Saluting the Class of 2020 Virtually This Sunday
In our weekly Coronavirus Roundup: Virus exposes underlying societal conditions
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 week:
Health and safety is the top priority for the University all the time.
Stat of the day:
Toast the Class of 2020 virtually on Sunday
To celebrate the culmination of years of hard work alongside friends and family, BU is committed to holding an in-person Commencement for the Class of 2020 as soon as it’s feasible. But the University didn’t want to let the original date—Sunday, May 17—go unnoticed. So at 1 pm that day, graduates, family, friends, and guests are invited to an online gathering to Toast the Class of 2020. The event will be livestreamed here.
Kenneth Elmore (Wheelock’87), associate provost and dean of students, will welcome graduates. Robert Pinsky, a William Fairfield Warren Professor and former three-time US poet laureate, will share poetry, and CFA’s Moisès Fernández Via, of the Arts Outreach Initiative, will perform music at the hour-long event. A number of videos will be featured as well, including BU Today’s annual “Advice to Seniors.”
There will also be a chance for grads to virtually step on the BU Seal, a Commencement day tradition. A specially created Zoom background will allow class members to create a photo of themselves virtually stepping on the seal on Marsh Plaza. Students on the livestream will demonstrate how to keep the tradition alive in the midst of COVID-19.
Pandemic exposes underlying conditions—in society
“The richest among us have life expectancies of more than a dozen years beyond the poorest,” says Sandro Galea, School of Public Health dean and Robert A. Knox Professor, and Michael Stein, an SPH professor and chair of health law, policy, and management, in a commentary on The Hill.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare our class divides and points to the imperative of prioritizing health equity as we get past these terrible weeks and months,” they write in a column echoing their new book, Pained: Uncomfortable Conversations about the Public’s Health (Oxford University Press, 2020).
Boston and Beyond News
Governor Charlie Baker: Expanded testing first step to reopening
Expanded COVID-19 testing is key to reopening the Massachusetts economy, Baker said Thursday. The commonwealth hopes to ramp up capacity to 45,000 tests per day by the end of July and 75,000 tests daily by the end of December; currently it’s about 30,000 a day. “Expanding testing is critical to opening workplaces and businesses,” Baker said, noting that CVS is opening 10 new drive-up testing sites at stores around the state, and residents who meet testing criteria can schedule appointments starting Friday at CVS.com.
A quarter of Massachusetts workers unemployed
Job losses documented in the conventional and pandemic unemployment programs represent one-quarter of the Massachusetts civilian labor force as it stood in February, WBUR reports. In the past eight weeks, 826,013 workers have filed initial claims for conventional unemployment insurance, and more than 255,000 additional workers sought benefits in the first three weeks of the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for those not eligible for traditional unemployment benefits.
US & Global News
Whistleblower blames administration for deaths
A whistleblower ousted as the director of the federal medical research agency Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, charged on Thursday that top Trump administration officials failed to be fully truthful with the public about the COVID-19 pandemic’s severity, the New York Times reports. Rick Bright told a House subcommittee that “lives were lost” because the administration ignored his warnings and didn’t prepare the public for what was coming. If the government doesn’t create a national testing strategy and plan for more equitable distribution of critical supplies, a prolonged outbreak could lead to “the darkest winter in modern history,” Bright said. Trump called him a “disgruntled person.”
Latest count of coronavirus cases
United States, 1,401,948; Massachusetts, 82,182
Find BU Today’s latest coverage of 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.