- Associated Press - Monday, November 16, 2020

BOSTON (AP) - The Massachusetts House is experiencing an uptick in the number of lawmakers and staffers testing positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Three Massachusetts House lawmakers and four legislative employees have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past several days, according to a series of emails sent to House members and staff by Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo over the weekend.

Two of the members and two of the employees were at the Statehouse last week when the House was debating its version of the state budget.

DeLeo declined to name the members who had tested positive. Any representative or staffer who came in close contact with those who tested positive has been personally notified, he said.

All offices used by the House members or employees who tested positive and were in the building last week will receive a comprehensive environmental cleaning before members and employees will be permitted to return to those spaces, DeLeo said.



“We fully understand that, for some, receiving an email of this nature can cause anxiety. Our intent is not to cause anxiety, but rather, as previously promised, to provide you with updated information that may help you,” DeLeo wrote.

The cases come as Massachusetts is experiencing a second surge in the number of coronavirus cases.

“We will very likely have more self-reported cases from members and employees in the coming days and weeks,” DeLeo added.

Much of the House budget debate was being conducted virtually. During a typical House budget debate, all 160 House members, staffers, lobbyists, members of the public, and reporters would be crowded into the Statehouse.

The Senate is planning to debate its version of the budget beginning on Tuesday.

Democratic Senate President Karen Spilka said she recently learned a Senate member had also tested positive for the virus.

Spilka said the member was last in the Statehouse in early October and will participate in the budget debate remotely. She did not name the senator.

“Members are strongly encouraged to participate remotely this week. I urge members to require their staff to work remotely.” Spilka said in an email to senators and staff.

Spilka also said senators will not be allowed to enter the chamber except to deliver imminent remarks and will be asked to leave after finishing their remarks.

The Statehouse remains closed to the public during the ongoing pandemic.

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BEANPOT CANCELED

The 2021 men’s and women’s Beanpot tournaments that feature Boston’s four major college hockey programs has been canceled because of the pandemic, organizers said Monday.

The tournaments were scheduled for early February.

“The Beanpot, TD Garden’s annual college hockey tournament, will not be played in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” arena management said in a statement. “We look forward to hosting the 69th Beanpot tournament in 2022.”

The tournament that dates to 1952 pits the teams from Harvard, Boston University, Boston College and Northeastern.

Northeastern won both the men’s and women’s Beanpot titles last season.

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VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS

The coronavirus continued it steady increase in Massachusetts on Monday with 12 new confirmed coronavirus deaths and nearly 1,970 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The new deaths pushed the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 10,110 and its confirmed caseload to nearly 184,500.

The true number of cases is likely higher because studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.

There were more than 780 people reported hospitalized Monday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, and nearly 160 in intensive care units.

The number of probable or confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported in long-term care facilities rose to 6,600.

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WESTFIELD STATE CLOSES DORMS

Another Massachusetts college announced Monday that it is moving all classes for the remainder of the semester online and closing its dormitories in response to greater risk from the coronavirus.

Westfield State University in a statement said a controlled move-out of its residence halls would start Tuesday and last until Nov. 22. University housing will not reopen until the spring semester begins Jan. 19.

Interim President Roy Saigo called it a difficult decision, but added that “we are at a critical juncture as the health and safety of our campus community is our top priority.”

Earlier this month, Westfield State instituted a two-week shelter-in-place order for residential students following a round of coronavirus testing.

“I regret the collective disappointment these changes for the remaining semester bring to all students and their families, as well as to faculty and staff,” Saigo said.

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Associated Press reporter Mark Pratt contributed to this report.

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