Thursday, March 4, 2021

Massachusetts to open 2 more mass vaccination sites

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BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts is opening two additional mass vaccination sites this month, in Natick and Dartmouth, as the state ramps up its effort to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday.

The announcement comes as 74,000 appointments are scheduled to be posted online for mass vaccination sites and pharmacies at locations statewide on Thursday.

An additional 30,000 appointments will be posted over the course of the week at pharmacies, for a total of more than 100,000 new appointments this week.

The Natick location will open Feb. 22 at the Natick Mall and will begin administering 500 doses per day, accelerating over the course of several weeks to 3,000 doses daily.

The Dartmouth location is scheduled to open Feb 24 at Circuit City. It will begin administering 500 doses per day, increasing over several weeks to more than 2,000 doses daily.

Also beginning Thursday at mass vaccination sites, caregivers who are accompanying a person 75 or older may schedule their own vaccination at the same time and location.

Only one caregiver is permitted to schedule an appointment with the older resident. Caregivers may receive their first dose of the vaccine even if the older resident is receiving their second dose.

Public health officials also reported that the state has wasted over 1,200 doses of the coronavirus vaccine, a small portion of the nearly 1 million doses shipped to Massachusetts so far.

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POOR GRADES

Massachusetts is getting miserable grades for its efforts in fighting the coronavirus.

The state received three Fs and a D in four key performance areas, according to a report released Tuesday by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Massachusetts got Fs for deaths per capita, vaccinations per capita, and vaccinations as percentage of doses available.

In the “months to finish vaccinating eligible,” Massachusetts got a D.

West Virginia was one of the most successful states with three As and a C.

Grades are assigned on a curve in which the top 10 are awarded an A and the bottom 10 an F.

“If we compare the states to 50 runners in a series of marathons, we can see who is leading — as well as who is bringing up the rear. In the first race to protect the lives of its citizens and thus have the fewest deaths per capita, at this point Massachusetts has fallen so far behind that it is almost impossible for it to catch up,” professor Graham Allison and research assistant Hugo Yen wrote in their analysis.

Overall, the Belfer Center’s report called the nation’s handling of the pandemic “appalling.”

An email seeking comment was sent to a spokesperson for the state’s COVID-19 Command Center.

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VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS

The number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts rose by 82 on Wednesday, pushing the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 14,903 since the start of the pandemic.

The number of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased by more than 1,900 and its confirmed caseload rose to more than 521,000.

The true number of cases is likely higher because studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.

There were more than 1,300 people reported hospitalized Wednesday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with more than 300 in intensive care units.

The average age of those hospitalized was 72. There were an estimated more than 52,000 people with current active cases of COVID-19 in the state.

The number of probable or confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported in long-term care facilities rose to 8,291.

More than 950,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Massachusetts.

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UMASS FRATERNITY

A fraternity at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been put on interim suspension while the school investigates reports that it hosted two large parties that violated regulations meant to control the spread of the coronavirus.

The state’s flagship public university last weekend moved to all-remote learning and told students to stay in their residences for two weeks, except for essential reasons, following hundreds of confirmed cases on campus.

The student newspaper, the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, reported that Theta Chi held two parties on the weekend of Jan. 29-30, just before the start of the semester, but after thousands of students had returned to campus.

Representatives of the fraternity denied hosting parties.

Theta Chi has been ordered to cease all chapter-related functions pending an investigation by the Student Conduct and Community Standards Office, university spokesperson Ed Blaguszewski said in a statement.

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NATIONAL GUARD

The Massachusetts National Guard has joined the state’s effort to administer COVID-19 shots.

The guard said in a press release Wednesday that beginning last week, 10 medically qualified Guard members began working with the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center to administer vaccines.

On Wednesday, two teams of 10 Guard members were on site at the Springfield and Danvers mass vaccination sites to assist in administering vaccines.

The mission is federally funded.

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