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COVID-19

Commonwealth Launches “Mass VaxMillions” Vaccine Lottery Program

BOSTON – Today, the Baker-Polito Administration, Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg and the Massachusetts State Lottery announced the Massachusetts VaxMillions Giveaway for residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Fully vaccinated residents 18 and older will have the opportunity to enter to win of five, $1 million cash prizes. Fully vaccinated residents between 12-17 years of age may enter for the chance to win one of five $300,000 scholarship grants.

Eligible residents will be able to enter the drawing beginning July 1. Drawings will be held once a week for five weeks beginning the week of Monday, July 26 and continuing through the week ending Friday, August 27.

“The Commonwealth leads the nation in vaccinating our residents, with almost four million people fully vaccinated, and our goal remains ensuring everyone that wants a vaccine has access to one,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The VaxMillions Giveway is one of the many ways our administration is encouraging people to get the vaccine, and we are grateful for the partnership of Treasurer Goldberg and the Mass State Lottery in developing the program.”

“Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We are hopeful that this new initiative will encourage even more residents to get the COVID vaccine and help return our Commonwealth to a new normal.”

“The Massachusetts State Lottery is proud to join Governor Charlie Baker and the Department of Public Health to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of every person across the Commonwealth,” said Deborah B. Goldberg, Massachusetts State Treasurer. “The Lottery has decades of experience and know-how to hold drawings with the utmost integrity and our team is excited to fulfill an essential role in this initiative.”

“We greatly appreciate the trust that Governor Baker, his administration and Treasurer Goldberg have in the Mass Lottery to assist in the implementation of this important public health initiative,” said Michael Sweeney, Executive Director, Massachusetts State Lottery. “The Mass Lottery has worked diligently to build a reputation as one of the most successful lotteries in the country and it is an honor to be entrusted with this responsibility.”

The Commonwealth is launching the Massachusetts VaxMillions giveaway as one of many strategies to increase awareness of the availability and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines and encourage residents to get vaccinated to keep themselves, their families and their communities safe. Beginning July 1, Massachusetts residents will be able to enter the VaxMillions Giveaway online. If you do not have access to the internet or require assistance, there will be a call center available. Sign up information and call center contact info and hours will be made available prior to July 1.

Massachusetts residents 18 years of age and older, who have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, will have a chance to win one of five, $1 million cash prizes.

Massachusetts residents between 12 and 17 years of age who have received two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will have a chance to win one of five $300,000 scholarship grants via a 529 College Savings Plan managed by the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA). Funds in a 529 plan can be applied to cover tuition, room and board, and related expenses at any college, university, or technical or trade school or other post-secondary educational institution eligible to participate in a student aid program administered by the U.S. Department of Education. Winners with a qualifying disability may elect instead to receive an equivalent financial contribution to a special needs trust or federally qualified ABLE account to cover qualified expenses.

Only lawful, permanent residents of Massachusetts who are fully vaccinated can apply. Residents must have received their vaccine doses within Massachusetts. Residents must be fully vaccinated prior to submitting their entry.

There are over 900 vaccination locations across the Commonwealth, with appointments and walk ins widely available. Residents seeking a vaccine can visit mass.gov/COVIDVaccine to find a vaccine location that is convenient for them.

For more information on the Mass VaxMillions Giveaway, visit mass.gov/VaxMillions.

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Baker-Polito Administration to Lift COVID Restrictions May 29, State to Meet Vaccination Goal by Beginning of June

Note: The following is a press release from Gov. Charlie Baker’s office.

Commonwealth Will Adopt CDC Face Covering Guidance

BOSTON – Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced that the Commonwealth is on track to meet the goal of vaccinating 4.1 million residents by the first week of June and all remaining COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted effective May 29.

The Commonwealth’s face covering order will also be rescinded on May 29. The Department of Public Health will issue a new face covering advisory consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated guidance. Face coverings will still be mandatory for all individuals on public and private transportation systems (including rideshares, livery, taxi, ferries, MBTA, Commuter Rail and transportation stations), in healthcare facilities and in other settings hosting vulnerable populations, such as congregate care settings.

Governor Charlie Baker will end the State of Emergency June 15.

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Baker-Polito Administration Announces Employer Vaccination Program, Extension of Targeted free COVID-19 Testing Sites, Provides Weekly Dose Updates

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration announced yesterday the Commonwealth’s Employer Vaccination Program, which will allow Massachusetts employers options to easily and conveniently vaccinate their employees.

All detailed information on this program can be found at www.mass.gov/EmployerVaccine.  This webpage includes a link to a form that employers should submit to request appointments.  There is no financial cost to the employer.

There are two main options for employers:

Option 1: Group appointments at mass vaccination sites.

This is the quickest and easiest option. Appointments will be scheduled starting Monday, May 17th. Employers can request a block of appointments at any of the Commonwealth’s 7 mass vaccination sites.

Employers can help register employees for their appointments or the Commonwealth will provide an employer with links to share with employees so they can sign up during the block of appointments. The minimum number of appointments required is 10 and there is no maximum limit.

Registration requires simple demographic information – insurance and identification are not required at the time of registration or appointment, if not available.  Employers can set up a table or kiosk onsite to have an onsite presence for employees which can be coordinated with the site operator after submitting a request.

These sites are easy, fast, and convenient. Most vaccination appointments take less than 30 minutes, including the 15-minute observation period. Employers can request a block of appointments for their employees to be vaccinated on a specific day/time. Employers or employees will be responsible for transportation to and from the vaccination site.

Sites are available 7 days a week, hours vary by site/day. Extensive accessibility accommodations are available and additional special accommodations may be made available upon request (e.g., interpreters). This option will be available through June 30th, with first dose appointments available through June 11th.

For more information on how to book group appointments and to submit an official request form, visit the employer vaccination page at mass.gov/employervaccine. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Option 2: Mobile on-site employer vaccination clinic

Employers who have confirmed that 35 or more employees will obtain a vaccination at the employer pop-up clinic may request a mobile, on-site, vaccination clinic. A vaccination provider will come on-site to the employer host-property to vaccinate individuals and return 3-4 weeks later to deliver 2nd doses. Employers must survey employees and confirm participation prior to requesting a clinic.

In order to schedule an on-site clinic, employers will need to provide:

  • Address of employer and contact person
  • Number of employees who have confirmed that they will receive the vaccination
  • Space for vaccination clinic (inside, outside) and any additional details
  • Type of appointment registration (i.e., ahead of clinic, day-of), prior registration preferred
  • Requested date and time

Employer clinics will be scheduled and prioritized based upon number of individuals getting vaccinated and location of the clinic. Employers located in communities with vaccination rates below the state average will be prioritized. On-site clinics will begin as soon as Monday, May 17th.

All details on employer vaccinations options and requirements can be found at www.mass.gov/employervaccine

Additionally, we encourage all employers to remind their employees of the importance of getting vaccinated and of the availability of more than 900 locations across the state.  For more information, please check the state’s website at www.mass.gov/covidvaccine.

Weekly Dose Update

This week, the Commonwealth received 245,460 first and second doses as part of the state allocation. These figures do not include doses provided directly from the federal government to the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) or Community Vaccination Center (CVC).

This week, first doses and second dose state allocations (total doses), were distributed among providers as follows:

Health systems and health care providers (excluding community health centers): 81,890

Regional Collaboratives and Local Boards of Health: 57,720

Mass vaccination locations: 97,250

Community Health Centers state allocation only: 7,100

Mobile Clinics supporting long-term care facilities, congregate care, affordable/low-income senior housing and homebound individuals: 1,500

Weekly allocations are subject to change based on federal availability, demand from providers, and obligations to meet second doses. Providers have 10 days to use their doses and must meet specific performance thresholds.

Federal Doses:

In addition to the state allocation, the federal government has increased its distribution of vaccines to CVS Health sites as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership as well as to certain Massachusetts federally qualified community health centers. These quantities fluctuate on a weekly basis and are not counted as part of the state’s weekly allocation but represent an increasing allocation to selected locations.

This week, 112,240 first and second doses were allocated to the retail pharmacy program.

FQHCs received 30,200 doses directly from the Federal Government.

The Community Vaccination Clinic at the Hynes Convention Center was allocated 42,120 doses.

Extension of Stop the Spread Testing Initiative:

The “Stop the Spread” COVID-19 initiative, which provides free COVID-19 testing in 35 locations across the Commonwealth and was set to close on June 30th, has been extended through September 30, 2021.

Building on Massachusetts’ nation-leading COVID-19 testing program, state-sponsored testing will continue to be available to all Massachusetts residents at no cost to them through September 30, 2021 Testing is one of the important public health tools, in addition to contact tracing, complying with public health mitigation measures and getting vaccinated, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Since the state began this free virus testing in July 2020, more than 2.3 million tests have been conducted at “Stop the Spread” locations as of March 3, 2021. Meanwhile, the total number of COVID-19 tests conducted state-wide at all testing providers since the pandemic began is more than 22 million.

The Stop the Spread initiative is a data-driven effort to reduce the prevalence of COVID-19 in communities across the Commonwealth. All state residents may visit the locations even if they do not reside in the town or city where the testing is being conducted.

The statewide 7-day average of percent positivity for COVID-19 of individuals tested as reported on Monday, May 10th, was 1.26%.

Residents of the state may visit the following website to find testing locations: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/find-a-covid-19-test . Additional information about COVID-19 testing, including why testing is important and what you should do if your test is positive, can be found at www.mass.gov/GetTested.

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Baker-Polito Administration Announces Plans for Continued Reopening

BOSTON – Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced that Massachusetts will reopen some outdoor Phase 4, Step 2 industries effective May 10th and put plans in place for further reopening on May 29th and August 1st. The Administration continues to take steps to reopen the Commonwealth’s economy with public health metrics continuing to trend in a positive direction. This includes drops in average daily COVID cases and hospitalizations. Massachusetts remains first in the nation for first vaccine doses and total doses administered per capita, among states with more than 5 million people. The Administration will also relax the Face Coverings Order for some outdoor settings, effective April 30th.

Phase IV, Step 2 Industries and Gathering Changes:

On March 22, Massachusetts loosened capacity restrictions and advanced to Step 1 of Phase IV of the reopening plan. Since then, case rates dropped by 20%. The positivity rate has dropped to the lowest levels recorded since last summer.

Effective Monday, May 10th:

Large venues such as indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas and ballparks currently open as part of Phase 4, Step 1 at 12% will be permitted to increase capacity to 25%.

The Commonwealth will reopen some outdoor Phase 4, Step 2 industries including amusement parks, theme parks and outdoor water parks that will be permitted to operate at a 50% capacity after submitting safety plans to the Department of Public Health.

Road races and other large, outdoor organized amateur or professional group athletic events will be permitted to take place with staggered starts after submitting safety plans to a local board of health or the DPH.

Youth and adult amateur sports tournaments will be allowed for moderate and high risk sports.

Singing will also be permitted indoors with strict distancing requirements at performance venues, restaurants, event venues and other businesses.

Effective May 29th:

Subject to public health and vaccination data, gathering limits will increase to 200 people indoors and 250 people outdoors for event venues, public settings and private settings.

Subject to public health and vaccination data, additional Phase 4, Step 2 industries will be permitted to open including:

  • Street festivals, parades and agricultural festivals, at 50% of their previous capacity and after submitting safety plans to the local board of health.
  • Bars, beer gardens, breweries, wineries and distilleries, will be subject to restaurant rules with seated service only, a 90 minute limit and no dance floors.

Subject to public health and vaccination data, the restaurant guidance will be updated to eliminate the requirement that food be served with alcohol and to increase the maximum table size to 10.

Effective August 1st:

Subject to public health and vaccination data, remaining industries will be permitted to open including:

  • Dance clubs, and nightclubs
  • Saunas, hot-tubs, steam rooms at fitness centers, health clubs and other facilities
  • Indoor water parks
  • Ball pits

All industry restrictions will be lifted at that time, and capacity will increase to 100% for all industries, with businesses encouraged to continue following best practices. The gathering limit will be rescinded.

Depending on vaccine distribution and public health data, the Administration may consider re-evaluating the August 1st date.

The Department of Public Health will also continue to issue guidance as needed, including guidance to still require masks indoors.

Face Coverings Order: 

Effective April 30th, the Face Coverings Order will be relaxed for some outdoor settings.

Face coverings will only be required outside in public when it is not possible to socially distance, and at other times required by sector-specific guidance.

Face coverings will still be required at all times in indoor public places. Face coverings will also continue to be required at all times at events, whether held indoors or outdoors and whether held in a public space or private home, except for when eating or drinking.

At smaller gatherings in private homes, face coverings are recommended but not required. The $300 fine as an enforcement mechanism will be eliminated.

For more information, visit mass.gov/reopening.

Town of Nahant Announces First COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic to Be Held at Town Hall Next Week

Participants to Receive First Dose of Moderna Vaccine

Town Administrator Antonio Barletta and the Nahant Board of Health announce the Town of Nahant will be hosting its first community COVID-19 vaccination clinic next week.

WHEN:

Thursday, April 29 from 10 a.m. to noon.

WHERE:

Nahant Town Hall, 334 Nahant Road.

WHAT:

The Town of Nahant will be hosting a COVID-19 vaccination clinic next week for anyone 18 years or older. Those who attend the clinic will receive their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Pre-registration is required and can be done online here. Doses will be available on a first come, first serve basis.

Those who sign up for the clinic must bring identification and, if available, health insurance information to their scheduled appointment.

At Thursdays clinic, participants will be given the information needed to register for their second dose.

The clinic is being run in partnership between Nahant Board of Health and Lynn Board of Health.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to host a vaccine clinic here in Nahant and are grateful for our partnership with the City of Lynn which is making this possible,” Town Administrator Barletta said. “I encourage our residents and our neighbors to book an appointment quickly and take advantage of this local option.”

Nahant residents with questions may additionally call the Town’s Vaccine Registration Hotline at 781-771-8222 or call the Town Hall at 781-581-9927 for more information.

Additional appointments are available through the state at other locations throughout the Commonwealth, including the Lynn Tech Vaccination Site. To learn more about that clinic or to make an appointment online, click here.

All sites require an appointment and appointments are available to all individuals age 16 or older to anyone who lives, works or studies in Massachusetts.

To make an appointment at a state vaccination site:

Information regarding the Town of Nahant’s response to COVID-19 can be found online at NahantCOVID19.com.

The Nahant COVID-19 Hotline is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. To access the hotline, call 781-771-8222.

Nahant COVID-19 Hotlines for Vaccine Registration

The town of Nahant has four phones lines to help our elderly residents with the online registration process for vaccines. If you are eligible for Phase 2 of the vaccine, please call any of our four hotlines during normal Town Hall hours, Monday through Thursday 7:30 AM until 4 PM and Fridays 7:30 AM until 12:30 PM.

  • ( 781 ) 581 – 7557
  • ( 781 ) 771 – 8222
  • ( 781 ) 771 – 5632
  • ( 781 ) 771 – 6230

Reminder: Vaccine Eligibility Expands to Adults 55+ & Those With At Least One of Several Certain Medical Conditions on April 5

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration announced today that residents 55+ and residents with one certain medical condition will be eligible for vaccine on Monday, April 5th.

In addition, the Administration announced that Massachusetts will adopt the CDC’s updated list of medical conditions. This week, the CDC added more medical conditions that are linked to an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (full list here). Massachusetts will adopt this guidance and make individuals eligible starting April 5th if they have one of these medical conditions. As a result of adopting the CDC’s list, more residents will be eligible starting April 5th.

55+ and Residents with one certain medical condition

On Monday, April 5th, residents 55+ and residents with one certain medical condition will be eligible to receive vaccine at any of the Commonwealth’s over 300 vaccination locations, including 269 pharmacy locations. With this group, more than 1 million additional residents will be eligible for vaccine in the Commonwealth.

The full timeline is available at mass.gov/COVIDVaccinePhases.

The Administration was informed early this week of a one-time increased shipment of 100,000 J&J vaccines that will arrive in the state early next week. Depending on supply from the federal government, it could take weeks for people to be notified that an appointment is available at a mass vaccination site.

Individuals can learn more about the Commonwealth’s vaccination sites and pre-registration by visiting vaxfinder.mass.gov.

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Baker-Polito Administration Awards More Than $14 Million in Grants to 295 Additional Businesses for COVID Relief

BOSTON – Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced approximately $14.6 million in awards for 295 additional businesses in the eleventh round of COVID relief grants administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC). As in prior rounds, each grant recipient meets sector or demographic priorities set for the grant programs administered by MGCC.

With the addition of this round of grants, the Administration has awarded almost $648 million in direct financial support to 14,351 businesses across the Commonwealth. Grants for this round were awarded to 107 minority-owned, and 107 woman-owned, businesses; 64 grantees are in the restaurant sector, 91 recipients are located in Gateway Cities, and 104 businesses have not received any prior aid.

Acknowledging the importance of restaurants and independent retailers to communities across Massachusetts, business owners of multiple locations that met demographic and sector priorities are receiving awards to support additional locations.

Additionally, MGCC this week announced the availability of funding to support non-profits that offer technical assistance designed to help existing small businesses recover and thrive post COVID-19, as well as community development financial institutions that will back the recovery, resiliency and growth of small businesses in underserved communities through matching capital.

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Baker-Polito Administration Announces Transition to Phase IV of Reopening Plan

Note: The following is a press release from Gov. Baker’s office.

Massachusetts will advance to Step 1 of Phase IV on March 22; Replaces Travel Order with Travel Advisory

BOSTON — Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced that Massachusetts will advance to Step 1 of Phase IV of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan on Monday, March 22. The Administration continues to take steps to reopen the Commonwealth’s economy with public health metrics continuing to trend in a positive direction. This includes drops in average daily COVID cases and hospitalizations. Massachusetts also continues to be a national leader in vaccination rates. The Administration also replaced the Massachusetts Travel Order originally issued in July 2020 with a Travel Advisory, effective March 22.

In addition, the Administration also announced nearly $31 million in awards to 710 additional small businesses in the tenth round of COVID-19 relief grants administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC).

Phase IV, Step 1 and Gathering Changes:

On March 1, Massachusetts loosened capacity restrictions for several industries and advanced to Step 2 of Phase III of the reopening plan. Since then, hospitalizations dropped by 20% and deaths dropped by 24%. The seven day average of new cases in long-term care facilities dropped by 53%. The positive test rate remains below 2% and has been for several weeks now. The seven day average of new cases is also down over this time by 7%.

Effective Monday, March 22, all communities in Massachusetts will move into Step 1 of Phase IV of the state’s reopening plan. This will open a range of previously closed business sectors under tight capacity restrictions that are expected to be adjusted over time if favorable trends in the public health data continue. Effective on the planned advancement to Step 1 of Phase IV, the following large capacity sports and entertainment venues will be permitted to operate at a strict 12% capacity limit after submitting a plan to the Department of Public Health (DPH):

  • Indoor and outdoor stadiums
  • Arenas
  • Ballparks

Also effective on March 22, gathering limits for event venues and in public settings will increase to 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors. Outdoor gatherings at private residences and in private backyards will remain at a maximum of 25 people, with indoor house gatherings remaining at 10 people.

Additionally, dance floors will be permitted at weddings and other events only, and overnight summer camps will be allowed to operate this coming summer. Exhibition and convention halls may also begin to operate, following gatherings limits and event protocols. Other Phase IV sectors must continue to remain closed.

Travel Order:

Effective Monday, March 22, the Massachusetts Travel Order will be replaced with a Travel Advisory.

The new travel advisory will urge all persons entering Massachusetts, including returning residents, are advised to quarantine for 10 days upon their arrival if they have been out of the state for 24 hours or more.

The advisory does not apply to anyone in the following categories:

  • Anyone who is returning to Massachusetts after an absence of fewer than 24 hours.
  • Travelers who have a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72 hours prior to their arrival in Massachusetts.
  • Workers who enter Massachusetts to perform critical infrastructure functions (as specified by the Federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) while they are commuting to or from or while at work.
  • Travelers who are fully vaccinated (i.e. who have received two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines OR who have received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 14 days or more ago and who do not have symptoms).

Travelers are additionally encouraged to consult and follow the CDC’s guidelines and requirements for travel.

COVID-19 Business Relief Grants:

Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced approximately $31 million in awards for 710 additional businesses in the tenth round of COVID relief grants administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC). As in prior rounds, each grant recipient meets sector or demographic priorities set for the grant programs administered by MGCC.

With the addition of this round of grants, the Administration has awarded over $633 million in direct financial support to 14,056 businesses across the Commonwealth.
Grants for this round were awarded to 327 minority-owned, and 293 women-owned, businesses; 240 recipients are located in Gateway Cities, and 245 businesses awarded grants have not received any prior aid.

Additionally, MGCC will soon be announcing the availability of funding to support small business technical assistance and community development financial institutions.

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