Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
DUA is currently reviewing the CARES Act unemployment extension provisions contained in the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020. Additionally, DUA is awaiting guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor.
These provisions will bring additional unemployment compensation to hundreds of thousands of people in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. They also include new requirements to qualify to receive benefits from the federal programs outlined within the act. For more information please visit: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/update-dua-issues-information-on-the-continued-assistance-for-unemployed-workers-act
Last week, Governor Baker announced a $668 million business relief package to be administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC). The business relief package consists of two programs: (1) a recapitalization of the existing small business relief program; and (2) additional funding for businesses that fall into specific industry sectors.
(Existing) Small Business Grant Program Details MGCC is reviewing existing applications from the first small business relief program. Businesses that already applied to MGCC’s first small business relief program do not need to reapply to the new program. All applications in the existing program are currently being reviewed.
Businesses that have already submitted complete and accurate applications to this first program and either (a) meet the demographic priorities from the first program or (b) meet the sector-specific priorities from the new program will receive funding.
- Demographic priorities: Minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, LGBTQ+-owned, businesses owned by persons with disabilities, or businesses located in Gateway Cities
- Sector priorities: Restaurants/Bars, Independent Retailers, Indoor Recreation and Entertainment, Personal Services, Event Support Companies Businesses that have already applied to MGCC through the first program will be notified of their award status by January 18th.
(NEW) Sector-Specific Relief Program Details A program overview for the new sector-specific program is now online and can be found here - https://www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org/covid-19-response/sector-specific-relief-grant-program-massachusetts-businesses. The program overview webpage includes key details and information relative to the program parameters and preferences.
This program is intended to assist the hardest-hit businesses, so please feel free to share with your constituents. The application period for the new program is Thursday, December 31st through Friday, January 15th. Businesses that have not already applied to MGCC and choose to apply in the new program will be notified of their award status in February.
Friday, December 25, 2020
Christmas is a special day, the culmination of weeks of planning and preparations. Even in challenging times, there is much to be thankful for - our family, friends, and the joys that we share. On this very special Christmas day I wish you peace, good health, and happiness. May the blessings of Christmas be with you and your family always.
It is my hope that you will also take a few moments today to acknowledge our men and women in uniform who are currently on duty and away from family. Their service on our behalf is also a gift.
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Wishing Chief James Digianvittorio all the best in his retirement. I was able to present him this week with thanks for all he has done for the Town of Middleton, and with an official State Senate Citation. Happy Retirement from your service with the Town of Middleton Police Dept; your dedication to public services is much appreciated.
Learn where you will fit into the COVID-19 vaccine distribution timeline.
The state's Department of Public Health has developed a vaccine distribution timeline after extensive consultation with the Massachusetts Vaccine Advisory Group, made up of leaders from health care, the faith community, community organizations, local government, and others.
The timeline reflects several priorities: protecting our most vulnerable, maintaining health care system capacity, and addressing inequities in health care access and COVID-19 burden.
Vaccine distribution in MA will occur in a phased approach:
Phase 1 (December 2020 – February 2021)
Listed in order of priority:
Clinical and non-clinical health care workers doing direct and COVID-facing care
Including- COVID-19 testers; COVID-19 vaccinators; Medical Reserve Corps who are called up to vaccinate or other COVID facing direct care work; COVID facing Hospice/palliative care professionals; COVID facing laboratorians; COVID facing imaging professions
Long term care facilities, rest homes and assisted living facilities
Emergency medical services, police, and fire
Including: all interfacility transport workers, MedFlight staff
Congregate care settings
Including: corrections and shelters
Home-based health care workers
Health care workers doing non-COVID-facing care
Including: Dentists/dental students (unless routinely working with COVID-19 positive or suspected patients such as Oral Surgeons covering the ER, in which case should be consider COVID-facing); Behavioral health clinicians not already covered in congregate care or direct care; Non- COVID facing Laboratorians; Blood donation workers; Organ donation procurement worker; Hospice/palliative care professionals; Non-COVID facing Imaging Professionals
Phase 2 (February-March 2021)
Listed in order of priority:
Individuals with 2+ co-morbid conditions (high risk for COVID-19 complications)
Including: early education, K-12, transit, grocery, utility, food and agriculture, sanitation, public works and public health workers, vaccine development workers, food pantry workers, Uber/Lyft/ride share services (under transit/transportation workers), convenience store workers (under grocery workers)
Individuals with one co-morbid condition
Phase 3 (Starting April 2021)
The vaccine is expected to be available to the general public.
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Southbound Traffic Goes To Three Lanes as of December 23
At 9 p.m. on Tuesday, 12/22, the process of restoring Route 1 southbound to its full three-lane capacity will begin. This operation will be completed by the early morning hours of Wednesday, 12/23. The reopening operation will require a full overnight closure of Route 1 southbound where it passes through the Chelsea Viaduct portion of the combined Tobin Bridge/Chelsea Curves Rehabilitation Project.
During the closure of all southbound lanes, which begins at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, southbound traffic will be detoured off Route 1 at the Carter Street off-ramp and motorists will then turn right on Carter Street, turn left on Everett Avenue, and turn right at the Everett Avenue on-ramp to rejoin Route 1 southbound. Following the operation, a work zone will be in the median.
Drivers should take care to pay attention to all signage and move carefully through the work zone. Police details, lane markings, temporary barriers, traffic cones, signage, and other tools will be used to control traffic and create safe work zones. For additional information, please see https://www.mass.gov/tobin-bridgechelsea-curves-rehabilitation-project
Monday, December 21, 2020
Remembering The Fallen And Honoring Those who Served
This weekend was the annual Wreaths Across America Ceremony at Beechbrook Cemetery in #Gloucester. A remarkable group of volunteers came together to place 400 wreaths on the graves of our nation's servicemen and women.
As a component of the national Wreaths Across America Day, we assembled at the veteran's plot at Beechbrook. The area was first cleared of snow to locate all of the graves and to clean them, the Gloucester Sea Cadets - David G. Ouellet Division, who join us each year, provided the ceremony with an honor guard. Wreaths Across America - Official Page, helps local volunteers organize ceremonies in more than 2,100 locations across the United States, at sea, and in other nations.
This non-profit organization from Maine set out in 1992 with a trailer load of wreaths, decorated by volunteers to lay at the graves of fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Our location coordinator Amanda Orlando invites your support and has provided a link to facilitate your donation -https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/pages/20546?fbclid=IwAR2aKuMjFibgPmMIzLeRyffy6QzseF4ttlHyoIziDz5O7ZStI0rr4xLZ6XY
Friday, December 18, 2020
Baker-Polito Administration Files Legislation To Maintain Unemployment Trust Fund, Provide Employer Relief
The Baker-Polito Administration today is filing legislation to sustain unemployment benefits and provide an estimated $1.3 billion in unemployment insurance relief to the Commonwealth’s employers over two years. In addition to a two-year unemployment insurance tax schedule freeze, the legislation also proposes financing measures designed to ensure the solvency of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and that federal borrowing that has occurred is repaid in a responsible and affordable manner.
The main provisions of this legislation include:
Short Term Employer Tax Relief through a two-year tax schedule freeze. Current Massachusetts unemployment legislative statute requires the employer tax schedule to increase from schedule E to schedule G. This would cause an average per employee tax increase from $539 to $866 – a nearly 60% increase over the previous year. Remaining on schedule E for 2021 and 2022 slows annual employer contribution growth from $539 average per employee costs in 2020 to $635 in 2021 and $665 in 2022.
Authorization for the issuance of special obligation bonds for the purposes of repaying federal advances. In order to fund the unprecedented increases in demand on the unemployment system in Massachusetts as a result of COVID-19, the Commonwealth has received federal cash advances. Through the issuance of bonds, the Commonwealth will be able to ensure positive trust fund solvency to enable the continued payment of benefits. The utilization of capital markets also allows Massachusetts to avoid paying punitive federal tax increases on employers regardless of their experience rating if federal advances are not repaid by November of 2022. Bonds issued will be supported by an unemployment obligation assessment and will not be general obligations of the Commonwealth.
Establishes an employer surcharge on contributory employers. In 2020 all federal advances taken to pay benefits are interest free. However, interest on federal advances will begin to be charged beginning in January of 2021. The first interest payment is due in the Fall of 2021 and it cannot be paid from the state unemployment trust fund, per federal law. To fund interest payments on repayable advances, the legislation also establishes a separate fund to house surcharge proceeds. The passage of this provision authorizes the Department of Unemployment Assistance to make this assessment but does not require the surcharge if interest is waived through future federal legislation.
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
Keolis Commuter Services and the MBTA are preparing for a winter storm that is expected to arrive Wednesday evening and last into Thursday morning with ranges of snow totals impacting the greater Boston region. Commuter Rail is currently operating a Reduced Service Schedule due to employee absences due to COVID. This schedule will continue to operate on Thursday and is available at MBTA.com for passengers to plan their travel.
MBTA and Keolis personnel will be deployed across Commuter Rail to clear snow, apply sand and salt to passenger areas, as well as to respond to incidents that occur during the storm, such as downed trees. MBTA and Keolis crews will be pre-positioned at key facilities and infrastructure (switches, signals, etc.) to help ensure normal operations. Switch heaters and snow jets will be activated in critical areas as snow and ice begin to fall Wednesday evening to ensure normal flow of train traffic.
Passengers can stay connected with Commuter Rail by calling customer service at 617-222-3200, following @MBTA_CR on Twitter or signing up for T-Alerts at www.MBTA.com/winter. More information on Keolis' storm preparation can be found here.
SUBJECT: Winter Storm Wednesday Night through Thursday (December 16-17, 2020)
Situation A winter storm will bring heavy snow, strong winds, coastal flooding, and hazardous marine conditions beginning between 7pm to 10pm tonight into Thursday.
Expected snow fall totals projected are 8-12 inches in Southeast Massachusetts along/south of Mass Pike. Expected snow fall totals across interior Massachusetts have increased to 12-18 inches. Peak snowfall rates of 1- 2” are expected to occur in the overnight hours. Snowfall will taper off from west to east starting Thursday morning and ending statewide by early to mid-afternoon. Dry weather paired with colder temperatures and wind chill are anticipated on Thursday and Friday following the storm.
• Significant snow accumulation is anticipated in southeastern Massachusetts creating issues with travel and commuting on Thursday morning.
• Strong wind gusts
- Blowing/drifting snow
- Isolated/scattered power outages
- Wind gusts between 45 – 55MPH along the coast and over Cape Cod and the Islands.
- Winds will increase around midnight with the strongest wind gusts occurring between 7am and 1pm Thursday.
• The Massachusetts coast including Cape Cod and the Islands could see minor to low- end moderate coastal flooding (1-2 feet of inundation) during high tide on early Thursday afternoon.
• Flash freezing causing slick roads due to rapidly freezing temperatures may occur mid to late Thursday morning in in southeastern MA.
Today, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito will join transportation officials to provide an update on the upcoming winter storm. A live stream will be available at my Facebook page -www.facebook.com/SenatorBruceTarr at about noon.
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Sunday, December 13, 2020
Thank you to everyone who helped make the 2020 North Shore Toy Drive so successful! Two weeks virtually flew by.
To our amazing teams, at North Shore 104.9, my incredible team, our non-profit charity partners, and our amazing sponsors, thank you for your constant hard work, your dedication to children, and also for your commitment to keeping yourselves and our community safe and in the spirit of the season! A special word of thanks to my on-air co-host Erika Hemingway for brightening every broadcast. You are all amazing! To everyone who supported our local efforts - THANK YOU!
We hope that we entertained you, brought joy to your heart, and helped create good memories of the Holiday Season for you and your family.
Happy Holidays, Bruce Tarr
P.S. Donations are still being excepted, find the list of our charities at https://dehayf5mhw1h7.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/744/2020/11/02033048/Toy-Drive-2020-Charity-Info.pdf
Saturday, December 12, 2020
Listen to the latest podcast edition of MSO CONNECTIONS. I gave updates on the new state budget, the public health return to Step 1 of Phase 3 starting on Sunday, the plans for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine, and the final day of my annual Toy Drive with North Shore 104.9.
Friday, December 11, 2020
Today is the final day of the ten days long 2020 Toy Drive and I invite you to join us, safely and virtually, by tuning in to North Shore 104.9 FM. We will be broadcasting entertainment, interviews with special guests, and lots of fun between noon and 2 with today's host Cape Ann Savings Bank.
To learn how you can help a child in need this year, please visit the North Shore 104.9 website for a complete list of charity partners and how you can donate - www.northshore1049.com
Latest Public HealthData: 264,454 Cases, 10,963 Deaths, 9,278,419 tests www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-response-reporting
Initial COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution: The vaccine is being provided free of charge to all individuals
The Baker-Polito Administration announced allocation and distribution plans for the first round of COVID19 vaccine shipments to Massachusetts set to begin around December 15. The state’s first shipment of 59,475 doses of the Pfizer vaccine was ordered will be delivered directly to 21 hospitals across8 counties, as well as to the Department of Public Health Immunization lab. Doses will be redistributed for access to 74 hospitals across all 14 counties for front-line medical workers. The next 40,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine will be allocated to the Federal Pharmacy Program to begin vaccinating staff and residents of skilled nursing facilities, resthomes and assisted living residences. Vaccine is being prioritized for these groups to maximize life preservation and to support the health care system.
Based on information at this time, Massachusetts is expecting 300,000first doses of the vaccine to be delivered by the end of December. The first vaccines, manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer, will require two doses administered 3-4 weeks apart
Visit the link to read the administration’s vaccine website: www.mass.gov/COVID vaccine
Statewide Rollback to Phase Three, Step One with Additional Restrictions: Effective Sunday, December 13th, all communities in Massachusetts will return to Step 1 of Phase 3, of the state’s reopening plan.
The return to Step 1 will also require the closure of certain businesses designated as Step 2 industries. These include indoor performance venues and certain high-contact indoor recreational businesses. In addition, capacity limits will be reduced to 40% statewide for most industries, and the limit on outdoor gatherings will be reduced statewide from 100 persons to 50 persons. Additional safety measures will be applied to restaurant dining as well. The Administration also announced additional guidance for certain sectors including restaurants, office spaces, and gyms, to address activities where mask wearing is not possible at all times.
Phase III, Step I: Effective December 13, all communities will roll back to Phase 3, Step 1 of Massachusetts’ re-opening plan, including the following restrictions:
• Outdoor gatherings at event venues will be limited to no more than 50 people
• Hosts of outdoor gatherings of greater than 25 people will be required to provide advance notice of the gathering their local board of health
• Indoor theaters and performance venues and higher contact indoor recreation businesses will be required to close to the public
• Outdoor theaters and performance venues will be limited to 25% capacity, and no more than 50 people in all communities, capacity will be reduced from 50% to 40% for the following sectors:
• Arcades/Indoor and Outdoor Recreational Businesses
• Driving and Flight Schools
• Gyms/Health Clubs
• Retail Offices
• Places of Worship
• Lodging (common areas)
• Golf facilities
• Movie Theaters (Maximum 50 people per theater)
Thursday, December 10, 2020
Reduced schedule for at least two weeks to accommodate low employee availability due to COVID-19 absences
BOSTON – December 10, 2020 – The MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services announced today that, due to low employee availability because of COVID-19 absences, Commuter Rail will temporarily operate a Reduced Service Schedule starting Monday, December 14. Regular train service includes 541 daily trains, but as of December 14, Commuter Rail will operate 246 daily trains.
The MBTA and Keolis, like other employers in Massachusetts, have experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases over the past 10 days. The Reduced Service Schedule will run at least through December 27. During this time, the MBTA and Keolis will monitor employee availability to determine if the Reduced Service Schedule needs to remain in place for an extended period.
The reduced schedule includes daily service on all Commuter Rail lines and at all stations, and it is already posted as the Storm Schedule, which was designed in advance to provide lower service levels in severe weather. Reduced Service Schedules, which impact weekday service only, are available at MBTA.com and in major stations today. The Reduced Service Schedule has no changes to weekend scheduled trips.
“Passengers are encouraged to check the Reduced Service Schedule in advance to plan their trip because there are changes in the weekday schedule,” said David Scorey, CEO and General Manager, Keolis. “Our rigorous cleaning practices at stations and onboard trains remain in place, including regular deep cleanings, sanitizing touch points and the use of foggers to help ensure safety. Masks continue to be a requirement for all passengers and crews on trains as well.”
Since March, Keolis and the MBTA have introduced new technologies like electrostatic sprayers to help sanitize passenger areas quickly and thoroughly. As part of this enhanced sanitization, added attention is given to touched surfaces, employee areas and air filtration systems. Passengers are reminded that all coach cars on every train remain open so they may spread out and maintain social distance.
Commuter Rail has operated consistently throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to provide critical transit for essential workers, including nurses and medical professionals, and for transit-dependent communities. Ridership on Commuter Rail has been approximately 13 percent of its pre-COVID levels, and during the holiday weeks in December ridership is historically low.
A big thank you to Aubuchon Hardware, 114 County Road, Ipswich, MA not only for hosting our Toy Drive but for all the significant efforts leading up to the big day. We are overwhelmed with the generosity of Aubuchon, Matt Donnely, owner of The Maids of NE Cleaning Service presented us with a giant check representing $250 for each of our non-profit charity organizations, and so many others.
With: Congressman Seth Moulton, Superintendent Brian Blake of Ipswich Public Schools - Ipswich, Massachusetts, Matt Donnelly owner of The Maids, Sheila Taylor. Director of Senior of Ipswich Council on Aging, Charlie Moore "The Mad Fisherman", and our superlative co-host Erika Hemingway of North Shore 104.9.
To all of my Jewish friends and constituents, I wish you all a happy Hanukkah celebration. “May the lights of Hanukkah usher in a better world for all humankind.”
May all the darkness of your life fade away. Wishing you a warm and wonderful holiday and a blessed New Year.
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced allocation and distribution plans for the first round of COVID-19 vaccine shipments to Massachusetts set to begin around December 15. The state’s first shipment of 59,475 doses of the Pfizer vaccine was ordered from the federal government this past Friday and will be delivered directly to 21 hospitals across 8 counties, as well as to the Department of Public Health Immunization lab.
Doses will then be redistributed for access to 74 hospitals across all 14 counties for front line medical workers. The next 40,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine will be allocated to the Federal Pharmacy Program to begin vaccinating staff and residents of skilled nursing facilities, rest homes and assisted living residences.
Vaccine is being prioritized for these groups to maximize life preservation and to support the health care system. Based on information at this time, Massachusetts is expecting 300,000 first doses of the vaccine to be delivered by the end of December. The first vaccines, manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer, will require two doses administered 3-4 weeks apart.
Click here to view the administration’s vaccine website: www.mass.gov/COVIDvaccine.
Click this link to view the administration’s vaccine presentation https://www.mass.gov/doc/ma-covid-19-vaccine-presentation-1292020
Click this link to view Frequently Asked Questions https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-vaccine-frequently-asked-questions
While all delivery dates and quantities are subject to change due to ongoing federal approval and allocation, the Administration plans to receive and distribute over 2 million doses to priority population groups by the end of March.
In collaboration with the COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group, the Administration designated groups of medical workers, first responders and residents most at risk for serious illness to receive the vaccine before the general population. The Vaccine Advisory Group (https://www.mass.gov/news/baker-polito-administration-announces-covid-19-vaccine-advisory-group) is made up of leading medical, infectious disease and public health experts as well as representatives from communities of color and representatives of high-risk populations.
Communities of color and at-risk populations are prioritized throughout the process to maximize life preservation and to prevent serious complications from COVID related illnesses.
Anticipated Vaccination Phases and Timeline:
Phase One (December 2020-February 2021):
In order of priority
Clinical and non-clinical healthcare workers doing direct and COVID-facing care
Long term care facilities, rest homes and assisted living facilities
Police, Fire and Emergency Medical Services
Congregate care settings (including shelters and corrections)
Home-based healthcare workers
Healthcare workers doing non-COVID facing care
Phase Two (February 2021-April 2021):
In order of priority
Individuals with 2+ comorbidities (high risk for COVID-19 complications)
Early education, K-12, transit, grocery, utility, food and agriculture, sanitation, public works and public health workers
Individuals with one comorbidity
Phase Three (April 2021- ):
Vaccine available to the general public
The first shipments of the vaccine are expected to contain doses manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna. While both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are pending FDA emergency use authorization, Massachusetts will not distribute the COVID-19 vaccine until it receives this authorization.
Vaccines go through extensive testing, more than any pharmaceuticals, including extensive testing in clinical trials. The FDA, which approves the vaccine, and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which will make its recommendation for use, must ensure any vaccine is both safe and effective for the public before approval and distribution.
The infectious disease experts in the state’s academic medical centers have pledged to review the EUA data and provide an independent opinion about their safety and efficacy.
All residents should visit www.mass.gov/COVIDVaccine to learn more or contact their medical provider for questions about their vaccination plans.
In tough times, it's even more important to help others in need. There is still time to connect with one of the many charity organizations we are partnered with for the Toy Drive. There is a link to the North Shore 104.9 website in the Gloucester Daily Times story with a list of the not-for-profits and our host locations, please have a click.
Today, we will be welcomed by our friends at Aubuchon Hardware in Ipswich.
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
I am so thankful for the participation, donations, and support for the Pathways for Children's Cape Ann Kids Holiday Fund from the Toy Drive's visit to Peabody.
With Laura O’Neill Director of Development at Pathways for Children, Warren Waugh and Cidalia Schwartz of the Lyon-Waugh Auto Group, Gloucester Police Department Police Officer Peter Sutera and Ace (the newest member of the Department), Mary Anne Nay from my office, and my co-host Erika of North Shore 104.9.
Baker-Polito Administration Announces Statewide Rollback to Phase Three, Step One, Additional Restrictions Effective December 13th
Governor Baker Announces New Restrictions Statewide for Capacity, Mask Compliance and Distancing Due to Increased Cases, Hospitalizations
Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced that effective Sunday, December 13th, all communities in Massachusetts will return to Step 1 of Phase 3, of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan. This will reduce indoor capacities across a broad range of sectors of the economy and tighten several other workplace restrictions. The Administration announced the roll-back to respond to an increase in new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations since the Thanksgiving holiday that is straining the health care system in Massachusetts.
The return to Step 1 will also require the closure of certain businesses designated as Step 2 industries. These include indoor performance venues and certain high-contact indoor recreational businesses. In addition, capacity limits will be reduced to 40% statewide for most industries, and the limit on outdoor gatherings will be reduced statewide from 100 persons to 50 persons. Additional safety measures will be applied to restaurant dining as well.
These new measures are designed to prevent infection and viral spread, especially in indoor settings. They will create stronger mask compliance, more social distancing, and limits to the time spent with people outside of your immediate household.
The Administration also announced additional guidance for certain sectors including restaurants, office spaces and gyms, to address activities where mask wearing is not possible at all times.
Phase III, Step I
Effective December 13, all communities will roll back to Phase 3, Step 1 of Massachusetts’ re-opening plan, including the following restrictions:Outdoor gatherings at event venues will be limited to no more than 50 people
Hosts of outdoor gatherings of greater than 25 people will be required to provide advance notice of the gathering their local board of health
Indoor theaters and performance venues and higher contact indoor recreation businesses will be required to close to the public
Outdoor theaters and performance venues will be limited to 25% capacity, and no more than 50 people
In all communities, capacity will be reduced from 50% to 40% for the following sectors:
Arcades/Indoor and Outdoor Recreational Businesses
Driving and Flight Schools
Places of Worship
Lodging (common areas)
Movie Theaters (Maximum 50 people per theater)
This new capacity limit will not apply to sectors that do not currently have a percentage-based capacity limit, including restaurants, laboratories and close contact personal services.
Restaurants and Venues
The Administration also announced new guidelines for restaurants and other venues with seated dining, including:
Patrons must wear masks at all times except when eating and drinking
Restaurants must seat no more than six patrons per table
Restaurants must impose a 90-minute time limit on tables
Musical performances at restaurants will no longer be permitted
Food court seating must be closed in malls
Customers are encouraged to dine only with members of the same household.
Offices and Gyms
The Administration announced new guidelines for workplaces and gyms, including:
In offices, employees must wear masks at their place of work when not in their own workspace and alone
Employers are encouraged to close or limit the use of break rooms
Patrons must wear masks at all times in gyms
The Administration continues to encourage all employers to offer teleworking to their employees when possible.
Monday, December 7, 2020
Baker-Polito Administration Launches New Testing Infrastructure to Increase Testing Capacity & Efficiency Statewide
Building on Massachusetts’ nation-leading COVID-19 testing program, the Baker-Polito Administration today announced the Commonwealth will increase testing capacity and locations to provide more access for residents in every county. This plan includes five new locations, and the state plans to collect 110,000 COVID-19 tests per week—representing a 50% testing increase for state-financed and organized testing sites alone. Across Massachusetts, there are more than 350 testing locations available to the public. Massachusetts remains among the top five states for testing per capita in the nation and has made significant progress to increase testing and access.
New Project Beacon Sites: In addition to five new Stop the Spread (STS) locations, three current locations will expand to regional testing sites run by Project Beacon: New Bedford, Framingham and Lynn. Project Beacon currently operates a testing site in Revere and specializes in high-volume testing scheduled through an online platform. Each Project Beacon site will test at least 1,000 individuals per day. The sites are expected to be operational by the end of December, with the site in Framingham launching today.
Western MA & Cape Cod Testing: The Administration also announced expanded testing in Hampshire, Franklin, Berkshire and Barnstable Counties. This includes a partnership with UMass Amherst for free testing in Hampshire County at Amherst, a partnership with Berkshire Health Systems to expand free testing across multiple sites in Berkshire County, and an intent to expand free testing with a mobile provider in Franklin County. These sites are coming online during the coming weeks. The Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment is opening two testing sites, including one in Falmouth with $550,000 in state funds.
To date, the state has allocated more than $150 million for COVID-19 free testing, including surveillance testing programs in congregate settings and investments in laboratory capacity to process samples.
When all these new sites are operational, the Baker-Polito Administration will have 50 testing sites in the state-run Stop the Spread program, which will be able to conduct 110,000 free tests per week. This program has grown exponentially since it first launched in early July. In September, STS sites tested approximately 28,000 people each week, that number grew to 42,500 in October, and more than 91,400 individuals were tested at STS sites between November 19 and November 25.
Shifting to higher-volume, less expensive sites that serve an entire region will allow the Commonwealth to test more individuals on a weekly basis and reduce per-test costs, making the testing program more sustainable.
AbbotBinaxNOW Tests: Additionally, to support increased testing demand for vulnerable populations, the Administration will distribute up to 150,000 AbbotBinaxNOW tests to community health centers and community hospitals to use during December.
COVID-19 cases are increasing across the Commonwealth, and the Administration’s expanded testing will focus on converting certain sites to high-volume sites so they are able to serve more residents. Over the next month, existing testing sites will engage in winter planning preparations including converting to an appointment-based system to reduce wait times and traffic congestion.
Stop the Spread Operations by City/County: Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Framingham, Great Barrington, Greenfield, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lynn, Marlborough, Methuen, Nantucket, New Bedford, North Adams, Pittsfield, Randolph, Revere, Salem, Saugus, Springfield, Winthrop, Worcester, Amherst (Free community testing & increased lab capacity is being supported with $5M of ELC funding in Amherst (UMass), Barnstable County (Free community testing in Barnstable County is being supported by $550K in earmarks), Martha’s Vineyard (Free community testing in Dukes County is being supported locally)
Visit www.mass.gov/gettested for more information and to find a testing site near you.
Lyon-Waugh Auto Group will host the North Shore Toy Drive today. You can listen live at 104.9 FM or online at the North Shore 104.9 website. Our partnership with the Lyon-Waugh Auto Group has helped us collect gift cards, checks, and toys for children in need.
You can learn about the charities that we support and the schedule of our final week at https://www.northshore1049.com/toydrive/
Friday, December 4, 2020
BAKER-POLITO ADMINISTRATION SUBMITS INITIAL VACCINE ORDER TO THE US CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION
Today’s submission is the first of 300,000 doses expected in Massachusetts by the end of December
Today, the Baker-Polito Administration submitted the Commonwealth’s initial vaccine order to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The federal government allocated Massachusetts 59,475 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for this first shipment that is part of 300,000 doses that the CDC is expected to send to Massachusetts by the end of December. The first allotment of 300,000 COVID vaccines will be for the first dose of a two dose regimen.
Anticipating that the federal government will soon issue emergency use authorizations for additional vaccines, the Administration has been working with the COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group to prepare for a safe, equitable and efficient distribution that is based on guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Commonwealth has actively been working on preparedness and planning for a COVID-19 vaccine since early August. Over the past decade, the Commonwealth has invested in the state-of-the-art Massachusetts Immunization Information System (MIIS), which serves as the state’s vaccine registry, ordering system, and inventory system. DPH has enhanced MIIS to prepare to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.
Next week, the Administration will roll out further information on vaccination prioritization.
MASSACHUSETTS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY SITUATIONAL AWARENESS STATEMENT #1
SUBJECT: Strong Winter Storm Situation Strong winter storm will bring heavy rain changing to a period of heavy snow across the interior along with strong wind gusts along the coast. This will result in power outages across Massachusetts. Depending on the track of the storm, heaviest snowfall may shift east or west.
Impacts: Significant snow accumulation possible over the interior with scattered power outages where heavy snow accumulates. Areas of urban and poor drainage street flooding possible across southeast Massachusetts. Strong winds along the coast; gales and very rough seas and coastal waters. Low visibility will create travel impacts.
Weather Forecast: Rain showers will develop across the state this afternoon. Rain will continue tonight and increase in coverage and intensity. This rain will mix and change to snow tonight across the higher elevations.
Thursday, December 3, 2020
Our Toy Drive was a blast today. A big thank you to Teresa's Italian Eatery in Middleton for hosting and sponsoring our efforts. On air guests today included Nik Yebba, Teresa's owner, Town Manager Andy Sheehan, Fire Chief Tom Martinuk, Melissa Gasper, Director of Flint Public Library, State Representative Ted Speliotis and Judy Gallerie from our location non-profit Neighbors In Need.
Before, during, and after the North Shore 104.9 broadcast folks dropped off gifts cards, books, and toys and we are all very appreciative.
I want to congratulate Newbury Council on Aging Director Maggie Malley and Program Coordinator Gail Kehoe - each has announced their respective retirements.
Mary Ann Nay and Richard Curran from my Senate staff presented them with official Senate Citations in recognition of their accomplishments and service. Pictured are Maggie Malley, Selectman JR Colby, Chairman of the Board Of Selectmen, and Gail Kehoe Retiring Program Coordinator.