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Boch Center has on-site testing; Service for Vermont victims

September 19, 2021 GMT

A look at pandemic-related developments around New England on Sunday:

VERMONT

A coalition of Vermont faith groups was holding a memorial service Sunday on the Statehouse lawn to honor Vermonters who have died of COVID-19.

Vermont Interfaith Action was hosting the 3 p.m. event, which was to include a ceremonial reading of names of each person who has died of the virus.

“We have all suffered so much during this pandemic,” Rev. Debbie Ingram, executive director of Vermont Interfaith Action, said in a statement. “This is a moment to honor those lost and to begin to heal as a community.”

Participants were encouraged to wear masks and physically distance during the event.

On Sunday, Vermont reported 210 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, for a total of more than 31,630 cases since the pandemic started. A total of 41 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, with 12 in intensive care, according to the Vermont Department of Health.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 149.86 new cases per day on Sept. 3 to 203.86 new cases per day on Sept. 17. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 0.86 deaths per day on Sept. 3 to 1.57 deaths per day on Sept. 17.

The AP is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.

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MASSACHUSETTS

The Boch Center in Boston is the first performing arts center in the city to offer rapid COVID-19 tests on-site.

Attendees must show proof of vaccination or provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of a show.

The Boch Center hosted performances on Saturday at the Wang and Shubert theatres and offered rapid testing for $30, with results available within 15 minutes. Attendees are also required to wear masks.

“You get emotional, I’m almost ready to cry, because we’ve been dark for almost 18 and a half months,” CEO Josiah Spaulding said.

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CONNECTICUT

The nationwide downturn in the hotel and hospitality industry due to the pandemic has been especially pronounced in Hartford, particularly for hotels that rely on conventions and business travel.

Occupancy in downtown hotels for the first seven months of this year was about 30% compared to 68% in 2019, the Hartford Courant reported.

A Homewood Suites downtown closed last year and converted to rentals, and the 392-room Hilton Hartford, located next to XL Center, tried unsuccessfully to sell last year and is now exploring converting part of the property into housing. A former Red Lion Hotel plans to convert its entire building to rentals.

For the city as a whole, occupancy was 50% for the same time period compared with 62% in 2019, and the picture appears more optimistic for smaller, boutique hotels that don’t rely on business customers.

The fiscal 2022 state budget contains $30 million in federal pandemic aid money for the hotel and hospitality industry.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE

Vaccinations will be a hot topic when New Hampshire lawmakers return to the Statehouse in January.

Friday was the deadline for House lawmakers to file the titles of bills they are drafting for the upcoming session. Nineteen of them include the word “vaccination,” and another 18 include “vaccine.”

Many appear aimed at preventing employers from mandating vaccinations and prohibiting discrimination based on vaccination status. Others relate to exemptions from school vaccine mandates.

Senators will begin filing legislation next month.

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MAINE

A total of 1,390 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Maine schools have been reported to the state since the start of the school year, according to the Maine Department of Education.

The department released a report on Friday, showing the amount of cases reported in the last 30 days as of Sept. 15.

Hermon High School reported the highest number of cases at 36 followed by Caribou High School with 35 cases.