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U.K. coronavirus variant found in Reading

UPDATED, March 31: A coronavirus variant from the United Kingdom thought to be more infectious has been found in Reading, YourArlington partner Patch reported, citing school officials. 

Covid-19 image

In a message to families Sunday, March 28, Superintendent John Doherty said the Reading Health Department was informed that U.K. Covid strain B.1.1.7 appeared in town.

"It is critically important that we all continue all of the Covid-preventive measures (distancing and masking) so as to prevent these variants, or any other mutations, from taking hold and creating their own outbreaks," Doherty said.

It is believed that vaccines are effective against the B.1.1.7 strain. Two other variants present in Massachusetts – B.1.1.3.5 and P.1. – are not covered by a vaccine, Doherty added.

The Reading Public Schools will continue with its reopening plan, which calls for the full return of elementary schoolers April 5, which is the same in Arlington.

March 31 town update

The March 31 Arlington update shows that Covid-19 cases rose to 1,741 -- 461 higher than Jan. 18 and 703 more than on Dec. 31, 2020. Deaths remained at 85. 

See daily counts going back to March here, under cumulative cases) >> See all numbers by clicking on View more tables >>  Here's an explanation about how to read these numbers >> The age breakdown of cases reported through March 31:

19 and under20-2930-3940-4950-5960-6970-7980 and overTotal cases
281 274 261 205 274 175 131 140   1,741

View Massachusetts case numbers here >> 

60+ eligible for vaccine; business restrictions eased

Mass. residents over 60 and some essential workers are eligible for vaccination, as the state eases business restrictions Monday, March 22, BostonGlobe.com reported.

Democratic candidate for governor Ben Downing believes all State Police, but also teachers and other first responders, should have to be vaccinated to remain on the job, YourArlington partner Patch reported March 19.

His call for mandatory shots came in the wake of newly reported data showing that hundreds of State Police troopers did not take advantage of department-run Covid-19 vaccine clinics earlier this year.

Everyone Massachusetts resident 16 and over will be eligible to get the Covid-19 vaccine by April 19, the state announced Wednesday, March 17.

State announces Covid-vaccine timeline for remaining age groups

YourArlington partner Patch reported that 60- to 64-year-olds and those with certain jobs will be eligible to book appointments Monday, March 22. That group includes workers in transit, grocery, utility, food and agriculture, sanitation, public works and public health workers.

People 55-59 and those a medical condition that makes people more susceptible to serious illness from Covid-19 will be eligible April 5.

Everyone else 16 and older will be eligible April 19.

More vaccine coming to Mass., officials say

State officials expect to receive 170,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine this week, a modest increase from the 155,000 Massachusetts has been given by the federal government in previous weeks, YourArlington partner Patch reports March 16.

The shipment, which Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Monday, includes 8,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson's single-shot vaccine. The shipment came as a surprise to state officials, who had been told not to expect any more Johnson & Johnson vaccine in March as the company ramped up production of the recently-approved drug.

New state Covid registration system; teacher vaccination days scheduled

Massachusetts has made more changes to its embattled vaccination rollout, unclogging the appointment process and setting aside specific days for educators to be inoculated, YourArlington partner Patch reported March 10.

In addition to his previously set goal of reopening elementary schools by April 5, Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley is now eyeing reopening of middle schools by April 28. But no date has been set yet for high schools. Read YourArlington partner Patch >>

New guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 can safely visit with other vaccinated people and small groups of unvaccinated people in some circumstances, but there are still important safety precautions needed, CNN reported March 8.

On March 10, Arlington’s Health Department conducted another second-dose clinic for seniors in Arlington and Belmont. Under the state’s vaccination plan, the Health Department is also working with the Arlington Housing Authority (AHA) to vaccinate residents of the four AHA run buildings in town and has completed administering 1st dose vaccinations in those buildings.

Most school districts will have to return elementary school students to in-person instruction by April, after the state board voted a proposal that would effectively force them to do so, YourArlington partner Patch has reported March 5.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education board voted Friday, March 5, to give Commissioner Jeff Riley the authority to determine when to end hybrid and remote models for school districts.

"The time has come to think about bringing our students back to school," he told the board, pointing to transmission numbers going down and vaccine rates going up.

Town can inoculate senior housing residents, manager tells Select Board

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine provided some uplift in comments  Monday, March 1, to the Select Board about town Covid-19 efforts:

“We’re no longer able to conduct first-dose Covid-19 vaccinations in Arlington due to the limited number of vaccines at the state level. However, we can provide vaccines to residents living in senior housing, and we’re partnering with other local communities to obtain more doses.

"Efforts are also underway to bring vaccinations closer to Arlington because a significant number of people cannot get to Fenway or Gillette, and need someplace closer to home."

Town Health Department vaccination efforts

On March 3, Arlington’s Health Department conducted another second-dose clinic for senior in Arlington and Belmont. Under the state’s vaccination plan, the Health Department is also working with the Arlington Housing Authority to vaccinate residents of the four AHA run buildings in town. Through a pre-registration process, today Health Dept. officials began administering first dose vaccinations to those that have signed up. It will take the four days to reach all four buildings.

CVS, state offer vaccine to teachers; vote on emergency school authority

Meanwhile, teachers are eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine at CVS locations in Massachusetts according to the pharmacy's website, YourArlington partner Patch reported March 3. More here >>

Under increasing pressure from the White House, Beacon Hill leaders and teacher unions, Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday decided to allow K-12 teachers and other education employees to get vaccine shots in Massachusetts, starting March 11. GBH’s Mike Deehan reports >>

The State House News Service reported the state Board of Education will vote Friday on whether to grant the state education commissioner emergency authority to determine when hybrid and remote models will no longer count towards required student learning time hours. Read the full story.

Baker looks ahead to one-shot J&J

A newly approved Covid-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is coming to Massachusetts, and it could "dramatically boost" the state's heavily criticized vaccination rollout, YourArlington partner Patch reports

Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday, March 1, the state is expecting thousands of doses of the vaccine next week, though it will be a few more weeks until a more significant amount arrives.

Still, the vaccine will be a big help. Unlike Moderna and Pfizer's vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson offering just needs a single dose.

"One of the things you'll see with J&J is the ability to do certain kinds of things that would be hard to do now," Baker said.

Baker gets earful from lawmakers, looks ahead to reopening sports stadium

Gov. Baker said Thursday, Feb. 25, that the state on Monday will move to Phase Three, Step Two of its economic reopening amid the Covid-19 pandemic, allowing indoor performance venues and indoor recreational activities to reopen and capacity limits across all sectors will increase to 50 percent.

The state will then move to the next step March 22, "as long as the public health data continues to get better,” permitting large arenas, such as Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium, to welcome fans in person at 12-percent capacity, Patch, a YourArlington partner, reported.

Meanwhile, the public continued to report long wait times to schedule incolulations along with some improvement from a state website, Patch reported.

State lawmakers harshly criticized Baker over the state’s handling of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout during a virtual oversight hearing Feb. 25, grilling the governor in sometimes contentious exchanges over frustrations with the state’s troubled website used to book vaccination appointments and Baker’s handling of the snags.

Some downs -- and ups

Arlington’s Health Department, along with its regional partners in Belmont and Lexington will support the state’s efforts and will continue to stand ready to conduct vaccination clinics if, and when, the state requests to do so. Read the full release from the state >>

Despite being hobbled by website crashes and system errors, 60,000 vaccination appointments were booked Thursday, BostonGlobe.com reported Feb. 19, and there were no more openings available at Fenway, Foxborough, Danvers, Natick, Dartmouth and Springfield, state officials said.

A window in Arlington tells the story in April 2020. / Marjorie Howard photoA window at Sunrise in March 2020. / Marjorie Howard Accounting for some deaths: The Boston Globe has reported that Ellen McDonald, a guardian to Norma Ricci, 92, said her friend’s assisted-living residence, Sunrise of Arlington, told her April 1 that a nurse who worked on Ricci’s floor had been infected. A week later, McDonald was told Ricci was rushed to Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, with no mention of coronavirus.

The next day, Mount Auburn called to say Ricci had Covid-19. McDonald donned full protective garb to visit her friend on Easter. Ricci died April 15, according to a DeVito Funeral Home notice, which lacks an obituary. 

McDonald told the Globe that Sunrise nurses told her many residents were coughing and some staffers had stopped coming to work, without official word from management. In a statement, Sunrise Senior Living told The Globe that nine residents of its Arlington facility have died and 25 have tested positive. The statement said Sunrise has regularly updated residents and families by phone and e-mail. It quoted a regional vice president, Thomas Kessler, as saying, “Communication has always been a source of pride at Sunrise of Arlington.”

10th local death identified

Joyce Dodge, a resident of Sunrise Assisted Living, Arlington, before she was taken to Mount Auburn Hospital last Christmas, tested positive and died there Jan. 8, according to a member of the family. There is no obituary.

9th local death identified

Among the Covid-19 deaths so far reported among town residents since early March, YourArlington has identified an ninth from obituaries. A listing at Boston.com shows  Helen T. Metros died Dec. 12 from the virus in Pittsfield.

8th local death identified

Among the Covid-19 deaths so far reported among town residents since early March, YourArlington has identified an eighth from obituaries. A listing at Boston.com shows Vincent A. Aliberti died July 12 from the virus.

6th, 7th local deaths identified

Among the Covid-19 deaths so far reported among town residents, YourArlington has identified a sixth and seventh from obituaries. Listings at Boston.com show that Joan M. Mockel and Danile F. Morrison recently succumbed to the virus.

5th local death identified

Among the 19 Covid-19 deaths so far reported among town residents, YourArlington has identified a fifth, Vincie Teresa DeRose (Militello), as reported by the Gloucester Times. 

The fourth was Alfred "Fred" Iannacone. YourArlington reported a third death, occurring April 14 at Sunrise Assisted Living. A source confirmed the virus victim was Theodore S. Wayne. Since the end of March, two others have died in town from coronavirus: A Globe death notice identifies the first as James K. Power on March 30. A second death here was reported March 31, without details. 

Town issues "Wear A Face Covering in Public" advisory; continue to heed state’s stay-at-home advisory. Only run essential errands.
In addition to the current Stay at Home advisory by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, starting immediately, the Town of Arlington is issuing a townwide advisory that all residents wear a face covering when in public.

This advisory applies to anyone age 2 or older when in any public indoor or outdoor space. Indoor public spaces include stores and common areas in multi-unit homes. Outdoor areas include sidewalks, parks, trails, and the bike path. All persons including joggers and cyclists must comply.

This ongoing town statement continues: "We continue to believe this number may provide a false sense of security to residents as numbers in the region and across the state increase at a rapid rate. Public health officials remind all residents, regardless of age, to stay at home and away from anyone who does not live in your house, including relatives. If you have to go out to conduct a necessary errand, like grocery shopping, picking up medication, or checking in on a neighbor who may need assistance, it is crucial you practice social distancing and keep 6 feet away from others."

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance information: The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program is now accepting applications; this program provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are unable to work because of a Covid-19 related reason, but are not eligible for regular or extended unemployment benefits. This includes the self-employed, independent contractors, workers with limited work history, and others. Individuals can review eligibility scenarios here and apply for PUA here.

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings when in public: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). Wearing a cloth face covering is not a substitute for social distancing, but an extra measure while you are running essential errands to minimize the spread of the virus. The CDC provides instructions on how to make your own cloth face covering.

For the national picture, see this U.S. map showing numbers from all counties >>

The town is also accepting donations of cloth face coverings, to local seniors, as well as PPE equipment for first responders and healthcare professionals.

List of businesses currently open in Arlington: The listings will be updated at least once daily. Please contact businesses directly before placing and order or going to their establishment to confirm that they are open, as the information on this list is subject to change.  See the list here >>

Additional resources for businesses and nonprofits may be found on the Business & Nonprofit Resourcepage. but should not comngregate in groups. 


Tracking Covid-19 via Johns Hopkins site


Feb. 1 through 28, 2021: Town Covid-19 tracking
Dec. 1 through 30, 2020: Town Covid-19 tracking
Feb. 28-March 6, 2020: Coronavirus risk remains low in town, health office says in 2nd update


This news announcement was published Monday, March 1, 2021, and updated March 2 through 31. The orginal copy was written by Joan Roman, town webmaster, with editing and additions by Bob Sprague. Patch reports were included. 

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