WSAR NEWS Archives for 2020-03

Four COVID-19 Deaths On Wednesday In The Commonwealth

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is reporting that as of Wednesday afternoon three men and one woman died of the COVID-19 virus.

 

The total number of Commonwealth deaths due to the virus now stands at 15. 

 

All four that died were hospitalized and had pre-existing conditions. 

 

As of Wednesday afternoon, the state added 679 cases to its total bringing the number to 1,838. Bristol County now has a total of 67 cases of COVID-19. 

 

A total of nearly 19,794 residents have been tested for the virus.

400 Additional Commonwealth COVID-19 Cases On Tuesday

The number of COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth leapt nearly 400 on Tuesday.

 

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed there are now 1,159 cases total in the state. They also confirmed that 13,749 people have been tested for the virus.

 

In Bristol County, there are 31 cases of Coronavirus now. 

 

There have been 11 people in the state that have died as a result of the pandemic. They range in ages from their 50s to their 90s. Three of the six total men are from Suffolk County while the 5 women were from Worcester, Essex, Middlesex and Berkshire Counties.

Update On COVID-19 In The Commonwealth

Bristol County, as of Monday afternoon, has 25 cases of COVID-19, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. 

 

The total number of cases in the entire state stands at 777. As of Monday, nine people in total have died as a result of the Virus in the Commonwealth. 

 

The demographic in most cases within Massachusetts fall between the ages of 40 and 49. Roughly, 9,000 people have been tested for the virus in the state. 

 

COVID-19 activity is increasing in the state. The D-P-H is telling residents that if you feel only mildly symptomatic you should speak to your healthcare provider about the need to be addressed in person.

First Confirmed Case Of COVID-19 In Fall River, Somerset & Swansea

Fall River Administrators learned on Saturday that the city has its first case of the COVID-19 virus. 

 

The resident is currently in isolation and any of those who were potentially exposed to them has been traced and contacted. Those individuals are now in quarantine. 

 

Mayor Paul Coogan in conjunction with Tess Curran, the Director of Health of Human Services and the Board of Health issued to close down personal care-type businesses over the weekend.

 

This will go into effect on Tuesday March 24th and include any hair salon or barbershop, nail salons, massage services, tanning salons, fitness centers, day spas as well as body art and body work. 

 

Fall River wasn’t the only local community to confirm their first case of the virus over this past weekend. Both Swansea and Somerset reported each of the towns now have their first case of COVID-19, as well. 

 

On top of taking care of your physical health, Fall River’s leadership is asking you to prioritize your mental care, as well. 

 

Anyone who is currently experiencing anxiety, depression or for those in need of emotional support cab dial 2-1-1 for behavioral health resources. All other information can be found at Fall River’s official website and Facebook.

Small Business Administration Offers Low-Interest Loans

The Baker Administration announced last night that the U.S Small Business Administration will begin offering low-interest federal disaster loans of up to $2 million to small businesses in the Commonwealth suffering as a result of COVID-19. 

 

This includes private non-profit organizations of any size, small agriculture cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises impacted by the outbreak since January 31st. 

 

The eligibility for this economic injury disaster loan will be based on the financial impact of the virus outbreak. The interest rate will be 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for private non-profits. 

 

The deadline to apply is December 18, 2020.Applicants can apply online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela or call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955. You can also request more information by email at disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Select Massachusetts RMV Locations Re-Open

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles will re-open today in 7 different locations, which includes the Fall River location.

 

The RMV is asking customers who do not have immediate needs for required in-person services to delay their visits. 

 

In an attempt to practice “social-distancing” customers are asked to not bring in multiple individuals with them. 

 

“Customers should expect longer waits as we will need to limit any crowding in the centers to comply with social distancing protocols,” Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack said. “We will be limiting the number of people allowed inside Service Centers and once those limits are reached, customers will have to either leave and come back or wait outside until it is possible to let them in while still maintaining social distancing.”

 

The six centers that will be open along with Fall River are Boston/Haymarket, Brockton, Lawrence, Pittsfield, Plymouth and Worcester. 

 

“The RMV is trying to offer necessary in-person transactions while striking a balance between protecting the health and safety of the public,” said Acting Registrar Jamey Tesler.  “Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, in-person transactions will be conducted in keeping with guidelines from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Response Command Center.”

 

Permit holders looking to take their road test will have to wait until Friday, March 20th. 

 

The Governor’s Executive Order provides that Learner’s Permits dated between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020 will continue to have an active status until sixty days after the printed expiration date.

 

Meanwhile, AAA locations will continue to offer select RMV services to their members excluding road tests.

Bishop Edgar Da Cunha Suspends Mass Until Further Notice

All masses and other services in the Diocese of Fall River has been suspended for the foreseeable future, according to Fall River Bishop Edgar Da Cunha.

 

Effective today, and continuing until further notice, all masses including first communion and confirmation will be cancelled. 

 

Exceptions will be made for weddings and funerals with limited attendance of no more than 10 immediate family members. 

 

The Fall River Diocese is asking that churches open for a limited amount of time each day at the discretion of the pastor to give an opportunity for private prayer. 

 

Bishop Da Cunha also issued a dispensation from the obligation to attend mass during this time for all catholics in the diocese.

Fall River Asks To Keep Some Distance

The City of Fall River is asking residents to practice “social distancing” when it comes to interactions inside of Government Center. 

 

Social Distancing includes keeping distance from people’s physical space and avoiding handshakes. But it also includes business. 

 

Fall River Administrators are asking you to pay bills online, if possible or by mail. You can also utilize one of a pair of dropboxes at separate entrances inside of Government Center.  

 

Payments online can be made at FallRiverMA.org and includes anything from real estate, personal property, motor vehicle and boating taxes. It can also receive parking ticket payments, municipal lien certificates and utility bills. 

Fall River State Of The City Postponed Due To COVID-19

Fall River’s State of the CIty Address has been postponed in response to the World Health Organization officially claiming the COVID-19 Virus is a pandemic. 

 

The Coogan Administration citing what it terms “an abundance of caution” is postponing the address, which was supposed to go on this Monday at 6 p.m, until the State of Emergency is lifted.

 

In a release issued on Wednesday, the 6th floor admits that “although strict compliance of section 3-6 of the city’s charter cannot occur, the administration believes that an address that is open to the public takes priority over certain time constraints.”

 

The Fall River Board of Health Director Tess Curran told WSAR it's important to wash your hands with soap and water as well as stay home if you feel sick.

 

"Taking preventative measures is key to reducing the risk of any type of the virus,” she said.

 

A major component to why this has become a pandemic is the lack of information or knowledge on the virus. 

 

"Right now, there are a lot of unknowns but we're learning more every day,” Curran said. “This hasn't been seen in humans before so we're learning as we go.” 

 

Numbers from the C.D.C confirm it has a much higher mortality rate than influenza. 

 

“The mortality rate is at about 3.4%,” Curran said. “The flu mortality rate is significantly lower than that at about 0.1%."

 

Thus far, cases in the Commonwealth have yet to pop in Bristol County or anywhere south of the Greater Boston area or the interior of the state.

 

"The risks are that we don't know enough about it,” Curran said. “We don't have a vaccine or treatment for the virus at this time."

Fall River City Council Ensured Net School Spending For FY-19

The Fall River City Council approved a request to move 1.8 million dollars from the city’s stabilization fund to lock up net school spending for FY-2019. 

 

One million dollars went into an employer trust fund while just over $870,000 was delivered to a school appropriation line item. 

 

This move ensured net school spending would reach 100% for FY-2019. 

 

Fall River Chief Financial Officer and the Interim City Administrator Mary Sahady explained how it was done. 

 

"We have been tracking health insurance costs for FY-2019,” she said. “We made several million dollar transfers, this being the third, from health insurance to the school department to sure up the net school spending amount. We did it so we could reach one hundred percent in net school spending."

 

Fall River City Councilor Shawn Cadime called out the prior administration to make it clear that the numbers released from the Governor’s office will never be realistic and basing projections on that is disingenuous.

 

"When the administration was committing to one-hundred and one percent, it was just false advertising,” he said. “It was just smoke and mirrors as we got from that administration.”

 

Cadime said everyone needs to keep those they put in power in check. 

 

“It was always going to be either one hundred percent or less based on what real numbers the conference committee produced,” he said. “I think it's important when we hear elected officials committing to something that we hold them accountable."

The Jasiel Correia Documentary Is To Be Called "Run This CIty"

The infamous and upcoming documentary that tells the tale of Former Recalled Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia II has found a home and a title. 

 

A new, experimental video streaming service called Quibi has decided to distribute the project titled, Run This City. The name is short for “quick bites” which will be the novelty of the platform and what will separate it from services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon which produce full-length content.

 

Quibi will release its content in bite-sized chapters, all less than ten minutes.So, we can assume the documentary will be broken up into parts over a period of time. 

 

You will only be able to experience the documentary through this app and only on your phone. The service will not be intended for your television or computer. 

 

Quibi will be available for download on April 6th. A release date of the Mark Wahlberg-produced documentary on the former mayor is unknown at this time. 

 

The director of the project is Brent Hodge, who is also co-producing.

Fall River Deputy Police Chief Wayne Furtado Retires Without Notice

Fall River Deputy Police Chief Wayne Furtado retired yesterday, according to sources with knowledge. 

 

WSAR learned Furtado, who currently is on a comp time basis until January next year, retired without notice. 

 

Fall River Deputy Police Chief Charles Cullen is now the acting Police Chief after the resignation last week of now Deputy Chief Albert Dupere.

Two Day Hearing Set In April Related To The Trial Of Jasiel Correia II

A two-day hearing is set for the morning of April 6th & 7th in Courtroom One of the Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston, in which co-defendent Gen Andrade has petitioned the court to sever her case from former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia II's.

 

The former Fall River Mayor’s trial is set to begin on May 4th. The issue of whether or not his former Chief of Staff Gen Andrade will be tried at the same time as Correia will be decided by the presiding judge in that two-day hearing in April. 

 

The Judge in the case is Douglas Woodlock. While Correia could be tried on an indictment handed up last September, he and Andrade were named as co-defendants in 6 of the 11 counts that Correia faces regarding bribery and extortion. 

 

The second, (superseding) indictment stemmed from allegations that Correia asked for and received hundreds of thousands of dollars from investors in return for recreational cannabis licenses.

Third COVID-19 Case In The Commonwealth

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed the second presumptive positive case of COVID-19 last night.

 

Testing began on February 28th. The woman in question is in her sixties and lives in Middlesex County. She traveled to Northern Italy recently and became symptomatic. She did not require hospitalization and is now recovering at home. 

 

The test will now be sent to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further confirmation. This now brings the total number of COVID-19 cases to 3 in the Commonwealth - two presumptive and one confirmed - since the U.S outbreak began in January. 

 

“We appreciate this patient’s cooperation,” Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said. “While the risk to Massachusetts remains low, residents should make sure they and their families are well-informed about COVID-19 and heed the CDC’s updated international travel health alert.”

 

As of Wednesday, 719 people have been subject to self-quarantine in Massachusetts because of COVID-19. Of those, 470 people have completed monitoring and are no longer quarantined, while 249 are currently quarantined.

 

According to the CDC, as of today, there have been 99 US cases of COVID-19 confirmed. Globally, more than 93,000 cases have been confirmed.  There have been a total of 10 deaths in the US.

 

The risk to the public remains low in Massachusetts.

Video Of Fall River's Chief Of Police Drinking On The Job

According to the Fall River Herald News, Fall River Mayor Paul Coogan has been shown video recorded by CBS 12 in Providence of Chief of Police Albert Dupere drinking with other officers.

 

The footage, which was recorded over a two-month time frame, captured Dupere along with other officers drinking at the St. James Irish Pub near Downtown Fall River.

 

Coogan told the Herald News that he is currently seeking the advice of his corporation counsel as well as reaching out to other attorneys on how best to proceed. 

 

As of now, Chief Dupere has yet to see the footage in question. It is currently in the process of being edited for broadcast. 

 

The Herald News reached out to the Police Chief. He said that he does not consume alcohol while on duty and that time is reserved for officers to accomplish various tasks. He did say that using a city-issued vehicle to travel to a pub was not the best course of action, however. 

 

Currently, Chief Dupere and the City of Fall River are working on a contract settlement in regards to over 78-thousand dollars involved in a vacation buy back issue.

The Bedford Street Police Station

The former Fall River Police Station on Bedford Street is for sale at a price tag of $81,550 with a request for proposal currently being reworked by New Bedford-based Land Attorney Matt Thomas. 

 

"I took the last R.F.P that went out on this and have been reworking it so that it's ready to be put back out,” Thomas said. “My goal is that it will go out and have a response date of April 24 allowing time for site visits on the property."

 

If acquired by that late April date, Attorney Thomas outlined how the rest of the process will be played out. 

 

"A mutually agreeable purchase and sale agreement would have to be executed by June 12 of 2020,” he said. “The property would have to be conveyed by December 31 of 2020 after due diligence."

 

The Chair of the Committee on Real Estate and Veteran Councilor Leo Pelletier said decisions have to be made soon, as it was made known the process may not be completed until 2023.  

 

"The quicker we can move, the better it will be for us,” he said. “I know we have opposition from the Preservation Society but that place has been empty for 22 years. Nothing has changed in that time. Nothing will change unless we decide to find somebody to do something with it or we knock it down."

 

Attorney Thomas went to discuss the restriction on each R.F.P of demolition and how that should be rethought this time around. 

 

"The old proposal did not allow demolition,” he said. “We've put it out four times now with a prohibition on demolition and we've come up empty. If somebody were to re-develop the building in a way that could save part of the structure, they would receive extra credits. But at this point in time, if we restrict it with no demolition allowed we'll come up empty again."

 

A tour is set for next month of the site. 

Linda Pereira Talks Fall River's CSO Project

Fall River’s CSO Project will look to modernize the city’s water delivery system as construction continues. 

 

City Councilor Linda Pereira, in a conversation with WSAR, said certain things in relation to the project were lost in translation. 

 

"Everybody translated the stormwater fee into a rainwater tax which it wasn't - it was a stormwater fee,” she said.

 

The returning councilor has also taken issue with the lack of assistance from the federal level. 

 

“With this CSO Project, I wish our congressmen and our senators and our state delegation could all get together and look at what's going on with the stormwater fee because it takes a big chunk of our budget,” Pereira said.

 

"This community was mandated to do this CSO Project," she continued. "No money came with this project and that takes a huge portion of our budget."

 

Bonds initially were used to finance construction. Once that concludes, the city will be on the hook to pay those bonds off.

Mary Sahady Talks Fall River's F-Y 2021 Budget

The construction of the budget for Fall River’s F-Y 2021 continues with early indications of a potential shortfall.

 

At a charter-mandated presentation of early looks at the budget, a $4.7 million gap was highlighted. The City’s Chief Financial Officer and Interim City Administrator said that its a bit too early for any type of paranoid concern.

 

"It's a little bit premature to be talking about the gap," Mary Sahady said. “I know it became part of the conversation because of the Charter requirement of providing a 180-day forecast to be presented before the year's end.”

 

Sahady said in their preparations for this presentation, outlooks and projections were very conservative. 

 

“We want to be as conservative as possible when we're presenting it,” she said. “So, we asked the departments their best guesses at the time of it being put together."

 

The City’s C.F.O also said that the numbers that Hope Heal Health will produce has yet to be reflected in any type of revenue projection. 

 

"We have other areas that we don't currently have factual information on,” Sahady said. “We're waiting on what the potential revenue will be from Hope Heal Health.”

 

Sahady continued, “we know what we're getting from Northeast on a monthly basis so we can make a fair estimate of what those local receipts will be but the second location hasn't even been open for a month so I'm not familiar with their receipts. We're looking into that."

 

Going forward now, Sahady said the process will continue with departments being asked of their needs. 

 

"At this point, we'll start vetting the other departments.,” she said. “We'll look at their needs and what we really need to include in the budget."

 

Contract negotiations will also be something part of the process of coming up with this budget. 

 

"At the same time, we're negotiating three contracts - police, fire and teamsters,” Sahady said. “So, that will definitely play in to where the budget ends up.”

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