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Boston suspends 800 for failing to comply with vaccine rules

October 13, 2021 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — More than 800 people who work for Boston have been suspended without pay for failing to comply with the city’s coronavirus vaccine mandate, city officials said.

Acting Mayor Kim Janey announced in August that the city’s roughly 18,000 employees would be required to either show proof of vaccination, or, if they do no want to get a shot, submit to regular testing.

Janey said Wednesday the suspended employees who did not meet Tuesday’s initial deadline came from five “public facing” agencies including the public schools department, libraries, the center for youth and families, the disability commission and the age commission. Workers who continue to ignore the mandate face termination, she said.

The school department alone has about 11,000 employees.

Some other city agencies have later deadlines.

The city is making plans to deal with potential staffing shortfalls.

“We are now implementing contingency plans for bus transportation and other school operations impacted by employee leaves of absence, due to unverified vaccination or testing,” the mayor’s office said in a statement Tuesday.

Suspended employees can return to work by providing proof of a negative test, the office said.

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MUSEUM VACCINATION REQUIREMENTS

Two major Massachusetts museums announced Wednesday that they will require all visitors over the age of 12 to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 starting Nov. 1.

“We continue to place the health and safety of our visitors, staff, and community at the forefront of our thinking,” Olivier Meslay, director of the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown said in a statement posted on the museum’s website. “Taking the additional precaution of requiring all visitors to provide proof of vaccination is the most effective and prudent approach through which the Clark can do its part to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.”

Mass MoCa in North Adams, which has had a vaccine requirement for employees for about a week, will also require proof of vaccination for guests.

Visitors can show either a photo or hard copy of an official immunization record of a vaccine along with a photo ID for entry, the museum said.

Both museums continue to requires masks for all visitors indoors.

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BOOSTER SITES

The Baker Administration on Wednesday announced additional state-sponsored COVID-19 booster locations in Springfield and Lowell.

Eligible residents will be able to visit the sites to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine booster. Massachusetts residents are now able to receive Pfizer COVID-19 boosters at more than 460 locations, including over 450 retail pharmacies.

The Springfield Booster Clinic opened Wednesday and can initially administer 300 Pfizer boosters daily, ramping up to 1,000 boosters daily by next week. The Lowell Booster Clinic will open Thursday under the same parameters.

Appointments at both sites are available for booking by visiting www.vaxfinder.ma.gov, with walk-ins also accepted. Language translation services will be available at both locations.

Pfizer COVID-19 Booster shots are now available to individuals 65 years of age and older; individuals 18-64 years of age at risk for severe COVID-19 due to certain underlying medical conditions as defined by the CDC; and individuals 18-64 years of age who are at increased risk for COVID-19 because of occupational or institutional settings.

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VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS

The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 increased by nearly 1,500 on Wednesday while the number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts rose by 19.

The new numbers pushed the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 18,413 since the start of the pandemic, while its confirmed caseload rose to more than 774,000.

There were nearly 560 people reported hospitalized Wednesday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 150 in intensive care units.

The average age of those who have died from COVID-19 was 72.

The true number of cases is likely higher because studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.

More than 4.6 million people in Massachusetts have been fully immunized against COVID-19 with more than 167,000 people having received booster shots.