An update of COVID-19 news from across New England:
Members of an advisory group on easing Connecticut’s coronavirus shutdowns are weighing what to do about schools.
The Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group plans to meet Monday to discuss the state education system and its ability to reopen.
Connecticut’s public schools closed March 17.
Late last month, Lamont, a Democrat, announced plans to begin gradually lifting restrictions on businesses and activities.
Connecticut officials released detailed protocols Friday on how restaurants, retail stores, hair salons and other businesses can reopen beginning May 20. Lamont has stressed that they don’t have to reopen if they don’t feel prepared.
On Sunday, officials announced another 35 deaths from the virus, bringing Connecticut’s total number of COVID-19 deaths to 2,967. Another 570 cases were reported Sunday for a total so far of 33,554. More than 1,200 people with the virus remain hospitalized.
Gov. Janet Mills’ ban on in-person worship services has been upheld by a federal judge who ruled that the restriction doesn’t violate the First Amendment.
Calvary Chapel in Orrington had challenged the ban in court, arguing the ban on gatherings of 10 people or more violated religious freedom. The church’s lawsuit sought to block the law so in-person Sunday services could resume.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen ruled Saturday that the temporary ban on in-person services was constitutional and that lifting it now would not be in the public interest. The ruling is in keeping with rulings in similar cases elsewhere in the country.
State officials had noted that religious groups may still hold drive-in and online services, and that the Maine Council of Churches had encouraged its members to avoid in-person services.
Calvary Chapel plans to appeal the ruling.
Maine reported 28 new cases and no additional deaths on Sunday, bringing the state’s total to more than 1,400 cases and 64 deaths.
The number of people who have died from COVID-19 in Massachusetts is approaching 5,000.
The state is likely to hit that grim milestone on Monday following Sunday’s announcement of an additional 139 deaths. That brought the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the state to 4,979.
Officials also reported another 1,050 cases to give the state a total of 77,793.
The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
Markey pushes stimulus: The federal government would send $2,000 a month to most Americans under legislation sponsored by U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, that’s intended to address the outbreak’s economic fallout.
Under the legislation, households making less than $120,000 would receive $2,000 each month. Married couples who file taxes jointly would be eligible for up to $4,000.
Markey’s cosponsors are Kamala Harris of California and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, both Democrats.
COVID closes grocery store: A Whole Foods Market in Lynnfield has temporarily shut down after several employees were diagnosed with COVID-19.
The company would not say how many employees were infected but said it will continue paying all workers impacted by the closure. Other Whole Foods locations remain open, and a company spokesperson said the Lynnfield store should reopen soon.
On Sunday, Walmart stores in Avon and Abington reopened after closing last week because of the outbreak. A third Walmart in Quincy remains closed after workers there were diagnosed with the virus. One employee died.
Dentists and oral hygienists can start to reopen this week under new rules designed to protect them and their patients from the virus.
While dental practices were never ordered closed in New Hampshire, the state’s Dental Association advised its members to cease all but emergency care. On Friday, Gov. Chris Sununu’s office released guidelines allowing them to resume practicing.
Virtual party: The outbreak forced Democrats in New Hampshire to hold their annual political convention online Saturday.
More than 3,000 people logged on to watch and participate in the event, which featured a keynote address by Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams. Several candidates for public office and elected leaders also shared remarks.
Party officials say it’s the first time a state party has held a virtual convention.
As of Sunday, more than 3,071 people in New Hampshire have been diagnosed with COVID-19, an increase of 61 from the previous day. Two more coronavirus-related deaths were reported Sunday, bringing the number of reported COVID-19 deaths in the state to 133.
Different rules about golfing during the outbreak are complicating the game at a course straddling the Rhode Island-Massachusetts border.
Golf course are now open in both states, but Rhode Island bars golfers from other states from its courses.
That’s a problem at the Pawtucket Country Club. Most of the course is in Seekonk, Massachusetts, but several holes are in Rhode Island. That means Massachusetts residents aren’t supposed to play those holes.
Another wrinkle? Massachusetts has temporarily banned the use of golf carts to encourage social distancing, while Rhode Island has not.
WCVB-TV reports the course is asking golfers from Massachusetts to follow the rules — and so far police haven’t had to take action to enforce the law.
On Sunday, the state reported 4 additional COVID-19 deaths and 285 new cases, bringing the state’s totals to 422 fatalities and 11,274 cases.
Health officials are using pop-up sites to increase the number of Vermonters tested for the coronavirus.
On Saturday, about 150 health care workers, first responders and child care professionals were tested at a pop-up site outside a state health lab in Colchester. None of those receiving tests were symptomatic.
Additional pop-up sites are planned for Bennington, Brattleboro and Hartford later this week.
The pop-up clinics are essential if the state plans to meet Gov. Phil Scott’s goal of administering 1,000 tests per day, Vermont Health Department spokesman Chad Spooner told WCAX-TV.
“It’s really important so we can trace who’s positive, and who they may have been in contact with,” Spooner said. “They’re looking to see if there are pockets of this that may be in people that are not showing any symptoms.”
On Sunday, the Vermont Department of Health reported six new positive cases of the coronavirus, for a total of 927. The total number of deaths stood unchanged at 53.