Virus notes: Baker shows interest in vaccine pass

Chelsea, Everett, Methuen, Randolph to get additional aid

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER indicated on Thursday that he is interested in so-called vaccine passes that could be used for travel or to gain access to public venues, but he said he would prefer to see the federal government take the lead.

“It’s a conversation worth having for all kinds of reasons but I would rather have the feds give us a framework to begin with,” Baker said at a State House press conference. “Having 50 states doing 50 different things on this could get pretty complicated.”

Baker said he also believes Massachusetts would have to pass a law allowing the state to create a vaccine pass program because authority doesn’t exist under current law.

Vaccine passes provide proof that an individual has been vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested negative for the virus. Airlines and travel organizations are enthusiastic about the passes as a way of giving people peace of mind to begin traveling again. Public venues, such as sports stadiums and restaurants and bars, are also interested in the idea. Critics have raised concerns about privacy and discrimination against people who have not been vaccinated.

Israel launched a vaccine pass program in February and other countries say they are moving in the same direction. The Biden administration has asked government agencies to assess the feasibility of generating digitized versions of vaccination documents.

Sen. Barry Finegold of Andover earlier this week urged the Baker administration to begin planning for a vaccine pass now because the vaccination effort is picking up steam and should be nearing its targets over the next three months,

Baker promises $100m for Chelsea, Everett, Methuen, Randolph

Gov. Charlie Baker said he intends to use $100 million in federal aid to bolster funding for four communities hard hit by COVID-19 that he believes were shortchanged by US funding formulas in the latest relief bill.

The governor said the state will receive $7.9 billion in federal aid, of which $3.4 billion will go direct to counties, cities, and towns. Baker said Chelsea, Everett, Methuen, and Randolph, because of their smaller population sizes, are slated to receive between $6 million and $8 million under the relief bill while more well-to-do, larger communities are getting $70 million to $90 million.

Baker didn’t say whether the $100 million, which will come out of the $4.5 billion in aid coming direct to the state, would be evenly split between the four communities or divvied up some other way. The money is not expected to be available for several weeks.

Vaccination of 25,000 homebound residents set to begin

Massachusetts is launching an initiative to vaccinate 25,000 homebound residents next week using local boards of health and a health care provider called Commonwealth Care Alliance.

The residents will be vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires just one dose and can be transported at room temperature.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Marylou Sudders, the governor’s secretary of health and human services, said local boards of health were solicited to reach out to homebound residents and 170 boards serving roughly 40 percent of the state’s population stepped forward to do the job. The remaining 60 percent of the state will be covered by the Commonwealth Care Alliance.

Many local boards know who is homebound in their area but individuals who feel they qualify can call 844-771-6828 for assistance Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.