Last week’s updates can be found here.
City officials, Brigham and Women’s Hospital believe The Strand ‘would be ideal’ as vaccination site (Feb. 12)
Free COVID-19 testing has been offered in the parking lot behind the historic Strand Theater in Boston since January, and now officials in Boston are considering the possibility of adding vaccinations to the site, according to the Dorchester Reporter.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital is managing testing at the spot in Uphams Corner, and Wanda McClain, vice president of Community Health and Health Equity at the hospital, said this week work is underway “actively exploring” the possibility of adding vaccinations to the site’s offerings.
So far officials are considering the option of using the site for vaccinations two days a week when it isn’t open for testing, according to the Reporter.
“This space would be ideal,” McClain said.
The Strand, located at 543 Columbia Road in Dorchester, is open for walk-up COVID-19 testing on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. The testing, which is being offered for free regardless of symptoms or insurance, is being performed outside a mobile van in the parking lot behind the theater. Individuals arriving for testing are asked to enter the theater through the main entrance and wait in line inside.
Coronavirus testing average continues to drop in Boston, concerning officials (Feb. 11)
As Boston’s COVID-19 metrics are slowly improving, city data also shows a continued downward slope in coronavirus tests.
The daily number of new positive cases has dipped to 239, falling well below the city’s 339 threshold of concern, according to the semi-weekly COVID-19 report the Boston Public Health Commission releases.
Just over a month ago that same number had peaked at 592 daily cases.
The city’s data reports that the seven-day average positive test rate has been on a steady decline over the past month as well, landing at 5%, as of the most recent available count. This leaves it hovering right on the city’s threshold for concern, and incomplete preliminary data suggests the number will drop lower.
Just in early January, the average positive test rate peaked at 8.9%. Now, only one neighborhood has an over 8% positivity rate.
However, Boston reported that the number of residents — excluding colleges — getting COVID-19 tests has fallen week after week. Officials said the city is currently averaging 4,111 tests per day following four consecutive weeks of a decline. In January, testing averages peaked at 6,657 per day.
“We encourage everyone to make testing part of your regular routine. We would like to see people try and get tested once a week if at all possible,” Mayor Marty Walsh told reporters at a Wednesday press conference. “Testing does remain critical even as the vaccine becomes available to more groups.”
Walsh noted the significant drop in positive cases and said he’s hoping the city can get testing numbers back up. If testing then rises and cases still decline, Walsh said that would prove a sign that we’re stepping in the right direction.
Boston Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez additionally told reporters that while he appreciates the continued efforts to raise awareness about the vaccine and encourage folks to get it, people still need to take extra precautions.
“We need folks to get tested. If you’ve been exposed or if you’re connecting with others, really getting tested is important. Wearing a face covering, social distancing, good hand hygiene, those are with us for many more months if not longer,” Martinez said. “I can’t stress it enough: As we’re focused on the vaccine, we need to continue to be focused on those other prevention messages.”
‘Avoid travel’ school authorities say as February vacation approaches (Feb. 11)
In his weekly update posted on Monday, Jeffrey Riley, commissioner for the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, told families to “avoid travel” during the upcoming February school break.
Riley also advised families to limit any gathering sizes, and to gather only with people they live with or with those they see regularly.
“Anyone considering travel should review and abide by Massachusetts travel orders, and people who want to travel to another state that is not a lower-risk state should be aware of the quarantine requirements involved with such travel,” he said.
Merrie Najimy, Massachusetts Teachers Association president, told WBZ that staff are concerned about the upcoming break.
“Everybody is exhausted,” she said. “This is taking a toll on all of us and educators are anxious about school vacation, especially with the new variant.”
Dorchester VFW hosting vaccine clinic for senior veterans on Saturday (Feb. 10)
A COVID-19 vaccination clinic will be held on Saturday at the Dorchester Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1018 at 500 Morton St. for eligible senior veterans.
Doses of the Moderna vaccine will be administered to veterans ages 65 and older who are enrolled in Veterans Affairs Health Care and their designated caregivers who are enrolled in VA Caregiver Support programs, Mayor Marty Walsh said on Wednesday.
Vaccinations will be offered between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on a first come, first serve basis, Walsh said.
Those vaccinated on Saturday will receive their second shot of the two-dose vaccine on March 13.
According to a post on the VFW Post 1018 Facebook page, veterans can enroll in VA Health Care by calling 877-222-8387.
VA Boston will be conducting a Covid-19 Vaccine clinic to Veterans 65 and over this Saturday at Boston Police Post 1018…
Boston is reserving vaccine appointments for minority seniors at the Reggie Lewis Center (Feb. 10)
Boston officials are reserving 40 percent of the COVID-19 vaccine appointments at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury to organizations that assist seniors of color.
The move is an attempt to have more Black and Hispanic residents vaccinated, according to The Boston Herald, which reports advocates are concerned that’s not happening often enough.
More of the city’s white seniors have been vaccinated to date — a pattern partially due to the fact that those now eligible for the vaccine — people age 75 and older — are majority white, Marty Martinez, the city’s chief of health and human services, told city councilors on Tuesday.
People of color make up the majority of Boston’s population.
“Most folks signing up at the mass vaccination sites are not from communities of color,” he said.
Only 36 percent of the people who received vaccine doses at the Reggie Lewis Center mass vaccination site since it opened last week are people of color, the Herald reports. Officials had set aside 20 percent of the appointments for Black and Hispanic seniors specifically before increasing that allotment this week.
“That’s what we’re going to continue to do — is set aside appointments and then work collaboratively with these organizations to create access for folks,” Martinez said.
National Guard deployed to aid Springfield vaccination site after seniors wait in cold for appointments (Feb. 9)
Members of the state’s National Guard will soon be deployed to help Western Massachusetts’s lone mass vaccination site in Springfield, where officials have raised a series of safety concerns as seniors have been stuck waiting for their appointments in long lines stretching through the snow.
Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno on Tuesday announced a slew of new changes to the Eastfield Mall site to ensure customer service is more timely, and that seniors can wait inside the mall instead of in the cold.
Part of those changes, he said, is assistance from the national guard.
Two teams of ten medically qualified guard members will soon be on site at the Springfield and Danvers mass vaccination locations to help administer the vaccine, the state said in a press release. The state deployed another ten-member team to the vaccination site in East Boston last week.
The soldiers will also help reassure residents that they will not lose their place in line by moving inside for warmth.
“In speaking with Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Curative Site Director Dean Shultis a number of times yesterday and this morning about better and more timely customer service logistics for our senior citizens in Springfield and Western Mass, I have been assured that these changes/adjustments are going to be made ASAP,” Sarno said in a statement.
Individuals with a scheduled appointment who cannot wait inside, he added, will be told to wait in their vehicles.
Sarno said more workforce will be added to cut down wait times, and officials will implement ambassadors and signboard notifications as well.
He added that a review of the company Curative, which runs the mass vaccination site, and their system’s approach for contacting and updating senior citizens on their appointments will also be conducted.
“We must always be cognizant of the needs of our seniors,” he said. “Especially during these challenging and surreal times of defeating the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.”
Mass. state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg tests positive for COVID-19 (Feb. 8)
Massachusetts state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg tested positive for COVID-19 after she learned she may have been recently exposed to the virus, according to her office.
“She is monitoring her symptoms, following the guidelines established by the CDC, and is quarantining at home,” her office said in a statement on Sunday. “The Treasurer’s office will continue to function normally, and the Treasurer plans to participate remotely. The Treasurer encourages everyone to continue to follow the advice of medical professionals, wear a mask, and maintain social distance.”
Today Treasurer Deborah Goldberg tested positive for the Coronavirus. Please read more below. pic.twitter.com/SwCr6zUghO
— Deborah Goldberg (@MassTreasury) February 7, 2021