Anti-Shutdown Rallies in Maine, NH, Mass.: New England Coronavirus News Roundup

As New England begins to open back up, each state is taking action

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Opponents of the stay-at-home orders in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts were staging more protests Saturday.

In New Hampshire, the focus was to be on religious freedom, while in Maine, former Republican Gov. Paul LePage was expected to make an appearance. A small protest outside the Swampscott home of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker was organized by the people behind last year's controversial Straight Pride Parade.

About 70 miles up the road, on Cape Cod, a rally near the Bourne Bridge had two goals: re-elect President Donald Trump and reopen the state now.

“Save Cape Cod, and save Massachusetts,” said Kathy Hartford, of Falmouth.

The crowd that gathered Saturday went after Dr. Anthony Fauci, face masks, and the coronavirus itself.

"We all know that this is a fake, fake virus,” said Julie Cummings, of East Wareham.

Protesters also went after Gov. Baker.

“He hates our president,” said Buzzards Bay resident Jeff Williams.

“I think he was dictatorial and is behaving like a tyrant,” said Barnstable County Commissioner Ron Beaty.

Gov. Baker will announce details of his phased reopening plan on Monday, but some say he's just not acting quickly enough, and they say that's only putting us all in worse shape.

"The economy will not do too well, to say the least,” Hartford said.

“There’s going to be more people that are going to be dying because people are out of work," Williams said.

Organizers said they'd follow the state's guidelines at Saturday's rally but only a handful of people were seen wearing face masks.

Elsewhere in New England: Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has issued guidance about paying utility and bills during the coronavirus pandemic; Girl Scouts in Rhode Island won't be attending traditional camps; and Vermont officials say efforts to prevent the virus from spreading in jails are succeeding.

The Retailer Association of Massachusetts is eager to open. While the 4,000-member group waits to hear the state's Reopening Board's plan on Monday, some businesses are already preparing.


A federal judge is set to hear arguments next week in a lawsuit designed to force the state to better protect prison inmates from the coronavirus. 

The ACLU of Connecticut is asking the court to order emergency actions that could include releasing more inmates to protect them from the pandemic. The state Department of Correction says it has taken steps to limit exposure to the virus, including placing prisoners who have tested positive in isolation at the maximum-security Northern Correctional Institution.

U.S. District Court Judge Janet Bond Arterton will hold the hearing by video conference next Friday. 


U.S. Rep. Jared Golden was among the few Democrats to vote against the massive $3 trillion coronavirus response bill his party pushed through the House.

Golden says he supports many of the bill's provisions but voted against it because it expanded in scope beyond the nation's core, urgent needs and included a series of unrelated provisions. 

The measure has no chance of passing the GOP-controlled Senate and has already drawn a White House veto threat.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree joined Democrats in voting for the bill, saying it addresses many complex elements of the public health and economic crisis.

Meanwhile, former Republican Gov. Paul LePage is expected to be among those participating in a rally in Augusta on Saturday to protest the state's response to the pandemic.

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Attorney General Maura Healey has issued guidance for Massachusetts residents about their rights when it comes to paying their utility and telecommunications bills during the ongoing pandemic.

The advisories state that during the COVID-19 crisis customers cannot have their utility services shut off and that most telecommunications providers in the state will not shut off broadband or telephone services due to an inability to pay. 

Even so, the advisories say that if possible, customers should continue to pay their bills for as long as they can, and to reach out to their providers about the need for assistance before missing a payment. 

New Hampshire

Opponents of Gov. Chris Sununu's ban on gatherings of 10 or more people plan to gather outside the Statehouse on Saturday for a Christian worship service.

"As Christians, we are called to assemble together for worship, particularly in times of distress, and God is quite clear in his commandment that we throw off our fear and trust in Him," Andrew Manuse, chairman of ReopenNH, said in a statement.

Sununu said the religious leaders he's spoken to want to take things slowly.

"We're not telling people they can't practice their religion," he said Wednesday. "But they have to stay within guidelines of public health."

Rhode Island

Girl Scouts won't be attending traditional camps in Rhode Island this summer, but officials are planning programs to give girls a taste of camp life from home.

The Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England says it could not deliver a safe day and overnight camp experience because of the pandemic and instead will provide weeklong "Beyond Camp" sessions. Officials said they also plan to offer in-person "Family Day" experiences in July or August.


Officials say test results from the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility show that efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus are working.

A positive test from a staff member Monday triggered mass testing of the entire facility. Results released Friday showed no additional cases of COVID-19 among the 42 staff and 76 inmates who were tested.

Mass testing also has been conducted on all staff and inmates at the Northwest Regional Correctional Facility, and officials will begin the process at the Northeast Correctional Complex next week. Statewide, six correctional staffers and 48 inmates have tested positive.

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