Bill Allen, of Winthrop, Mass., who served in the Army in Vietnam during 1971, was one of the volunteers planting American flags on Boston Common Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in Boston. Each year before Memorial Day weekend the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund places a flag to represent every fallen member of the U.S. military from Massachusetts since the Revolutionary War. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)
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BOSTON (AP) — A memorial flag garden on the Boston Common that honors every service member from Massachusetts who has died in war is back in its full glory this year.

Fully vaccinated health care workers, military and other volunteers gathered on the Common on Wednesday to plant 37,000 small U.S. flags, each one representing a fallen service member dating to the Revolutionary War.

Last year the flag garden was set up on a limited basis, with about 1,000 flags placed 6 feet (2 meters) apart because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The flag garden, now it its 12th year, is organized by the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund and Home Base, a partnership of the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital that supports veterans.

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CASINOS TO EASE PANDEMIC RESTRICTIONS

The state’s casinos and slots parlor will be able to welcome gamblers under nearly pre-pandemic conditions beginning this weekend.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to end its COVID-19 restrictions.

That means beginning on Saturday, every slot machine and gaming table will be allowed to reopen.

Visitors who have been fully vaccinated won’t have to wear a mask.

The commissions said that the gambling venues will still need to follow guidelines and restrictions issued by the state and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The move comes as Gov. Charlie Baker has ordered all remaining COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted in Massachusetts on Saturday.

The state’s face covering order will also be rescinded on May 29 for most settings, according to Baker.

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FAIR RETURNS

A 150-year-old Massachusetts agricultural fair canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic is returning this summer, organizers said.

The 154th Marshfield Fair is scheduled for Aug. 20 to Aug. 29, the fair's board of directors announced on Facebook on Tuesday.

Vendors and exhibitors have already been contacted.

“We already reached out to see who would still be interested in returning even with restrictions, and a good portion of them said they would,” Leonard LaForest, president of the Marshfield Agricultural and Horticultural Society, told The Patriot Ledger.

The fair, which is held almost entirely outdoors, will likely not still be subject to many COVID-19 guidelines by August, he said.

The agricultural fair draws farmers who show off their brightest flowers, largest vegetables and best-bred livestock. It also includes entertainment, arts and crafts exhibits, carnival rides and games, and food stalls.

The fair typically draws about 160,000 people over its 10-day run.

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VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS

The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 increased by nearly 400 Wednesday while the number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts rose by seven.

The new numbers pushed the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 17,482 since the start of the pandemic, while its confirmed caseload rose to more than 660,000.

The true number of cases is likely higher because studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.

There were about 260 people reported hospitalized Wednesday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with about 80 in intensive care units.

The average age of those hospitalized was 59. There were an estimated 8,400 people with current active cases of COVID-19 in the state.

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IMMUNIZATIONS

More than 7.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Massachusetts as of Wednesday.

That includes more than 4.1 million first doses and more than 3.2 million second doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

There have been more than 244,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered.

Nearly 3.5 million people have been fully immunized.

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POP-UP PERFORMANCES

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is bringing back its “rolling recitals” this week, a series of free, pop-up shows around the city as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.

The performances begin Wednesday and will continue on Thursday in conjunction with Old Town Trolley Tour and Boston Duck Tours.

The orchestra performed a similar series of pop-up shows in the fall.