Happening Today

Informal sessions, Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, MBTA service changes talk, and more

11 a.m. | Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, Office of Economic Empowerment and Massachusetts Women of Color Coalition hold a Black Women’s Equal Pay Day roundtable discussion.

11 a.m. | House and Senate plan to meet in informal sessions.

12:30 p.m. | Congresswoman Lori Trahan, House Speaker Pro Tempore Kate Hogan, Tom Kelleher of the Assabet River Rail Trail and Stow officials discuss the impact of federal investments in a rail trail extension project.

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4 p.m. | New England Women in Energy and the Environment hosts its 7th annual “Women Shaping the Agenda” event focused on the energy and environment workforce.

6 p.m. | MBTA staff host a virtual public meeting to discuss fall service changes that take effect Sunday, Aug. 29. Many bus routes will see increased frequency compared to the summer, while subway schedules will be posted in early August, according to the schedule page

Today’s Stories

Much ado about vaccine mandates

Vaccine mandates are slowly starting to roll in with employers facing difficult decisions as the growing threat of the Delta variant continues to fuel a surge of COVID-19 cases.

Attorney General Maura Healey announced Wednesday that all staff in her office will need to get vaccinated starting Sept. 27, reports State House News Service’s Katie Lannan.

That follows news from the Baker administration that most nursing home workers will need to be vaccinated by Oct. 10, reports Boston Globe’s Travis Andersen and Kay Lazar. The decision applies to all individuals employed directly or by contract at long-term care facilities.

Vaccine mandates have been the subject of some debate over the past few weeks as the number of COVID-19 cases starts to spike again. With fall around the corner, it’s worth remembering back to last year when case counts dipped in the summer but surged again as the weather turned cooler.

In Boston, Acting Mayor Kim Janey said her administration is “actively working” toward a vaccine mandate for City of Boston employees.

“We are working with our labor leaders, 90 percent of our workforce is unionized. We’re working with our workforce, with our cabinet chiefs, to make sure that our employees are getting vaccinated,” she told reporters on Wednesday. “And if they don’t get vaccinated, have access to testing — that is important that we are protecting our workforce.”

At the end of July, City Council President Pro Tempore Matt O’Malley mandated that all council staff and interns working in-person get vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID-19 tests.

House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz, whose district includes much of downtown Boston, said vaccine mandates are an “interesting discussion.” The North End Democrat told MassterList and GBH News that he wants to hear more of the pros and cons before deciding where he falls on the issue.

Are vaccine mandates on the legislative agenda?

“Not for the short term,” he said. “But I think we’ll continue to watch this discussion take place. And if the legislative process has to to be part of it, then you know, I’m sure we’ll go through that process when it comes”

Last week, State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg and Auditor Suzanne Bump told employees that they will be required to show proof of vaccination or get tested weekly when they return to their offices in the next few months.

And in Worcester, UMass Memorial Health President and CEO Dr. Eric Dickson told employees that they will be required to get vaccinated by the end of the fall, reports Telegram & Gazette’s Cyrus Moulton. Executives and department chairs will need to get jabbed by Oct. 1 while other caregivers will need to get their first dose by Nov. 1.

Masks recommended in more counties

It’s not looking good. Nearly all counties in Massachusetts fall under new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that recommends masking up while indoors even if your vaccinated. MassLive’s Cassie McGrath reports that 12 of the 14 counties in the state are now either at “high” or “substantial” risk for COVID-19 transmission.  

MassLive

‘State of the Coast’ isn’t looking too great

Your favorite summer vacation spots are facing alarming impacts from rising sea levels and powerful coastal storms as a result of climate change, according to a new report released Wednesday by conversation group Trustees. Associated Press’ Philip Marcelo reports that the study, dubbed “State of the Coast,” finds Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket could lose hundreds of acres of marshlands to flooding. Homes on the ocean and infrastructure are also at increased risk of erosion.

More from Marcelo: “The organization hopes coastal property owners, town officials and others use the report to identify critical areas and prioritize their efforts. Its report provides a town-by-town breakdown of climate change impacts and outlines various actions for local officials, including elevating structures and investing in ecological preservation and restoration.”

Associated Press

‘Busy handling a pandemic’

Boston Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius’ license to run a school system in the state expired. How? She never took the test to renew it. Why? She told Boston Globe’s Andrea Estes and James Vaznis that the hasn’t had the time: “I have been busy handling a pandemic.”

More from the Globe duo: “State officials said the school district will have to request a waiver from the state for Cassellius’ lack of a license. Such a waiver, officials said, would be temporary and she would still be required to take and pass the test.” Boston Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter reports that Cassellius apologized to the Boston School Committee last night for a “miscommunication” that led to her license expiring. 

Boston Globe

Mexico sues gun manufactures in Boston court

Mexico’s government sued a handful of gun manufactures and a wholesaler Wednesday, including Springfield’s Smith & Wesson, accusing the companies of wreaking “havoc on Mexican society” by furthering gun trafficking among drug cartels, reports Boston Business Journal’s Greg Ryan. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Boston and it places “blame on the companies for the proliferation of murder in Mexico,” Ryan writes.

Boston Business Journal

Outbreak contained: Tracing, testing helped quickly lock down Provincetown case surge

Here’s how they did it. Officials on Cape Cod are crediting a rapid, all-hands response to a spike in COVID cases centered on Provincetown with helping to contain the outbreak in a matter of days, with hundreds of contacts traced and more than 6,500 tests issued. Cynthia McCormick of the Cape Cod Times reports the work done could also help advance research on the effectiveness of vaccines.

Meanwhile, Bruce Mohl of CommonWealth Magazine reports the state extended its contract with contact tracing provider Partners in Health–originally set to lapse next month — through the end of the year and is looking to more than double the number of people working on the program.

Cape Cod Times

Baker fundraiser attendees will need to follow safety protocols

He questioned whether former President Barack Obama should do it. But when there’s money for the governor’s campaign on the line can COVID-19 safety recommendations slide into the rear view mirror? Not exactly. A day after Gov. Charlie Baker critiqued Obama for holding a large birthday party on Martha’s Vineyard this weekend — which has now been scaled down to just family and friends — the hosts of a fundraiser for the governor scheduled for next month on Cape Cod detailed safety precautions they plan to require of attendees, reports State House News Service’s Colin A. Young.

State House News Service

Some businesses are ‘just surviving’

That’s the story for a number of small businesses in Worcester, reports MassLive’s Michael Bonner. The fight against COVID isn’t slowing down anytime soon. But with restrictions lifted, stores in the Main South neighborhood have rebounded though sales are lower than 2019 numbers.

More from Bonner: “Less than a mile from Voltage Fashion Boutique, Polar Park welcomed a sellout crowd to watch Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale take the mound for the WooSox. The new ballpark has welcomed tens of thousands of fans since May. Despite the proximity, though, the new ballpark hasn’t attracted any new faces inside Voltage Fashion Boutique.”

MassLive

Mass and Cass hotel plans scrapped

The plans are scuttled. The main proponents of a plan to house individuals experiencing homeless in a vacant hotel near the “Mass and Cass” area told residents that the idea is dead in the water, reports Boston Herald’s Sean Philip Cotter. It was a controversial plan that garnered backlash from community members.

More from Cotter: “The plan ran into a buzzsaw of community opposition, as the Herald reported last week, with locals and elected officials criticizing it on multiple fronts, including saying that it goes against the long-stated goal of ‘decentralizing’ services in the area so the problems aren’t so concentrated.”

Boston Herald

Baker seeks to keep tax credit for certain medical manufactures

Arguing that tax breaks for companies that make medical devices and for importers and exporters who use the state’s ports encourage innovation and economic activity, Gov. Charlie Baker told the Legislature they should be maintained, reports Christian M. Wade at the Gloucester Daily Times. 

More from Wade: “Baker returned the provision to the Legislature when he initially signed the nearly $48 billion budget, recommending that lawmakers keep those two subsidies. His proposal was rejected, however. The measure also would’ve retired a tax break on the sale of patents for energy conservation, which Baker says has never been claimed. He supported getting rid of that tax exemption, but not the other two.”

Gloucester Daily Times

‘Possible irregularities:’ Diehl calls for audit of 2020 Mass. vote

Everybody’s doing it — why not us? GOP gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl is calling on Gov. Baker to order an audit of 2020 election results in the Bay State, claiming — without providing any evidence – -that he has “uncovered several upsetting trends” in voting procedures while also lashing out at the extension of mail-in voting for this year’s elections. Erin Tiernan of the Herald has the details.

Boston Herald

Enough, already: Lawmakers pen op-ed calling for end of St. Vincent nurses strike

As the St. Vincent Hospital nurses strike reached the 150-day mark on Wednesday, a pair of Worcester lawmakers is calling for the two sides to bridge what appears to be a narrowing gap in their positions. State Sen. Michael Moore and Rep. James O’Day say the resurgence of the COVID pandemic underscores the urgency of getting nurses back on the job as soon as possible.

Telegram & Gazette

Counterpoint: Former Fall River mayors push back on ‘ceremonial’ tag

Needless to say, they disagree. Jo C Goode of the Herald News catches up with several former Fall River mayors and finds, to no one’s surprise, that they reject current mayoral candidate Cliff Ponte’s characterization of the role — in a memo leaked to the media — as “ceremonial.” From responding to fires and other tragedies to leading the city’s school board, the mayors say the job is in fact “all-encompassing.”

Fall River Herald News

Today’s Headlines

Metro

Brockton police are cracking down on off-road vehicles and want your help – Brockton Enterprise

Fly infestation subsides in Saugus – Lynn Item

Massachusetts

Holyoke mayoral debate postponed out of respect for fallen firefighter Jonathan ‘Jono’ Robert – MassLive

Beacon Hill weighs ban on childlike sex dolls – Salem News

Masks are required inside all Framingham municipal buildings starting Thursday – MetroWest Daily News

Nation

House GOP’s new midterm headache: Candidates tied to the Capitol riot – Politico

With eviction victory in hand, congressional Democrats turn attention to student loans – Washington Post

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