WSAR NEWS Archives for 2020-09

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Transition to Step II of Phase III for Lower Risk Communities Effective October 5th

The Baker-Polito Administration announced that effective Monday, October 5th, lower risk communities will be permitted to move into Step II of Phase III of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan. 


All other communities will remain in Phase III, Step I. Governor Charlie Baker also issued a revised gatherings order. Industry specific guidance and protocols for a range of Phase I, II, and III businesses will also be updated.


On May 18, the Baker-Polito Administration released a four-phased plan to reopen the economy based on sustained improvements in public health data.


Last month, the Administration began releasing data on the average daily COVID cases per 100,000 residents, average percent positivity, and total case counts, for all 351 Massachusetts cities and towns.


Last month, the Administration began releasing data on the average daily COVID cases per 100,000 residents, average percent positivity, and total case counts, for all 351 Massachusetts cities and towns.


Lower risk communities are defined as cities and towns that have not been a “red” community in any of the last three weekly Department of Public Health (DPH) weekly reports.


A limited number of sectors will be eligible to reopen, with restrictions. Indoor performance venues will be permitted to open with 50% capacity with a maximum of 250 people while outdoor performance venue capacity will increase to 50% with a max of 250 people.


For arcades and indoor and outdoor recreation businesses, additional Step II activities like trampolines, obstacle courses, roller rinks and laser tag will also be permitted to open and capacity will increase to 50%.


Fitting rooms will be permitted to open in all types of retail stores. Gyms, museums, libraries and driving and flight schools will also be permitted to increase their capacity to 50%.


The limit for indoor gatherings remains at a maximum of 25 people for all communities. Outdoor gatherings at private residences and in private backyards will remain at a maximum of 50 people for all communities.


Outdoor gatherings at event venues and in public settings will have a limit of 50 people in Step I communities, and a limit of 100 people in lower risk, Step II communities.

Southern Airways extends service in New Bedford

Southern Airways Express has announced that it will be expanding daily flights on a year-round schedule as well as base its New England fleet at the New Bedford Regional Airport.


Basing includes aircraft maintenance, fueling, storage, crew basing, and additional jobs based at the airport. This move comes after a successful launch in August, in which New Bedford passenger numbers exceeded all expectations.


Southern will continue daily flights past the initial October 12 agreement with plans for future expansion.


"Southern Airways launched new service between New Bedford and Nantucket on August 26, 2020,” said Southern Airways Express Chief Commercial Officer Mark Cestari. “The initial market response to the service from the southeastern Massachusetts community has exceeded our expectations.”


“In line with that, we have decided to extend our service through this winter. We are hopeful that this will allow us to further expand here in the future,” he continued


New Bedford Airport Management has seen an increase in private and commuter flights considering the global pandemic. The airline launched in the New England market this year, and New Bedford specifically in late August.


“Southern Airways Express is a welcomed addition to our growing airport,” said Scot Servis, director of the New Bedford Regional Airport. “We encourage the public to take advantage of the commercial service options that the New Bedford Regional Airport has to offer.”


“We look forward to growing and expanding service options at the airport over the coming years,” he continued.


Southern’s new schedule, effective October 14, provides for an early morning departure from New Bedford to Nantucket and a late afternoon return.


This schedule will run Monday through Friday with t Tickets and E-Coupon Books available at

Patriots and Kansas City Opening Line

Coming off a convincing road win in Baltimore on Monday Night Football, the Kansas City Chiefs have been installed as as a 7 point home favorite over the New England Patriots this coming Sunday. 

You'll hear the game with coverage starting at 1:30pm Sunday with a 4:25pm kickoff on WSAR at 1480 and 95.9 FM. 

The Mail in Balloting Questions Continue

As thousands of mail in ballots are being delivered and processed throughout the Commonwealth this fall, with early in person balloting set for mid October Bristol Plymouth First District State Senator Mike Rodriques tells WSAR that he has unwavering confidence in how mail in balloting worked in September for the Massacusetts Primary, and will again in November in terms of the General Election.  


President Trump took a shot at Massachusetts Governor Baker on Twitter Friday Morning for defending Mail in Balloting. 








Somerset Middle School Mold

There remains concern in Somerset tonight regarding the condition of the interior of the Somerset Middle School, as the Somerset K-8 School Committee heard a presentation and then followed up with a nearly two hour discussion via Zoom on problems with mold in the building, especially in the building's locker room. 


While noting that 2019 air quality tests showed no reasons for immediate concern, there were suggestions that using air conditioners and dehumidifiers would help the situation, as the district seeks state dollars for a new middle school.  









State Agricultural Officials Urge Residents to Report Signs of Invasive Spotted Lanternfly

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources announced that it has identified two dead specimens of the spotted lanternfly in Massachusetts communities, and is urging residents to report any sign of the invasive pest.


The specimens were recovered in the towns of Milford and Norwood, and were brought into Massachusetts on materials shipped from Pennsylvania counties currently under a spotted lanternfly quarantine.


Residents who received goods or materials, such as plants, landscaping materials, or outdoor furniture, from a state with a known spotted lanternly infestation such as Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia are being urged to carefully check the materials, including any packaging, for signs of spotted lanternfly.


“These most recent finds call attention to the fact that there are many ways that spotted lanternfly can travel here from other states,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. 


“Early detection plays an important role in the protection of our state’s economic and ecological resources from invasive species, and we ask anyone who may have received shipments of wood, ornamental plants, or any other materials from Pennsylvania or other Northeastern states to help protect the natural resources and agricultural industries of Massachusetts by checking for and reporting any signs of spotted lanternfly.”


Because no live lanternflies have yet been found in Massachusetts, there is currently no evidence that SLF has become established in the Commonwealth. As a precaution, surveys are planned in the areas where the insects were found, to confirm that no live populations are present.


If any indication of SLF is found, residents should take a photo or collect the specimen, and report any potential sightings of the pest using MDAR’s online reporting form. 


Residents should look for large, gray insects, about one inch long, with black spots and red underwings, or inch-long, rectangular yellowish-brown egg masses covered with a gray waxy coating. Egg masses may be found on any flat surface.

Baker-Polito Administration Announces New Indoor Visitation Guidance for Nursing Homes, Rest Homes, and Assisted Living Residences

The Baker-Polito Administration announced new guidance allowing for safe indoor visitation to resume in nursing homes and rest homes, and further expands indoor visitation options in assisted living residences.


The guidance from the Department of Public Health and the Executive Office of Elder Affairs balances the important role visitation plays in supporting resident emotional health and quality of life, while ensuring necessary infection control measures are in place, according to the Baker-Polito Administration. 


Nursing homes and rest homes may resume in-person visits so long as appropriate infection control and safety measures are in place. 


Some of those measures include indoor visit only being allowed  within a designated visitation space that is close to the entrance of the facility and allows for social distancing.


The visitor must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and have their temperature checked, as well as remain 6 feet away from the resident for the majority of the visit. Residents, staff, and visitors must wear a mask or face covering for the duration of the visit.


There may be physical contact between the resident and visitor so long as precautionary measures are followed such as hand sanitation before and after contact. 


The unit, floor, or care area where the resident lives must not have any COVID-19 cases in residents or staff in the past 14 days and the facility is not experiencing a staffing shortage that requires a contingency staffing plan


Assisted living facilities are subject to the same safety measures described above, except for the requirement that there are no COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days.


The state is also imploring that  a schedule be implemented for frequent disinfection of the designated visitation space. These new measures will take effect Friday September, 28 2020. 

Early Balloting in October

The City of Fall River will provide you as a voter with 14 consecutive days of Early Balloting opportunities starting on Saturday October 17 and concluding on Friday October 30 in the Government Center Atrium. 


Balloting will happen on a pair of weekends , while the Atrium in Government Center will be available from 9 to 5 Monday through Thursday and 9 till 2 on Friday. 


All 351 Massachusetts cities and towns will offer early balloting options in advance of November 3rd, and you can also drop off your mail in ballot during early balloting. 






Trump Takes Aim At Charlie

After Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker defended the concept of mail in balloting, which helped lead to a record primary turnout in September, President Trump tweeted Friday Morning that Baker was a RINO,  and in regards to mail in ballots, ''there is fraud being found all over the place''.


President Trump has indicated he will likely challenge election results as mail in balloting is being used an alternative to in person balloting as a result of the Covid 19 Virus.  







JKIII Proposes a Limit on SUPCO

Massachusetts Fourth District Congressman Joseph Kennedy III, along with a pair of House Co Sponsors is introducing a piece of legislation that would try to restore a sense of balance to the High Court. 


A Term Limits Act would seek to establish 18 year term limits on future Justices approved, if the bill became law. 


A provision would allow former justices to serve on lower courts if they wished. 


Staggered terms would allow future Presidents to appoint at least two new justices in a four year term. 








Baker-Polito Administration Announces New Grant Program to Help Stop the Spread of COVID-19 in Communities of Color

The Baker-Polito Administration announced a new  $650,000 grant program on Wednesday to help prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in communities of color. 


The grant is open to applicants until October 14, and will be made available to faith-based organizations and community groups serving Black, Latinx and other people of color in cities and towns hardest hit by COVID-19.


COVID-19 data indicate that infection and death rates are disproportionately high among Black and Latinx populations, and other communities of color. 


Due to under-investment and historical lack of opportunity, communities of color suffer the long-term health consequences of systemic racism and also experience disproportionate impacts related to COVID-19.


The COVID-19 Community Grant Program is designed to support community-based and faith-based organizations in raising awareness around best practices families and individuals can take to be safe and stop the spread. 


The program is administered by Health Resources in Action, in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Grants are expected to be in the range of $10,000 to $50,000 per organization for a funding period of November 2020 through February 2021.

Special District Meeting In Swansea Set For Next Week

A Citizens Petition in Swansea was submitted to the Swansea Water District on September 1st calling for a Special District Meeting regarding an audit and examination of the Swansea Water District financial records. 


Swansea residents will vote at the special meeting to require the commissioners to hire an independent accounting firm who specializes in municipal finances to conduct an audit of the Swansea Water District’s financial record from 2010 to present. 


The entire cost of the audit must be paid for by the Swansea Water District. This will be labeled as article five on the meeting’s agenda. 


Article one asks for a vote to appoint a moderator for the purposes of the special meeting only. Article two will ask for a vote to raise, appropriate or transfer a sum of money to meet the expense of maintaining wellfields. 


Article three will ask to vote to raise, appropriate or transfer a sum of money to for the expenses of maintenance and improvements to water storage tanks. 


Article four will see if the District will vote to raise, appropriate or transfer money for new well construction expenses. 


The Special District Meeting will happen on September 28, 2020 and meet in the Venus de Milo facility to act on the five articles.

UMass Dartmouth Leduc Center for Civic Engagement partners with Jumpstart for Young Children

The Leduc Center at UMass Dartmouth has recently started a Jumpstart for Young Children program that will pair 30 UMass Dartmouth students as tutors and mentors with 100 Pre-K children at People Acting in Community Endeavors (PACE) Head Start in New Bedford. 


Jumpstart—a national early education organization—believes that all children have the potential to succeed and advances equitable learning outcomes for young children in underserved communities through a combination of high-quality programming, advocacy, and leadership.


“In the face of COVID-19 and extended out-of-school time,” said Jumpstart CEO Naila Bolus, “Jumpstart is proud to be able to partner with UMass Dartmouth to support local children and communities hit hardest by gaps in access to critical early learning opportunities.”


Teams of 5-7 Jumpstart Corps Members will spend between 200 and 300 hours during the school year with PACE Head Start, ensuring children develop key kindergarten readiness skills. 


Jumpstart Corps Members reduce the student-to-teacher ratio to 3:1 in every Jumpstart classroom, allowing children to receive an individualized learning experience and develop nurturing relationships with caring adults.


“I am excited that UMass Dartmouth is continuing to partner with regional organizations to strengthen the economic, cultural, and most importantly, educational aspirations of the SouthCoast,” said UMass Dartmouth Acting Chancellor Mark Preble.


 “With Jumpstart, our students are learning valuable skills for their future while making a difference in the lives of young children in the region,” he continued. 


The program, typically delivered in person, is scheduled to begin virtually this fall.


“Jumpstart is a great resource for PACE’s Head Start program. For many months, we have been unable to have any volunteers work with our programs due to COVID-19,” said Pam Kuechler, Executive Director of PACE, Inc., a private, non-profit, community based, anti-poverty agency serving the Greater New Bedford area. 


“This program allows these dedicated volunteers an opportunity to virtually contribute to the success of our students during this time and beyond,” she continued.

New Bedford Firefighter Tests Positive for COVID-19

Last week, one New Bedford firefighter tested positive for COVID-19.


After that firefighter’s interaction with colleagues and potential exposure, 22 firefighters were required to self-quarantine pending the results of their COVID-19 tests.


All 22 firefighters who self-quarantined have now tested negative, and can be cleared to return to duty.

Baker-Polito Administration Urges Massachusetts Residents to Get Flu Vaccination

The Baker-Polito Administration is urging residents to get vaccinated now against influenza to protect themselves, their families, and prevent the spread of flu to keep residents healthy and ease the strain on healthcare systems caring for people with COVID-19.


“It is more important than ever for people to get a flu shot this year as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic,’’ Governor Charlie Baker said. “If more people are vaccinated against the flu, this will not only help reduce the spread of flu but also the impact of flu-related illness on healthcare facilities, resources and staff involved in the treatment of COVID patients.”


Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito, and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders visited a CVS Pharmacy this week in Roslindale to receive flu shots and highlight the importance of getting vaccinated this year. 


“All residents of Massachusetts should get a flu vaccine this year to help lessen the burden on the Commonwealth’s health care system as we continue to respond to COVID-19,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Getting a flu shot is one way residents can protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities in the months ahead.”


CVS also announced today it is expanding COVID-19 testing sites at several of its locations across Massachusetts beginning tomorrow.


Last month, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a requirement that all students attending kindergarten through college must have a flu immunization by December 31.. 


The requirement also applies to children over six months of age attending child care. Exemptions may be made for medical or religious reasons.


“This season we have focused efforts to obtain additional flu vaccines because of the new school policy for students and knowing this flu season overlaps with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Secretary Sudders. “We encourage everyone over six months to get a flu shot as soon as possible.”


In addition, the state adopted a policy, based on the federal PREP Act, which enables qualified pharmacy staff to administer a flu shot to children as young as three years old. The previous minimum age in Massachusetts was nine.


In anticipation of increased demand for flu shots this year, public health officials have been working to increase the vaccine supply. Over the past several years, DPH has purchased approximately 900,000 doses annually. This year the Commonwealth will receive 1,156,000 doses, a 28 percent increase.


“In Massachusetts, 81 percent of children ages 6 months through 17 years had a flu vaccination during the 2018-2019 flu season, making our flu vaccination rates among children and adolescents among the highest in the nation,” said Dr. Larry Madoff, Medical Director of the DPH Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences. 


“But we need people of all ages to be vaccinated to help protect friends and family members from getting the flu,” he continued.

Massachusetts Announces Extension of Administrative Tax Relief for Local Businesses

The Baker Administration is extending the administrative tax relief measures for local business that were implemented by the COVID-19 pandemic.


“Our Administration is committed to supporting local businesses and Main Street economies recovering from the impact of COVID-19, and we’re glad to work with our legislative colleagues on this additional measure to provide administrative tax relief,” said Governor Charlie Baker. 


“Extending the tax relief measures we put into place earlier this year will help support companies across Massachusetts including small businesses in the restaurant and hospitality industries,” he continued. 


This will include the extension of the deferral of regular sales tax, meals tax and room occupancy taxes for small businesses from March 2020 through April 2021. Instead, they will be due in May 2021. 


“Providing this tax relief is an important step to support local businesses throughout Massachusetts and we are glad to work with our legislative colleagues on this important issue,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. 


“This extension allows certain local companies to defer remitting regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes, an important tax relief measure for businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” she continued.


Businesses that collected less than $150,000 in regular sales plus meals taxes in the twelve month period ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief for sales and meals taxes.


While businesses that collected less than $150,000 in room occupancy taxes in the twelve month period ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief with respect to room occupancy taxes. For these small businesses, no penalties or interest will accrue during this extension period.


For businesses with meals tax and room occupancy tax obligations that do not otherwise qualify for this relief, late-file and late-pay penalties will be waived during this period. 


“The Senate is committed to further assisting our restaurant and hospitality industries hit hard by COVID-19,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka. “As we continue to safely reopen and recover, we will work with our partners in the Administration and the House to mitigate the economic distress felt by local businesses brought on by the unprecedented public health crisis.”


The Department of Revenue will issue emergency regulations and a Technical Information Release to implement these administrative relief measures.


“As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to affect our economy, the House is proud of its ongoing efforts to reinforce restaurants, such as its passage of a restaurant recovery package thanks to the work of Chair Michlewitz and the membership,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. 


“We support the deferral of tax collections as it will provide a clear business pathway, especially to our restaurant and hospitality industries,” DeLeo said.

Weymouth Woman Charged In Connection To Ongoing Attleboro Homicide

The Bristol County District Attorney’s Office has announced that a 20-year old Weymouth woman was arrested yesterday in connection with the ongoing investigation into the Friday afternoon fatal stabbing in Attleboro. 


Attleboro Police along with Rhode Island State Police took Kayla Cantu into custody without incident on Sunday. She is charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon following the fatal stabbing of 28-year old Kimberly Duphily. 


Cantu has waived rendition in Rhode Island and will be arraigned at some point today in Attleboro District Court. 


SInce the defendant has yet to be arraigned in open court, no further information on the charge against her can be released at this time. The investigation is open and active. 


Attleboro Police received multiple 9-1-1 calls just before 4 p.m on Friday in regards to a situation on Leroy Street. When they first arrived on scene, responders found the victim bleeding profusely. 


28-year old Kimbery Duphily was later identified as an Attleboro resident and rushed to Sturdy Memorial Hospital on Friday. She was pronounced deceased shortly after.

State Public Health Officials Announce Season's Fourth Human Case of EEE in the Commonwealth

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced that lab testing confirmed the season’s fourth human case of the EEE virus. 


The latest victim is a female in her 60’s who was exposed in Plymouth County. The risk level there has been raised to high. 


Across the Commonwealth, there are now four municipalities at critical risk, 10 at high risk, and 18 at moderate risk for EEE.


The D-P-H said that mosquito populations are declining and most virus transmission occurs in humans before mid-September. However, there is still some risk until the first hard frost of the year. 


DPH continues to work with the local health departments and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources to coordinate mosquito surveillance and appropriate public health response activities.


There have been three other human cases identified this year. In 2019, there were 12 human cases of EEE in Massachusetts with 6 deaths.


EEE virus has been found in 65 mosquito samples this year, over 70 percent of them in species of mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people.

Patients & Caregivers Regain Access to Testing for Homemade Cannabis Products

MCR Labs in Framingham has completed upgrades to their facility and procedures in order to resume allowing medical cannabis home growers to safely visit their offices and submit sample testing. 


The state restricted access during the pandemic for the last several months because of COVID-19. 


“We can only accept samples here at our office since it is not federally legal to ship cannabis,” said Michael Kahn, MCR Labs President. “Many of our clients--our friends--are battling illnesses that put them at greater risk, we decided it best to pause and implement changes that minimize any potential risk for those who rely on us to confirm their cannabis is safe.”


Prior to the shutdown in March, MCR Labs processed an average of 413 samples per month for their clients. 


In preparation for fully reopening, the organization has taken the several actions to ensure safety at their Framingham facility. 


Sample submission will be by appointment-only to limit on-site traffic. The installation of UV lights are HEPA air filters to eliminate surface and airborne pathogens. 


The reception desk is now equipped with barriers and safety glass for contact-free sample submission. The staff will receive a health screening with temperature checks as well as masks being required for all staff and visitors. 


“Public safety is always our primary focus, and we rely on science to achieve that,” said Scott Churchill, MCR Labs Director of Scientific Operations.“We looked at evidence-based ways to prevent COVID exposure and went above and beyond to create the safest environment possible for all of our clients.”

Patients, caregivers and home growers can now set up an appointment to submit samples by visiting or by calling their office at (508) 872-6666 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.