State Police Report Methuen Woman, 25, Dies in Rollover Crash on I-495

A 25-year-old Methuen woman was killed last night after a rollover crash on I-495 south in Lawrence. Massachusetts State Police this morning said Shamara Castillo died after her 2007 Honda CRV first “veered off the highway” before returning to travel lanes and rolling over south of exit 41. State Police from the Andover barracks were called to the scene about 10:40 p.m.

Troopers said the rollover caused Castillo to be ejected from the automobile and she was declared dead as a result of her injuries. Two other vehicles, a 2014 Toyota Corolla, driven by a 41-year-old Plaistow, N.H., man, and a 2018 Volvo truck cab, driven by a 61-year-old Monson man, also struck the Honda. Those drivers were not injured.

Holy Family Hospital Diverts Haverhill ICU Staff to Methuen to Create Isolated COVID-19 Unit

Clarification: The story has been updated to reflect the number of intensive care unit beds in Methuen remains fluid to meet the situation. Holy Family Hospital’s Methuen campus is preparing to create an isolated unit to care for COVID-19 patients and has ordered its Haverhill intensive care unit nurses to report there. The hospital’s owner, Steward Health Care, is consolidating inpatient intensive care admissions by drawing resources from its Haverhill campus to the Methuen campus ICU unit over the next few days. Steward says the size of the Holy Family campus makes is possible to create the isolated unit. Holy Family told staff Friday night to assemble in Methuen for shifts that began at 7 p.m., Saturday.

Reps. Minicucci, Devers Sign Letter Urging Gov. Baker to Fast Track Temporary Medical Licenses

State Rep. Christina Minicucci joined 44 other state legislators Friday in signing a letter urging Gov. Charlie Baker to “advance Massachusetts’s response to COVID-19 by establishing a process that would grant temporary medical licenses to health care personnel who are licensed and in good standing in foreign countries.”

Minicucci represents part of Haverhill as well as Lawrence, Methuen and North Andover. Rep. Marcos Devers of Lawrence also signed the letter. The legislators also requested assurances health care providers from Puerto Rico would be treated as health care providers from other states as per a prior executive order. The letter was signed by both state representatives and state senators. In the letter, legislators noted the administration’s efforts to expand the health care workforce in previous executive orders by assisting the licensure of providers from out of state, expediting the re-certification of retired medical personnel, encouraging medical volunteers, and graduating medical school students early.

Northern Essex Grads to Forgo Pomp and Circumstance as College Cancels Formal Commencement

Caps, gowns and an inspirational speaker on the quadrangle is an experience this year’s graduates of Northern Essex Community College will forgo as officials continue to deal with the ramifications of the coronavirus. College trustees were briefed on graduation ceremony plans Wednesday, learning the May 16 scheduled commencement will be a casualty of the times. How graduation will be conducted is now up to the Student Government Association to decide. “Celebrating the hard work of our grads, especially after such a challenging semester, is very important to us,” Director of Public Relations Ernie Greenslade told WHAV. “We’re still figuring out the best way to do this and we hope to share details soon.”

According to Greenslade, two thirds of classes are already affected with this past Monday’s change to remote learning.

Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce Plans Online Marketing Mixer Friday Morning

The Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce is hosting a free, online business mixer tomorrow morning. Described as a “virtual networking event,” The Chamber says “local business owners can introduce themselves and meet other members of the community while still practicing social distancing. The online event begins at 10 a.m., and may be joined by computer or smartphone. To attend, click here or visit for more information.

Haverhill, Methuen Report Rising Numbers of COVID-19 Cases; Rockingham Remains N.H. Hot Spot

As of yesterday, 42 Haverhill residents and 44 in Methuen have been diagnosed with COVID-19, contributing to 570 cases in Essex County and 4,955 statewide, including 48 deaths. One of the latest deaths was reported to be an Essex County man in his 80s. His home location was not specified. Neighboring Rockingham County, N.H., continues to be that state’s largest cluster of the coronavirus with 100 cases reported as of Sunday out of a total of 258 statewide and three deaths. In a statement on social media over the weekend, Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini said he continues to be concerned about people gathering in city recreation areas who are not practicing social distancing.

Rumbo, Bilingual Newspaper, Temporarily Distributes Online Only as Stores Close

Rumbo, the bilingual newspaper of the Merrimack Valley, has temporarily ceased traditional printing as store closures due to COVID-19 have made physical paper deliveries impossible. In an email message from Director Dalia Diaz said “we decided to create this digital edition to continue providing local information to our community.”

The current edition of the newspaper may be downloaded here or by visiting

Haverhill, Area School Districts Agree to Work Together to Implement Remote Learning Plan

Area school districts have agreed to work together to meet the state’s remote learning requirements. Under the umbrella of the Merrimack Valley Superintendents Association, among those taking part are Haverhill, Lawrence, Methuen and North Andover Public Schools and Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School. Altogether, 27 schools and districts are involved in the plan released Friday afternoon. “Our districts will collaborate over the next several days to create an educational experience to best meet the needs of all learners,” superintendents said in a joint statement. “Our shared belief is that, in future years when children reflect on this time in their lives, what they will remember most are the positive connections they felt at an uncertain time.”

When Gov. Charlie Baker ordered Wednesday that schools remain closed through at least May 4, he made it clear his administration intended for schools to adopt remote learning techniques.