Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Baker-Polito Administration Announces $4.7 Million for Vaccine Equity in Hardest-Hit Communities; Regional Vaccination Collaboratives

The Baker-Polito Administration today announced a new $4.7 million initiative to promote COVID-19 vaccine equity in the 20 communities most disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The Administration also announced 11 high-efficiency regional vaccination collaboratives involving local health officials and other regional partners. 

Vaccination Appointments: Tomorrow, around 50,000 new appointments will be added at mass vaccination locations across the Commonwealth. This includes the mass vaccination locations at Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium, Springfield, Danvers, Dartmouth and Natick. Retail pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens will also administer over 20,000 doses next week as well.

Residents can go to www.mass.gov/COVIDvaccine tomorrow morning to find and schedule their appointments. Appointment availability is very limited due to the constrained supply of vaccine doses that the Commonwealth is receiving from the federal government.

$4.7 Million for Vaccine Equity: The Administration today announced a $4.7 million effort to support its vaccine equity initiative announced last week, which focuses on reducing barriers to vaccination in the 20 hardest-hit communities in the Commonwealth. The Administration will work with Archipelago Strategies Group (ASG) and Health Care for All (HCFA) to best leverage these funds.

The initiative will support and coordinate with local leaders and community- and faith-based organizations to strengthen existing efforts in these cities and towns. These efforts will specifically focus on communities of color, homebound seniors, disabled individuals and other hard-to-reach populations. ASG and HCFA will provide hyperlocal, population-specific communication resources as well as hiring local residents and working with local organizations with cultural and linguistic competencies to reach disparately impacted populations in each priority municipality. ASG specializes in grassroots mobilization, partnering with local leaders, community organizations, and media partners to develop community-based solutions. As a subcontractor, HCFA will provide high-touch support for priority communities, including direct service support, community organizing, education, and outreach.

This work will complement the Commonwealth’s $2.5 million public awareness campaign, “Trust the Facts, Get the Vax,” adapting the campaign’s messaging for specific communities. The initiative will focus on the 20 municipalities with the greatest COVID-19 case burden, taking into account social determinants of health and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people of color. These communities are Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Framingham, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Randolph, Revere, Springfield and Worcester. This work will be coordinated with targeted opportunities for increased vaccine access through existing and new locations, including pop up sites and mobile clinics.

Regional Collaboratives: In addition, the Administration today also designated 11 new regional collaboratives that will support efforts to streamline vaccination efforts. These collaboratives will leverage local health officials, regional hospitals and others to deliver high-throughput, efficient vaccination sites for all eligible residents across the Commonwealth beginning March 1. Collaboratives must meet several criteria:

Have capacity to vaccinate a minimum of 750 individuals per day, 5 days per week (subject to vaccine availability);

Meet an administration rate threshold of 85% and report doses within 24 hours;

Be open to all residents of the Commonwealth (collaborations may focus outreach efforts towards those who live or work in the area, but must be open to all Massachusetts residents)

Provide public links for vaccine appointments on www.mass.gov/COVIDVaccine.

New and existing collaboratives announced today:

Barnstable County

Berkshire County Boards of Health Association

Franklin County Regional Collaborative

Harrington Hospital, in Collaboration with LBOH

Heywood Hospital, in Collaboration with LBOH

Lawrence General Hospital, in Collaboration with LBOH

Marshfield-Plymouth

Northampton & Amherst

Randolph – Collaboration between Avon, Holbrook, and Randolph

Rutland

Worcester, Worcester State University, Commonwealth Medicine and St. Vincent Hospital

Information about booking appointments through these collaboratives will be available on www.mass.gov/COVIDvaccine in the coming days.


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Monday, February 22, 2021

MassDOT Advisory Update: Wilmington

Temporary Right Lane Closures on Interstate 93 Southbound for Bridge Repairs Closures will take place from 8 p.m. on Friday, February 26, through 4 a.m. on Monday, March 1 

Right lane on Route 125 westbound and the on-ramp from Route 125 to Interstate 93 southbound still remain closed Motorists are encouraged to seek alternate routes 

WILMINGTON– The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is announcing that it will be implementing temporary weekend closures of the two right travel lanes on Interstate 93 southbound near exit 41 (Route 125) in Wilmington. The lanes will be closed from 8:00 p.m. on Friday, February 26, until 4:00 a.m. on Monday, March 1. The closures are necessary to allow work crews to continue repairs to a damaged beam on the bridge carrying Route 125 over Interstate 93. Additional work to complete the repairs will be scheduled for a later date.

On February 10, 2021, an over-height trash hauler truck struck and damaged the northern fascia beam on the Route 125 Bridge over Interstate 93. Since that time, the right lane on Route 125 westbound on the bridge and the on-ramp from Route 125 to Interstate 93 southbound have been closed. These closures will remain in place until the repairs can be fully completed to the damaged beam.

Drivers who are traveling through the area should reduce speed and use caution.

Appropriate signage, law enforcement details, and advanced message boards will be in place to guide drivers through the work area.

For more information on traffic conditions, travelers are encouraged to:

Dial 511 and select a route to hear real-time conditions. Visit www.mass511.com, a website that provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information, and allows users to subscribe to text and email alerts for traffic conditions. 

Follow MassDOT on Twitter @MassDOT to receive regular updates on road and traffic conditions. Download MassDOT’s GoTime mobile app and view real-time traffic conditions before setting out on the road.


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Friday, February 19, 2021

In Support of Local and Regional COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics

I have observed the operations of municipal and regional vaccine sites that have served thousands of people- they work well and they have proven to be efficient and effective for those who need them. Yesterday, I joined with State Rep. Lenny Mirra​ for a press conference at the #WestNewbury clinic. 

Together, these municipalities are drawing on the strengths of first responders, boards of health, councils on aging, and others who have many hours of training and preparation for public health and safety emergencies such as this COVID-19 pandemic. Putting those strengths to work to vaccinate residents who are vulnerable, have limited mobility, and face other obstacles to obtaining vaccination at larger "super sites " in our Commonwealth. While those larger sites play an important role in accelerating the overall vaccination rate of our population, smaller localized efforts play an equally important role in reaching vulnerable, more isolated people who might otherwise be left behind.

 Local leaders call for local vaccination sites


 


 



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Thursday, February 18, 2021

COVID-19 VACCINE FINDER

Vaccine Website Update from EOHHS 

We have been informed that the state's Executive Office of Health and Human Service is working to resolve issues with the Vaccine Finder Website. "Due to extremely high traffic and volume, the VaxFinder tool and vaccine location websites are experiencing delays. We are working as quickly as possible to resolve these issues. Appointments will be made available soon and will be released throughout the morning."


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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Vaccine Eligibility Expands

Effective Thursday, February 18th, individuals age 65 or older, individuals with two or more specific medical conditions and residents and staff of public and private low income and affordable senior housing are eligible to receive this vaccine. 

This means a significant number of new residents will be eligible for appointments. 211 is available for eligible residents who cannot use the internet to make an appointment, including 65+. 

https://www.mass.gov/covid-19-vaccine

 


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Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) Encouraging Customers to Renew Expired Inspection Stickers

Over 584,000 active MA vehicle registrations currently in need of annual emissions and safety inspections 

Law enforcement currently encouraged to use their discretion and help remind and not cite expired drivers whenever possible 1,800 local inspection stations conducting business in accordance with public health guidelines and safety protocols; station locater available at https://www.mavehiclecheck.com/apps/station-locator

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is ramping up customer communication efforts to encourage anyone driving one of over 584,000 registered vehicles with an expired Massachusetts’ inspection sticker on their vehicle’s front windshield to make a plan to get their annual inspection and update their sticker as soon as possible. All vehicles registered in Massachusetts must pass a yearly vehicle emissions and safety inspection, also known as the Massachusetts Vehicle Check Program, which is essential to the safety of the Commonwealth’s environment and roadways. At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, some extensions were granted to annual inspection stickers expiring between March and May of 2020, however those extensions have since expired and no further extensions are planned. There are 1,800 local inspection stations, many of whom are small businesses, across Massachusetts that are open for business and conducting inspections in accordance with state public health guidelines and safety protocols. Customers are encouraged to visit the Inspection Station Locator to find a location near them and plan their trip to update their sticker.

“Annual motor vehicle inspections are an integral part of helping ensure that vehicles traveling on roadways across the Commonwealth are deemed safe and not releasing dangerous emissions that can be harmful to individuals and the environment,” said Acting Secretary of Transportation and CEO Jamey Tesler. “We are thankful for all of the work and collaborative efforts that are currently underway with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Massachusetts State Police, local law enforcement, and key businesses partners and stakeholders to remind customers with expired inspection stickers to have their vehicles inspected as soon as possible.”

“The RMV encourages any customer with an expired inspection sticker to make a plan to get their inspection and sticker updated,” said Acting Registrar of Motor Vehicles Colleen Ogilvie. “Resources are readily available to help customers locate a convenient inspection station and guide them through the inspection process, following all safety and social distancing protocols to keep customers and inspection station staff safe.”

The RMV is teaming up with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), Massachusetts State Police (MSP), local law enforcement, and other business partners to remind customers of this time-sensitive requirement. While driving any motor vehicle without a valid inspection sticker is a traffic violation that may result in a fine and impact individual insurance rates, the RMV is asking law enforcement to use their discretion at this time and help remind and not cite those with expired stickers it’s time to renew.

“The emissions and safety inspection ensures motor vehicles operating in Massachusetts are safe, properly maintained, and not emitting excess air pollutants in our communities, which will improve air quality for us all,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “MassDEP, along with our program partners, encourages Massachusetts residents to renew their stickers to ensure that their vehicle emission systems are inspected yearly.”

“The Massachusetts State Police and local law enforcement are aware of the difficulties of prompt vehicle inspection renewal caused by the pandemic and agree that a reminder may be an effective temporary alternative to a citation during this current period,” said Massachusetts State Police (MSP) Colonel Chris Mason.

“We encourage individuals to proactively check the current status of their motor vehicle inspection stickers, and not wait to schedule a safety inspection, if warranted,” said Chelsea Chief of Police and President of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police Association Brian Kyes.

“You’re safe with us,” said New England Service Station and Automotive Repair Association President Edgard Fayad. “The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has been dynamic and intense for all of us in the past year. Our inspection stations have implemented thorough safety measures designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for both our staff and customers including clear signs to adhere to social distancing, increased cleanliness and hygiene practices, monitoring customer access to waiting areas, and masks required at all times. From the start of this pandemic, gas and service stations have been considered essential and we continue to be committed to helping the families and communities we serve stay safe.”

RMV records show that approximately 584,000 active vehicle registrations in Massachusetts currently have an expired inspection sticker. An email reminder will be sent to the 437,000 individuals with an address on file. Other communication efforts will include social media outreach, reminders to RMV business partners and law enforcement, and buck-slip reminders will be included in registration mailings to encourage customers to “Check Ya Stickah” and take appropriate steps as needed.

v For the latest RMV updates and information, follow the RMV on Twitter @MassRMV. For additional information on RMV service offerings during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit www.mass.gov/rmv or https://www.mass.gov/info-details/rmv-covid-19-information.


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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Today, Governor Baker held a virtual ceremonial signing of an important new law- An Act Promoting Awareness of Sewage Pollution in Public Waters. I am proud to have worked on this bill because I believe that the discharge of pollution is a serious event made even more so when it is dumped directly into one of the public drinking water sources. The public should have access to information about sewage into waterways so that they can avoid exposure to contaminants which could pose serious health risks. 

The Merrimack River, one of New England’s largest sources of public drinking water, has much of the pollution that is discharged into it coming from out of state. This new law will help us to do more to promote the health and safety of the river and those who rely on it going forward. 

Experts tell us that each year, nearly 3 billion gallons of raw or partially treated sewage is discharged to the state's waterways. The new law requires the Department of Environmental Protection to provide information about discharge notifications on its website. Those who operate sewer systems will need to issue public advisories within two hours of a discharge and every eight hours until the discharge has ended. 

Several members in the Senate have been firmly dedicated to expanding public awareness of river discharges particularly, Senator Diana DiZoglio of Methuen, Senator Edward Kennedy, of Lowell, Senator Barry Finegold of Andover, and Jamie Eldridge of Acton, and I am glad that we have worked collaboratively to get this bill to Governor Baker’s pen. 


 


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Thursday, February 11, 2021

Senate Republicans Seek Transparency and Civic Engagement in Legislative Rules Proposals

Boston - Massachusetts Senate Republicans are seeking greater openness and transparency through a series of proposed changes to the rules governing the way the legislature operates, Senate members of both parties are working to make substantive reforms to the rules that govern their process of lawmaking. 

"The Senate has made great strides over the past several years in improving the transparency and accountability of the legislative process through strong bipartisan efforts," said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr ( R - Gloucester ), who added that "Now we have a tremendous opportunity to continue those efforts for the benefit of members, the public, and the legislative process."

Filed as amendments to be considered by the Senate as it adopts rules governing the 2021- 2023 legislative session, the proposals include measures to give legislators and the public more time to read legislation prior to floor votes by:

* Requiring conference committee reports to be filed by 5 PM;

* Requiring at least 72 hours between the filing of a conference committee report and its consideration for approval by the House and Senate;

* Requiring at least 72 hours for amendments printed in the Senate Calendar to be read before being taken up by the Senate;

* Requiring 7 days for Senate members to read and analyze budget proposals and amendments; and

* Requiring at least 15 mins for members to read and analyze a redrafted or further amendment before they can be considered.

In addition to providing more time for members, the public, and the press to review legislative proposals the Senate Republicans are also proposing amendments to increase transparency, predictability, and the opportunity for civic engagement by:

* Preventing the Senate from meeting past midnight, except by unanimous consent of the members;

* Requiring a recorded vote for the Senate to continue in session past 10 PM;

* Codifying that all informal session be broadcast in a manner similar to those during the public health emergency; and

* Ensuring that legislative amendments must be made publicly available.

The Republican Caucus amendments have been filed as part of the process by which the legislature adopts rules as one of the first acts of a new legislative session. They are intended to build on a rules proposal released by the Senate's Temporary Rules Committee, which filed its report on Thursday, February 8.

The Republican caucus is not alone in seeking changes to the rules, as several Democrats have also filed amendments containing substantive changes to the rules that govern the process of lawmaking. Together, members of both parties have filed 51 amendments to Senate Bill 10, “Proposed Senate Rules for the 2021-2022 Legislative Session” and 16 amendments to Senate Bill 11, “Proposed Joint Rules for the 2021-2022 Legislative Session”.

Senator Ryan Fattman (R- Sutton ), a member of the committee, said "The public deserves adequate time and careful consideration of proposed laws by their elected officials. Anything short of that is unacceptable." Senator Fattman continued by saying, "Requiring more time to read and consider legislation only helps establish more understanding, transparency, and accountability in legislating. Providing that time and increasing accessibility of information also gives those outside the ranks of the legislature a greater opportunity for civic engagement."

Tarr, also a member of the Senate's Temporary Rules Committee, Fattman, and Senator Patrick O'Connor (R- Weymouth) emphasized that this rules initiative is intended to improve the lawmaking process not only for the members of the minority party but for all legislators as well as people concerned with how decisions are being made on their behalf.

v “It is critical for the strength of our democracy that we provide timely and accurate information regarding legislation that is being debated or acted upon,” said Senator O’Connor (R-Weymouth). “This should be done not just for the elected officials debating policy, but so that the public may have time to provide their opinion to those deciding policy. We have proven the importance of these steps with actions we have taken in the past, and hopefully we can do so again as we begin this legislative session.”

v The Senate is scheduled to debate the rules reports on Thursday, February 11th. A live stream of the session will be webcast www.facebook.com/SenatorBruceTarr at ! 11:45 AM.


 


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MassDOT Advisory: Wilmington

Right Lanes Closed on I-93 Southbound and Route 125 Westbound In addition, the on-ramp from Route 125 westbound to I-93 southbound is closed following the bridge strike 

WILMINGTON– The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is announcing that it has implemented temporary right lane and on-ramp closures following a trash hauler striking the bridge that carries Route 125 over Interstate 93 in Wilmington. The right travel lane on I-93 southbound remains closed at this time along with the right lane on Route 125 westbound to facilitate inspection, cleanup and emergency repair operations. Additionally, the on-ramp from Route 125 westbound to Interstate 93 southbound is closed. MassDOT bridge inspection is on scene along with one of MassDOT’s emergency repair contractors.

These closures are expected to remain in place for the duration of the inspection, cleanup and interim emergency repairs. Additional details will be provided as they become available.

Appropriate signage, law enforcement details, and advanced message boards will be in place to guide drivers through the work area.

Drivers who are traveling through the area should reduce speed and use caution.

For more information on traffic conditions travelers are encouraged to:

Dial 511 and select a route to hear real-time conditions. Visit www.mass511.com


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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) is here for most Massachusetts employees.

If you work in Massachusetts, you’re likely eligible to take up to 26 weeks per year of paid, job-protected time off from work when you need it most. Get to know your benefits by joining the MA Department of Family and Medical Leave in a virtual Town Hall on Thursday, February 11th at 1pm and get answers to all your questions. This Town Hall will be focused on employees, with interpretation services offered in Spanish and Portuguese. There will be another Town Hall for employees on Thursday, February 18th at 1pm, with interpretation services offered in Haitian-Creole. 

To register, click on the date you wish to attend and follow the instructions on your screen. Thursday, February 11th at 1pm  

Thursday, February 18th at 1pm 


 


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HERstory: Volume II

Photo Exhibition Replaces Photos of Past Senate Presidents with Women from Massachusetts’ History; Current Installment Celebrates Accomplishments of Women of Color.


 


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Baker-Polito Administration Announces Two Mass Vaccination Sites, New Appointments & Authorization for Caregiver to Get Vaccinated with 75+ Resident at Mass Vax Sites

Natick & Dartmouth mass vaccination sites to open in late February 

Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced two new mass vaccination sites will open in Natick and Dartmouth. On Thursday, 74,000 appointments will be posted online for mass vaccination sites and pharmacies at locations statewide. Approximately 30,000 additional appointments will be posted over the course of the week at pharmacies—totaling over 100,000 new appointments this week for mass vaccination sites and pharmacies.

The administration also announced that individuals who accompany someone age 75 or older to get a vaccine at a mass vaccination site may also schedule and receive their own vaccination on the same day.

Natick Mass Vaccination Site:

An additional mass vaccination site is scheduled to open on Monday, February 22, at the Natick Mall with LabCorp as the provider.

This site will begin administering 500 doses per day, then increasing over the course of several weeks to administering 3,000 doses daily. All eligible residents will be able to use this site.

Eligible residents can begin booking appointments for the Natick site on February 18th. For appointment booking, visit mass.gov/covidvaccine.

Dartmouth Mass Vaccination Site:

An additional mass vaccination site is scheduled to open on Wednesday, February 24, at Circuit City with Curative as the provider.

This site will begin administering 500 doses per day, then increasing over the course of several weeks to administering over 2,000 doses daily. All eligible residents will be able to use this site.

Eligible residents can begin booking appointments for the Dartmouth site on February 18th. For appointment booking, visit mass.gov/covidvaccine. New Appointments At Mass Vaccination Sites & Pharmacies:

The Administration continues to build the Commonwealth’s vaccination infrastructure, and will add 30 new retail pharmacy sites and 2 additional mass vaccination sites. There are currently more than 130 vaccination sites in Massachusetts.

Tomorrow morning (Thursday, Feb. 11), more than 53,000 appointments will be posted online for mass vaccination sites for Springfield, Danvers, Foxborough (Gillette Stadium) and Boston (Fenway Park). Eligible individuals should visit mass.gov/covidvaccine for details on how to book.

Over 50,000 pharmacy appointments will be posted online by the end of this week. 21,000 of these appointments are at new stores and will be live tomorrow. The 50,000 includes:

CVS Health: 8,064 appointments were posted this week, with an additional 21,000 appointments going live tomorrow, and another 3,000 appointments being posted daily on Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Walgreens: 7,620 appointments this week (over 1,000 released each day)

Topco (Wegmans, Big Y, Price Chopper): 3,100 appointments this week

Retail Business Services (Stop and Shop, Hannaford): 2,000 appointments this week

Caregiver Attestation for Mass Vaccination Sites:

Effective Thursday, February 11th, at mass vaccination sites, an individual who is accompanying a person age 75 or older to get the vaccine may schedule their own appointment to be vaccinated on the same day.

A caregiver must schedule their own appointment online for the same day and location as the 75 or older resident. Only one caregiver may accompany a 75 or older resident.

Mass vaccination locations will make every effort to take both individuals together to minimize wait time, even if the appointment times are not identical.

Directions to Schedule Two Appointments (for a 75+ resident & a caregiver):

Individuals can go to mass.gov/covidvaccine and schedule two separate appointments at either the same time or adjacent.

For the companion appointment, select the option ‘I am accompanying someone who is age 75+ to their vaccination appointment and my appointment is the same day.’

If individuals are unable to use or have difficultly accessing the internet, they may call 2-1-1 for assistance booking both appointments.

Only one caregiver is permitted to schedule an appointment with the 75+ resident. A caregiver may receive their first dose of the vaccine if the 75+ resident is receiving their second dose.


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Monday, February 8, 2021

Town of Manchester-by-the-Sea Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic for Residents Over 75

The Town of Manchester-by-the-Sea is pleased to announce a COVID-19 VaccineClinic for its most vulnerable residents, age 75 and over. 

The clinic will take place on Saturday, February 13, 2021 at the Sacred Heart Parish Hall from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. Pre-registration is required.

The clinic is made possible through a partnership with Conley’s Pharmacy of Ipswich, MA. Manchester residents can register online at https://hipaa.jotform.com/210341706490145. If unable to register online, please call the Manchester Council on Aging for assistance at 978-526-7500. The Manchester Council on Aging will also be providing transportation to the vaccination site upon request.

Participants should wear a t-shirt, so the upper arm is easily accessible. Please bring a photo ID, your red, white, and blue Medicare card, and other Insurance Cards. There is no cost for the vaccine, but the administration fee will be billed to insurance (patient copay is $0).

In order to prevent crowding and protect residents, please do not arrive more than 10 minutes before your scheduled appointment and remain in your vehicle until the appointment time. No early birds! There will be one way in and out of Parish Hall so please follow the direction of Town staff.

After receiving the Pfizer vaccine, residents will be monitored closely by Manchester paramedics. Fifteen minutes for those without an allergy history and thirty minutes for those with an allergy history. A follow up clinic, for second shot doses will be held 21 days later, on Saturday, March 6, 2021. If you have already received a first dose of the COVID vaccine at a different location, you must return to that same site to receive the second dose in accordance with current MA vaccine distribution guidelines.

This clinic is for Manchester-by-the-Sea residents age 75 and older with a scheduled appointment only. Contact the Manchester Board of Health with questions at 978-526-7385 or email Ellen Lufkin at lufkine@manchester.ma.us.

 



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Saturday, February 6, 2021

Today is the first full day of the #COVID19MA help phone line for ages 75 and older to get appointment support. Call 2-1-1 to reach the Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line & speak to a representative live on the phone. Also, check appointment availability at http://mass.gov/covidvaccine


 


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Friday, February 5, 2021

I'm happy to support Wear Red Day to raise awareness that heart disease is the single greatest health threat for women. I wear red today to support the fight against heart disease & stroke. I urge all women to take charge of their heart health. 


 


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Baker-Polito Administration Launches Vaccine Public Awareness Campaign, New Call Center for Residents 75 and Older

“Trust the Facts, Get the Vax” Features Diverse Group of Doctors; Vaccine Scheduling Line Available Through 2-1-1 For 75+ Residents Who Cannot Use Website 

Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a new multilingual public awareness campaign, “Trust the Facts. Get the Vax.” The research-driven, $2.5 million campaign promotes the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine and urges residents to get vaccinated when it is their turn, as vaccines continue to be distributed across the Commonwealth. The ads feature a diverse group of medical professionals who highlight the importance of the vaccine and aim to build trust with communities of color and other populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

The Administration today also announced a new call center to help residents 75 and older who are unable to access the vaccine appointment website to schedule vaccine appointments.

Public Awareness Campaign: The new statewide campaign explains how the vaccine works and seeks to build trust around its safety and efficacy with communities of color and other populations. The campaign is grounded in extensive survey research that indicated that these messages are most effectively delivered by medical professionals. TV ads in English and Spanish feature a diverse group of doctors who represent a wide range of races, ethnicities and regions of Massachusetts. Additional animated ads will run on TV and digital platforms in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Cape Verdean, Haitian Creole, Vietnamese, Chinese (Traditional & Simplified), Russian, Arabic and Albanian.

The first TV ad will run locally on Sunday, February 7, 2021, during the Super Bowl Kick-Off show. Throughout the next several weeks, the multilingual public awareness effort will be visible on a variety of additional platforms in several languages, including English, Spanish and Portuguese radio, paid social media and search ads in all languages, streaming services, and print advertising in English and Spanish outlets. A companion video in American Sign Language (ASL) is also launching today. Click here to see all campaign materials.

To develop the campaign, the Commonwealth relied on insights from a 1,000 person survey of Massachusetts residents that identified motivators and barriers around the vaccine, as well as the most effective messages and trusted voices. The Administration also consulted a 19-member external advisory group including community organizations, leaders from communities of color, health care providers, and local health officials.

Additional elements of the campaign will launch throughout the vaccine distribution process. The campaign will continue to direct residents to www.mass.gov/COVIDvaccine, where residents can learn more about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and when and where they will be able to get vaccinated.

Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line: Today, the Administration also announced a new call center to help residents 75 and older more easily schedule an appointment if they do not have internet or are unable to use the website at www.mass.gov/COVIDVaccine. The COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line is a dedicated telephone line available to residents 75 and older. The call center will be staffed with over 500 representatives who can provide live phone support to assist residents with booking an appointment. The line will be open Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM. Live call center workers will be available in English and Spanish, and 100 additional languages will be available through translators. Call center workers will have the same access to appointments that users will see on the public website.

The line can be accessed by dialing 2–1–1 and selecting the prompt for “Help Scheduling a Vaccine Appointment.” Residents may have to wait on the line given expected high call volume. Once connected with a representative, the caller will be asked to confirm he/she is 75 or older and either has no internet access or otherwise cannot use the website to book an appointment. Call-takers will then use the state’s COVID-19 vaccine site map to find nearby locations and determine whether appointments are available. If no appointments are available within a distance the caller can travel, then callers will be offered the chance to be placed on a call-back list for the mass vaccination sites. Residents will receive a call-back as appointments become available at these sites. Due to high demand and limited supply, callers may experience significant wait times. The Administration will monitor wait times and make necessary adjustments.


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Thursday, February 4, 2021

Vaccine info share with my office from Elder Services of Merrimack Valley and the North Shore:

Earlier this week, ESMV-NS began supporting the State’s efforts to vaccinate people 75+. If you hear from constituents who are having trouble registered online, they can call us at 1-800-892-0890. We do not have access to any additional slots, but we are available to help people who cannot navigate the website or don't have internet access. 

We are one of 25 Aging Service Access Points across the state serving in this role. 

We are also helping seniors without transportation who need to get to a vaccination appointments. There are a number of different transportation options we're coordinating. If an older adult constituents has a vaccine slot appointment but doesn't have a way to get there, please send them to us and we may be able to help. We are also actively working to help fight vaccine-related scams that have begun to pop up and are targeting older people. It is important to reiterate to all audiences that all Covid-19 vaccines are free. No legitimate vaccination entity will be asking for credit card numbers or SSNs. Seniors should not share personal information with anyone who claims to help them get a vaccine quicker. 

As you know, the processes for helping seniors find and receive vaccinations is continually changing. We are working with the Executive Office of Elder Affairs to help make the process more accessible for all residents of the Commonwealth. We are also coordinating with local Council on Aging partners and senior housing sites to try to overcome barriers to getting people vaccinated.


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VA Bedford offers COVID vaccinations in Gloucester this weekend

VA Bedford Healthcare System, in partnership with the City of Gloucester and Cape Ann Veterans Services, is holding a Veteran COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Rose Baker Senior Center this weekend, Feb. 6-7, 2021. 

VA will administer the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to Veterans 60 and older who are currently enrolled in VA health care. VA schedulers are actively calling these patients to schedule appointments between 9:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. both days. Enrolled Veterans may also call the COVID-19 vaccination line at 781-687-4000 to make an appointment at #Gloucester or Bedford.

The Rose Baker Senior Center is located at 6 Manuel F. Lewis Street in Gloucester. Veterans will be automatically scheduled for Feb. 27 for their second vaccination dose at Gloucester.

Veterans who are not enrolled or do not currently receive care at VA can visit VA's Eligibility web page to learn more: https://www.va.gov/health-care/eligibility/.

Follow our COVID-19 vaccination page at https://www.bedford.va.gov/services/covid-19-vaccines.asp for updates. Like and follow us on social media at https://www.facebook.com/VABedfordHCS and https://twitter.com/VABedfordHCS.


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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Town of North Reading Board of Health / Health Department has been authorized to administer 100 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination beginning the week of February 8, 2021. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has limited vaccination distribution to the Health Department’s clinic to 100 doses per week throughout the month of February. 

Beginning on Monday, February 8, 2021 at 9:00 AM and every Monday at 9:00 AM for the month of February 2021, the Phase II Priority Group of adults 75 and older will be able to go onto the North Reading Health Department website at https://www.northreadingma.gov/health-department/pages/covid-19-vaccine-localstate-prepmod-registration and access a link to register for an appointment for the COVID 19 vaccination. The first Phase II vaccination clinic is scheduled to be held on Wednesday February 10, 2021 from 10:00 AM to 1:15 PM and every Tuesday and Thursday thereafter in February from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the Hillview Country Club, 149 North Street, North Reading, Massachusetts 01864.

North Reading Health Department COVID-19 vaccination appointments may be scheduled online only. All registration for COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be via PrepMod, a Massachusetts Department of Public Health vaccination clinic registration module. Please seek assistance from family, friends, or neighbors if you are having difficulty registering for an appointment. Residents in need of other assistance may call the Edith O’Leary Senior Center at 978-664-5600 for assistance registering online. Due to the amount of time required to register, residents calling the Senior Center are advised that wait times may be significant. More information regarding a statewide telephone number to make appointments will be made available once it is provided to the Health Department. Please do not call the North Reading Health Department as staff are unable to register individuals for vaccination.

Due to the limited supply of vaccines being made available to North Reading, the Health Department strongly encourages North Reading residents to register for an appointment at another clinic in Massachusetts if appointments at the Hillview clinic are unavailable. Registration for clinics statewide may be found at www.maimmunizations.org. Rides may be arranged by calling Mystic Valley Elder Services at 781-324-7705.


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Monday, February 1, 2021

Winter Storm Update

The US National Weather Service Boston MA has officially upgraded the storm watch to a Winter Storm Warning. The rain/snow line will allow snowfall amounts of a foot or more for portions of eastern MA. A Coastal Flood Watch in effect as well. 

Today at 11:00 AM, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito will join Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Director Samantha Phillips and transportation officials to provide an update on the upcoming winter storm. A live stream will be available at www.facebook.com/SenatorBruceTarr.


 


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Winter Storm And COVID-19 Vaccination Sites

Due to the storm, DOT anticipates imposing a ban on travel on Monday by tractor trailers on I-90 between the hours of 10:00 AM until 11:59 PM. Massachusetts State Police may also impose a speed restriction for motor vehicles of 40 m.p.h. on I-90 between specific interchanges if conditions warrant. 

COVID-19 Vaccination Sites: In the case of closures due to inclement weather, providers of COVID-19 vaccination sites will reach out to individuals with appointments directly to reschedule. If individuals cannot safely get to their appointments, they will be allowed to reschedule directly with the provider with whom they scheduled a vaccination. For further questions on winter weather impacts, individuals should reach out to provider sites directly. To find contact info for an individual site, please check the map at mass.gov/COVIDVaccineMap.​ 

MassDOT has approximately 3,900 pieces of state and vendor equipment available for snow and ice operations and this includes over 1,400 plow and spreader combos, 2,100 plows, and 460 front-end loaders.


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Sunday, January 31, 2021

Significant Winter Storm Potential for Later Monday into Tuesday

The National Weather Service is forecasting a winter storm to impact the Commonwealth later Monday into Tuesday. Most of Eastern Massachusetts is expected to have 8-12 inches of snow accumulation with lesser amounts (1 to 4 inches) in Southeast Massachusetts. The main concern is the potential of significant snow accumulations, however, there also is the risk for strong winds along with coastal flooding and beach erosion along the eastern MA coastline. Wind gusts are expected to reach between 40 to 55 mph along the eastern coastline with gusts reaching 55-60mph on Cape Cod and the islands.



 


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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Mass Cultural Council has a grant opportunity available right now – the COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals, which provides $1,500 to artists who have lost personal income due to COVID cancellations and closures. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, Feb. 2. 

We have funding to award at least 430 $1,500 grants. Grants will be distributed via a lottery-style, random selection process. To ensure geographic diversity, grants will be awarded by region in proportion to the region’s application demand. 

The regions are as follows: 

  • · Greater Boston 
  • · Central 
  • · Metrowest 
  • · Northeast 
  • · Southeast 
  • · Western 

Learn more, here’s where you can get more info: https://massculturalcouncil.org/artists-art/covid-19-relief-fund-for-individuals/application-process


 


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COVID-19 Command Center Announces More Details For Vaccine Online Booking Process

Thousands of appointments to be added weekly, most availability at mass vaccination sites 

Today, the Command Center provided additional instructions for the online booking process for residents 75 years and older for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Beginning February 1st, residents age 75 and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Massachusetts. Appointments became available yesterday for online booking at www.mass.gov/COVIDVaccine.

Right now and until more vaccines are readily available, there is a very high demand for a limited number of appointments through the online platform.

Additional appointments will be added to the website regularly, with the most availability at mass vaccination sites. Some smaller sites, like CVS Health, will post a smaller number of new appointments daily.

More mass vaccination sites will be announced soon in other locations. On Wednesday, 10,000 appointments were posted in Springfield and Danvers and were filled within hours.

Today, Springfield and Danvers made another 15,000 appointments available, Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park posted a total of 20,000 appointments this morning. CVS Health will post 1,152 new appointments daily across their 8 sites, for a total of 8,000 per week. CVS Health is posting new appointments online daily.

In total, over 35,000 new appointments are live over the course of the day for appointments in the next 7 days.

Mass Vaccinations Sites (currently accepting appointments):

Gillette Stadium in Foxboro

Fenway Park in Boston

Eastfield Mall in Springfield

DoubleTree Hotel in Danvers

Currently, the mass vaccination sites are posting large batches of appointments once a week (on Thursdays) for the next 7 days. The number of appointments is based on the available number of doses allocated from the federal government to ensure every appointment is fulfilled with a dose. The mass vaccination sites plan to increase the number of appointments posted weekly in the coming weeks based on the federal allocation of vaccines shipped to Massachusetts. Residents are encouraged to check mass vaccination sites weekly for the most number of appointments. It could take weeks for eligible residents to secure an appointment based on availability and supply.

Steps to book an appointment online:

Visit www.mass.gov/CovidVaccineMap and click on the map.

Select a location, schedule an appointment online.

Have your important information with you, such as your insurance card

Fill out the self-attestation form, which will need to be presented at your appointment.

Appointments are also available in other locations, including some pharmacies and community health centers. Some of these sites will post appointments more frequently, in some cases daily. Please check www.mass.gov/covidvaccinemap frequently for open appointments. These sites are smaller and will have fewer available appointments on a weekly basis. 


 


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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

"Beam Signing Ceremony"

From time-to-time, students and school staff will leave an indelible mark on a school, today I had an opportunity to leave one. Thanks to an invitation from Pentucket Regional School District Superintendent of Schools Jonathan Seymour and Justin Bartholomew, Chair of the Building Committee, I was asked to sign the "last beam" that will be placed onto the new Middle/High School. Pentucket Regional is a regional school district with students from the towns of #Groveland, #Merrimac, and #WestNewbury, With State Rep. Lenny Mirra 

 

 











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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Tonight Governor Baker delivered a State of the Commonwealth Address that not only recognized the difficult times that we are enduring, but also the tenacity, innovation, collaboration, and countless acts of individual dedication and sacrifice that enable us to endure them with hope for the future, and pride in our state and our neighbors. 

Beyond any single issue or act, the Governor's words have spoken to the need for all of us to rise to the challenges of the times, to remember that we all have something to contribute to the effort and that we need to forge ahead with respect, civility, and an unyielding commitment to get to the brighter days which lay ahead.


 


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Monday, January 25, 2021

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Expansion of COVID-19 Vaccination Sites, Updates to Phase Two

Vaccinations for Individuals 75+ to Begin on February 1 as part of Phase Two 

Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced an expansion of COVID-19 vaccination sites in all parts of the Commonwealth, including new mass vaccination sites, pharmacy locations and local sites. By mid-February, the Administration expects there will be 165 vaccination sites in the Commonwealth. The Administration also announced updates to plans for Phase Two of the Commonwealth’s distribution plan. Individuals 75 years or older will now be the first priority group in Phase Two, and individuals 65 years and older have been moved into the second priority group, in addition to individuals with two comorbidities. Starting on February 1 individuals age 75 or older can be vaccinated. Vaccination sites can be found on the Commonwealth’s map at mass.gov/COVIDVaccineMap

Vaccination Site Expansion

The COVID-19 Response Command Center has been working with health care providers, local officials, pharmacies and others to set up additional COVID-19 vaccination sites across the Commonwealth, with a focus on accessibility and geographic equity.

As of this week, Massachusetts plans to have 103 publicly available vaccination sites. Between these sites and other vaccination clinic sites (e.g. congregate care, health systems), the Commonwealth currently has the capacity to administer 242,000 doses of vaccine per week. This capacity is significantly more than the 173,175 first and second doses that the Commonwealth expects to receive from the federal government this week.

By mid-February, the Administration expects there will be 165 publicly available vaccination sites. Between these sites and other vaccination clinic sites (e.g., congregate care, health systems) the Commonwealth will have capacity to administer 305,000 vaccinations per week. This capacity is significantly more capacity than the 189,640 doses that the Commonwealth expects to receive from the federal government that week.

It is important to note that the state’s capacity to vaccinate is not the same as the number of shots administered. Vaccine capacity is determined by the state’s plan to establish sites, staff and logistics in place to do 305,000 doses by mid-February. But, the actual number of vaccinations administered to residents depends on several variables, including the availability of doses from the federal government.

The Commonwealth is planning to set up the capacity to administer more doses than we are currently receiving from the federal government. If Massachusetts continues to get the same number of doses from the federal government that the state is getting now, there could be empty seats at vaccine sites. The Administration also announced new mass vaccinations sites in Springfield, Danvers and Boston: The Springfield site at Eastfield Mall will open on January 29.

The Danvers sites at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel will open on February 3. In collaboration with the City of Boston, a site at the Reggie Lewis Center will open the first week of February. These are in addition to sites already announced at Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park. By mid-February, the Commonwealth’s mass vaccination sites will have the capacity to vaccinate 76,000 people each week. The Administration expects to open at least seven mass vaccination sites as vaccine distribution continues. These mass vaccination sites have the ability to significantly and rapidly scale up operations if vaccine supply from the federal government increases.

In addition to the mass vaccination sites, the Administration is establishing public vaccination sites at a variety of different locations in every region of the Commonwealth. Public vaccination sites listed on the map include places like pharmacies, community clinics, and other providers and organizations that have experience administering vaccines efficiently and safely. This week, 44 new public vaccination sites will open. These include new pharmacy and retail locations such as Big Y, Wegmans, Price Chopper, Retail Business Services at Hannaford and Stop and Shop Pharmacies, and CVS Health. While many sites across the Commonwealth are open to all eligible individuals, some sites will be operated by local communities specifically for the residents in their community or the residents in their region. This week, 11 new restricted vaccination sites will open.

A map with all locations is available at mass.gov/COVIDVaccineMap

Each location has additional details on eligible groups and signup details. The map is updated frequently as more sites come online.

Phase Two Priority Group Updates

The Administration announced updates to Phase Two of the distribution plan, which will begin February 1st for the first priority group. Individuals 75 and older will now be the first priority group in Phase Two.

Consistent with CDC guidance, individuals 65 and older and individuals with 2 or more comorbidities will now be the second priority group. Later this month, individuals age 65 or older and individuals with 2 or more comorbidities will be eligible to get the vaccine. The exact date will depend on the vaccine supply from the federal government and the uptake and demand for vaccine appointments.

Along with the addition of individuals age 65 and older into part 2 of Phase Two, the Commonwealth updated the listing to no longer specifically list Public and Private low income and affordable senior housing as its own category, as all individuals over the age of 65 will be eligible to receive vaccine by part 2 of Phase Two regardless of where they live.

The order of Phase Two will now be:

Individuals 75+

Individuals 65+ or with 2+ comorbidities

Early education and K-12 workers, transit, utility, food and agriculture, sanitation, public works, and public health workers, and

Individuals with one comorbidity.

All Phase One eligible priority groups are now eligible for vaccinations, which includes all health care workers, residents and staff of long term care facilities, and congregate care facilities, home health care workers and non-COVID-facing health care workers and first responders.

The Administration will announce further updates on timing for other priority groups as the Commonwealth gets more information on vaccine shipments from the federal government. To learn more about the eligible groups, visit mass.gov/COVIDvaccine

How to Get a Vaccine

Individuals with questions about how to get a vaccine should follow these steps:

Visit mass.gov/COVIDvaccine to find your phase and priority group

If you are eligible: use mass.gov/COVIDVaccineMap to find a vaccine clinic near you

Make an appointment online and fill out the attestation form


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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Jaws of Life Training in Boxford

I ventured out with members of the Town of Boxford's Fire Department for Jaws of Life training yesterday at the invitation of Chief Brian Geiger. Personal protective turnout gear is critically important to all firefighters and that is why I wrote a law that created a fund to make fire safety equipment grants available. Technical training in using gear correctly is vital too, including life-sustaining equipment such as The Jaws of Life. When used right, his powerful tool can extricate a trapped passenger quickly.  












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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Massachusetts RMV Extends Designated Wednesday Appointment Hours for Customers 75 Years of Age or Older Through February & March

Expands available senior appointment types to include registration & title transactions in addition to in-person license renewals 

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is pleased to announce it will continue to offer designated Wednesday appointment hours for customers 75 years of age or older through March 2021. Individuals in this age group are required by state law to renew their Massachusetts driver’s license in-person. Beginning in February, the RMV will also be expanding the license renewal appointments available for these customers to include registration and title services and transactions.

Designated senior service hours began on September 2, 2020, to offer customers 75 and older dedicated times and flexibility to conduct their required in-person license renewals while facilitating “social-distancing” protocols to keep customers and staff safe and healthy.

Senior appointment hours for license renewals, and registration and title services appointments effective in February, will continue to be offered on Wednesdays at the following 17 RMV Service Center locations (hours vary by location): Brockton, Danvers, Fall River, Greenfield, Lawrence, Leominster, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, New Bedford, North Adams, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Revere, South Yarmouth, Springfield, Watertown, and Worcester.

Below are the options for seniors to schedule in-person appointments during designated service hours:

If you are a AAA member, you may make a reservation now to renew your driver’s license/ID or conduct certain other transactions at a AAA location. Visit aaa.com/appointments to schedule your visit.

If you are not a AAA member, visit Mass.Gov/RMV to make a reservation to renew or conduct most other transactions at an RMV Service Center. Visit the Make/Cancel a Reservation transaction tab in the MyRMV Service Center and select “Senior Transaction” for all available RMV transactions. Reservations can be booked two weeks in advance.

Email the RMV for assistance: MassDOTRMVSeniors@dot.state.ma.us.

Call the RMV at 857-368-8005.

General appointments for license and ID renewals or registration and title transactions, as well as other essential in-person needs including drop-off registration and title services, are available to all customers at select locations throughout the business week.

Additional information on RMV service offerings and appointments can be found at www.Mass.Gov/RMV, including more than 40 transactions that can be conducted online, by mail, or by phone. The RMV recommends that all customers get ready online before their appointment.

Anyone conducting in-person business at an RMV customer service location must wear a face-covering and will continue to be served by appointment only. Appointments for many RMV transactions can also be made at AAA customer locations if the customer is a member of AAA.


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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The swearing-in of a President is always an important day in American history. Today, we inaugurate a new President and Vice President and I wish Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, our nation's first woman and first Asian and African American to serve in that position, the very best in healing the divisions in our country and leading us to a state of good public health and greater prosperity. 

 


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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Baker-Polito Administration Launches COVID-19 Vaccine CDC Pharmacy Partnership - Phase 1, Expands Vaccine Locations & Names Fenway Park as Mass Vaccination Site Command Center Announces New Vaccine Sites to Administer Several Thousands More Shots Per Week Statewide

Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the expansion of more vaccine locations in each region of the Commonwealth at pharmacies, health care providers and a second mass vaccination site to boost the capacity to administer vaccines per week by the thousands. The Commonwealth will continue to add more vaccination sites throughout Massachusetts. Information on available sites will be available on a rolling basis here - https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-vaccine-locations-for-individuals-currently-eligible-to-be-vaccinated

First, the Administration announced that Massachusetts will become one of the first states in the nation to launch the COVID-19 CDC Pharmacy Partnership - Phase 1 with CVS Health and Walgreens pharmacies located throughout the Commonwealth. Starting this week, this program will deliver a total of 10,000 doses to at least 15 CVS Health and Walgreens pharmacies a week for eligible residents in the Phase One priority groups.

Second, the Administration announced that Fenway Park will become the state’s second mass vaccination site, joining Gillette Stadium. The ballpark will open on February 1st to start administering up to 500 vaccines per day to eligible residents in the Phase One priority groups.

Next, the Administration also announced that UMass Amherst will expand their vaccination site to provide inoculations for eligible residents in Phase One priority groups. UMass Amherst has been providing vaccines to first responders, and plans to now offer vaccines to all eligible residents in Phase One priority groups immediately.

Finally, to increase vaccine access for Phase 1 eligible priority groups, the Baker-Polito Administration is launching the Hospital Depot Initiative. This new program will facilitate access to COVID-19 vaccine for independent physician practices prioritized under Phase 1.

Current eligible groups under Phase 1 include: Clinical and non-clinical health care workers doing direct and COVID-facing care; Long term care facilities, rest homes and assisted living facilities; First responders (EMS, Fire, Police); and Congregate care settings (including corrections and shelters).

CDC Pharmacy Partnership - Phase 1

Massachusetts will be among the first states to activate retail pharmacy vaccination at scale through select CVS Health and Walgreens, which will start inoculating eligible residents in Phase One priority groups by appointment.

Starting this week, at least 15 CVS Health and Walgreens, located in areas of the state where there is currently less access to convenient vaccine sites, will receive a total of 10,000 vaccines to administer this week. The first 15 locations are located in Greenfield, Fall River, Salem, South Yarmouth, Pittsfield, Lee, Holden, Gardner, Hyannis, Mashpee, Somerset, Fairhaven, Haverhill, Saugus and Danvers. Eligible residents in Phase One priority groups can view sites and book an appointment today by clicking here. Approximately 40 vaccination sites will be added the week of 1/25 through current partners and collaboration with additional partners (Wegmans, Big Y, Price Chopper, Stop & Shop, Hannaford). Massachusetts expects to increase vaccine volume through retail pharmacies in the coming weeks. The Command Center will provide more details as pharmacy partners and sites come online.

Fenway Park Named as Second Mass Vaccination Site

Fenway Park will be the state’s second mass vaccination site and will open on February 1st. Initially, the ballpark is scheduled to administer 500 vaccines per day by appointment and will ramp up to providing 1,000 vaccines per day soon to eligible residents in Phase One priority groups. CIC Health will operate the site, with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, part of Beth Israel Lahey Health, as the medical director.

The site is expected to stay open through the beginning of baseball season in early April. The Command Center is also working with the City of Boston to identify and set up a longer-term vaccine site in Boston.

Last week, the Administration announced Gillette Stadium as the first mass vaccination site, which opened for eligible Phase One groups yesterday. This week, the site is expected to work up to administering over 1,000 vaccinations per day, and soon after, 5,000 vaccinations per day. Eligible residents in Phase 1 priority groups can book an appointment at Gillette Stadium by clicking here. The Command Center is finalizing plans for several other mass vaccination sites.

UMass Vaccination Site Expansion

Beginning today, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst has expanded their role to administer COVID-19 vaccines, providing vaccinations for all eligible groups in Phase One of the state’s distribution plan. This high capacity site will serve eligible groups in the Western Mass area. Appointments for the UMass Amherst vaccination site can be booked here.

Hospital Depot Initiative

To increase vaccine access for residents in eligible Phase 1 priority groups, the Baker-Polito Administration is launching the Hospital Depot Initiative. This new program will facilitate access to COVID-19 vaccines for independent COVID-facing physician practices prioritized under Phase 1. The Massachusetts COVID-19 Command Center and DPH, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) and Mass General Brigham (MGB), is managing this initiative starting with COVID-facing health care workers. Under this initiative, hospitals serving each region of the state have been identified as a depot to assist the Commonwealth with its vaccination distribution efforts. For clinical practices that are unable, due to their staff size and storage capacity, to receive larger, direct allocations of vaccine, a depot hospital will receive doses on their behalf and redistribute vaccine and all ancillary materials for office-based vaccination. In some cases, the hospital will provide direct vaccination to health care workers. The Massachusetts Medical Society is managing communications and coordination with physician practices.

Participating hospitals include:

Mass General Brigham, Lawrence General Hospital, Signature Brockton Hospital, UMass Memorial Medical Center, Baystate Medical Center and Berkshire Medical Center.


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Monday, January 18, 2021

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. During a difficult time in the history of our nation he extolled the belief that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal" and confronted oppression and intolerance with faith, character, and perseverance. 

Even as his own life was at risk, Dr. King marched forward to advance civil rights, peacefully, with his head held high, and with a clear, powerful voice for positive change. That vision for change was immortalized in his "I have a dream " speech, delivered at perhaps the height of racial tensions in March of 1963 to thousands gathered at the Lincoln Memorial. 

An excerpt from that now famous speech still echoes with truth and relevance: "Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children'' May we all reflect today on Dr. King's contributions to our nation and the ways we can each provide support for freedom and equality. 


 


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Friday, January 15, 2021

How to Report Unemployment Benefits Fraud

The DUA Program Integrity team will process the reported fraud to ensure that if any payments were made, they are not recognized as income to you and are not reported to the IRS on Form 1099-G at the end of the calendar year for tax purposes. If you have already received a 1099-G related to this fraudulent claim, we will review your request and send you a corrected Form 1099-G. In addition, the fraudulent claim will not impact your ability to collect unemployment should you need to in the future and no charges will be assessed to your employer (if applicable). 

For the Fraud Reporting Form: https://www.mass.gov/forms/unemployment-fraud-reporting-form


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Today, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito will join Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders to participate in a ceremonial signing of S.2931, An Act to Ensure Safe Patient Access to Emergency Care, " Laura’s Law". 

A live-stream of the State House event from Great Hall will be available at facebook.com/SenatorBruceTarr at 1:30.


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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Governor Charlie Baker's Briefing Thursday, January 14, 2021

Today, at approximately 11:30, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito will join Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy and Mass Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) President & CEO Larry Andrews to highlight the latest round of funds distributed from the COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program administered by MGCC. A live stream will be available at https://www.facebook.com/SenatorBruceTarr.

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Baker-Polito Administration Awards Another $78.5 Million in Additional Grants to 1,595 Businesses Most Impacted by the Pandemic

MGCC grants have now reached 4,119 businesses; grant awards total approximately $195 million out of $668 million fund set up to support small businesses 

[NOTE: Grant Program Application Deadline: Friday Night, Jan. 15 - see below.] 

The Baker-Polito Administration announced $78.5 million in awards to 1,595 additional small businesses in the third round of grants through the COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation. 

To date, the Baker-Polito Administration has awarded close to $195 million in direct financial support to 4,119 small businesses out of a $668 million fund set up to support small businesses across the Commonwealth. Additional grants will be announced in the coming weeks for thousands of additional businesses. 

“Our administration set up a $668 million grant program to support small businesses statewide that are struggling from COVID-19 impacts,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Today, we are awarding our third round of grants, for a total of $195 million in direct financial support for over 4,000 small businesses, with more yet to come. Supporting small businesses is vital to our economic recovery, and we’ll continue to expedite this grant process to send out funds to provide some much needed financial relief.” 

“Understanding how significant the need for financial assistance is, we’ve taken important steps to ensure these resources are directed toward the businesses that have historically been at a disadvantage even before the pandemic, or are located in communities, especially Gateway Cities, that have suffered disproportionately because of this virus,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “I’m grateful for the partnership with MGCC to provide this important assistance, and I look forward to the coming weeks when we can award even more support for the economic sectors that are most in need.” 

“Through each of the three grant rounds, small businesses are receiving essential support at a critical time in our fight against COVID-19,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “I want to acknowledge the team at Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation for their efforts to stand up this impactful program. It is important that we as a Commonwealth continue our dual paths of combating the virus and supporting economic recovery.” 

“At our core, MGCC has the responsibility to create economic opportunities and provide support for small businesses, and the pandemic has given our mission an enhanced importance,” said MGCC President and CEO Larry Andrews. “As we transition from targeting small businesses to specific economic sectors affected by COVID-19, I want to express my gratitude to all of the partner organizations who helped raise awareness among the businesses with the greatest need and those serving communities that have traditionally been at a disadvantage.” 

Representing key industries that have been especially impacted during the pandemic, restaurants and bars, personal care, retail, and health care businesses received the highest number of individual grants this round. These industries have been particularly hard hit during the pandemic. Other grant recipients include women-owned businesses, businesses in Gateway Cities, businesses in underserved markets and businesses that have previously received no other forms of financial assistance. 

New Grant Program Application Deadline: Friday Night, Jan. 15  

In addition to administering the small business grant program, MGCC also oversees the Sector-Specific Small Business Relief Grant Program, which was launched as a component of the $668 million relief package announced in late-December 2020. Prospective applicants to the Sector-Specific Small Business Relief Grant Program are reminded that the deadline to submit an application is 11:59 PM on Friday, January 15. Awards are expected to be announced in February. 

The Sector-Specific Small Business Relief Grant Program, which targets industries experiencing the most significant economic hardship and a loss of revenue, will offer grants up to $75,000, but not more than three months’ operating expenses, to be used for payroll and employee benefit costs, mortgage interest, rent, utilities and interest on other debt obligations. 

The Sector-Specific Program will give preference to the following: 

Restaurants, bars, caterers and food trucks; Indoor recreation and entertainment establishments; 

Gyms and fitness centers; 

Event-support companies (photographers, videographers, etc.);

Personal services (nail salons, barbershops, independent pharmacies, etc.); Independent retailers. 

Program details, application instructions, eligibility and documentation requirements, and more are available at www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org.


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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Governor Charlie Baker Briefs Today at 12:30

Today, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito will join Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders to provide an update on COVID-19 vaccinations for congregate care settings. A live stream from Gardner Auditorium at the State House will be available right here www.facebook.com/SenatorBruceTarr at 12:30 PM.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Governor Baker's Briefing for January 12

Today, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito will join local leaders to provide an update on COVID-19 vaccinations for first responders. A live stream will be available at https://www.facebook.com/SenatorBruceTarr around noon.

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Drive-Through Food Pantry Saturday, January 16

The Open Door is a true asset. They work to reduce hunger connecting people to good food while advocating on behalf of those in need. 

 Please have a look at the information about their special drive-through food event this Saturday. https://theopendoorappointments.as.me/drivethrupantry


 


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Monday, January 11, 2021

Governor Baker Signs Health Care Legislation Increasing Access to Quality, Affordable Care, Promoting Telehealth and Protecting Access To COVID-19 Testing, Treatment

I joined Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito, Senator Cindy Friedman, and Senator Julian Cyr, for a ceremonial signing of the bill. 

The new law: 

* Increases insurance coverage for telehealth services, 

* Expands the scope of practice for nurse practitioners, other specialized nurses, and optometrists,

* Takes steps to protect consumers from surprise medical bills. 

* Extends requirements for all insurance carriers in Massachusetts to cover COVID-19 testing and treatment. 

* Removes barriers to urgent care centers for MassHealth members 

* Takes several steps to increase MassHealth member access to urgent care sites, including eliminating referral requirements before urgent care visits and requirements for care coordination with the member’s primary care physician. 

To read more about the law - https://www.mass.gov/news/governor-baker-signs-health-care-legislation-increasing-access-to-quality-affordable-care


 



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