Coronavirus: BU Friday Roundup
BU, Boston, state, national, and global updates
If you have a question or comment related to BU and its response to the COVID-19 crisis, on the subject of the move-out, remote learning, retrieving personal belongings, or anything else, please visit Boston University’s special COVID-19 website. Questions are being answered there by specific departments in a timely fashion. Thank you.
—Doug Most, executive editor, BU Today
Quote of the day:
Gag and vote for it anyway.
Stat of the day:
Reminder: BU will refund room and board charges
President Robert A. Brown announced March 17 that room and board “costs will be prorated for the remainder of the semester for all students leaving campus.” The announcement followed BU’s decision to extend remote teaching and learning for the duration of the semester and to have all students, except for exceptional cases, leave campus by March 22.
You’ll still be able to get a room refund even if you leave items in the residence halls. The University will share more information on prorated refunds soon.
Your remaining items are secure in your room. Log in to the “My Housing Portal” and fill out the “Personal Belongings Storage Information” application, and we will be in touch shortly to organize a conversation about shipping or storage at our cost.
Parking & Transportation Services shifts business procedures
Until further notice, Parking & Transportation Services will conduct all business via phone, email, and mail during regular business hours (Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm). The office will not be open for in-person transactions. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call 617-353-2160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Find more information here.
Dining Services complies with state dining restrictions
Following Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s coronavirus-related orders on restaurants and other dining establishments, BU Dining Services is observing the following practices through Saturday, March 21:
- Guests will not be allowed to dine in, including in residence dining rooms, cafés, or restaurants.
- Residence dining rooms will limit attendance to no more than 25 guests at a time. Guests will be asked to use designated entrance and exit pathways.
- All meals will be served in disposable takeout containers.
- Self-serve stations remain fully paused.
Hours of operation beginning Sunday, March 22 will be found here.
Boston and Beyond News
Grocery sellers offer special senior hours, limit purchases
Market Basket, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, and other grocery sellers in Massachusetts have begun various pandemic protocols: early-morning, seniors-only shopping hours on certain days; reduced hours in general; and restricted purchases of certain items.
The moves combat the stripped-shelves syndrome of shoppers hoarding items from food and toilet paper to surgical masks.
A list, by grocery chain, of new hours and other restrictions is here. The list mentions those stores that also have suspended food and drink sampling, while offering special hours for shopping by seniors, who are especially at risk of death from the virus.
Single-day unemployment claims surpass all claims in February
Unemployment claims in Massachusetts skyrocketed Monday, March 16, as businesses shuttered for the pandemic. The commonwealth reported 19,884 claims that one day, surpassing the 17,382 filed during the entire month of February.
The commonwealth has waived the normal one-week waiting period for collecting benefits. Find more information about benefits and COVID-19 here.
Boston helps homeless during pandemic
Mayor Martin Walsh says the city is finalizing setting up tents for virus screening and testing of homeless residents behind Boston Health Care for the Homeless, at 780 Albany Street, and at the city’s Engagement Center, 112 Southampton Street.
On another front, the mayor announced that the city won’t ticket or tow cars during street cleaning, but that all other parking restrictions remain in effect.
Massachusetts ramps up coronavirus testing
Governor Baker this week toured Quest Diagnostics in Marlborough; the firm says it will shortly be conducting 2,000 to 3,000 daily tests for COVID-19, and 20,000 tests nationally by March 21. The commonwealth’s goal is to reach 3,500 daily tests by state, commercial, and academic facilities by the end of this week. It’s part of what Baker promises will be an “enormous increase” in testing in the coming weeks.
Anatomy of a ghost town
This one’s a keeper to show the grandkids when they ask what living through the pandemic was like: the Boston Globe published an eerie video by drone of the normally bustling city, hollowed out of its people. Watch here.
US & Global News
Many young adults hospitalized
Young people who’ve been gathering publicly in the belief the virus is a threat to their elders only are paying the price. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 38 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations for the month ending March 16 were those under age 55.
Seniors are more likely to die from the illness; even so, younger adults are filling ICUs in Europe as well as here, seriously sickened by the virus. Meanwhile, a New Jersey family reported especially tragic news: COVID-19 has killed a mother and two of her 55-or-under children, neither of whom reportedly had underlying health problems.
The White House point woman for coronavirus response says enlisting millennials especially is essential to defeating the illness. They are the most prevalent age group in dense cities prone to illness, Deborah Birx told ABC News.
“The millennials are incredibly good about getting information out in a clear way, but more importantly, they are incredibly good about understanding how to protect one another, how to protect their parents, and how to protect their grandparents,” she said.
Trump signs rescue package for the US economy
The president inked a plan with paid sick leave, free COVID-19 testing, unemployment benefits, and health care and food for viral victims—and there’s more to come.
The White House and Congress are working on separate legislation to mail checks to Americans to help tide them over and to make loans to businesses, including airlines. The Treasury Department is pushing a plan to mail the checks April 6 and May 18.
Budget hawks may have supported the rescue package in part because two of Congress’ own have been stricken with the coronavirus.
California on lockdown
Forty million people have been ordered to stay at home in the Golden State, the nation’s largest, by Gov. Gavin Newsom, to halt the virus’s spread.
Virus news: hopeful and despairing, depending on location
Hope emerged in China, where the outbreak began last year and which reported no new homegrown cases Thursday.
One day later, despair came out of Italy, one of the nations hardest hit by COVID-19. The government announced that the nation lapped China for fatalities from the disease. There have been 3,405 deaths in Italy, compared with about 3,300 in China.
US to Americans abroad: get home or stay put safely
Elevating its global travel alert to the highest, Level 4, the State Department has advised Americans abroad to either come home or stay where they are.
The suggestion (not a mandate) follows stories of travelers stuck in the process of getting home because of border closings or flight route cancellations. President Trump said the military will work to bring home stranded Americans.
The residential portion of all spring BU Study Abroad programs had already been canceled before the Level 4 advisory, and efforts have been underway, and continue, to help students return to their homes.
Latest count of coronavirus cases
United States, 9,416; Massachusetts, 328
Find FAQs about BU’s response to the pandemic here. The University’s hotline for faculty, staff, students, and visiting scholars to call for referral of their virus-related medical concerns is 617-358-4990.