Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito exprsses appreciation for the state's first-responders and front-line health workers.
WORCESTER, Mass. — The commonwealth's first field medical station is in the works at the DCU Center in Worcester, and it likely will be the first of several around the commonwealth.
Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito were at the DCU on Wednesday afternoon to provide their daily update on the state's efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ultimately, the sports arena will hold more than 200 beds. The Massachusetts National Guard is constructing the facility in cooperation with the Army Corps of Engineers and University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center.
Baker said the Worcester site and another planned at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center are the first of the regional facilities planned as "stepdown" for patients who need care but don't need to be in an hospital and can be moved to make room for more severe cases.
"This is sort of like what I would describe as Central Mass," Baker said. "But there are going to be ultimately strategies for the Cape, for the South Coast, for Western Mass, for the Merrimack Valley and for Boston.
"Each strategy is going to be based on the existing capacity that exists in each of those places and what people's anticipated requirements in a surge are going to demand. We're going to do everything we can to make sure that we put in place the capacity that people believe they need so that not only … we can serve the people who are dealing with and battling their way through COVID, but that we also can continue to serve people we have traditionally served in our health care system."
Baker said the field medical station model created by the Army Corps is suited to an open facility like the DCU Center or the BCEC but allowed that other types of structures may be more appropriated elsewhere in the commonwealth.
"The first time the Army Corps came to meet with us, they literally showed up with a … menu of these are the things we do … and when you have an open floor plan like this, you have the flexibility to literally take one of these designs that is basically built to be built quickly to solve a particular set of problems and has been proven on a number of occasions to be successful," Baker said. "And that's a much easier answer than trying to find a way to work within the confines of the frameworks of either dormitories or hotels.
"I will say this: We expect and anticipate that in parts of Massachusetts dormitories and hotels will be used for a variety of purposes that have to do with supporting health care workers and in some cases probably will be used for isolation and quarantine opportunities. But I really think this model, because it's proven … and it's been done a lot of times successfully is probably a better way to create a step down than to try and force one into an existing structure."
Polito said the quick turnaround that produced the emergency facility in her hometown was one example of the way that Baystaters are rising to the challenge posed by the novel coronavirus.
"Like you, I wake up and feel mixed emotions, as a mother seeing my kids access their online learning or at least try to do the best they can there," Polito said. "Life has changed so much for all of us. And it's right to feel those mixed emotions when you wake up. But I will tell you — and I'm sure the governor feels the same way — there is one emotion that I feel every single day. And that is the one of feeling inspired by what we see, literally.
"That's the amazing ability for our first-responders and emergency responders to leave their families to put on gear that they wouldn't normally put on and to get out there and serve and protect the people of their community and of this commonwealth. And in particular to see the frontline medical community do amazing work without question, going into rooms with sick patients, literally coming into contact with the part of humanity that is diagnosed with this illness and helping them recover.
"It's just really, to all of us, amazing to see. I think we all feel very grateful that we have these brave men and women among us doing that work for us every single day."
Baker also used Wednesday's news conference to announce that his administration has hired former federal prosecutor Mark Pearlstein to look into the events at the Holyoke Soldier Home that led to at least six COVID-19-related deaths and the apparent delayed reporting to state authorities.
"We hired Mark Pearlstein … to conduct an independent investigation with respect to what happened and when it happened and what didn't happen and when it didn't happen in the period leading up to the discovery on Sunday night about what the state of play was there," Baker said.
The governor declined to specify a timetable for Pearlstein's probe.
"We're going to expect that Mark will be diligent, and we'll make sure that whatever he needs is available to him," Baker said. "I don't want him to rush this. I want him to get it right. And I think I speak for every single family and every single person who worked there and everybody who cares about that place. At the end of the day, what we really want is the right answer."
On other COVID-19 fronts:
♦ Baker declined to speculate on whether he would need to make a decision about extending school closures; currently they are closed until at least May 4. He expressed the hope that students across the commonwealth will have access to the remote learning options recommended by the commissioner of education.
"I think what people really ought to be focused on is a little less, ‘How do we turn summer vacation into starting tomorrow?' and more into what are we going to do to make sure that whatever happens between now and the end of June, we're doing everything we possibly can, as a commonwealth, as communities, as school districts and as schools to make sure that kids don't end up having to view this as a completely lost opportunity to grow and to continue to learn. That's my biggest concern at his point."
♦ The "essential business" closure order in effect statewide makes an exception for certain construction projects but not all construction projects, the governor clarified.
Reiterating that his administration based its list on federal guidelines, Baker noted that it specifically allowed to continue health care facilities, transportation, telecom construction and housing.
"They also said housing is essential construction because they acknowledged that this country — and this commonwealth, by the way — has a terrible housing shortage, and not to continue to complete housing projects would be a big mistake," Baker said. "What they said was non-essential was office buildings, retail and hotels, and so we basically adopted the federal standards around what was considered to be essential and what was considered to be non-essential."
And for the essential projects, the commonwealth put out a list of "stringent guidelines" that are mandatory on public projects, Baker said.
♦ The governor again stressed the importance of social distancing and why it is necessary for anyone, whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19.
"If really 20 to 25 percent of the folks who are infected with this are never going to show symptoms, it's really important that we all respect [social distancing] and do everything we can to stay away from each other," Baker said.
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Know Your Risk Tolerance at Different Stages of Life
Submitted by Edward Jones
As an investor, you will always need to deal with risk of some kind. But how can you manage the risk that has been made clear by the recent volatility in the financial markets? The answer to this question may depend on where you are in life.
Let's look at some different life stages and how you might deal with risk at each of them:
• When you are first starting out: If you are early in your career, with perhaps four or even five decades to go until you retire, you can likely afford to invest primarily for growth, which also means you will be taking on a higher level of risk, as risk and reward are positively correlated. But, given your age, you have time to overcome the market downturns that are both inevitable and a normal part of investing. Consequently, your risk tolerance may be relatively high. Still, even at this stage, being over-aggressive can be costly.
• When you are in the middle stages: At this time of your life, you are well along in your career, and you are probably working on at least a couple of financial goals, such as saving for retirement and possibly for your children's college education. So, you still need to be investing for growth, which means you likely will need to maintain a relatively high risk tolerance. Nonetheless, it's a good idea to have some balance in your portfolio, so you will want to consider a mix of investments that align with each of your goals.
• When you are a few years from retirement: Now, you might have already achieved some key goals – perhaps your kids have finished college and you have paid off your mortgage. This may mean you have more money available to put away for retirement, but you still will have to think carefully about how much risk you are willing to take. Since you’re going to retire soon, you might consider rebalancing your portfolio to include some more conservative investments, whose value is less susceptible to financial market fluctuations. The reason? In just a few years, when you are retired, you will need to start taking withdrawals from your investment portfolio – essentially, you will be selling investments, so, as much as possible, you will want to avoid selling them when their price is down. Nonetheless, having a balanced and diversified portfolio doesn't fully protect against a loss. However, you can further reduce the future risk of being overly dependent on selling variable investments by devoting a certain percentage of your portfolio to cash and cash equivalents and designating this portion to be used for your daily expenses during the years immediately preceding, and possibly spilling into, your retirement.
• When you are retired: Once you are retired, you might think you should take no risks at all. But you could spend two or three decades in retirement, so you may need some growth potential in your portfolio to stay ahead of inflation. Establishing a withdrawal rate – the amount you take out each year from your investments – that's appropriate for your lifestyle and projected longevity can reduce the risk of outliving your money. Of course, if there's an extended market downturn during any time of your retirement, you may want to lower your withdrawal rate temporarily.
As you can see, your tolerance for risk, and your methods of dealing with it, can change over time. By being aware of this progression, you can make better-informed investment decisions.
Wayne Gelinas and Lea King have been forced to shutter their Mohawk Trail eatery, at least for the time being. But they have found a way to continue business online while providing free meals to those in need.
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