When Joe Biden offered remarks on his primary victory sweep last night via a shaky video live stream from his Delaware home that had Globe columnist Scot Lehigh wondering if it was really Joe speaking “or the Biden hologram,” it was clear that this was no ordinary election night.
But you hardly needed the spectral spectacle of Biden in his Wilmington living room to know we are not in normal times.
Earlier this week, CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg chronicled the total shutdown of Boston area theaters and museums, where the time-honored adage that the “show must go on” has run headlong into the battle against global pandemic that hinges on people not congregating together in large numbers.
But when it came to yesterday’s scheduled presidential primaries in four states, the exigencies of democracy demanded that the vote go on. Or at least that democracy go three-for-four.
Ohio officials made a last-minute decision to postpone the primary there, but balloting proceeded in three other states — Arizona, Florida, and Illinois.
When it was over, Joe Biden had continued his run toward the Democratic nomination, trouncing Bernie Sanders by wide margins in all three contests. But there was no big victory party and there was hardly any sense of the usual excitement of an election night.
Which is not to say the primaries were meaningless. On the contrary, the writing is now very much on the wall. The race is essentially over. But no one knows where the next chapters of the script will take things.
The pressure will only intensify for Sanders to drop out and throw his support behind Biden and the greater cause of defeating President Trump. But Bernie’s not saying anything yet. If the math wasn’t enough to drive him out the race, the icing on the time-to-fold-’em cake should be the fact that campaigning, as we know it, has come to a virtual halt. There will no big rallies of the kind that could draw thousands of fervent Sanders backers. There will be no door-knocking missions to deploy his army of enthusiastic young volunteers.
Along with Ohio, four other states have postponed primaries that had been scheduled for the next few weeks. That will put a further damper on the nomination race, though it’s also possible it could lead Sanders to hang in there and stay in the race with a “hope for a major shift in its political fundamentals.”
After seeming to unnecessarily mix it up with Sanders during Sunday’s one-on-one debate, Biden pivoted directly to Sanders supporters his remarks last night, praising the “remarkable passion and tenacity” of the Vermont senator and his backers.
“I hear you, I know what’s at stake, I know what we have to do,” Biden said. “Our goal as a campaign, and my goal as a candidate, is to unify this party and unify this nation.”
While Biden spoke in somber tones about the public health crisis the country is facing, Democrats are gearing up for an all-out assault on Trump’s handling of the pandemic, with a straightforward string of video remarks showing the president over the last two months downplaying the crisis and offering false statements about the effort to combat it standing as Exhibit A.
But that hardly foretells a certain Democratic victory in November.
Trump is a master of rewriting the history of events and his response to them. There’s lots of time for him to try to put his initial cavalier posture well into the rearview mirror, as he’s already begun to do. And the federal government now seems likely to be cutting checks for millions of Americans, a tangible government response that could work to his benefit.
Michael Ceraso, who worked on Sanders’s 2016 campaign and served for a period as Pete Buttigieg’s New Hampshire director last year, told Politico big crises can often bolster an incumbent.
“We know we have two candidates who can pivot this generation’s largest health crisis to their policy strengths,” he said. “But history tells us that an incumbent who steers us through a challenging time, a la Bush and 9/11 and Obama and the Great Recession, are rewarded with a second term.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says his state won’t hit its peak coronavirus infection rate for 45 days, but Gov. Charlie Baker is wary of making any projections. “It’s going to come down here in Massachusetts to the work everybody does collectively to deal with social distancing and to the extent that they can possibly not be a part of the spread,” Baker said. (CommonWealth)
The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation warns that the coronavirus is likely to cut state revenues $300 to $500 million in the current fiscal year and $2 billion to $3 billion next year if the economy plunges into recession. (CommonWealth) Here are some things the state might do to cushion the economic blow to businesses and residents. (Boston Globe)
Baker makes a third attempt to kill the rumor that won’t die — that a shelter-in-place order is coming — even as New York City’s mayor says he is considering it. (CommonWealth)
Sen. Diana DiZoglio wants the Legislature to let restaurants sell alcohol with take-out food purchases, to help them stay afloat. (The Salem News)
State employees are now working remotely unless they’re essential for coronavirus response. (MassLive)
A packed homeless shelter in Brockton calls for the National Guard to deal with the coronavirus crisis. (The Enterprise)
Boston officials plan to launch “pop up” clinics to treat homeless people showing signs of coronavirus infection. (Boston Globe) The organization that runs the homeless shelter in Brockton is asking for help from the state and the Army National Guard to establish quarantine sites for the homeless. (The Enterprise)
City Halls are shutting down as municipalities find ways to offer services that don’t involve human interaction. (Eagle-Tribune)
Meanwhile, the Red Cross blood drives are being cancelled at unprecedented rates. (WGBH)
President Trump brazenly attempts to rewrite history by whitewashing his months of downplaying the seriousness of coronavirus and declaring he’s always known it was a pandemic. (New York Times)
The Trump administration is pitching a stimulus plan that could reach $1 trillion, with $250 billion in direct payments to Americans. (New York Times)
LIVING WITH CORONAVIRUS
Couples are scrambling to reschedule their weddings. (Telegram & Gazette)
Addiction support groups are moving online. (The Salem News)
MassLive debunks the false myths surrounding coronavirus.
Here’s why the public isn’t told the names of people who test positive for coronavirus. (Gloucester Daily Times)
Joe Biden wins presidential primaries in Florida, Arizona, and Illinois on Tuesday. (AP)
Campaigning in the coronavirus era is very different, but Secretary of State William Galvin says the special elections scheduled for March 31 should go on. He says voting is less dangerous than going to the supermarket. (State House News) Should the special elections scheduled for March 31 – particularly the one in the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District – continue as planned? (MassLive)
Jennifer Braceras of the Independent Women’s Law Center says it’s time to pull the plug on the Equal Rights Amendment. (CommonWealth)
Federal immigration office in Boston is shut down amid concerns about people congregating together. (CommonWealth)
Stores like Safeway, White Foods and Target are designating a shopping time for seniors vulnerable to coronavirus. (Standard-Times)
The lobster industry is hard hit by new restrictions on dining out. (Gloucester Daily Times)
Amazon has submitted plans to the Kingston Planning Board for a distribution site. (Patriot Ledger)
Funeral homes are making difficult decisions about ceremonies. (Herald News)
School shutdowns highlight the technological divide between those students who have devices to use remotely and those who don’t. (Eagle-Tribune) Faculty members are struggling with how to teach their courses online (Daily Hampshire Gazette)
The Baker administration eases a number of licensing requirements to help bring in health care reinforcements for an effort the president of Mass. General Hospital says is a “war-like” battle. (CommonWealth)
The Broad Institute wants to ride to the rescue on COVID-19 testing in Massachusetts. (CommonWealth)
A paper by British researchers offers the chilling conclusion that, unchecked, the coronavirus could kill 510,000 people in Britain and 2.2 million in the US. (Washington Post)
Hospitalizations for coronavirus begin to rise in the Boston area. (Boston Globe)
Nationally, hospitals fear they will experience a shortage of ventilators. (AP)
A privately run drive-through coronavirus testing site may shut down soon because of a lack of personal protective equipment. (The Salem News)
With blood drives cancelled, coronavirus is restricting the supply of blood. (Gloucester Daily Times)
These are the types of “non-essential” surgeries that are being rescheduled to make room for coronavirus patients. (MassLive)
The MBTA adjusts its service levels on several lines, adding more trains on the Blue Line and the E branch of the Green Line, as well as several bus routes. (WBUR).
Flights out of Worcester regional airport are feeling “surprisingly normal” according to travelers. (Telegram & Gazette)
Uber and Lyft halt shared rides in the US and Canada.(NPR)
The Central Maine Power Company hydropower plan faces an uncertain future. (The Salem News)
Law professor Noah Feldman looks at the balancing act courts must consider in order to continue holding criminal proceedings during a pandemic. (Gloucester Daily Times)
The virus puts The Barnstable County Correctional Facility on lockdown, says sheriff James Cummings. (Cape Cod Times)
Kevin Moran, the executive editor of the Berkshire Eagle, says the economic impact of the coronavirus means a smaller print newspaper and furloughs for employees over the next five weeks. (Berkshire Eagle)
Northeastern professor Dan Kennedy takes his classes online and wonders, “what’s next?” (Media Nation)