MORE TOUGH NUMBERS FOR BAKER — Gov. Charlie Baker’s falling approval rating continues to raise eyebrows.

The governor’s overall approval has dropped by 26 percentage points since August, according to a UMass Amherst poll released Monday. That’s on top of a portion of the same poll that showed shrinking approval for how Baker is handling the coronavirus pandemic, which Playbook noted yesterday.

Baker’s approval rating was at 52 percent among Massachusetts residents at the beginning of March, down from 78 percent in August, according to the poll. Still, the governor beat several Democrats — Attorney General Maura Healey, former Rep. Joe Kennedy III, gubernatorial candidate Ben Downing, and others — in hypothetical head-to-head match-ups for next year’s race for governor.

Compare that to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, another popular blue-state Republican governor. Baker’s numbers have dropped more significantly than those of his Maryland counterpart. One thing to note: Baker hasn’t said whether he’ll run for a third term. Hogan, on the other hand, is subject to term limits and can’t run again next year.

Hogan’s approval among Maryland residents dipped from 71 percent in October to 65 percent in late February, according to a recent Goucher College poll. The similarities between the two governors are easy to spot. Baker and Hogan have taken similar steps to reopen schools and businesses, while they both have kept mask orders and social distancing recommendations in place.

Massachusetts is actually ahead of Maryland in its pace for Covid-19 vaccinations — the Bay State has given at least one shot to 25 percent of the population, while Maryland has given 22 percent of residents a dose of the vaccine. Maryland, which has about 850,000 fewer residents than Massachusetts, has seen about half as many Covid-19 deaths over the course of the pandemic.

Governors all over the country have seen their approval ratings decline amid the pandemic. They’ve been forced to make tough decisions that turned life upside down. But Baker’s approval rating has fallen particularly quickly, especially for someone who ranked for years as the most popular governor in America.

And pressure on Baker over his handling of the pandemic doesn’t seem to be letting up — Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch issued a rare rebuke yesterday of the MBTA and the governor for how the agency is handling federal Covid-19 relief funds, and Big Pharma is hitting back after Baker criticized the pace of vaccine manufacturing.

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TODAY — Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark hosts a virtual press conference to introduce the Child Care is Infrastructure Act. Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius is a guest on WBUR.

– “Known active COVID cases increased slightly as state reports 1,004 cases, 28 deaths on Monday,” by Tanner Stening, “State health officials confirmed another 1,004 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, which is based on 36,564 new molecular tests, according to the Department of Public Health. Officials also announced another 28 COVID-related fatalities, bringing the death toll from the pandemic to 16,339.”

– “Legislative leaders are quiet about new bill to override Baker on school return timeline,” by Emma Platoff, Boston Globe: “State lawmakers could turn those rebukes into legislative action by passing a new bill to delay Baker’s timetable for school reopenings by several weeks and mandate that all school staff have ‘equitable access’ to vaccines before they’re required to return. But so far, few seem eager to do so.”

– “Mass. teachers unions back proposed delay of return to classroom,” The Associated Press: “The leaders of three Massachusetts teachers unions are supporting emergency legislation filed by state lawmakers that would require the state’s education commissioner to give school districts more time to prepare for the return of elementary school students to full-time, in-person lessons.”

– “Attleboro area state rep hoping to delay school openings,” by George W. Rhodes, Sun Chronicle: “State Rep. Jim Hawkins, D-Attleboro, is co-sponsoring a bill to delay the return of public school students to full-time, in-person learning until all teachers and other staff can be vaccinated against coronavirus.”

– “Massachusetts Senate could soon waive taxes on forgiven PPP loans, again advances sweeping climate bill,” by Erin Tiernan, Boston Herald: “State senators signaled they will soon take up a bill that would save small businesses $130 million in taxes owed on forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loans and, for a fourth time this year, passed a sweeping climate bill.”

– “MassHealth sleep studies under scrutiny,” by Christian M. Wade, CNHI News: “The state’s Medicaid program is paying tens of millions of dollars on sleep studies, according to a new report by the inspector general that suggests providers may be fleecing the state and federal government.”

– “Some New Parents In Mass. Are Eligible To Take Parental Leave Twice. But They Might Not Know About It,” by Gabrielle Emanuel, GBH News: “The state is rolling out a new law that guarantees most employees in Massachusetts paid family and medical leave. Starting Jan. 1, new parents became eligible for three months of paid leave any time within the first year of their child’s life. Going forward, the state leave — called ‘bonding leave’ — will typically run at the same time as the three-month leave guaranteed to new parents by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).”

– “Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Coalition calls on lawmakers to ‘do the right thing’ and support $400 million bond bill,” by Erin Tiernan, Boston Herald: “Members of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Coalition will urge lawmakers to “do the right thing” during a Tuesday hearing and pass a $400 million bond bill that will cover the costs of rebuilding a safer facility than the aging home where 77 veterans have died of coronavirus over the past year.”

– “Looking forward: The millionaire’s tax in a post-pandemic Mass.,” by Isabel Contreras, Daily Hampshire Gazette: “As Massachusetts residents and legislators continue to acclimate to the new normal in the year since the pandemic started, some are turning their attention back to a hot topic that has been debated for years – the ‘millionaire’s tax.’”

– “State Police were offered COVID-19 vaccines at work. Hundreds have declined to get them,” by Matt Stout and Dasia Moore, Boston Globe: “Thirty percent of the Massachusetts State Police, totaling nearly 850 members in all, have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 at department-run clinics, reflecting a potential hesitancy that has lingered even among front-line law enforcement who interact with the public.”

– “Walsh says 13% of Boston residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” by Travis Andersen, Boston Globe: “Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Monday that 13 percent of Boston residents were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of March 10. Walsh, speaking during a briefing with US Representative Stephen F. Lynch on the COVID-19 rescue plan, provided the 13 percent figure and said 23 percent of city residents age 16 or older had received at least one dose of the vaccine as of March 10.”

– “In Massachusetts, more than half of prison guards decline COVID vaccine, a trend mirrored across the US,” The Associated Press: “In Massachusetts, more than half the people employed by the Department of Correction declined to be immunized. A statewide survey in California showed that half of all correction employees will wait to be vaccinated. In Rhode Island, prison staff have refused the vaccine at higher rates than the incarcerated, according to medical director Dr. Justin Berk.”

– “Boston councilors want to make remote participation in meetings permanent,” by Danny McDonald, Boston Globe: “Looking to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, a pair of Boston city councilors are pushing to make remote, virtual participation in public hearings and meetings a permanent fixture of city government. Councilors Lydia Edwards and Liz Breadon will introduce an ordinance at the council’s Wednesday meeting.”

– “Walsh Bumps Up Outdoor Dining Launch For Boston Restaurants,” by Saraya Wintersmith, GBH News: “Boston restaurants can offer outdoor seating earlier than expected. Mayor Marty Walsh announced Friday the program’s launch date is now March 22, more than a week earlier than originally scheduled. Walsh had previously hinted at the change, citing the city’s growing vaccination numbers and mostly downward-trending COVID-19 metrics.”

– “As teacher vaccinations ramp up in Boston, a full return to school in sight for fall,” by Erin Tiernan and Alexi Cohan, Boston Herald: “Nearly one year after Massachusetts schools closed their doors to students and teachers as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the state, Boston Public Schools staff visited a vaccination clinic to get their shots, prompting administrators to say a full return to school is finally in sight.”

– “Brandeis president in spat with trustees,” by Laura Krantz, Boston Globe: “Brandeis University president Ron Liebowitz accused the institution’s trustees of trying to force him out of the presidency over misguided disapproval of his fund-raising record, according to a heated letter he sent to the board Monday evening.”

– “City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George On Why She’s Running For Mayor Of Boston,” GBH News: “After Mayor Marty Walsh was nominated as President Joe Biden’s pick for labor secretary, Boston City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George launched her campaign to replace him. She joined Jim Braude to explain her platform and why she is running for mayor.”

– “Mattapan native Ruthzee Louijeune joins at-large council race,” by Maddie Kilgannon, Dorchester Reporter: “Ruthzee Louijeune, a lawyer with roots in Mattapan and Hyde Park, is joining the widening field of candidates seeking an at-large city council seat. The 34-year-old daughter of Haitian immigrants said she is ready to bring her passion for community and experience as an attorney to combat the city’s wealth disparities with intentional housing and homeownership policies.”

– “‘That doesn’t work for us’: Congressman Stephen Lynch blasts the MBTA over recent service cuts and furloughs,” by Christopher Gavin, “Congressman Stephen Lynch, speaking on behalf of the state’s congressional delegation Monday morning, slammed the MBTA for rolling out a wave of service cuts to its core system as Massachusetts receives $1 billion for its transportation agencies under the latest federal COVID-19 relief plan.”

– “Former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia II’s trial pushed up; sentencing date set for Andrade,” by Jo C. Goode, The Herald News: “After nearly of year of COVID-19 related delays, former Mayor Jasiel Correia II has a new trial date, but this time it’s been moved up by two weeks from May 4 to April 20. Correia is facing 24 counts of alleged political corruption, bribery, extortion and defrauding investors.”

– “Warren, Sanders join Newsom to fight ‘extremist’ GOP recall,” by Carla Marinucci, POLITICO: “A crowd of national Democratic leaders on Monday put their muscle behind California Gov. Gavin Newsom to fight the recall, dubbing it an extremist ‘Republican power grab’ and launching their first opposition ad.”

– “U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton introduces federal bill addressing sewer overflows,” by Meghan Ottolini, Boston Herald: “U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton has pushed a critical local issue into the limelight in Washington, introducing a bill tackling combined sewer overflows, which dump untreated sewage into rivers.”

– “Auchincloss gets firsthand look at COVID’s lingering effects on Fall River manufacturers,” by Charles Winokoor, The Herald News: “Congressman Jake Auchincloss got his first taste of Fall River industry Monday afternoon. ‘I think it represents the proud manufacturing legacy of southeastern Massachusetts,’ said Auchincloss, as he stood inside the Matouk company’s manufacturing facility in the Fall River Industrial Park.”

– “With New Complaint, Fossil Fuel Divestment Proponents Shift From Moral To Legal Ground,” by Jesse Remedios, WBUR: “Activists from Boston College and Harvard University are making a new argument in their fight against climate change: Their schools’ fossil fuel investments aren’t just immoral, they’re illegal. Harvard students, alumni and professors on Monday filed a complaint with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office, arguing that the university’s fossil fuel investment holdings violate the state’s Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act.”

— Herald: “OFF THE RAILS,” — Globe: “Hundreds of state police go unvaccinated,” “US funds expected to forestall evictions.”

– “Holyoke City Council President Todd McGee says he can’t serve as acting mayor,” by Dennis Hohenberger, Springfield Republican: “City Council President Todd McGee says he cannot serve as acting mayor after the departure of Alex B. Morse due to work commitments and potential conflicts of interest. McGee had been the likely successor ever since Morse last month accepted a job as town manager in Provincetown. Morse said Monday he will leave office March 26.”

– “In Springfield lawsuit over police commission, judge asks for 4-decade history on ordinances,” by Peter Goonan, Springfield Republican: “A Hampden Superior Court judge wants more history — dating to the early 1960s — before he decides if Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno must reinstate a civilian Police Commission.”

– “Lynn Mayor McGee Announces He Will Not Run For Re-election,” by Allysha Dunnigan, ItemLive: “Mayor Thomas M. McGee announced Monday afternoon that he will not be running for re-election. McGee said he ran for mayor four years ago to provide strong leadership and vision at a challenging turning point in the city’s history.”

– “Newton police must shift from ‘warrior’ to ‘guardian’ mind-set, report says,” by John Hilliard, Boston Globe: “Two months after Newton officers shot and killed a resident, a task force is recommending greater civilian oversight of Newton’s police, improved training on issues such as mental health, and measures to help diversify the department, according to a report.”

– “St. Vincent patient safety questioned; hospital defends quality, staffing amid nurses’ strike,” by Cyrus Moulton, Telegram & Gazette: “A Millbury couple is alleging that St. Vincent Hospital is unsafe, after the woman underwent a procedure on the first day of the nurses’ strike, and said she found replacement nurses unfamiliar with the hospital and its procedures.”

TRANSITIONS – Olivia Leatherwood, former press assistant to Gov. Charlie Baker, and a Jeb! and NRSC alum, joins Condé Nast as communications associate on the team overseeing Vogue, Teen Vogue, Glamour, Allure, Self and Them.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY – to the Boston Globe’s Felicia Gans, Mark Eurich and James Heflin.

NEW EPISODE: A YEAR ON THE CORONACOASTER – On this week’s Horse Race podcast, hosts Jennifer Smith and Stephanie Murray discuss a CommonWealth Magazine investigation into a 2017 birth control law with Sarah Betancourt, and talk about the school reopening plan with Melissa Hanson of MassLive. Subscribe and listen on iTunes and Sound Cloud.

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