Due to the limited supply of vaccines from the federal government, the Baker Administration announced Wednesday night that they will not be supplying vaccines to employer sites, and is asking companies to suspend their effort to set up employer-based vaccination sites. However, citing a positive trend in public health metrics, Governor Baker announced on Thursday that Massachusetts will move into Phase 4 of its reopening strategy on March 22nd, allowing large venues like stadiums and arenas to open at 12% capacity.
In Federal news, the U.S House of Representatives passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package Saturday, advancing the legislation to the Senate where it awaits further action.
On Sunday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walesnky officially signed off on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, paving the way for distribution of the vaccine to begin. This approval comes after an FDA panel unanimously voted to recommend the single-dose vaccine for emergency use authorization last Friday, and the FDA’s approval on Saturday. J&J is preparing to ship four million doses of its vaccine this week, with the goal of having 20 million vaccines delivered by the end of March.
Beginning Monday, Massachusetts, excluding Boston, moves into Phase III, Step 2 of its reopening strategy. Under this guidance, indoor performance venues and recreational activities can open at 50% capacity, capacity limits across all sectors will be raised to 50%, and restaurants will no longer have a percent capacity limit and will be permitted to host musical performances.
And on Tuesday, Massachusetts’ Joint Committee on Ways and Means will hold its first virtual hearing on Governor Baker’s $45.6 billion fiscal year 2022 budget. According to the committee, Administration and Finance Secretary Michael Heffernan will testify along with other constitutional officers including Auditor Suzanne Bump and Treasurer Deb Goldberg, the Inspector General, and the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security (EOTSS).
MassBio is hosting a forum on Thursday raising awareness for the lack of access to care and treatment for patients with obesity. Learn more and register here.