Five Things You Need To Know Today, And The Great Puzzle Shortage


March 31, 2020 – By Doug Banks

Five things you need to know today, and the great puzzle shortageGood morning, friends. Here are the five things you need to know to start your Tuesday, plus sports, numbers to know and the supply and demand of jigsaw puzzles.

Stay at home longer

Gov. Baker is expected to announce today an extension of the state’s order that non-essential businesses keep their doors close to flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic, Catherine Carlock reports. Baker’s initial edict, on March 23, was a stay-at-home advisory through April 7.

Raytheon to keep HQ

Catherine also reports that the all-stock merger of defense contractor Raytheon Co. and Connecticut-based industrial giant United Technologies Corp. is expected to close this week. Raytheon confirmed to her that it will keep its current Waltham headquarters after the deal closes.

Big plans, big raise

ElevateBio, the local cell and gene therapy holding company created by former executives from Alexion Pharmaceuticals and bluebird bio, is set to move six drugs to clinical trials after raising $170 million from investors, Allison DeAngelis reports.

BI Lahey execs forgo pay

Kevin Tabb, the head of the state’s second biggest health system, said he will take a 50% pay cut for the next three months while his leadership team will take a 20% reduction in salary as Beth Israel Lahey, like other health systems, tightens its belt.

Boston hotel revenue craters

Revenue rates per room at Boston hotels have plummeted 82.4%, to “unprecedented levels — worse than those seen during 9/11 and the financial crisis” of 2008, according to a lodging expert. And group rates? Those are down 97%.

What else you need to know 

Sporting news

  • The age-old debate rages on: Who’s the best, Larry or Magic?
  • ESPN’s Michael Jordan documentary, The Last Dance, could be released early, in April.
  • The Patriots need a tight end.
  • Former Sox coach Bobby Valentine is turning Sacred Heart in Connecticut into a hockey school?


  • 10,000 — the number of medical face masks high-tech clothing maker Ministry of Supply says it will donate to Boston health care workers.
  • 130,000 — the number of workers employed by Macy’s. The giant retailer yesterday said it will furlough the majority of those employees in the wake sales losses from store closures.
  • 14 — the number of demands by labor unions representing General Electric Co. workers. They want GE to bring back laid-off employees, put factories to work making ventilators and to improve health protections of currently working employees.
  • 80% — the number of respondents in the most recent Financial Health Index by Newton-based American Consumer Credit Counseling who said they have been impacted by the shutdown of wide swaths of the economy. Nearly a third were “severely” impacted.

#WFH life

With so many of us in Boston now working from home, Boston-based 360 Public Relations created this “How to Zoom in Style” infographic, with tips for Zoom Meetings. To help keep your workspaces interesting, Papa Gino’s is offering custom Zoom backgrounds for you to download and use. Need to keep the kiddos busy during those conference calls? Papa Gino’s has this kids’ activities booklet free for download too.

This day in history

On this day in 1906, Slade Gorton and Co. of Gloucester announced it would merge with three other local fishing companies. Today, Gorton’s is among the top 10 seafood suppliers in North America.

What I’m reading

Neutrino Hunters, by Ray Jayawardhana

What I’m watching

Tiger King, on Netflix

The great puzzle shortage

I love the Wall Street Journal’s A-Hed stories — but who doesn’t? They’re the offbeat features that appear at the bottom of Page 1 each day, with the italic headline. But yesterday’s hit a little too close to home.

You see, my wife likes jigsaw puzzles. She really does. One time, a couple of years ago, we were discussing what we might like to do to spend time together when both of our kids go off to college (which happens this fall). Because we’ve heard that empty-nesters sometimes struggle if they don’t have common interests.

Me: “What do we like to do together?”

Her: “I like jigsaw puzzles.”

Me: <Blank stare>

It’s not that I don’t like jigsaw puzzles. I just hadn’t thought about them since grade school. But since that talk, I’ve started to do more jigsaw puzzles, and I don’t mind them. (We also do other things, like attending the same fitness studio, or, these days, doing at-home workouts together.) So far, so good.

And then I read the Journal’s article yesterday. Like toilet paper and disinfectant, the coronavirus pandemic has led to shortages of jigsaw puzzles. All these Americans sitting at home have learned that jigsaw puzzles are a form of entertainment. Of the top 10 items that shoppers searched for on last Tuesday, the author writes nine were antivirus cleaning supplies or personal-hygiene products (in other words, toilet paper). And No. 7 on the list? “Puzzles for adults.”

Normally, they rank somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 on Amazon, but demand is now soaring. Puzzle-makers are at full capacity and retailers are selling out, offering curbside delivery and doing pretty much anything to meet that demand.

This has me thinking: We’ve got a pretty decent supply of 1,000-piece puzzles in our closet right now. Anyone want to make me an offer?

Parting Shot

If you missed it last week, James Taylor and his wife, Kim, are donating $1 million to Mass General Hospital to help fight the coronavirus. Here’s a classic JT moment, on Sesame Street, singing “Jellyman Kelly”: