WSAR NEWS

Winter Storm Tonight

MassDOT Winter Storm Advisory
 
Overnight snow, freezing rain, and heavy winds anticipated across statewide regions 
 
Motorists are advised to allow extra travel time and delay trips if possible
 
 
BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is advising travelers that a strong fast-moving winter storm system is scheduled take place overnight tonight and will include snow accumulations in various statewide regions, freezing rain, sleet and heavy winds which may reduce visibility and impact travel.  Members of the public are encouraged to travel only if necessary and delay previously scheduled trips if possible. MassDOT crews will be chemically treating and salting roadways but rain, freezing rain and snow in various statewide regions may result in slippery conditions which will impact roadway conditions.  
 
The current forecast calls for precipitation to begin as snow for most areas and then change to rain later tonight through Monday morning across the eastern areas of the state.  At this time, more significant snow accumulation is forecasted to occur across higher elevations in Western and Central Massachusetts.  In addition, a strong onshore flow may increase the risk for widespread coastal flooding Monday morning, especially around the time of high tide. 
 
Drivers who must make trips should expect delays, reduce speed, and use caution. 
 
For more information on traffic conditions travelers are encouraged to:
 
•    Dial 511 and select a route to hear real-time conditions.
•    Visit www.mass511.com, a website which provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information, and allows users to subscribe to text and email alerts for traffic conditions.
•    Follow MassDOT on Twitter @MassDOT to receive regular updates on road and traffic conditions.
•    Download MassDOT’s GoTime mobile app and view real-time traffic conditions before setting out on the road.
 

New MA Hospital Rules

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Additional Measures to Protect Acute Care Hospital Capacity

BOSTON (January 14, 2022) — Today, in response to continuing staffing shortages across the healthcare industry, the Baker-Polito Administration announced several measures intended to ensure acute hospitals can serve those in need of acute care. The Commonwealth’s healthcare system has been facing a critical staffing shortage which has contributed to the loss of approximately 700 medical/surgical and ICU hospital beds since the beginning of 2021. Hospitals are also seeing many more patients than usual, the majority due to non-COVID-19-related reasons.


To assist hospitals amid the staff shortage, the Department of Public Health (DPH) issued orders to:  


•    Curtail unnecessary Emergency Department visits for non-emergency services 
•    Allow qualified physician assistants to practice independently
•    Provide greater staffing flexibility for dialysis units 
•    Allow foreign-trained physicians to qualify for licensure more easily


"Our healthcare system continues to experience significant workforce and capacity constraints due to longer than average hospital stays, separate and apart from the challenges brought on by COVID,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders. “Working closely with our hospital leaders, these additional actions by DPH will allow for flexibility to preserve our hospital capacity in the coming weeks.”


DPH has previously updated public health orders and issued advisories to hospitals and other healthcare facilities to alleviate staffing shortages and enhance the capacity of the health care system. These new actions include:


Advisory Curtailing Unnecessary Emergency Department Visits


Emergency Departments across the Commonwealth, like all other healthcare systems, are experiencing significant staff shortages and long wait times for care. In order to ensure critical resources are available for those who are having a medical emergency, individuals should not seek ED care for routine healthcare needs, COVID-19 testing or COVID-19 vaccination. For non-urgent, routine healthcare needs, individuals should contact their primary care providers. 


Physician Assistants


Physician Assistants (PA) may practice independently without physician supervision, provided they are employed within a provider setting where PAs work together with physicians to provide patient care and the PA is qualified and practicing within their scope of practice, experience, and training. 

 

Moonlighting for resident flexibility

 

Resident physicians can engage in “internal moonlighting,” which will allow flexibility to provide patient care outside of their specialized training program so that they may be redeployed to parts of the health care system with the highest staffing demands.

 

Credentialing: interfacility staff transfer flexibilities

 

Requires DPH-licensed facilities to expedite credentialing and to facilitate staff transfers across and between hospitals and provider systems to best meet patient care and capacity needs.

 

Out-of-hospital dialysis center staffing flexibilities

 

Enables out-of-hospital dialysis providers, including hospitals with outpatient dialysis centers, to relax staffing requirement levels while maintaining safe patient care by following DPH guidance that otherwise ensures that sufficient direct care staff, who are trained in dialysis care, will be available to meet the needs of patients undergoing dialysis.

 

Foreign-trained physician order

Enables an expedited licensure of foreign-trained physicians by allowing those with at least 2 years of post-graduate training, but who do not have a Massachusetts limited license, to qualify for licensure.  

These actions align with or expand upon emergency public health orders issued since March 2020 to preserve the healthcare system while still providing quality care.
Residents can help these efforts by getting a vaccine and booster, which remains the best way to protect against serious illness or hospitalization from COVID-19.

These actions are in addition to the deployment of additional Massachusetts National Guard staff posted at acute care hospitals. All updated orders can be viewed here. 

The MA Budget Starting Point for FY 2023

Heffernan, Rodrigues, Michlewitz, Announce Consensus Revenue Forecast of $36.915 Billion for Fiscal Year 2023

 

Projected state tax revenue growth set at 2.7%


BOSTON — Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael J. Heffernan, Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael J. Rodrigues, and House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz today announced a consensus revenue forecast for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) of $36.915 billion, representing 2.7% growth in state tax revenue over adjusted Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) projected revenue of $35.948 billion.

 

The adjusted FY22 revenue collections estimate incorporates a $1.548 billion upgrade of projected state tax revenues announced by Secretary Heffernan today, which is based upon current year-to-date revenues and economic data. 

 

The consensus revenue forecast is the basis on which the Baker-Polito Administration, the House, and the Senate will build their respective FY23 budget recommendations.

 

Pursuant to Section 5B of Chapter 29 of the General Laws, the three officials above convene every year to establish a joint revenue forecast by January 15th. In addition to conferring with each other, the Secretary and Chairs held a public hearing on December 21, 2021 to receive testimony from the Department of Revenue, the State Treasurer’s Office, and independent, local economists from area foundations and universities on tax revenue.

 

“The Fiscal Year 2023 consensus revenue forecast aligns with expert testimony delivered in December and acknowledges improved revenue trends in the current fiscal year,” said Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael J. Heffernan. “We thank our colleagues in the House and Senate Ways and Means Offices for their continued partnership as we begin to develop a budget that will maintain fiscal discipline while providing necessary funding to protect essential government services and support key priorities throughout the Commonwealth.”

 

“The consensus revenue agreement for Fiscal Year 2023 reflects our continued commitment to prioritizing the long-term fiscal health of our Commonwealth as we continue down the road of recovery from this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senate Committee on Ways and Means Chair Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport). “Thanks to a steady trend of strong tax revenue growth to date, a robust and health rainy day fund, the availability of over $2 billion in American Rescue Plan State Fiscal Recovery funds and continued collaboration with our partners in the Administration and the House, we are well positioned to continue building an equitable recovery. To that end, this agreement lays down the foundation for an impactful Fiscal Year 2023 budget that values the needs of our communities and our most vulnerable populations hardest hit by the pandemic, while ensuring our state remains in sound fiscal health.” 

“After some tumultuous budget cycles over the last several years, this consensus revenue agreement for Fiscal Year 2023 is a reasonable and appropriate forecast that will allow the Commonwealth to continue to provide the services our constituents deserve, while at the same time preserving our fiscal health. Despite the pandemic, our revenue intake continues to be better than anticipated, proving the continued resiliency of the Commonwealth’s economy,” said House Committee on Ways and Means Chair Representative Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston). “I want to thank Chair Rodrigues and Secretary Heffernan for their continued partnership in these challenging times.” 

 

Additional details:
•    Of the forecasted $36.915 billion in FY23 state tax revenues, an estimated $2.277 billion is projected to be capital gains tax revenue, of which, per statute, $873 million will be transferred to the Stabilization Fund and other long term liability funds for pension and retiree health insurance costs
•    The agreement also includes the following statutorily required off-budget transfers that are mandated by current law: 
•    $3.744 billion transferred to the pension fund, a $329 million increase over the FY22 contribution, which keeps the Commonwealth on schedule to fully fund its pension liability by 2036
•    $1.325 billion for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)
•    $1.165 billion for the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA)
•    $25 million for the Workforce Training Fund

After $7.132 billion in off-budget transfers, the Secretary and Committee Chairs agree that $29.783 billion will be the maximum amount of tax revenue available for the budget in FY23, absent statutory changes.

M.G.L. Chapter 29 Section 7H ½ requires the Secretary and the House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means to jointly develop a potential gross state product (PGSP) growth benchmark for the ensuing calendar year. The PGSP growth benchmark is used by the Health Policy Commission to establish the Commonwealth’s health care cost growth benchmark. The three bodies have reached an agreement that the PGSP figure for calendar year 2022 will remain 3.6%. PGSP is a measure of the “full employment” output of the Commonwealth’s economy and reflects long-term trends in the economy rather than fluctuations due to the business cycle and, as a result, is meant to be fairly stable from year to year.
 
 

Instructions for a Cold Fall River Weekend

In response to the upcoming cold weather, the First
Step Inn and the Timao Center, Fall River’s overflow homeless shelter, are prepared to
accommodate anyone in need of shelter. Those seeking services should contact the First Step Inn
by calling 508-679-8001 or 508-974-9972. The First Step Inn is located at 134 Durfee Street,
Fall River, MA 02720.

 


Due to Covid-19 restrictions, individuals will receive a Covid-19 test before being
admitted to the shelter. Street outreach workers from the City of Fall River and Steppingstone
Inc have been and will continue to patrol the city to ensure that anyone in need of shelter has
access.

 


On Saturday, January 15
th, the Timao Center, located at 371 Bay St in Fall River, will
also host a warming center from 7:30am – 3:30pm for anyone in need of temporary warming.
Residents may drop in without calling

Accident Details in Seekonk

Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office, along with Seekonk Police, are investigating a fatal crash, which occurred early this morning in Seekonk.

At around 4 a.m today, Seekonk Police responded to the area of 372 Central Avenue for a reported two-car collision.  When first responders arrived on scene they located a male victim seated in the driver's seat of a a Nissan Altima.  This individual, later identified as Shawn Nguon, 25, of Attleboro, was declared deceased at the scene of the crash.

The 16-year-old male driver of the second vehicle, a Honda Accord, was transported to Hasbro Children's Hospital in Rhode Island to be treated for non-life threatening injuries. He was the sole occupant of the vehicle.

The investigation into the crash remains active and ongoing at this time.
 

MA Community Colleges Want A Pause

Union Calling for Remote Period at Community Colleges

On Jan. 12, the Massachusetts Community College Council, which represents the faculty and professional staff at the state’s 15 community colleges, sent the letter below to the presidents of each college. The MCCC is advocating for the use of remote learning for the first two weeks of the spring semester. This will allow faculty to set up effective learning conditions and continuity of instruction plans amid predicable disruptions caused by high rates of absences, as well as allow them to maintain public health and safety amid the current surge of COVID-19 driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant. 


Dear Presidents of Massachusetts Community Colleges,

Given the extremely high transmissibility of the omicron variant among both the vaccinated and unvaccinated, even when wearing face coverings, we the local and chapter leadership of the MCCC are requesting that the 15 community colleges begin face-to-face classes for the 2022 spring semester in a remote modality for the first two weeks of the semester, with the exception of programs that must be delivered on campus such as culinary, nursing or other health-related programs and workforce. We further request that, during the same period, the college retain minimal staffing levels for student-facing offices, and unit professional staff be permitted to telework.

 

While we recognize the value of on-ground face-to-face learning for many of our students as well as that an on-ground presence of employees contributes to the vitality of a campus, the potentially high levels of COVID-caused absences among students, support staff, and faculty due to the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 is likely to cause such disruption during the first several weeks of classes that learning may not occur at all. The first two weeks of class are the most important for student success. The current positive rate in Massachusetts is 23%, a percentage likely to be much higher since it does not include those who have tested positive with at-home tests or those who are positive for COVID but do not have access to tests. If a quarter of the instructors and students are absent in the first two weeks of the semester due to COVID, critical material cannot be adequately covered. Additionally, those who are COVID-positive with no symptoms attending class or who only have a mild case of COVID, but think they are okay enough to attend class, will further cause COVID to spread, exacerbating an already bad situation. Critical mass for the class to achieve the necessary continuity of instruction for student success might never be achieved or achieved too late in the semester for many students.

 

If all on-ground face-to-faces classes were to begin remotely, continuity of instruction can be achieved in the first two weeks. Those who are COVID-positive with no symptoms or who only have mild illness can attend class without spreading the virus. It will give the on-ground classes a chance to stem the upward surge of the virus and help ensure that our students can have a successful semester. It will also help ensure that students, faculty, and staff are able to engage in necessary self-care should they contract COVID-19, which at this point is more likely than not because of the high transmissibility of the omicron variant.

We recognize the extraordinary, unprecedented nature of our request. But it is in response to the unprecedented nature of this unpredictable deadly global pandemic that is COVID-19. We ask that you work with your college’s MCCC chapter leadership to move face-to-face classes and unit on-ground work, where practicable, to a remote/telework modality for at least the first two weeks after the semester starts, and where essential student-facing offices require on-ground personnel, priority be given to those professional staff who prefer to be on ground.

We thank you for your time and attention to this urgent matter.
 

FRPD Arrest in December Shooting

The Fall River Police Department has made an arrest in connection to the shooting which took place back on December 27, 2021, which occurred on Eddy St. in the city of Fall River. Detective Moses Pereira of the Major Crimes Division who was the lead Detective for this incident, was able to identify the male suspect as Jeffrey Nunez (08/20/85) out of New Bedford, Ma.

    With the assistance of Massachusetts State Police Violent Apprehension Section and Detectives from the New Bedford Police Department, Nunez was taken into custody in the city of New Bedford without incident on Wednesday January 12, 2022.
 
    Detective Moses Pereira was granted search warrants for Nunez’s apartment and also for his vehicle. Inside the apartment, Detectives seized a 45 caliber handgun along with ammunition.
 
 Nunez is being charged with the following offenses;

1.    Attempt to commit A&B by discharging a firearm.
2.    Discharge a firearm within 500 FT of a building.
3.    Two (2) counts of vandalize property.

On FRPD Officer Termination

Interim Police Chief Paul Gauvin announces;


Officer Michael Pessoa has been terminated as a member of the Fall River Police Department, effective today, January 12, 2022.

 

My decision to terminate him was based on the findings of a hearing officer designated by the City to determine whether Mr. Pessoa had engaged in serious misconduct in violation of Fall River Police Department Rules and Regulations.

 

The hearing officer found substantial evidence that Mr. Pessoa had engaged in egregious violations of Police Department Rules and Regulations and that termination was warranted.

 

These findings and my decision to terminate Mr. Pessoa have no bearing on the pending criminal allegations against him, which will be adjudicated through the criminal justice system.


The courts have determined that police officers voluntarily undertake to adhere to a higher standard of conduct; that officers must comport themselves in accordance with the laws that they are sworn to enforce and behave in a manner that brings honor and respect for rather than public distrust of law enforcement personnel. In this case, Mr. Pessoa did not adhere to that standard of conduct, and that is the basis for his termination.
 

MLK Day At UMass Dartmouth

UMass Dartmouth to celebrate 20th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast

 

The January 28 virtual event will feature inspiring remarks, musical performances, and a keynote address from best-selling author Michael Eric Dyson

 

On Friday, January 28, 2022, from 9 – 11:00 a.m., UMass Dartmouth will host the 20th Annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast via Zoom. The theme of this year's event, "Dr. King for the 21st Century". 

 

The event is free and open to the public, but you must register to attend.

 

To illustrate this year's theme, the keynote address will be given by public intellectual and best-selling author Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. Dr. Dyson is the Centennial Chair at Vanderbilt University and serves as University Distinguished Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies in the College of Arts and Science and University Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Society in the Divinity School. He is also a New York Times contributing opinion writer and a contributing editor of The New Republic and ESPN's The Undefeated website.

 

Dr. Dyson, who came from humble roots in Detroit, has authored twenty-one books and become a prominent leader and national media fixture. He has won an American Book Award and two NAACP Image Awards. Ebony cited him as one of the 100 most influential African Americans and one of the 150 most powerful blacks in the nation.

 

Dyson's pioneering scholarship has had a profound effect on American ideas. His 1994 book Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X was named one of the most important African American books of the 20th century and was also named a "Notable Book of the Year" by the New York Times. According to book industry bible Publisher's Weekly, Dyson's 2001 book, Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur, helped make books on hip hop commercially viable.

 

The event will also feature remarks from Chancellor Mark A. Fuller and musical performances by Candida Rose and UMass Dartmouth's D'SWORD Gospel Choir.

New Bedford COVID19 Testing

COVID-19 Testing on Monday Holiday: Airport Open, South End Fire Station Closed

New Bedford, Massachusetts – Project Beacon’s appointment-based COVID-19 testing at New Bedford Regional Airport will be open during Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 17, but the walk-up clinic provided by Seven Hills Behavioral Health at former Fire Station 11 in the South End will be closed for the holiday. 

Project Beacon’s COVID-19 testing at the airport—part of the state’s Stop the Spread program—will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday. Project Beacon is shifting its hours, though, on Sunday, Jan. 16, when it will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Project Beacon is notifying people with Sunday appointments about the change. Anyone with questions can contact Project Beacon by email at help@beacontesting.com; or by calling 617-741-7310.  

Other testing sites in New Bedford and surrounding towns can be found on the state’s Stop the Spread website, www.mass.gov/info-details/find-a-covid-19-test.

Upcoming testing locations in New Bedford include: 

Friday, Jan. 14: 
-    Former Fire Station 11 (754 Brock Ave.) – 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 16: 
-    Project Beacon at New Bedford Regional Airport (1569 Airport Road) – 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 17: 
-    Project Beacon at New Bedford Regional Airport (1569 Airport Road) – 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
-    Former Fire Station 11 (754 Brock Ave.) – CLOSED FOR HOLIDAY

Tuesday, Jan. 18: 
-    Project Beacon at New Bedford Regional Airport (1569 Airport Road) – 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
-    Former Fire Station 11 (754 Brock Ave.) – 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 19:
-    Project Beacon at New Bedford Regional Airport (1569 Airport Road) – 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
-    Seven Hills at PAACA (360 Coggeshall St.) – 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 20:
-    Project Beacon at New Bedford Regional Airport (1569 Airport Road) – 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
-    Former Fire Station 11 (754 Brock Ave.) – 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 21:
-    Former Fire Station 11 (754 Brock Ave.) – 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
 

In New Bedford A Mix

Nation’s Leading Fishing Port Reacts To Federal Announcement of Offshore Wind Leasing In New York Waters

New Bedford, Massachusetts – The Port of New Bedford, Massachusetts, the center of the East Coast commercial fishing industry, is offering mixed reaction to the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management’s (BOEM) announcement Wednesday that the agency will conduct a wind energy lease auction for six areas totaling 480,000 acres of the New York Bight in February.

 

The New Bedford fishing fleet--the nation’s top-grossing fleet--relies heavily on the fishing grounds of the New York Bight for its success.  Given the importance of the Bight, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and the New Bedford Port Authority (NBPA) have been actively engaged with BOEM regarding the development of the Bight for offshore wind energy projects.

 

In an April 2021 letter to BOEM Director Amanda Lefton, Mayor Mitchell, as Chairman of the Port Authority, recommended changes in the configuration of the proposed Bight lease areas to help reduce the impact on the Atlantic sea scallop industry and other fish species principally landed in New Bedford.

 

Specifically, the Mayor called for the southeastern boundary of the Bight’s Hudson South lease area to be shifted 5 miles to the west.  The Mayor’s letter was followed in August 2021 by a second letter further explaining the need for a boundary adjustment.  [letters attached]

 

With its announcement yesterday, BOEM responded to the New Bedford requests, agreeing to shift the boundary in question 2.5 miles to the west, as well as reducing the size of another Bight lease area, the so-called “Central Bight” area.

 

Mayor Mitchell commented on yesterday’s developments, “The overarching lesson from yesterday’s announcement is the importance of staying engaged and offering pragmatic solutions that are responsive to the concerns of both wind proponents and fishing interests.  I appreciate the willingness of Director Lefton and the BOEM team to listen and adjust their approach based on the strength of the case we have made to them.”

 

Mitchell added, “This is by no means to say that the Port’s concerns with BOEM’s approach to offshore wind development in the Bight are all addressed.  We will continue to call on BOEM to use the wind project permitting process to minimize the economic impact on commercial fishing, and, equally important, to ensure fishermen are compensated for any economic damages caused by wind project development.”

 

“I can’t emphasize enough how important the fishing industry is to our nation’s food security and how economically important the industry is to state economies of New England.  The federal government should pursue a policy agenda that simultaneously takes into account the economic consequences to fishermen and the economic opportunities from offshore wind energy development.  It’s not an “either/or” proposition.  Federal regulators at BOEM and other agencies must consider both in all their decision-making,” said Mitchell.

 

For its part, New Bedford is uniquely positioned on issues of both economic impact and economic benefit.  The Port is the largest and most profitable seafood port on the East Coast and also has the distinction of being home to the nation’s only purpose-built offshore wind staging facility, the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal.  The nation’s first industrial-scale offshore wind project, Vineyard Wind, will begin staging from the Commerce Terminal in 2023.

 

Advocating for an effective mitigation strategy is part of the Port’s commitment to ensuring that offshore wind advances in ways that safeguard the viability of our commercial fishing industry.  Of particular concern to the Port is BOEM’s mitigation approach, which remains limited to consideration of environmental impacts.  The Port’s position is that wind project mitigation plans need to consider economic impacts, given the size of the fishing industry:  Thirty percent of the nation’s $5.5 billion seafood industry is landed in the Northeast, with seafood landings in the Port of New Bedford itself worth $450 million annually. In New Bedford, the scallop fishery alone is responsible for $300 million in annual landings.

A 2019 economic impact study of the Port of New Bedford conducted by Martin Associates and Foth-CLE Engineering Group determined that the regional seafood industry’s economic contribution comprises 39,000 jobs, $11 billion in local economic impact, $162 million in direct state taxes and $391 million in direct federal taxes.

Mitigation efforts also need to acknowledge that economic disruptions to commercial fisheries from wind farms will be felt across multiple states, not just those whose waters will host wind projects.  While wind projects may be built off the coast of New York and New Jersey, their impacts will not be limited to those states.  Large volumes of sea scallops caught off the coast of New York and New Jersey are landed daily in New Bedford, and fishermen who live in New England regularly fish in federal waters off the coasts of New York and New Jersey. Commercial fishing is an interconnected, region-wide industry, and needs a mitigation plan that is similarly broad in its scope.

The Port has therefore advocated for BOEM to take a proactive approach to its fisheries mitigation efforts by establishing definitive minimum standards for the mitigation process and requiring developers to use specific measures and methodologies to mitigate the impacts of offshore wind projects.

############

Baker-Polito Greenhouse Commission

The Baker-Polito Administration announced Wednesday that the members of Massachusetts' first-in-the-nation commission on clean heat were sworn in, helping to advance the commonwealth's ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector. The commission held its first meeting Wednesday and over the next year they will advise the administration as it works to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

 

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary (EEA) Kathleen Theoharides has appointed EEA Undersecretary of Energy and Climate Solutions, Judy Chang, to serve as her designee and chair of the commission.

FRSC Names Paul Hart New Vice Chair

By a margin of 6-1, with Kevin Augiar voting no, Fall River School Committee Veteran Paul Hart was named Vice Chair of the Fall River Public School Committee. 

 

Hart replaces long time vice chair Mark Costa, who did not run for re election in the most recent municipal election cycle. 

 

Hart will run School Committee meetings when School Committee Chair and Mayor Paul Coogan is absent or recuses himself. 

New Bedford COVID-19 Testing This Week

State Cancels COVID-19 Testing on Tuesday, Jan. 11, Due to Frigid Forecast

Project Beacon Adds Wednesday Hours at New Bedford Regional Airport

New Bedford, Massachusetts – State health officials have canceled state-supported COVID-19 testing on Tuesday, Jan. 10, to prevent people from waiting outside in lines during the very cold temperatures expected in the region. 

That means no testing will be offered Tuesday through the appointment-based Project Beacon site at New Bedford Regional Airport, or at the walk-up clinic provided by Seven Hills Behavioral Health at former Fire Station 11 in the South End. 

Project Beacon’s COVID-19 testing at the airport—part of the state’s Stop the Spread program—will add a day of testing on Wednesday, Jan. 12, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Many of the Wednesday appointments likely will be filled by rescheduling from Tuesday’s cancellations. 

Project Beacon is notifying people with Tuesday appointments and advising how to reschedule. Anyone with questions should contact Project Beacon directly via their website, www.projectbeacon.com; via email at help@beacontesting.com; or by calling 617-741-7310.  

Seven Hills will resume testing Wednesday at PAACA, 360 Coggeshall St. 

Testing at former Fire Station 11, 754 Brock Ave., will resume Thursday. 

Other testing sites in New Bedford and surrounding towns can be found on the state’s Stop the Spread website, www.mass.gov/info-details/find-a-covid-19-test.

Updated testing locations in New Bedford this week include: 

Wednesday, Jan. 12:
-    Project Beacon at New Bedford Regional Airport (1569 Airport Road) – 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
-    Seven Hills at PAACA (360 Coggeshall St.) – 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 13:
-    Project Beacon at New Bedford Regional Airport (1569 Airport Road) – 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
-    Former Fire Station 11 (754 Brock Ave.) – 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 14: 
-    Former Fire Station 11 (754 Brock Ave.) – 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 16: 
-    Project Beacon at New Bedford Regional Airport (1569 Airport Road) – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

MA Digital Vax Card

Baker-Polito Administration Launches Tool for Residents to Access COVID-19 Digital Vaccine Card
“My Vax Records” Provides New Option to Access Vaccine History and QR Code to Verify COVID-19 Vaccination
 
BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced a tool that gives residents a new way to access their COVID-19 digital vaccine card and vaccination history. 

 

The new tool, called My Vax Records, allows people who received their vaccination in Massachusetts to access their own vaccination history and generate a COVID-19 digital vaccine card, which would contain similar vaccination information to a paper CDC card. 

 

The COVID-19 digital vaccine cards produced by the system utilize the SMART Health Card platform and generate a QR code that can be used to verify vaccination.

 

 The Administration is not requiring residents to show proof of vaccination to enter any venue, but this tool will help residents who would like to access and produce a digital copy of their record.

 

Access the new tool at MyVaxRecords.Mass.Gov. 

How It Works: The new tool is easy to use: a person enters their name, date of birth, and mobile phone number or email associated with their vaccine record. After creating a 4-digit PIN, the user receives a link to their vaccine record that will open upon re-entry of the PIN.

 

The electronic record shows the same information as a paper CDC vaccine card: name, date of birth, date of vaccinations, and vaccine manufacturer.

 

It also includes a QR code that makes these same details readable by a QR scanner, including smartphone apps. Once the SMART Health Card is received, users are able to save the QR code to their phone, such as the Apple Wallet, screenshot the information and save it to their phone’s photos, or print out a copy for a paper record. The system follows national standards for security and privacy. 

 

This system provides an optional way that residents can access their vaccination information and a COVID-19 digital vaccine card. This will provide residents with another tool to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination, should it be requested by businesses, local governments, or other entities.

 

The system leverages the Massachusetts Immunization Information System (MIIS), the official database used by health care providers across the state to record vaccination information.

The system relies on hundreds of providers inputting demographic and health information. Some users may not be able to immediately find their record, or may find an incomplete record.

 

Residents whose record cannot be found or is incomplete can either contact their health care provider or contact the MIIS team to update their records. Learn more about the tool and view frequently-asked-questions at www.mass.gov/myvaxrecord.

 

Massachusetts has worked with VCI,™ a voluntary coalition of public and private organizations which developed the open-source SMART Health Card Framework in use by other states. The VCI coalition is dedicated to improving privacy and security of patient information, making medical records portable and reducing healthcare fraud.

 

My Vax Records is just one way residents can obtain their COVID vaccination record. Pharmacies that administered the COVID vaccine and many health care providers also are making SMART Health Cards available, or are providing additional options. Learn more.

     
 

Bristol Postpones a Vax Event

POSTPONED: Bristol Community College - January 12 COVID-19 and Flu Vaccination Clinic 


Bristol Community College’s COVID-19 and flu vaccination clinic on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, from noon to 4 p.m., at the Bristol Fall River Campus, hosted by Stop & Stop Pharmacy has been postponed until a date to be announced.  

 

In the meantime, please check local pharmacies, the resources below or with your primary care physician. www.bristolcc.edu/vaxup  
 
Where Else Can I Get Vaccinated? 
 
Massachusetts 
•    www.FRVax.com   
•    https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/  
•    www.mass.gov/covid-19-vaccine  


Rhode Island  
•    covid.ri.gov/vaccination 
•    www.vaccinateri.org 


COVID-19 Vaccination Resources 
•    Covid-19 Resources  


For more information, please contact Bristol Community College Health Services, by email at healthservices@bristolcc.edu or visit www.bristolcc.edu/vaxup
 

Bristol County D-A Statement on new U-S Attorney

The following is a statement from Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III in his capacity as the President of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association:

 

"I would like to congratulate Rachael Rollins for being sworn in as the US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.  I wish her the best in her new position.  I would also like to congratulate Kevin R. Hayden for his appointment as the new District Attorney of Suffolk County. I look forward to working with him in the future."
 

F-R Homeless

Fall River Shelters Prepared for Cold Weather


(FALL RIVER, MA- January 10th, 2022)- In response to the upcoming cold weather, the First
Step Inn and the Timao Center, Fall River’s overflow homeless shelter, are prepared to
accommodate anyone in need of shelter.

 

Those seeking services should contact the First Step Inn
by calling 508-679-8001 or 508-974-9972. The First Step Inn is located at 134 Durfee Street,
Fall River, MA 02720.


Fall River’s shelters are prepared to accommodate more individuals. Due to Covid-19
restrictions, individuals will receive a Covid-19 test before being admitted to the shelter.

 

Street
outreach workers from the City of Fall River and Steppingstone Inc have been and will continue
to patrol the city to ensure that anyone in need of shelter has access

Wrong Way Driver Dies on Route 24

According to NBC 10 in providence, Massachusetts State Police say a wrong-way driver died in a crash involving a tractor-trailer on Route 24 early Sunday morning in Berkley. Police say an SUV was traveling north on the south side of the highway and struck a southbound tractor-trailer around 1:30 A.M. near Exit 13. The driver of the SUV, 40 year old Sara Paulo, of Somerset, was pronounced dead on scene.

 

The driver of the tractor-trailer, a 35-year-old man from Santa Ana, California, was transported to a nearby hospital with minor injuries. The exact cause and circumstances of the crash remain under investigation by Massachusetts State Police.

Covid Testing at FRFD HQ in F-R

Fall River Fire Department to Resume COVID-19 Testing


(FALL RIVER, MA- January 10th, 2022)- Due to the increased demand for COVID-19
testing in the City of Fall River, Mayor Paul Coogan and the Fall River Fire Department have
announced that free COVID-19 testing will resume at the Fire Department Headquarters, located
at 140 Commerce Drive in Fall River.

 

Testing will take place from 8:30am-1:30pm every
Tuesday and Thursday, beginning tomorrow, January 11th, 2022.


Testing will be available to City residents only. Proof of residency, such as ID or a piece
of mail, will be required.

 

Tests will be available on a first come, first serve basis with 300 Rapid
RNA (PCR) tests being offered per day. Results can be expected within 24-48 hours.
A hotline has been established at the Fire Department for all questions regarding COVID19 testing: 774-644-0703

MA Gasoline This Week

 Massachusetts’s average gas price is 1 cent lower than last week ($3.38), averaging $3.37 per gallon. Today’s price is 3 cents lower than a month ago ($3.40), and $1.10 higher than January 10, 2021 ($2.27). Massachusetts’s average gas price is 7 cents higher than the national average. 

 

“According to new data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), total domestic gasoline stocks rose by 10.1 million barrels last week. On the other hand, gasoline demand decreased from 9.72 million barrels per day to 8.17. Typically, pump prices decline due to lower gas demand and a rise in total stocks, but continued growth in the price of crude oil has helped keep pump prices from falling any significant amount,” says Mary Maguire, Director of Public/Government Affairs. 

 

AAA Northeast’s January 10 survey of fuel prices found the current national average to be 2 cents higher than last week ($3.28), averaging $3.30 a gallon. Today’s national average price is 3 cents lower than a month ago ($3.33), and 99 cents higher than this day last year ($2.31).
 

Patriots and Bills Saturday Night

The Sports Illustrated Sportsbook has The New England Patriots listed as a 4 and half point road underdog in Buffalo Saturday Night, with an over/under of 43 and a half. 

 

Coverage will begin on the Patriots Radio Network on WSAR at 5pm, preceeded by Fox Sports Radio, with an 8:15 kick from Buffalo's High Mark Stadium, with a 8:15 kickoff. 

 

The winner will advance to next weekend's Divisional Round in the AFC Super Bowl Tournament. 

Patriots on Sunday

The New England Patriots deal with Miami in Hard Rock Stadium Sunday, with coverage on the Patriots Radio Network at 1:30pm Sunday, with a 4:25 kickoff. 

 

The Patriots are 6.5 road favorites after losing in week 1 to the Dolphins at Gillette by a score of 17-16. 

The O/U is 40. 

 

The Patriots are currently the number five seed in the AFC Super Bowl Tournament, with the possibility of moving up or down depending on the results of games this weekend.

 

 

Vax Schedules in New Bedford

New Saturday Vaccination Hours Start at McCoy Rec Center  
 
New Bedford, Massachusetts – The Andrea McCoy Recreation Center on Hillman Street holds its first Saturday vaccination clinic of 2022 tomorrow, Jan. 8, with new hours.

 

Seven Hills Behavioral Health will offer COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, including pediatric vaccines, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the recreation center, a change from the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday hours offered there last month. The later start enables more recreational programming at the center earlier in the morning. 

 

Free, walk-up COVID-19 clinics in New Bedford offer CDC-approved booster shots, in addition to first- and second-dose vaccines and, at most locations, pediatric vaccines. Please bring your vaccination card when getting a booster. 

 

Visit vaxnb.com for updated schedules of local COVID-19 vaccination and testing locations. Upcoming vaccine locations in New Bedford include:

 

Saturday, Jan. 8:
-    Andrea McCoy Recreation Center (181 Hillman St.) – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Pfizer, Moderna, boosters, pediatric vaccines for children 5 – 11 years old

Monday, Jan. 10:
-    Andrea McCoy Recreation Center (181 Hillman St.) – 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Pfizer, Moderna, boosters, pediatric vaccines for children 5 – 11 years old

Friday, Jan. 14:
-    PAACA (360 Coggeshall St.) – 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Pfizer, Moderna, boosters, w/ pediatric vaccines for children 5 – 11 years old 

Saturday, Jan. 15:
-    Andrea McCoy Recreation Center (181 Hillman St.) – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Pfizer, Moderna, boosters, pediatric vaccines for children 5 – 11 years old

-    St. Gabriel Parish (343 Tarkiln Hill Road) – 12 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Pfizer vaccines, including pediatric and booster doses, and Moderna vaccines  

 

Reminder on the importance of vaccinations, especially during winter months: Vaccination levels in the region remain low, and daily case rates remain high. Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is not only about protecting yourself – it’s also about protecting your family, friends, and community. Vaccination is critically important during the winter months, when indoor gatherings can lead to super-spreader events, clusters, hospitalizations, and severe illness among people who are unvaccinated. 

 

Boosters critical after vaccinations: 
As of Jan. 6, more than 54 percent of New Bedford residents were fully vaccinated, but only about 15 percent of residents had received a booster shot. Boosters are critically important for eligible people – those who completed their vaccinations two months ago, for Johnson & Johnson; five months ago, for Pfizer; and six months ago, for Moderna – as immunity from vaccines can wane. Booster shots can reduce risks of hospitalization and severe illness, and are particularly important given the emerging omicron variant, which may be more likely to evade immune responses. 

 

Pfizer boosters now approved for youth 12 years and older 
The CDC, FDA, and Massachusetts public health officials all have given approval for the use of Pfizer boosters by vaccinated, eligible youth 12 years and older. Pfizer boosters are offered at all local clinics listed above.  

Fall River Parking Ban Ending

Fall River Parking Ban Lifted at 5pm


(FALL RIVER, MA- January 7th, 2022)- The parking ban put into place on Thursday, January
6th, 2022 will be lifted at 5pm on Friday, January 7th

FCC Posting

On November 30, 2021, Bristol County  Broadcasting, LTD, licensee of WSAR, 1480 kHz, Fall River, MA filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission for renewal of its broadcast station license.  Members of the public wishing to view the application or obtain information about how to file comments and petitions on the application can visit publicfiles.fcc.gov, and search in WSAR's public file.

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