizations that bring transformative arts programming to every neighborhood in our city is imperative during this unprecedented time,” Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement.

Boston’s arts and culture sector typically generates $1.35 billion in total economic activity, according to Americans for the Arts’ Arts and Economic Prosperity 5 report, but has been hit hard by the pandemic. The Mass Cultural Council reported that cultural nonprofits in Massachusetts have lost $425 million in revenue with 17,000 jobs.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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