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First responders to receive shots; 44 cases traced to church

January 4, 2021 GMT
A girl walks with a woman pushing a baby stroller past people waiting in line to get tested for the COVID-19 virus outside a facility, which usually is the city's recreation center, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, in Everett, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
A girl walks with a woman pushing a baby stroller past people waiting in line to get tested for the COVID-19 virus outside a facility, which usually is the city's recreation center, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, in Everett, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts will begin administering COVID-19 vaccine doses to police, firefighters, EMTs and other first responders on Jan. 11, Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday.

The state is offering a variety of options for first responders, including administering vaccinations onsite at their jobs if their agencies meet certain criteria.

Hospitals are also helping set up 60 vaccination centers across the state to administer doses to first responders. The sites will be able to give up to 2,000 doses a day. First responders will also be able to book appointments at other vaccinations sites in coming weeks.

There are about 45,000 first responders in the state.

The state has already begun administering doses to residents and staff of long-term care facilities and medical workers and hospital staff caring for COVID-19 patients.

Even with the arrival of the initial doses of vaccine, the state is looking at some tough months ahead before the shots are made more widely available to the public, Baker said at an afternoon press conference at the Statehouse.

“We still have some tough days in front of us,” the Republican said. “It’s important for us to do the things that stop the spread every day here in the commonwealth.”

About 287,000 first doses of the vaccine have been shipped to Massachusetts and just over 116,000 doses have been administered, Baker said.

Massachusetts has a population of about 6.9 million.

Baker also applauded the opening of a field hospital in Lowell on Monday to help cope with an increase in COVID-19 patients in the state.

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VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS

The number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths rose by 60 on Monday while the number of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased by more than 4,300.

The new deaths pushed the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 12,401 and its confirmed caseload since the start of the pandemic to more than 375,000.

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

There were more than 2,300 people reported hospitalized Monday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with more than 420 in intensive care units.

The average age of those hospitalized was 73.

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CHRISTMAS SERVICES AND COVID 19

Dozens of positive coronavirus cases have been traced back to Christmas services at a Massachusetts church, authorities said.

The Woburn Board of Health has been working with the state to notify people who attended one of four services Dec. 23 and 24 at Genesis Community Church in Woburn, Mayor Scott Galvin told The Boston Globe.

The church is cooperating with authorities, the mayor said.

At least 44 cases have been traced to the church, authorities said.

Genesis in a statement said it is encouraging anyone who attended the services to get tested, whether symptomatic or not, and helping those who need to quarantine to prevent further transmission. Services are now being held online.

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“We are deeply saddened to learn that people within Genesis tested positive for COVID-19 and we are doing all we can to make sure this does not spread any further,” the statement said.

Under state guidelines, houses of worship are limited to 25% of capacity. The church said it took proper precautions, including preregistration to attend and requiring masks and social distancing.