BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Charlie Baker praised the state’s COVID-19 vaccine push during a meeting Tuesday with other governors and President Joe Biden, saying the state’s “mixed model” of vaccine distribution helped ensure a broad base of Massachusetts residents received shots.
“Our program was basically what I refer to as a mixed model,” Baker said. “Our mass vaccination sites did about a million shots but we also had regional collaboratives with local boards of health and local providers in areas where we had a lot of geography between and among people.”
The state also prioritized getting shots into the arms of the state’s more vulnerable populations, the Republican said.
“We’ve managed to successfully vaccinate so far our Hispanic community, our Asian community, our Black community in rates that are right up there with our white community,” Baker told Biden. “We still have some work to do there but we’ve made a lot of progress."
Not everyone was ready to give Baker high marks.
Activists say that while Massachusetts has made rapid progress on overall rates of vaccination, persistent racial disparities in vaccination remain and illustrate a lack of equity in the rollout process.
“While Governor Baker is touting Massachusetts’ progress on vaccine distribution, racial disparities have persisted since the beginning of the vaccine program and remain a major concern,” said Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Co-Chairs Dr. Atyia Martin of the Resilient 21 Coalition, Eva Millona of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and Carlene Pavlos of the Massachusetts Public Health Association.
They said vaccination rates among communities of color remain below the rate of the white population, even though those communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 hospitalization.
While 55 percent of white residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, only 33 percent of Hispanic residents, 37 percent of Black residents, and 53 percent of Asian residents have received at least one dose, according to the latest weekly COVID-19 vaccination report.
“If reaching the communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic and ensuring equitable access to the vaccine was truly a top priority for the Baker administration, it would have invested in these community-based sites proven to reduce inequities from the outset of the program,” the three said in a press release Tuesday.
VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS
Massachusetts health officials released some positive pandemic numbers Tuesday, with the state reporting no new COVID-19-related deaths and the number of residents fully vaccinated against the disease topping 3 million.
The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 increased by about 470.
With no new deaths, the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll remained at 17,344 since the start of the pandemic, while its confirmed caseload rose to about 654,000.
The true number of cases is likely higher because studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.
There were about 440 people reported hospitalized Monday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with about 120 in intensive care units.
The average age of those hospitalized was 60. There were an estimated 17,000 people with current active cases of COVID-19 in the state.
About 6.8 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Massachusetts, including more than 3.8 million first doses and more than 2.7 million second doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
There have been about 225,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered.
More than 3 million people have been fully immunized.
U.S.S. CONSTITUTION TO REOPEN
The U.S.S. Constitution will make its way across Boston Harbor and reopen to the public on May 21.
The underway will be broadcast live on the Navy’s Facebook page and will feature demonstrations on climbing, firing a 24-pound long gun, using shipboard weaponry, and will conclude with a 21-gun salute, according to a statement Tuesday from the Navy.
Following the underway, the ship known as Old Ironsides will reopen for free public tours.
The warship will also fire a 17-gun salute at Coast Guard Sector Boston, the former site of the shipyard where U.S.S Constitution was built and launched in 1797.
It is the ship's first underway in more than a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Public visits were suspended in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic, but the ship reopened in August only to close again in November.
The U.S.S Constitution is the world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat, and played a crucial role in the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812, actively defending sea lanes from 1797 until 1855.
It earned its nickname during the War of 1812 when British cannonballs bounced off its wooden hull.