Some Houses of Worship Reopen, Virtual Memorial Day: New England Coronavirus Roundup

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Here are some of the top coronavirus stories from around New England for Sunday.


Houses of worship across Massachusetts opened Sunday for the first time in months as the state moves to cautiously resume some activities amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

While many businesses anxiously await details from Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker regarding the state's four-phase reopening plan, we now know it will start with places of worship, construction and manufacturing, according to an email sent to local government officials over the weekend and obtained by NBC10 Boston.

Parishioners heading to services as part of the state’s first phase of reopening were told to wear face coverings and keep a safe distance from others who they don’t live with. Churches have been advised to offer pre-packaged communion or sacrament, cap attendance at 40% capacity and sanitize between services.

Many Memorial Day events honoring those who have given their lives in service to our country have been canceled in Massachusetts amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In lieu of traditional parades or large ceremonies, local groups and communities are going virtual this weekend.

The Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund remains committed to sending a powerful message of community support to bereaved families that even in difficult times, we remember and honor our fallen heroes.

"This year it just feels even more important in some ways because we're not able to keep with traditions," said Tom Crohan, president of the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced Boston to find new ways to honor those who have served.

Massachusetts' long-term care facilities are facing a Monday deadline to test at least 90% of their residents and staff for the coronavirus in order to qualify for certain state funding.

 Long-term care facilities that meet that benchmark by Monday can qualify for a piece of $130 million in emergency state funds.

A spokesperson for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health told The Cape Cod Times that it would not be able to provide that the number of facilities that have met the testing requirement until after May 25.

Gov. Charlie Baker's administration has already provided roughly $260 million in nursing home funding since the beginning of the virus crisis, the newspaper reported.

As of Saturday, there were more than 91,660 coronavirus cases reported in Massachusetts after the state added 773 new cases. There were 76 new deaths reported, bringing the state's death toll to 6,304.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh addressed the coronavirus situation in the city Sunday morning, advising residents to remain vigiliant and maintain social distancing practices to combat future outbreaks of COVID-19.

Longtime American Red Cross employee Donna Morrissey has died, the organization said Saturday, calling her compassionate and unwavering in her dedication to the organization's work. She was 51.

Morrissey died from the coronavirus, a friend of hers told NBC10 Boston.

"We know this is a profoundly difficult time for many families coping with the personal impacts of this coronavirus pandemic," the American Red Cross said in a statement on Morrissey's death.

"As colleagues, friends and partners in the greater community, the Red Cross stands in solidarity and grief with people who have lost loved ones.”

A friend of Donna Morrissey's tells NBC10 Boston that she died from COVID-19.


The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford says it's making plans to start holding public Masses again.

Leaders of the archdiocese, which includes parishes in Hartford, Litchfield and New Haven counties, said Saturday on Facebook that they plan to resume public Masses on weekdays first before resuming Sunday masses _ "while following public health guidelines.''

Guidance for parishes will become public next week, the archdiocese says.

As of Saturday, there were 40,022 coronavirus cases in Connecticut. The state reported 3,675 deaths, up 38 from Friday.

DEEP announced that visitors to state beaches would only have access to portable toilets, not permanent restrooms, as beachgoers prepare for the Memorial Day weekend.


Portland's largest hospitals saw an uptick in coronavirus hospitalizations over the past week while hospitalizations in other parts of Maine were flat or declined.

Coronavirus cases at Maine Medical Center rose from 15 to 24 over the week ending on Thursday, The Portland Press Herald reported. That's its highest level of hospitalizations since April 27, the newspaper reported. Northern Light Mercy in Portland's cases rose from five to eight.

In Bangor, Eastern Maine Medical Center had just one patient each day. Cases peaked there at seven earlier this month.

Normally there would be heavy traffic and people hanging out at Old Orchard Beach on Thursday, but as Mainers get ready for Memorial Day weekend things will look different as beaches are only open to walkers.

New Hampshire

Church services are still prohibited, but Roman Catholics in New Hampshire can begin receiving Holy Communion again in parishes that follow certain safety guidelines.

Manchester Bishop Peter Libasci has given priests permission to begin offering Communion this weekend. His instructions specify that pews must be closed off, hand sanitizer must be available at church entrances and masks must be worn except for when receiving Communion.

Aisles must be marked to keep parishioners at least 6 feet apart.

The bishop says he wanted to provide an interim measure while planning for the future resumption of public Masses.

 On Saturday, New Hampshire reported 77 new positive COVID-19 cases and four new deaths. That brings the total to 4,089 cases and 208 deaths.

Members of a Facebook group called "Sisterhood of the Traveling Spirits" are on a mission to spread cheer during the coronavirus pandemic.

Rhode Island

East Providence is going forward with its Memorial Day parade this year, but it will look a little different.

Monday's parade at 10 a.m. will consist only of people in vehicles, and planners are urging participants to stay in their cars throughout.

The motorcade is planning rifle-volley salutes at war memorials across the city, The Providence Journal reported.

Rhode Island reported 18 new coronavirus deaths Saturday, bringing the state's total to 597. The state also added over 200 new positive cases, for a total of nearly 14,000.

In a COVID-19 update, Gov. Gina Raimondo provides an update on summer camp openings.


The Champlain Valley Fair -- Vermont's largest annual event -- has been canceled for the first time in its nearly 100-year history.

The event draws about 120,000 people every year and was supposed to start Aug. 28 in Essex Junction, but it has been scrapped because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This would have been its 99th year.

The state is "just not ready for large, unstructured events with hundreds if not thousands of people coming into one area without control and the ability to physically separate," Gov. Phil Scott said Friday.               

Vermont reported two new coronavirus cases of the coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the total to 954. The total number of deaths remained at 54 for the sixth day in a row.

Vermont's governor on Wednesday outlined a plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars of federal COVID-19 relief money on ways to help small businesses and other sectors of the economy from collapsing.
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