Happy New Year from MASSterList
At MASSterList, we strive to bring you a stimulating daily compendium of Massachusetts political and policy news and intel — what just happened and what’s to come. And we look forward to bringing you even more editorial features in 2022.
We’re grateful for your readership and welcome any and all feedback. Here’s to a healthy, exciting and fulfilling new year!
Massachusetts hits 2 million booster-shot milestone
New number, new milestone.
Massachusetts reached 2 million booster shots administered on Wednesday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced via Twitter. Boston Globe’s Travis Andersen reports that the announcement comes a day after state officials publicized new vaccine and booster shot sites.
The booster milestone comes as the state surpasses a grimmer mark — more than 1 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Massachusetts, reports Associated Press’ Michael Casey. At least two COVID variants — delta and omicron — have helped fuel repeated surges here.
We’ve also reached a tenuous time of the year: the post-holiday window, where people are returning from family and social gatherings or visits across the country. As cases continue to mount, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some new guidelines if you test positive for COVID.
MassLive’s Alison Kuznitz reports that the CDC recommends asymptomatic positive individuals isolate or quarantine for five days instead of 10. Following that, people should wear a mask for another five days when they’re around others. Massachusetts has adopted those same guidelines, the state Department of Public Health announced Tuesday evening.
And get ready for some shifts to the annual First Night New Year’s Eve events in Boston. GBH News previously reported that events scheduled to take place indoors are being moved outside as a result of the current COVID surge.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu plans a press conference a 10:30 a.m. press conference at City Hall to share how officials are “prioritizing public health and safety for Friday’s First Night celebration,” according to a media advisory that specified there’d be “a particular focus on COVID-19 health and safety amid the rise in cases.”
Police body camera commission misses reporting deadline
What are deadlines but just a date on a calendar…? A new commission tasked with studying and proposing regulations around body-worn cameras and vehicle dashboard cameras by law enforcement missed a deadline to report out proposed laws. State House News Service’s Michael P. Norton reports that the commission had to file an interim report by July 31.
More from Norton: “The News Service inquired about the report and learned that it was never filed, largely because the commission itself didn’t come together until well after the reporting deadline and held its first meeting on Sept. 14.”
Singled out? First trooper fired over vax mandate slams ‘humiliating’ process
The first member of the Mass. State Police to be fired for refusing to comply with the governor’s vaccine mandate is telling his side of the story to the Boston Herald’s Rick Sobey. Timothy Barry says he learned he was being placed on leave when he was pulled out of a training classroom full of fellow troopers, a “humiliating” experience that left him feeling singled out for refusing to comply. A religious exemption he sought was later denied and last week he became the first trooper fired under the mandate.
New COVID requirements for Worcester city government
New COVID-related requirements are flowing into Worcester. Telegram & Gazette’s Anoushka Dalmia reports city officials are updating vaccine requirements for employees, shifting to virtual options for city business, and limiting municipal building capacity. City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. and other officials outlined the details at a press conference on Wednesday including a vaccine and booster requirement for city employees.
Munis running low on at-home COVID tests
If it wasn’t clear by visiting any local pharmacy, CVS, or Walgreens, at-home COVID tests are in high demand. GBH News’ Matt Baskin reports that municipalities are already running low on tests only weeks after the Baker administration announced they would be distributing free at-home COVID tests to at-risk cities and towns.
At-home test kits heading to local schools
Order accepted. State officials bought 200,000 at-home testing kits that are earmarked for local districts so teachers and staff can test themselves before returning to work after the winter holiday. Associated Press’ Boston Bureau reports that every district is slated to receive enough tests so two can be handed out to each staff member.
Resignation mystery: Attleboro transit chief out amid ‘concerns’
Mark Sousa, who has led the Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority since 2020, resigned on Thursday after a six-hour meeting of the system’s board that was called to address “concerns” within the agency, George Rhodes of the Sun Chronicle reports. The board, whose members include Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux, isn’t shedding light on the circumstances of Sousa’s departure.
Practice makes perfect: Afghan refugee resettlement in
This isn’t their first rodeo. So far, 15 refugees from war-torn Afghanistan have found temporary homes in the Berkshire County, with 16 more on the way next month. Danny Jin of the Berkshire Eagle reports agencies in the region are benefiting from planning done in 2016 to welcome those fleeing the war in Syria — who then-President Trump later barred from being relocated to the U.S.
Law school enrollment in Boston jumped during the pandemic
There are several career paths where people always say demand will never falter. Doctors are one and lawyers are another. That anecdote may have more of ring to it now. Boston Business Journal’s Greg Ryan reports that law schools in Boston witnessed increased enrollment this academic year. First-year enrollment at the seven law schools in the region saw a combined 13 percent jump this fall, Ryan reports. That’s triple the rate from the last year.
Going big: Amazon buys entire Westborough business park
Amazon continues to build out its real estate footprint in Central Mass., this time scooping up a 93-acre business park in Westborough for $65 million. Katherine Hamilton of the Worcester Business Journal reports the property will include a last-mile fulfillment center and could eventually host as much as 1 million square feet of development.
Should you be weighed every time you visit the doctor?
When you go to the doctor, a nurse probably asks you to stand on a scale to check your weight. But should that be standard practice? WBUR’s Hafsa Quraishi reports that some advocates argue no, saying the routine weight check triggers anxiety for some people.
More from Quraishi: “Over the past few years, there’s been a growing push among health professionals, researchers and advocates to address the issue of weight stigma and its harmful effects on health. Multiple studies have found an association between weight discrimination and higher levels of anxiety, depression, eating disorders and stress.”
Campbell cites ‘electoral partnership’ as key for her in representing District 4: ‘Proud’ of successes, wiser about limitations – Dorchester Reporter
Year in review: Boston saw profound political changes in 2021 – Bay State Banner
COVID closes Attleboro district, juvenile courts again – Sun Chronicle
Worcester requiring booster shots for all city employees; return to virtual meetings, capacity limits – Telegram & Gazette
Ghislaine Maxwell Is Found Guilty of Aiding in Epstein’s Sex Abuse – New York Times
The 10 Republicans most likely to run for president – The Hill
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