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Baker says about 117,000 virus vaccines have been given

January 5, 2021 GMT
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Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker gets his temperature checked as he arrives at Baystate Medical Center to give an update on COVID-19 vaccinations Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, in Springfield, Mass. (Don Treeger/The Republican via AP)
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Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker gets his temperature checked as he arrives at Baystate Medical Center to give an update on COVID-19 vaccinations Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, in Springfield, Mass. (Don Treeger/The Republican via AP)

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts has administered about 117,000 first doses of the two coronavirus vaccines, about 70,000 of which have gone to hospital workers directly dealing with the pandemic, Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday.

“We’re obviously excited the vaccine process has begun in Massachusetts,” the Republican governor said during a visit to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. “The vaccine is safe and effective and when it is your turn, we hope everyone will step up.”

All told, some 287,000 doses have already been shipped to Massachusetts, he said.

Dr. Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health, said there have been fewer than 10 allergic reactions out of about 6,000 doses administered by the organization, while some others have experienced sore arms and flu-like symptoms.

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It’s also still too early to gauge the impact of Christmas gatherings on the pandemic, Baker said, but he noted that a more virulent variant of the virus striking the United Kingdom is likely already in Massachusetts.

“I think most of us are working on the assumption that it’s here. There’s no reason for it not to be,” he said.

Vaccinations of police, firefighters and other first responders are expected to start next week.

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BOSTON RESTRICTIONS

Boston is extending coronavirus restrictions on museums, movie theaters, gyms and other businesses for another three weeks — until Jan. 27.

Mayor Marty Walsh announced the tightened restrictions Tuesday as the city seeks to curb a pandemic that is surging even as vaccine shots are beginning to be administered.

The restrictions in Boston, which also extend to sightseeing tours, arcades, aquariums and other businesses that attract large numbers of people are needed to help curb the rise in the percentage of positive tests for the disease, Walsh said.

“We’ve seen a pretty steady rising of the numbers every single day,” Walsh said. “We are getting to a point where it’s getting very dangerous.”

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MBTA FURLOUGHS

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is hoping to contain costs by requiring about a sixth of its workforce to take five furlough days in coming months.

Those required to take furlough days include the transit authority’s general manager and other top executives, according to The Boston Globe.

The furloughs come as the agency continues to grapple with plunging ridership as the pandemic grinds on, forcing many commuters to work from home.

Workers in three unions, as well as non-unionized executives, will be required to take one unpaid day off a month between February and June, affecting about 1,000 workers.

MBTA drivers and operators, who make up most of the workforce, won’t have to take furlough days.

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SKEPTIC TO PATIENT

The vice chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, a former coronavirus skeptic, has issued a mea culpa after falling sick with COVID-19, likely from being infected at a White House Hannukah party last month.

“I will survive this, in spite of my own obvious negligence, and arrogance, towards a virus that knows no bounds and shows no mercy,” Tom Mountain, 60, wrote in an opinion piece in the Boston Herald published Tuesday.

He got sick three days after attending the White House party, at which mask wearing and social distancing were lax. He spread COVID-19 to other members of his family.

Mountain, who is now recovering at home, wrote that he had chills, fever, nausea and “nearly every symptom attached with the coronavirus” that required two trips to the emergency room.

He said he now has a better appreciation of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s efforts to control the virus.

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THE NUMBERS

The number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths rose by 63 on Tuesday while the number of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased by nearly 4,200.

The new deaths pushed the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 12,464 and its confirmed caseload since the start of the pandemic to just under 380,000.

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

There were more than 2,400 people reported hospitalized Tuesday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with more than 400 in intensive care units.