PORTLAND, Maine — A look at developments around New England related to the coronavirus pandemic:

 

NEW HAMPSHIRE

A few hundred demonstrators cheered and waved signs outside the New Hampshire State House on Saturday during a call to reopen the state.

Members of the crowd carried signs with slogans such as “Live Free or Die,” the state’s motto. Others included “Restore Jobs” and “Kiss My Constitution.”

One demonstrator, talk show host Ian Freeman, said the government was guilty of fear-mongering over the state of the virus, and it was time to restore individual rights.

“Even if the virus were 10 times as dangerous as it is, I still wouldn’t stay inside my home. I’d rather take the risk and be a free person,” he said.

New Hampshire has had nearly 1,300 cases of the virus and more than three dozens deaths through Friday.

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The ACLU of New Hampshire and national ACLU said they have filed a class action lawsuit in federal court seeking the release of all Immigration and Customs Enforcement civil detainees from Strafford County Department of Corrections in Dover. The ACLU said it’s impossible to maintain safe social distance at the facility.

 

MASSACHUSETTS

Physicians with Massachusetts General Hospital said they’ve found widespread evidence of exposure to the new coronavirus in a small Boston-area city.

Nearly a third of 200 Chelsea residents who gave a drop of blood to researchers this week tested positive for antibodies linked to the virus, the Boston Globe reported. The participants seemed to be healthy, but half told doctors they experienced at least one symptom in the past four weeks.

Massachusetts has been hit hard by the virus. More than 1,500 people have died, and a total of 36,372 people have tested positive for the virus. The state hit a new high for deaths in a single day on Friday with 159.

Dr. John Iafrate, vice chairman of MGH’s pathology department and the study’s principal investigator, told the Globe that Chelsea is in the midst of a “raging epidemic,” but is also probably further along in the outbreak than other communities.

 

MAINE

The state’s largest city is backing off restrictions on non-essential businesses that prohibited them from shipping items or allowing curbside pickup.

Portland officials initially said non-essential businesses would be limited to administrative functions. Many business owners complained the new rules were punitive, and the City Council is scheduled to hold a remote emergency meeting on the subject on Monday.

The city is also scheduled to consider whether to extend a stay-at-home order that lasts to April 27.

Maine has had 847 people test positive for the virus and 32 deaths.

 

VERMONT

Vermont’s largest city has closed some roads to vehicular through traffic to make it easier for residents to maintain social distance.

City officials told NECN that the initiative is being rolled out in phases. Mayor Miro Weinberger said the goal of the initiative is to allow residents to get outside and enjoy the outdoors while doing it safely.

Vermont has had at least 779 virus positive tests and 35 deaths.

 

CONNECTICUT

The state is now over 1,000 deaths due to the new coronavirus. Gov. Ned Lamont said the total number of cases statewide was approaching 17,000 on Friday evening.

The hardest hit county in the state is Fairfield County, which borders New York. Lamont has required cloth face coverings in public starting on April 21.

 

RHODE ISLAND

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said the state will reopen its economy in phases. She said the phase-in will put a premium on supporting small businesses as well as bigger employers.

Raimondo also said the state has prepared guidelines for who will get hospital care and equipment in the event of shortages. The Providence Journal reported Raimondo said she’s confident it won’t come to that, but the state needs to be prepared for it.

Rhode Island has had more than 100 deaths due to the virus.


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