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Company agrees to pay state $3.5M for undelivered face masks

June 16, 2021 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — A company that authorities say failed to deliver on a contract to supply one million N95 face masks to the state of Massachusetts and then made false statements in connection with its obligation to refund the state has agreed to pay nearly $3.5 million to settle the allegations, the state attorney general’s office said Wednesday.

The company, Salem-based Bedrock Group LLC, signed a $3.6 million contract with the state in April 2020 in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic to supply the masks, essential for health care workers, according to a statement from authorities.

The state made the purchase after it was contacted by the company’s president with an offer to supply the masks, which the president said would come from a reputable manufacturer in China.

The masks were supposed to be shipped to the state in mid-April 2020, but the order was terminated in June after fewer than 100,000 of the masks were delivered. Bedrock repeatedly acknowledged its obligation to refund the state but failed to do so, according to the attorney general’s office.

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“This company tried to take advantage of the state by holding onto millions of taxpayer dollars it owed for masks that it never delivered,” Attorney General Maura Healey said.

In addition to repaying the money, Bedrock is not allowed to seek another state contract for five years.

Bedrock does not admit to wrongdoing in the settlement and blamed the problem on the supplier.

“Bedrock was confronted with demands for additional fees well outside their agreement with their Chinese supplier,” company officer Jonathan Roth said in a statement.

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MBTA WEEKEND SERVICE

In a sign that the coronavirus is easing in Massachusetts, weekend service on all Boston-area commuter rail lines is scheduled to resume on July 3.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and Keolis, which runs the system, shut down weekend service on seven of the 12 lines in January because the pandemic resulted in much lower ridership levels.

The decision to resume full weekend service came as demand for it increased, the T said Tuesday. More than 50% of the pre-pandemic ridership has returned to the commuter rail lines still offering weekend service.

Resumption of weekend service “represents a major milestone in the MBTA’s aggressive plans to restore service to meet rider demand,” T General Manager Steve Poftak said in a statement.

Weekend service on the Fitchburg, Franklin, Greenbush, Haverhill, Kingston, Lowell, and Needham lines was halted in January.

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IMMUNIZATIONS

Nearly 8.3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Massachusetts as of Wednesday.

That includes more than 4.3 million first doses and more than 3.7 million second doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

There have been more than 266,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered.

More than 4 million people have been fully immunized.

Gov. Charlie Baker has set a goal of 4.1 million people in the state fully vaccinated.

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VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS

The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 increased by about 60 on Wednesday while the number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts rose by four.

The new numbers pushed the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 17,590 since the start of the pandemic, while its confirmed caseload rose to nearly 663,000.

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

There were fewer than 120 people reported hospitalized Wednesday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with about 40 in intensive care units.

The average age of those hospitalized was 59. There were an estimated 2,300 people with current active cases of COVID-19 in the state.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.