Baker notes: Governor OK with Northeastern vaccine requirement
Noncommitttal on fate of proposed biomass ratepayer subsidies
GOV. CHARLIE BAKER appeared to have no problem on Tuesday with Northeastern University requiring students to be vaccinated by the first day of the fall semester, even though he has balked at mandating vaccinations for other populations.
The governor said many colleges and universities are considering vaccine requirements for students similar to what Northeastern announced. “It’s going to be an issue they’re all going to talk about,” he said, adding that students should get vaccinated.
Baker has been less willing to force other groups to get vaccinated. Last month he said he would not favor mandatory vaccinations for State Police, correctional officers, and other public sector groups. Attorney General Maura Healey said she favored requiring vaccinations for State Police and correctional officers, and gubernatorial candidate Ben Downing said he would require all public employees interfacing with the public to get vaccinated.
Ken Henderson, chancellor and senior vice president for learning at Northeastern, said the university is requiring every student to get vaccinated to return to full, in-person classroom learning in the fall. “If all or nearly all of our students are vaccinated, we expect that we’ll be able to achieve herd immunity,” he said.
Sen. Barry Finegold of Andover and Rep. Linda Dean Campbell of Methuen sent a letter to President Biden and Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday urging them to work together to develop vaccine verification systems, or vaccine passes.
The passes, which are already in use in many countries and being tested in some parts of the United States, could be used to restrict access to certain venues or modes of transportation to those who have been vaccinated.
The lawmakers said standards need to be developed now for the passes to make sure they are developed in the most efficient way possible. “With vaccine passes, the devil lies in the details. “Verification systems pose significant implementation challenges, which make proactive planning and clear guidance all the more imperative,” the lawmakers said in their letter.
Baker noncommittal on biomass subsidies
The Baker administration on Friday withdrew an air quality permit for a proposed wood-burning power plant in Springfield, but the governor said on Tuesday no decision has been made yet on whether to move forward with regulations providing electric ratepayer subsidies for such plants.
State environmental officials withdrew the permit because they said Palmer Renewable Energy had failed to begin construction of the plant within two years of landing the permit in 2012. The officials also cited as reasons “more recent health-related information and the heightened focus on environmental and health impacts on environment justice populations from sources of pollution during the intervening years.”
Since Friday, administration officials have refused to comment on proposed regulations providing electric ratepayer subsidies for such plants.
Baker gets his first shot
The governor stopped by the Hynes Convention Center mass vaccination site Tuesday afternoon for the first of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. “The process was quick and easy and I feel fine,” said Baker, who waited his turn for the vaccine. He said his wife got her first dose of the vaccine at a CVS about a week ago.
Vermont governor sets July for return to normalVermont Gov. Phil Scott said the state should be able to return to the way it was pre-pandemic by July 4 if the supply of vaccines continues at current levels. Scott said those who have not been vaccinated may need to wear masks and social distance, but he said those who have been vaccinated should return to their previous lives.
“From my standpoint, it’s almost like we’re back to where we were pre-pandemic, by having businesses open and being able to freely travel through the United States,” Scott said.