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COVID-19 vaccine statement from the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges

COVID-19 Vaccine Statement from the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges

Please see the statement, here and below, issued by the 15 Massachusetts Community College Presidents, including President of Bristol Community College Laura L. Douglas, encouraging our student populations to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible and confirming that at this time we are not contemplating COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Below is the statement issued by the fifteen Community College Presidents:

Now that all Massachusetts residents 16+ are eligible to access appointments, we strongly urge our students, employees, and all in our college communities to receive a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as they are able. Top health officials for the state and the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and our community leaders have all demonstrated that the available vaccines are not only safe but are the most effective way to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The vaccines currently being administered have met the Food and Drug Administration’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization. Millions of people in the United States have already received COVID-19 vaccines, and these vaccines will continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.

Last year, we all made the difficult decision to significantly limit in-person services and primarily offer remote and online learning opportunities to keep our communities safe. We share the optimism of many throughout higher education as we view the current public health trends. We know that many of our dedicated faculty, staff, and students have been anxiously waiting their turn in the vaccination queue. At the same time, we continue to move ahead toward a safe and increased face-to-face presence at our campuses to meet the “new normal of campus operations” in the upcoming fall. Widespread vaccinations and continued safety precautions will allow our colleges to safely repopulate our campuses and continue to offer the high-quality education that our students want and deserve. As we have shown throughout this pandemic, campus planning will always be guided, first and foremost, by the health and safety of our entire college community.

Considerations for the fall semester continue to develop and are subject to change, but the community colleges are not contemplating COVID-19 vaccine mandates at this time. It is essential that we meet the needs of all of our students, who are often from the communities hit hardest by this pandemic and facing disproportionate access to the COVID-19 vaccine. And now, it is more important than ever to prioritize equity, and creating additional barriers for our students would go against our critically important mission of open access for all.




New Bedford Treasurer’s, Clerk’s, Elections and Licensing offices to open in-person service

New Bedford City Hall’s limited reopening for four office at City Hall, which began in August, has expanded in-person hours to 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. beginning Tuesday, April 20.

The Sixth Street entrance will remain the only public entrance to the building for four offices: the Treasurer’s Office, City Clerk’s Office, Elections Office, and Licensing Office.

Access will remain strictly limited to four offices: the Treasurer’s Office, City Clerk’s Office, Elections Office, and Licensing Office, as these four offices conduct bill and tax payment and vital records and licenses for city residents. No appointment is needed for general inquiries and document requests at these four offices. Residents should call ahead to these or other city departments with any questions.

Clear directions will be in place to allow for safe social distancing in the building. Strong health and safety requirements will be in place at City Hall to protect residents and employees. In addition to mandatory mask use and social distancing, physical barriers have been installed to ensure the safety of visitors and city employees. Department staff have been trained on best practices to promote health and hygiene, and the building is being sanitized frequently.

Due to the pandemic, residents are still encouraged to pay any bills by mail, by phone, or online whenever possible. Payments can be made online at the City’s website, www.newbedford-ma.gov, and selecting ‘Pay Bills’ directly on the home page. To mail payments, residents can use the mailing address printed on their bills or mail their bills directly to the City Treasurer at the following address:

City Hall – Treasurer’s Office
133 William Street, Room 103
New Bedford, MA 02740

City departments other than Treasurer’s, City Clerk, Elections, and Licensing, are still doing business by phone or online. No other city office is open to the public in-person at this time. As more offices are opened in-person, announcements will be made.

Residents are encouraged to contact other city departments for any services they need.

City of New Bedford – Department Phone Numbers
Assessor: 508-979-1440
Cemetery: 508-979-1550
City Clerk: 508-979-1450
Council on Aging: 508-991-6250
Election Commission: 508-979-1420
Fire (non-emergency): 508-991-6124
Health: 508-991-6199
Inspectional Services: 508-979-1540
Police (non-emergency): 508-991-6300
Traffic: 508-979-1766
Trash: 508-979-1520
Treasurer: 508-979-1430




UMass Dartmouth statement on vaccinations and the University’s expectations ahead of eligibility pool increase

“Dear UMassD community,

On Monday, April 19, Massachusetts will expand the eligibility pool for the COVID-19 vaccine to individuals 16 years and older. This is an opportunity for our entire campus community to take part in the Commonwealth’s vaccination program.

UMass Dartmouth strongly encourages and recommends all students, faculty, and staff be vaccinated as soon as possible. Throughout the pandemic, the University has followed the science, which led to health and safety protocols that protected our campus. The science is clear that vaccination is the best way to stop COVID-19 from spreading and our best way to continue protecting each other’s wellbeing.

In order to ensure the continued health and safety of our campus community, UMass Dartmouth expects all members of our community to be vaccinated before the fall 2021 semester, with few exceptions, such as for medical and religious reasons. There are no federal or state legal requirements for vaccination at present, but the University will continue to closely monitor that guidance.

To preregister for a vaccination, please visit VaccineSignUp.mass.gov. Once you are preregistered, you will be notified when you can schedule an appointment at seven locations across the state, including the former Circuit City in Dartmouth and Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. You can also use VaxFinder.mass.gov to find an appointment at retail pharmacies and community health centers near you.

Even after you are vaccinated, everyone on campus is still required to follow health and safety protocols like wearing face coverings, social distancing, and participating in our on-campus asymptomatic surveillance testing program.

To learn more about vaccines, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

I want to thank everyone who has worked so hard to keep themselves and their friends, family, co-workers, and community members safe. It has been a difficult time, but we are surely nearing the end of the pandemic.
Sincerely,

Marianne Sullivan, DNP, ANP-BC
Director of Health Services”




Dartmouth’s Bishop Stang High School returns to full-time in-person learning

After a highly acclaimed remote learning program last spring, and a successful hybrid learning model this fall and winter, Bishop Stang High School returned to full-time in-person learning on Monday, April 12. For the remainder of the spring semester, Bishop Stang students will report full-time in person every day. Learning remotely continues to be available for students who opt to remain home and for those students who may be unable to attend due to Covid related quarantine situations. Following health and safety protocols, including masking and physical distancing, will continue to be a top priority.

Regarding the return to full-time in person learning, President/Principal, Mr. Peter Shaughnessy, commented, “It was so great to see our students return full time. Monday felt like the start of a new year in many ways, full of excitement and optimism! I am very confident in our return because of the way in which our school community has navigated this pandemic thus far. Our parents, students, faculty, and staff have shown tremendous responsibility and care for one another in order to allow the learning process to serve our students and allow them to flourish. The hybrid model served us well during this, but the time and conditions were right for our return to full-time in-person learning.”

Faculty and staff are thrilled to once again hear the sound of student voices filling classrooms and hallways. Math teacher Tim Morris summed up the feeling well, “I could not be happier to have our students back in the building. The evening before they all returned, I had trouble sleeping just like I always do the night before the first day of school. It was so exciting to hear the voices in the hallways, hear the laughter and joy in their voices when they saw their friends, and be able to watch in person while they learned their lessons for the day. The students are the reason we exist, and there is no substitute for the human interaction that takes place in the classroom daily. I am so proud of how much we were able to accomplish this year despite challenging circumstances and look forward to making these last few months of the year as memorable and full of learning as possible”.

The school’s daily schedule was modified to accommodate three lunch periods to allow space for appropriate social distancing, and additional desks have been returned to classrooms in keeping with CDC and DESE guidelines. Seats are assigned, and each classroom teacher maintains detailed seating charts to help provide quick and accurate contact tracing if needed.

Bishop Stang is exceedingly mindful of the pandemic’s continued presence in our communities and offers gratitude to their families, students, and staff who have worked hard to remain vigilant and will continue to do so. The Bishop Stang community is grateful for this opportunity to once again continue the journey of education and growth for their students – in person, as a family, together.




Johnson & Johnson vaccine supply to Massachusetts to dive bomb

Nation-wide supply of the one dose only Johnson & Johnson vaccine just took a hit after the company acknowledged a manufacturing glitch at the Maryland plant responsible for the production of the vaccine.

The CDC estimates the drop in vaccine availability to be approximately a reduction of 86%. For the Commonwealth specifically, that is a drop from 104,000 last week to a meager 12,300 doses this week resulting in 91,700 people left out in the cold.

While this is bad news, Governor Baker said there is also some good news: in spite of the Johnson & Johnson manufacturing error, he expects about 2 million Massachusetts residents will still receive the vaccine and the state is on target to meet its goal of delivering 100 million vaccine doses by June.

On April 19th, Massachusetts will expand the group of people eligible to receive the vaccine to people who are 16-years old and older.




Massachusetts State Police assists Wampanoag Nation with COVID vaccine clinic

“Members of MSP Troop C yesterday assisted the Massachusetts Wampanoag Tribe with a COVID vaccination clinic held at the State Police-Millbury Barracks. We were happy to have had the opportunity to host and help out.”-Massachusetts State Police

Learn more about the Wampanoag Nation here.


Massachusetts State Police photo.


Massachusetts State Police photo.




New Bedford Waterfront Vaccination Center to offer vaccine appointments

New Bedford’s Waterfront Vaccination Center on Hervey Tichon Avenue will offer COVID-19 vaccine appointments at its clinic, which will be administered by CIC Health as a FEMA vaccination clinic for the following dates:

• Tuesday, April 13 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
• Saturday, April 17 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
• Sunday, April 18 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

More FEMA vaccination clinic dates will be announced once scheduled. This past Saturday, the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center administered a clinic at the Waterfront Vaccination Center that vaccinated more than 1,000 people, with a focus on essential seafood industry workers.

Those eligible for vaccination under the state’s guidelines may make an appointment for the FEMA vaccination clinic on Hervey Tichon Avenue by contacting the New Bedford vaccination call venter at 508-984-2661 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Spanish and Portuguese speakers may make appointments through the Immigrants’ Assistance Center at 508-996-8113.

Additional dates for FEMA vaccination clinics at the Waterfront Vaccination Center on Hervey Tichon Avenue will be announced as soon as they are scheduled.




FEMA now offering COVID-19 funeral assistance

Fraud Alert: FEMA has received reports of scammers reaching out to people offering to register them for funeral assistance. FEMA has not sent any such notifications and we do not contact people prior to them registering for assistance. Learn more here.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many families. At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters. We are dedicated to helping ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the virus.

Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, FEMA will provide financial assistance for COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020.

We are working with stakeholder groups to get their input on ways we can best provide this assistance, and to enlist their help with outreach to families and communities. FEMA will begin to implement COVID-19 funeral assistance in April.

Additional guidance is being finalized and will be released to potential applicants and community partners as soon as possible. In the meantime, people who have COVID-19 funeral expenses are encouraged to keep and gather documentation.

FEMA will begin accepting applications for Funeral Assistance on Monday, April 12, 2021 through our dedicated call center. More information will be available soon.

Who is Eligible?
To be eligible for funeral assistance, you must meet these conditions:

• The death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
• The death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
• The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after January 20, 2020.
• There is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.

How to Apply

COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line Number

Applications begin on April 12, 2021
844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585

Hours of Operation:
Monday – Friday
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time

If you had COVID-19 funeral expenses, we encourage you to keep and gather documentation. Types of information should include:

• An official death certificate that attributes the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
• Funeral expenses documents (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) that includes the applicant’s name, the deceased person’s name, the amount of funeral expenses, and the dates the funeral expenses happened.
• Proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. We are not able to duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies, or other sources.

How Funds are Received
If you are eligible for funeral assistance you will receive a check by mail, or funds by direct deposit, depending on which option you choose when you apply for assistance.




COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic to be held at Cape Cod Community College for all Veterans

The VA Providence Healthcare System will be providing COVID-19 vaccinations to all Veterans and their spouses this Saturday, April 10, 2021. The clinic will be located on the Cape Cod Community College campus 2240 Iyannough Rd, West Barnstable, MA. The clinic will run from 9am to 1pm.

“The VA has expanded the vaccination criteria and we are pleased to offer the vaccine to all Veterans and their spouses.” said Larry Connell, Medical Center Director, VA Providence Healthcare System. “There are many unenrolled Veterans on Cape Cod and we want to ensure we get them vaccinated. We will be giving out the Janssen vaccine which will not require those who come to the clinic to come back for a second dose.”

Veterans who are not enrolled in the VA Healthcare System will need to bring a copy of their DD214 and a picture ID and fill out a 1010EZ enrollment form. This form can be found at https://www.va.gov/vaforms/medical/pdf/10-10EZ-fillable.pdf. Forms will be available on-site for those who cannot bring it with them.

The VA Providence Healthcare System continues to vaccinate Veterans, Monday to Friday from 8am to 2pm at the main campus in Providence. Additional vaccination events are being planned, so if you cannot make this clinic there will be others coming soon.




Fully vaccinated population in Massachusetts nears 1.5 million

Colin A. Young
State House News Service

Nearly 1.5 million people in Massachusetts are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and almost 3 million vaccine doses have been administered here, but a potentially more contagious mutant form of the virus first identified in Brazil is now spreading through the state.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control counts 58 cases of the P.1 COVID-19 variant, which is thought to be more contagious and able to reinfect those who have already defeated the coronavirus, in Massachusetts — more than any other state in the country. This weekend, researchers from MIT’s Broad Institute and Harvard released data detailing 54 of the Massachusetts cases of the P.1 variant, which was first identified here in a Barnstable County woman who tested positive for COVID-19 in late February. They found that 43 of the 54 P.1 cases were likely connected to one superspreader event.

“While our understanding of the increased transmissibility of the P.1 variant is still unfolding, the large cluster of identical and nearly identical genomes – a pattern of genetic diversity consistent with superspreading – highlights the ongoing risk of rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2, and in particular for more transmissible lineages,” the researchers wrote. “The extent of community transmission of P.1 in Massachusetts and across the US is currently unknown, however, it is likely that the P.1 variant is already or will soon be circulating in communities and ongoing surveillance will be critical to understanding the trajectory and impact of the P.1 variant.”

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported 2,263 new cases of COVID-19 and announced 30 recent COVID-19 deaths on Saturday, raising the state’s total case count to 605,055 and the death toll to 17,281 people. There were 707 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Saturday’s update from DPH. Figures that would have been reported Sunday will be released Monday afternoon, DPH has said. Though there was no reporting of new cases and deaths Sunday, DPH did report that the number of people fully vaccinated in Massachusetts had climbed to 1,478,520 with 3,904,179 total vaccine doses administered.

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