Legislative Update: Week of January 25, 2021

Jan 26, 2021


On Wednesday, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were officially sworn in as President and Vice President of the United States. President Biden nominated a number of Massachusetts locals to join his Administration, including: Former Secretary of State John Kerry (Special Presidential Envoy for Climate), Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (Labor Secretary), Dr. Rochelle Walensky of Massachusetts General Hospital (Head, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Eric Lander, President and Founding Director of the Broad Institute at Harvard and MIT (Science Advisor and Director of the Office of Science and Technology, a new cabinet level position), Maria Zuber, Vice President for Research at MIT (Co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)), MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack (Deputy Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration), and Alicia Molt-West, Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Trahan (Special Assistant to the President and House Legislative Affairs Liaison)

In his first days in office, President Biden issued 30 executive orders and actions including Orders to impose a national mask mandate on federal property, ramp up vaccination supplies, require international travelers to provide proof of negative COVID-19 test before entry to the US, and more. You can view them all, here. President Biden also released a 200-page pandemic response plan which can be accessed, here.

In Massachusetts, Governor Baker announced last week that Fenway Park will open on February 1st as the state’s second mass vaccination site and will have the capacity to vaccinate up to 500 people per day at its start. The Baker Administration also announced a new partnership with CVS and Walgreens pharmacies to “activate retail pharmacy vaccination at scale” and provide 10,000 doses to eligible people through at least 15 pharmacies. The Administrations expects to ramp up retail pharmacy vaccinations through the opening of 40 new sites in the coming weeks. Eligible residents can learn more and sign up here. The Baker Administration also announced on Thursday that all residents in Phase 1 of the state’s vaccine priority list could receive the vaccine.

As vaccine rollout continues in Massachusetts, the state is encouraging employers who wish to serve as a vaccination site for their employees, and are planning to vaccinate 200+ employees at that site, to apply to be part of the Massachusetts COVID-19 Vaccine Program (MCVP).  There are still specifics to be worked out, but we have outlined what we know so far on our COVID-19 Resource page.


On Monday night, the United States House of Representatives delivered articles of impeachment against former President Donald Trump to the Senate. The trial, itself, is expected to begin on February 9th allowing other Senate business to continue to ensure President Biden’s Cabinet nominations can continue in a timely manner.

Also on Monday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker released updates to the state’s vaccination timeline and locations. Beginning February 1 – the start of Phase 2 of vaccination – residents 75 and older will become eligible to receive the vaccine. Residents 65 and older have also increased in priority and join individuals with two or more comorbidities as the second group eligible to receive vaccines in Phase 2. Governor Baker also said that by mid-February the state will have 165 public vaccination sites open to the public, with the capacity to administer 305,000 doses per week.

Governor Baker will deliver his State of the Commonwealth Address on Tuesday night, where he’ll outline his priorities for the coming year and efforts to address the COVID-19 crisis in Massachusetts ahead of releasing his fiscal year 2022 budget on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, MassBio will hold its annual Policy Leadership Breakfast, which will feature a panel discussion on how to ensure effective, efficient, and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, especially to those communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and how properly educate the public on the safety, efficacy, and necessity of vaccines. The agenda will also include a fireside chat between MassBio CEO Robert K. Coughlin and Congresswoman Katherine Clark, Assistant Speaker of the House of Representatives, and opening remarks from Governor Baker and the new President & CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, Kenn Turner. Learn more and register.  

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