BOSTON (AP) — The state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced a partnership Friday that will boost the number of coronavirus vaccine doses available at the Hynes Convention Center mass vaccination site sevenfold.
Starting March 31, the federal agency will allocate 6,000 doses a day to the site on top of the 1,000 daily doses being supplied by the state, authorities said in a statement.
The site is open to the public with additional services available for the most disproportionately impacted communities in Suffolk County, which consists of Boston and three suburbs.
“The goal of establishing these joint federal pilot centers is to continue to expand the rate of vaccinations in an efficient, effective and equitable manner, with an explicit focus on making sure communities with a high risk of COVID-19 exposure and infection are not left behind,” FEMA's acting New England region administrator Paul Ford said in a statement.
The Hynes was chosen for the federal program based on several factors, including population needs and challenges and access to public transit.
FEMA will also help with staffing, operations, logistics and vaccine allocations.
“We are grateful for the support from the Biden-Harris Administration for selecting Massachusetts to host one of these sites and for the support of our congressional delegation in applying for this program,” Gov. Charlie Baker said.
The number of Massachusetts cities and towns at high risk for COVID-19 transmission has more than doubled in the past two weeks, to 32 this week from a low of 14, prompting public health officials to warn of another surge.
“We are already seeing a little surge,” Worcester Medical Director Dr. Michael Hirsh said Thursday, the Boston Herald reported. He warned that the return of students who went on spring break to states where variants are more prevalent, and the upcoming Passover and Easter holidays, could be “a setup for even a bigger surge.”
The number of high-risk communities had fallen to 14 after peaking at 229 in January.
Many of the new cases are in people under the age of 30, Gov. Charlie Baker said.
“While these residents are far less likely to be hospitalized, it remains critically important for all residents, particularly young people, to continue to practice prevention strategies and not let down their guard,” the Republican governor said. ___
VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS
The number of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 is continuing to tick up.
There were more than 2,300 newly confirmed cases Friday, while the number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts rose by 40.
The new numbers push the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 16,771 since the start of the pandemic, while its confirmed caseload rose to more than 588,000.
The true number of cases is likely higher because studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.
There were more than 620 people reported hospitalized Friday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with about 140 in intensive care units.
The average age of those hospitalized was 63. There were an estimated 29,000 people with current active cases of COVID-19 in the state.
The number of probable or confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported in long-term care facilities rose to 8,906.
More than 3.2 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Massachusetts, including more than 2 million first doses and 1.1 million second doses.
Nearly 1.2 million people have been fully immunized.
A steep rise in new COVID-19 cases led to a campus lockdown at the University of Massachusetts Amherst last month, but data released by the school this week shows that case counts are dropping.
The university, which had been at “high risk” for transmission last month, moved to the lower “guarded risk” level this week, Masslive.com reported.
“To sustain this operating posture, our entire community must remain vigilant by following vital public health protocols including social distancing, mask wearing and socializing within your bubble,” Jeffrey Hescock and Ann Becker, co-directors of the university’s Public Health Promotion Center, said in a statement.
The average number of new COVID-19 cases per day on campus was 40 in February. The most recent UMass data, from March 14-23, indicates a daily average of 7.8 cases.