Vaccination sites expanded, older adults moved up

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BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts plans to have 165 vaccination sites available by mid-February and has moved older adults ahead in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration said Monday that people age 75 and older will now be in the first priority group in Phase Two of the distribution plan, which starts Feb. 1. Those 65 and older and individuals with two or more comorbidities will now be in the second priority group, in keeping with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The administration said the state currently has the capacity to administer 242,000 doses of vaccine per week, more than the 173,000 first and second doses it expects to receive from the federal government this week.

“We’re setting up the capacity to administer far more doses than we are currently receiving or projecting to receive from the feds,” Baker said at an afternoon press conference. “We think it’s better to overplan at this point in the process and hope that the feds can get there.”

New mass vaccination sites also are opening in Springfield on Jan. 29, Danvers on Feb. 3, and Boston in the first week of February.

“We can only move as fast as the federal government ships vaccine to the commonwealth,” he added.

Also Monday, the state relaxed some coronavirus restrictions as several key metrics used to measure the spread of the pandemic trend in the right direction.

Restaurants, movie theaters and many other businesses will now be allowed to remain open past 9:30 p.m. Also, a rule that required people to stay at home from 10 p.m. until 5 p.m. except for work or other essential travel has been lifted.

The restrictions were adopted in November as new cases surged.

The latest seven-day average positivity rate in Massachusetts has dropped to 4.83% as of Sunday, down from 7.2% on Jan. 10. State health departments are calculating positivity rate differently across the country, but for Massachusetts the AP calculates the rate by dividing new cases by test specimens using data from The COVID Tracking Project.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Massachusetts is also on the decline, at more than 4,200 on Sunday, down from at least 6,400 on Jan. 10, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

Hospitalizations are also falling.

Some safety measures remain in place, including a 25% capacity limit for many businesses, including restaurants and casinos.

The state Department of Public Health reported 3,750 new confirmed cases and 67 new virus-related deaths on Sunday.

Categories: Coronavirus, Massachusetts, News