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Acushnet Fire Chief Gallagher: “We can never lose sight of the reality that the pandemic did not treat all residents equally.”

“A MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF:

“At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer, we remember them.”- Sylvan Kamens & Rabbi Jack Reimer.

“Sixteen months ago, a state of emergency was declared due to a novel virus spreading quickly across the world, country and state. In a few short weeks this virus made its way to Acushnet. There has been so much we lost, some things minor, some things major. No one was spared some direct impact from Covid 19.

“We can never lose sight of the reality that the pandemic did not treat all residents equally. Some became ill, many didn’t. Some recovered quickly and completely, many haven’t.

“And, fifteen residents of Acushnet, Massachusetts, died.

“The Acushnet Town Clerk, Pamela LaBonte, has received death certificates for 15 residents for whom it was determined that Covid was the cause of death. In the early days of the pandemic some death certificates cited pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses as the reason for death. All we are certain of is that, as of today, the official records show 15 residents lost to the virus.

“Acushnet is known as a close community. Our population of slightly more than 10,000 residents accommodates friendships, strong neighborhoods and a sense of a really big extended family. We celebrate community successes and mourn community losses. We are, quite simply, aware that we are in this, that, and the other thing, together.

“The members of the Acushnet Fire & EMS Department want to do something that demonstrates our deepest sympathies, and that of this community, to the families of those local lives cut short by Covid. We want the families of our lost neighbors to know that we share in their grief. We want the families to know that we care.

“Beginning tonight, and lasting at least for the next few days, we will be illuminating 16 lights on the lawn of Fire Station #1. These lights represent the lives of the 15 known Acushnet Covid victims as well as one light for those whose Covid deaths are not officially documented.

“This temporary memorial is designed to be a simple, quiet and respectful reminder of the members of our community, all of whom had so much more to give to their families, their friends and neighbors, and their community. Their light was taken too soon.
“We hope the families and friends of those lost take comfort in knowing that all of Acushnet shares in their grief.”-Chief Kevin A. Gallagher.




Massachusetts Gov. Baker to invest $186 Million in COVID-19 funding for critical health care and workforce priorities

The Baker-Polito Administration today announced it will invest $186 million of the Commonwealth’s direct federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) toward critical priorities including support for hospitals, health and human services, mental health, and workforce development. Utilizing these federal resources now will help further the Commonwealth’s economic recovery and provide relief for residents hardest-hit by COVID-19, such as lower-wage workers and communities of color.

This $186 million is part of a total of approximately $5.3 billion in direct aid awarded to the Commonwealth through ARPA. The funding announced today is part of $200 million provided to the Administration in recently signed legislation for addressing critical needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Baker has filed legislation to put an additional $2.915 billion of this funding to immediate use to address additional urgent and pressing needs including housing and homeownership, economic development and local downtowns, job training and workforce development, health care, and infrastructure.

“Our administration is putting this $186 million to work now because many communities throughout Massachusetts – especially low-income families and communities of color – have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and cannot wait for assistance. More than 400,000 residents are due to lose enhanced unemployment benefits in the first week of September, making the workforce training funding particularly urgent,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We look forward to working quickly with our colleagues in the Legislature in allocating additional funding and providing residents and families with relief from the housing, economic, workforce, health care, and other challenges which continue to face the Commonwealth as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Investing this $186 million is an important step in helping those who have been hard-hit by the pandemic, and we must continue deploying federal resources to further the economic recovery,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “These funds will help address crucial health care and workforce priorities, and we look forward to quickly getting them out the door and into our local communities.”

Highlights of this $186 million investment plan include:

Health Care

• $55 million for health and human services’ workforce development. Funding will enable 10% immediate time-limited rate enhancements from July through December 2021, helping strengthen and stabilize the state’s provider networks’ workforce in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

• $50 million for fiscally distressed hospitals. This funding will help stabilize safety net hospital systems that have experienced significant financial shortfalls according to the latest data published by CHIA and those serving communities that were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

• $31 million for inpatient psychiatric acute facilities, both free-standing and in general hospitals. This investment will help bridge a significant staffing gap which is resulting in many individuals not being able to access licensed psychiatric beds and therefore spending extensive periods of time in emergency rooms. Funding will provide temporary supplemental payments to recruit critically needed clinical and direct care staff.

Workforce

• Up to $50 million to help train an estimated 15,000 unemployed or underemployed individuals across Massachusetts by providing industry credentials in critical areas of the economy such as advanced manufacturing, health care, information technology, and construction. Funding will also help scale up workforce development efforts in work readiness programs such as ESOL and the Signal Success soft skills-building curriculum.

The discretionary funds awarded to the Commonwealth through ARPA are intended to support urgent COVID-19 response efforts, replace lost revenue, support immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses, and address unequal public health and economic challenges in Massachusetts cities and towns throughout the pandemic. ARPA is also providing a total of $3.4 billion in direct aid for local governments throughout Massachusetts.

Massachusetts expects to benefit from a total of approximately $113 billion in COVID-related federal aid provided through the six pieces of federal legislation enacted during the pandemic. The majority of this funding is outside of the Commonwealth’s discretion. For example, over $50 billion is going directly to individuals and businesses in the form of stimulus payments, Paycheck Protection Program loans, Unemployment Assistance, and other initiatives.

Over $3 billion has been awarded to the MBTA, RTAs, airports, and transportation. Approximately $2.9 billion has been awarded in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER Grants) for local schools, over $1.5 billion is being provided for higher education relief, and nearly $700 million has been awarded for child care.




Southcoast Health, Operation Clean Sweep team up for volunteering for cleanup in New Bedford, vaccinations

Southcoast Health will host Operation Clean Sweep on and around the St. Luke’s Hospital campus in New Bedford’s West End from 8am until noon on Saturday, July 17. The community is invited to join in this event for a day of giving back with fellow volunteers, friends and neighbors.

The Southcoast Mobile Wellness Team will be on site administering the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to individuals 18 and over, officials said.

“Southcoast Health understands that the environment in which community members live, work and play is a critical indicator of overall health and wellness in the area. Collaborating with Operation Clean Sweep represents an opportunity to directly contribute to our neighborhoods’ quality of life,” said Rachel Davis, Southcoast Health Director of Community Benefits. “Cleanups are a fun way to get outside and volunteer for a good cause, bringing about immediate results while reminding us to be mindful of our environmental impact.”

Added Davis: “While we are thrilled to welcome our volunteers back and begin hosting community events again, we also know that COVID-19 is still a clear and present concern, so the Southcoast Mobile Wellness Team will be available to vaccinate volunteers and visitors safely, effectively and conveniently.”

Complimentary refreshments, t-shirts, gardening gloves, and hand sanitizer will be available while supplies last. Students and volunteers are also eligible to earn community service hours during the cleanup.

Operation Clean Sweep is a grassroots organization, run by volunteers who have made outstanding progress decreasing litter in the New Bedford area.

“We are excited to partner with Southcoast Health once again,” said Russ Wotton, co-leader of Operation Clean Sweep. “We always have many volunteers join us, and it’s great to see the community work together.”

Check-in will begin at 8am and is located in the Southcoast Health employee parking lot at the corner of Hawthorn and Page streets near St. Luke’s Hospital.

Please visit https://www.southcoast.org/event/ocs2021/ for registration and additional information.

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About Southcoast Health
Celebrating the system’s 25th anniversary in 2021, Southcoast Health is a not-for-profit, charitable organization and the largest provider of primary and specialty care in the region, serving communities in Rhode Island and across Southeastern Massachusetts. Southcoast Health is a Newsweek’s World’s Best Hospital in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Out of the 2,743 considered hospitals in the United States, only 250 earned this recognition. In 2020 and 2021, St. Luke’s is a Newsweek and Leapfrog’s Best Maternity Hospitals. In 2019 and 2020, the Southcoast Health system also received seven awards, including Best Hospitals and Best Place to Work, in SouthCoast Media Group’s Best of the Best Awards voted on by residents and readers.

As a network of more than 700 physicians, hospitalists, and mid-level practitioners, Southcoast Health is a system of three acute care hospitals — Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford, and Tobey Hospital in Wareham, and also provides behavioral health services in partnership with Acadia at Southcoast Behavioral Health in Dartmouth. Southcoast Health’s System comprises seven Urgent Care Centers, two Centers for Cancer Care, visiting nurse association, and numerous additional ambulatory facilities that offer convenience and access to services for more than 724,000 residents in 33 communities covering over 900 square miles in Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

With 7,500 employees, Southcoast Health is the largest employer in Southeastern Mass., and one of the largest employers in the Commonwealth, according to the Boston Business Journal. Southcoast Health is proud of our mission of providing high-quality, affordable healthcare to our patients and proud of our tradition of eliminating the barriers that prevent access to care. More information is available online at www.southcoast.org. Connect to Southcoast Health through social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Southcoast® is a registered trademark of Southcoast Health System.




Vaccine clinics planned throughout July in New Bedford, with no appointment needed

Vaccine clinics are planned through the month of July in New Bedford, with no appointment needed, some of more than 40 clinics in the city this month.

No appointment is needed at the walk-up clinics. All New Bedford residents receiving their first dose will receive a $20 Dunkin’ gift card.

Vaccine clinics are scheduled for the following dates and locations:

Week of July 4:

• Thursday, July 8: Market Basket, 122 Sawyer Street, 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.
• Thursday, July 8: Whaling City Festival, Buttonwood Park, 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.
• Saturday, July 10: Centro Comunitario de Trabajadores, 1532 Acushnet Avenue, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
• Saturday, July 10: NAACP of Greater New Bedford, 95 Cedar Street, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
• Saturday, July 10: Whaling City Festival, Buttonwood Park, 12:00 Noon to 4:00 p.m.

Week of July 11:

• Sunday, July 11: Fort Taber Park, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
• Sunday, July 11: Brooklawn Park, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
• Sunday, July 11: Whaling City Festival, Buttonwood Park, 12 Noon to 4:00 p.m.
• Monday, July 12: New Bedford Regional Airport, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
• Monday, July 12: Andrea McCoy Recreation Center, 181 Hillman Street, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
• Tuesday, July 13: New Bedford Regional Airport, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
• Wednesday, July 14: New Bedford Regional Airport, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
• Thursday, July 15: Market Basket, 122 Sawyer Street, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
• Friday, July 16: Market Basket, 122 Sawyer Street, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Week of July 18:

Monday, July 19: Andrea McCoy Recreation Center, 181 Hillman Street, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Monday, July 19: New Bedford Regional Airport, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Tuesday, July 20: New Bedford Regional Airport, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, July 21: New Bedford Regional Airport, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Thursday, July 22: Market Basket, 122 Sawyer Street, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Friday, July 23: Market Basket, 122 Sawyer Street, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Week of July 25:

• Monday, July 26: Andrea McCoy Recreation Center, 181 Hillman Street, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
• Tuesday, July 27: New Bedford Regional Airport, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
• Wednesday, July 28: New Bedford Regional Airport, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
• Thursday, July 29: Market Basket, 122 Sawyer Street, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
• Friday, July 30: Market Basket, 122 Sawyer Street, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Other walk-up vaccine clinics, with no appointment needed, may be announced in the coming weeks for other dates in July in addition to these clinics.




Vaccines available this weekend in New Bedford, with no appointment needed

COVID-19 vaccination clinics are planned for this week and weekend in New Bedford.

No appointment is needed at the walk-up clinics. All New Bedford residents receiving their first dose will receive a $20 Dunkin’ gift card.

* Market Basket, 122 Sawyer Street – Friday, July 2 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

* Price Rite (South End), 39 South Street (Corner of Route 18) – Saturday, July 3 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. A $50 gift card to Price Rite will also be available to the first 20 New Bedford residents receiving their first dose.

* Riverside Park – Saturday, July 3 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

* Monte Park – Sunday, July 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

The New Bedford Health Department’s site at Andrea McCoy Recreation Center will be open on Monday, July 5 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for walk-in vaccinations.




Sudders receives “Hero for Health” award in New Bedford; cited for Massachusetts pandemic response

Marylou Sudders, who serves as Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services and has led the Commonwealth through its coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic as head of the state’s Response Command Center, was announced as Southcoast Health’s 2020-21 Hero for Health at St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford today.

Southcoast Health President and CEO Keith Hovan presented Sudders with the award, which was established to recognize leaders dedicated to public health causes.

“This year, more than ever, it feels special to be gathering and celebrating the principle that great health care requires not just great health systems, but strong civic and governmental leaders who truly understand the importance of safety and wellness in the communities we serve,” Hovan said during Tuesday’s ceremony.

Sudders joined Gov. Charlie Baker’s cabinet in 2015 with a background in mental health and social work. She is responsible for overseeing 12 agencies, including MassHealth, with a combined budget of $24 billion – the largest budget in all of Massachusetts state government.

“Secretary Sudders has led our Commonwealth through this pandemic with a solution-focused approach driven by boldness, determination and resolve,” Hovan said. “She was instrumental in ensuring Southcoast Health had access to the tools to properly care for our region – among them, providing PPE and testing supplies in the early stages of the pandemic, partnering with us to establish a field hospital at UMass Dartmouth and facilitating the distribution of life-saving vaccines.”

In accepting the Southcoast Hero for Health award, Sudders said that the Baker-Polito Administration has valued the collaboration of local officials and healthcare entities since the earliest days of the Commonwealth’s pandemic response – and continues to do so.

“With constantly shifting circumstances and new challenges arising throughout the pandemic, providers like Southcoast Health rose to the occasion,” Sudders said. “Today, almost 4.2 million residents are fully vaccinated; we would not be where we are today without the providers, frontline workers, nurses, clinical professionals and others across the Commonwealth who have been such strong advocates for their communities.”




Sudders receives Hero for Health Award; cited for MA pandemic response

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – Marylou Sudders, who serves as Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services and has led the Commonwealth through its coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic as head of the state’s Response Command Center, was announced as Southcoast Health’s 2020-21 Hero for Health at St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford today.

Southcoast Health President and CEO Keith Hovan presented Sudders with the award, which was established to recognize leaders dedicated to public health causes.

“This year, more than ever, it feels special to be gathering and celebrating the principle that great health care requires not just great health systems, but strong civic and governmental leaders who truly understand the importance of safety and wellness in the communities we serve,” Hovan said during Tuesday’s ceremony.

Sudders joined Gov. Charlie Baker’s cabinet in 2015 with a background in mental health and social work. She is responsible for overseeing 12 agencies, including MassHealth, with a combined budget of $24 billion – the largest budget in all of Massachusetts state government.

“Secretary Sudders has led our Commonwealth through this pandemic with a solution-focused approach driven by boldness, determination and resolve,” Hovan said. “She was instrumental in ensuring Southcoast Health had access to the tools to properly care for our region – among them, providing PPE and testing supplies in the early stages of the pandemic, partnering with us to establish a field hospital at UMass Dartmouth and facilitating the distribution of life-saving vaccines.”
In accepting the Southcoast Hero for Health award, Sudders said that the Baker-Polito Administration has valued the collaboration of local officials and healthcare entities since the earliest days of the Commonwealth’s pandemic response – and continues to do so.

“With constantly shifting circumstances and new challenges arising throughout the pandemic, providers like Southcoast Health rose to the occasion,” Sudders said. “Today, almost 4.2 million residents are fully vaccinated; we would not be where we are today without the providers, frontline workers, nurses, clinical professionals and others across the Commonwealth who have been such strong advocates for their communities.”

About Southcoast Health
Celebrating the system’s 25th anniversary in 2021, Southcoast Health is a not-for-profit, charitable organization and the largest provider of primary and specialty care in the region, serving communities in Rhode Island and across Southeastern Massachusetts. Southcoast Health is a Newsweek’s World’s Best Hospital in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Out of the 2,743 considered hospitals in the United States, only 250 earned this recognition. In 2020 and 2021, St. Luke’s is a Newsweek and Leapfrog’s Best Maternity Hospitals. In 2019 and 2020, the Southcoast Health system also received seven awards, including Best Hospitals and Best Place to Work, in SouthCoast Media Group’s Best of the Best Awards voted on by residents and readers.




Massachusetts Gov. Baker files plan to invest $2.9 Billion in COVID-19 funding to support economic recovery

The Baker-Polito Administration today will re-file its plan to immediately put to use part of Commonwealth’s direct federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support key priorities including housing and homeownership, economic development and local downtowns, job training and workforce development, health care, and infrastructure. The Administration called on the Legislature to act quickly on the $2.9 billion plan to jump-start the Commonwealth’s economic recovery and support residents hardest-hit by COVID-19, such as lower-wage workers and communities of color.

Governor Charlie Baker today is re-filing the proposal after signing “An Act Relative to Transferring Federal Funds to the Federal COVID-19 Response Fund,” which was on the Governor’s desk.

“We are eager to work with the Legislature to put these funds to work and our $2.9 billion proposal will immediately aid those hardest hit by COVID-19 like communities of color and lower-wage workers,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This plan addresses homeownership gaps in communities of color, connects workers with in demand job-training, boosts addiction treatment services and invests in local infrastructure. It’s crucial that the Legislature act quickly and not hold up these important investments. Communities of color, the hardest hit areas of the Commonwealth, should not have to wait to have their tax dollars be put to work.”

“Massachusetts’ economic recovery is off to a good start but it’s crucial that we address the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic by taking action to invest these federal relief dollars in priorities like housing, economic development, job training, and addiction treatment,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We look forward to working with our colleagues in the Legislature to move quickly in putting these relief dollars to work on behalf of our communities.”

The proposal filed today is the same proposal filed by Governor Baker earlier this month with the Legislature, with an additional $100 million for marine port development to support economic growth.

The Administration’s plan to invest $2.9 billion in federal dollars in these disproportionately impacted communities complements a proposal filed last week for the Commonwealth’s surplus state tax revenue. With May revenues approximately $4 billion over benchmark, the Administration’s proposal for a 2-month Sales Tax Holiday would provide relief for small businesses and residents, especially lower-wage workers who are most impacted by the sales tax.

The $2.915 billion is part of a total of approximately $5.3 billion in direct aid to the Commonwealth from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. These discretionary funds are intended to support urgent COVID-19 response efforts, replace lost revenue, support immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses, and address unequal public health and economic challenges in Massachusetts cities and towns throughout the pandemic. ARPA is also providing a total of $3.4 billion in direct aid for municipalities throughout Massachusetts, as well as substantial funding for key priorities including a total of $1.1 billion for transit. With a focus on increasing capacity for child care and supporting parents as they return to work, the Administration is also proposing to distribute approximately $760 million in additional federal funding to child care providers in Massachusetts over the coming years, and looks forward to working with key stakeholders on the usages of these funds.

The remaining $2 billion in direct federal aid would stay in the Federal COVID-19 Response Fund, and the Administration looks forward to working closely with the Legislature to allocate these resources in a fiscally responsible and compliant manner.

In addition to this discretionary funding, an additional $35.2 billion in other ARPA funding has been directed to the Commonwealth to support additional areas of recovery including direct aid to municipalities, transportation, and child care. This includes approximately $3.4 billion in direct aid to cities, towns, and counties throughout Massachusetts. The plan therefore includes language allowing a local match for numerous programs to better leverage municipal support, optimize the usage of all available revenue, and maximize the impact of this one-time federal funding.

Highlights of the plan include:

Housing

• $300 million to support expanded homeownership opportunities, focused on first-time homebuyers who are residents of disproportionately impacted municipalities;
• $200 million to support housing production through MassHousing’s CommonWealth Builder Program and similar efforts, which aim to help communities of color build wealth by promoting home ownership among residents of disproportionately impacted municipalities;
• $200 million to fund rental housing production and provide increased housing options to workers and residents of disproportionately impacted municipalities;
• $300 million to finance the statewide production of senior and veteran housing. These new housing options would contain a supportive services component, and would be combined with other resources including Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, rental payments, and, in the case of veteran housing, VA health care.

Economic Development

• $100 million for Downtown Development to concentrate economic growth activities, resources, and investments within local neighborhood areas in municipalities disproportionally impacted by COVID;
• $250 million to support investments and regional collaboration aimed at invigorating downtowns throughout Massachusetts. These resources would provide grant funds to municipalities and other eligible public entities for a range of projects;
• $100 million to support cultural facilities and tourism assets throughout Massachusetts;

Workforce Development

• $240 million to fund a suite of job training programs and address skills gaps, to better position residents who want to be hired into jobs that businesses need filled. Areas of investment include:
• $150 million for workforce credentials for entry and mid-level wages;
• $35 million to fund English for Speakers of Other Languages programs and Adult Basic Education;
• $25 million for work readiness and essential skills programs.

Health Care

• $50 million for fiscally stressed hospitals in disproportionately impacted municipalities as these hospitals have supported their communities significantly during the pandemic despite interruptions to their revenue streams;
• $175 million for addiction treatment and related behavioral health services.

Infrastructure Investment

• $400 million to fund grants for water and sewer infrastructure;
• $300 million to improve culverts, dams, and other environmental infrastructure;
• $100 million to enhance and modernize state park facilities;
• $100 million to close the digital divide and increase broadband internet access, helping to promote workforce development and economic growth.
• $100 million for marine port development.




Massachusetts VaxMillions Giveaway drawing dates announced, prizes include five $1 Million Winners; five college scholarships

Today, the Baker-Polito Administration and the Massachusetts State Lottery reminded the public that registration for the Massachusetts VaxMillions Giveaway will begin on July 1 and also announced the schedule of drawing dates.

Residents age 18 and older who are fully vaccinated prior to each drawing will have the opportunity to enter to win one of five, $1 million cash prizes. Residents between 12-17 years of age who are fully vaccinated prior to each drawing may enter for the chance to win one of five $300,000 scholarship grants.

An entry before one of the weekly entry deadlines makes you eligible for all of the weekly drawings that take place after you register. Residents are reminded that they have time to get vaccinated and then enter the drawings.

VaxMillions Giveaway Drawings will be held once a week for five weeks beginning Monday, July 26 and continuing every Monday through August 23. The first drawing for the giveaway will occur on Monday, July 26, with registration for that week’s drawing closing on Thursday, July 22. Winners will be announced later in the week following each drawing. The full schedule of drawing and announcement dates is below. Residents are reminded that some COVID-19 vaccines require two doses, and they must receive all doses before entering the drawing.


Mass.gov photo.

Residents must be fully vaccinated before registering, but if they are not vaccinated by the registration date for a certain drawing, they will still have the opportunity to complete vaccination and register for subsequent drawings. Residents will only have to enter once to qualify for all drawings occurring after the date of their registration.

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.

The Commonwealth launched 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. A call center will be available to support registration for residents who do not have access to the internet or require assistance. Sign up information and call center contact info and hours will be made available prior to July 1.

Only lawful, permanent residents of Massachusetts who are fully vaccinated can enter the drawings. 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.




Massachusetts Gov. Baker announces plan to invest $2.8 Billion in federal COVID-19 funding to support economic recovery

The Baker-Polito Administration today announced a plan to immediately put to use approximately $2.815 billion of the Commonwealth’s direct federal aid to support key priorities including housing and homeownership, economic development and local downtowns, job training and workforce development, health care, and infrastructure. The Administration’s plan aims to jump-start the Commonwealth’s economic recovery by investing in urgent priorities, with a particular focus on supporting populations hardest-hit by COVID-19, such as lower-wage workers and communities of color.

The plan is being filed as an amendment to “An Act Relative to Transferring Federal Funds to the Federal COVID-19 Response Fund,” which was on the Governor’s desk and is being returned to the Legislature.

“Our proposal will immediately invest $2.8 billion toward key priorities that will help jump-start our economic recovery, with a particular focus on those hit hardest by COVID-19, such as communities of color,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “With over four million people fully vaccinated, Massachusetts is getting back to normal and back to work, but it is critical that we act now to make these critical investments to keep our recovery moving. Our Administration appreciates the collaboration of the Legislature and local government in responding to the pandemic, and we all must work together to distribute funding quickly and efficiently to ensure those hard-hit by the virus receive relief as quickly as possible.”

“It is critically important that this $2.8 billion be put to use immediately to address issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and protect the competitive advantages which have allowed Massachusetts to grow and thrive,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Supporting priorities such as housing, economic development, job training, and infrastructure will help power the Commonwealth into the post-COVID world and ensure Massachusetts remains a great place to live, work, and raise family.”

The plan was announced today at an event held at the Mount Washington Homes in Haverhill, a project supported by MassHousing’s CommonWealth Builder program, a program that promotes homeownership in low- and moderate-income communities, particularly communities of color. The Administration’s plan includes $200 million for CommonWealth Builder and similar programs that aim to close the wealth gap faced by communities of color by connecting first-time homebuyers with homeownership opportunities.

In total, the plan devotes $1 billion to funding homeownership and housing priorities, a significant investment to help increase housing production and reduce barriers to owning a home as part of the ongoing COVID-19 recovery effort. These new housing resources build upon over $1.6 billion in separate federal funding that has already been allocated to entities throughout the Commonwealth for housing purposes since the start of the pandemic.

The $2.815 billion is part of a total of approximately $5.3 billion in direct aid to the Commonwealth from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. These discretionary funds are intended to support urgent COVID-19 response efforts, replace lost revenue, support immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses, and address unequal public health and economic challenges in Massachusetts cities and towns throughout the pandemic. ARPA is also providing a total of $3.4 billion in direct aid for municipalities throughout Massachusetts, as well as substantial funding for key priorities including a total of $1.1 billion for transit. With a focus on increasing capacity for child care and supporting parents as they return to work, the Administration is also proposing to distribute approximately $760 million in additional federal funding to child care providers in Massachusetts over the coming years, and looks forward to working with key stakeholders on the usages of these funds.

The remaining $2.3 billion in direct federal aid would stay in the Federal COVID-19 Response Fund, and the Administration looks forward to working closely with the Legislature to allocate these resources in a fiscally responsible and compliant manner.

“These substantial resources build upon the separate federal resources the Commonwealth has received throughout the course of the pandemic and strengthen our efforts to promote economic growth and vitality, aid disproportionately impacted communities, and get people back to work,” said Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael J. Heffernan. “We look forward to working with the Massachusetts Legislature to ensure this federal funding is effectively used in fiscally responsible ways to support Massachusetts communities, while complying with all relevant federal guidance.”

In addition to this discretionary funding, an additional $35.2 billion in other ARPA funding has been directed to the Commonwealth to support additional areas of recovery including direct aid to municipalities, transportation, and child care. This includes approximately $3.4 billion in direct aid to cities, towns, and counties throughout Massachusetts. The plan therefore includes language allowing a local match for numerous programs to better leverage municipal support, optimize the usage of all available revenue, and maximize the impact of this one-time federal funding.

Highlights of the plan include:

Housing
• $300 million to support expanded homeownership opportunities, focused on first-time homebuyers who are residents of disproportionately impacted municipalities;
• $200 million to support housing production through MassHousing’s CommonWealth Builder Program and similar efforts, which aim to help communities of color build wealth by promoting home ownership among residents of disproportionately impacted municipalities;
• $200 million to fund rental housing production and provide increased housing options to workers and residents of disproportionately impacted municipalities;
• $300 million to finance the statewide production of senior and veteran housing. These new housing options would contain a supportive services component, and would be combined with other resources including Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, rental payments, and, in the case of veteran housing, VA health care.

Economic Development
• $100 million for Downtown Development to concentrate economic growth activities, resources, and investments within local neighborhood areas in municipalities disproportionally impacted by COVID;
• $250 million to support investments and regional collaboration aimed at invigorating downtowns throughout Massachusetts. These resources would provide grant funds to municipalities and other eligible public entities for a range of projects;
• $100 million to support cultural facilities and tourism assets throughout Massachusetts;

Workforce Development
• $240 million to fund a suite of job training programs and address skills gaps, to better position residents who want to be hired into jobs that businesses need filled. Areas of investment include:
• $150 million for workforce credentials for entry and mid-level wages;
• $35 million to fund English for Speakers of Other Languages programs and Adult Basic Education;
• $25 million for work readiness and essential skills programs.

Health Care
• $50 million for fiscally stressed hospitals in disproportionately impacted municipalities as these hospitals have supported their communities significantly during the pandemic despite interruptions to their revenue streams;
• $175 million for addiction treatment and related behavioral health services.

Infrastructure Investment
• $400 million to fund grants for water and sewer infrastructure;
• $300 million to improve culverts, dams, and other environmental infrastructure;
• $100 million to enhance and modernize state park facilities;
• $100 million to close the digital divide and increase broadband internet access, helping to promote workforce development and economic growth.

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