BOSTON (AP) — About 200,000 Massachusetts residents preregistered for COVID-19 vaccine shots Friday morning after the state launched a new website with the hope of avoiding the confusion and virtual sparring that occurred under the previous system.

The number of residents who entered their information into the website reflects the ongoing demand for vaccinations. The system only applies to the state's seven mass vaccination sites.

“We’re up to about 200,000 people preregistered at this point, which is great,” Gov. Charlie Baker said at a press conference Friday morning, following a tour of a school in Lynn.

Under the previous system, those trying to sign up often had to spend hours battling computer glitches.

Vaccine demand still outstrips supply, but under the new system, residents who fill out an online form will get a confirmation by phone, text or email and receive a weekly update about their status. Residents can opt out if they secure an appointment elsewhere.

When an appointment becomes available, the individual will be notified and have 24 hours to accept. If an appointment is not accepted after 24 hours, the resident will have to get back in line to wait for another appointment.

This tool is available at



Boston is bumping up the date that restaurants will again be allowed to offer outdoor dining on public sidewalks and streets.

Originally the city planned to kick off the popular program on April 1.

A milder forecast will allow the city to move that date up to March 22, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Friday.

The 2021 outdoor dining program will continue many of the initiatives from last year’s program, such as streamlined permitting and outdoor patios on roadways that enable restaurants with narrow sidewalks to offer patio seating to patrons, Walsh said.

The city initiated the program last year to let restaurants continue serving meals to customers while avoiding crowded indoor settings as the virus raged.

Boston has also focused on providing resources to businesses owners of color, and has made more than 200 personalized outreach calls to every business that applied for outdoor dining last year, Walsh said.

“Outdoor dining was one of the bright spots last summer and fall,” Walsh said in a press release. “I’m thrilled we are able to start this program even earlier, and I look forward to businesses and residents taking advantage of it.”

The program will continue through Dec. 1, weather permitting.



The state’s unemployment rate was bad during the height of the pandemic in Massachusetts — but slightly less bad than initially reported according to numbers highlighted Friday by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.

Annual year-end revisions show unemployment numbers were lower than the previously estimated early in the pandemic at a time when nonessential businesses were shuttered and the state was under a stay-at-home advisory. The twin decisions helped drive up jobless numbers in Massachusetts to the highest in the country.

According to a report at the time, the unemployment numbers peaked at 17.7% in June.

The newly revised numbers reveal that the highest Massachusetts unemployment rate during the pandemic instead occurred in April when jobless numbers peaked at 16.4% — about 1.3 percentage points lower than the June numbers.

The jobs outlook is still down compared to pre-COVID-19 times, but has improved significantly since the toughest days of the pandemic.

The state’s January total unemployment rate stood at 7.8%.

Bureau of Labor Statistics’ preliminary job estimates indicate Massachusetts gained 35,500 jobs in January, following last month’s revised loss of 8,700 jobs.

Even with the improvement, the state facing a daunting challenge to fully rebuild the economy.

From January 2020 to January 2021 Massachusetts lost an estimated 334,200 jobs, with the largest percentage losses in the leisure and hospitality sector.



The number of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 stood at nearly 1,600 on Friday, while the number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts rose by 29.

The new numbers push the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 16,247 since the start of the pandemic, while its confirmed caseload rose to more than 565,000.

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

There were fewer than 650 people reported hospitalized Friday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with about 170 in intensive care units.

The average age of those hospitalized was 64. There were an estimated 26,000 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 8,733.

More than 2.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Massachusetts, including more than 1.5 million first doses and more than 800,000 second doses.

About 850,000 people have been fully immunized.