Massachusetts Vax Bus rolls on; tests hint at delta's spread



BOSTON (AP) — A mobile vaccination clinic is working its way through Massachusetts, one arm at a time.

The so-called Vax Bus had scheduled stops in Brockton Sunday and Monday. It was in Revere on Saturday. The shots are administered on the bus, and no appointment is needed.

State officials say the two buses that make up the Vax Bus fleet will spend a day or two in nearly two dozen communities before its last stops next month.

Upcoming visits are planned to Attleboro, Provincetown, Pittsfield, Springfield and Fall River.

More than 80% of adults in Massachusetts have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine and more than 4 million residents are fully vaccinated, according to state officials.

The Vax Bus schedule can be found at: mass.gov/VaxBus.

In other pandemic-related news throughout the region:

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MAINE

Recent tests by Maine’s largest hospital network indicate the more contagious delta variant of COVID-19 is more widespread than state findings suggest, the Portland Press Herald reported Sunday.

Since July 1, MaineHealth has collected 49 samples from COVID-positive patients, including some very sick young people. Eighteen tested positive for the delta variant, according to MaineHealth’s chief health improvement officer, Dr. Dora Anne Mills.

Yet the state’s own count of confirmed delta cases is only four as of June 18.

The gap suggests the variant may be spreading more widely than had been known. Results from MaineHealth’s own tests have been shared with the state.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Press Herald that he expects the delta variant’s impact to grow in the coming weeks.

“Vaccination remains the best way for Maine people to protect themselves from the Delta variant and other forms of COVID-19, as our partners at Maine hospitals tell us that the majority of patients requiring treatment for severe COVID-19 symptoms are not fully vaccinated,” Shah said.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE

Child care providers in New Hampshire will soon get some help in the form of federal pandemic recovery funds.

Starting Monday, licensed and enrolled licensed-exempt child care providers in the state are eligible for grants funded by the American Rescue Plan Act. The money is intended to help the child care industry recover from the pandemic’s economic fallout, and to ensure that parents have options when they return to work.

The program is administered by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

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RHODE ISLAND

Restaurants in the state’s largest city are celebrating the return of Providence Restaurants Weeks.

The two-week event started Sunday and runs through July 24. Dozens of restaurants through Providence will be offering special menus and deals to mark the occasion.

The event comes at a critical time for the restaurant industry as it emerges from the shadow of the pandemic and tourism returns.

“As leisure travel continues to pick up momentum and locals continue to support small businesses, this is the perfect opportunity for everyone to get a taste of the region’s world-class dining scene,” Kristen Adamo, the president and CEO of the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau, told WPRI-TV.

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VERMONT

Burlington has launched a new workforce training program for future caregivers and nursing assistants to help fill a growing demand for those professions.

Mayor Miro Weinberger said the pandemic showed the need for more caregivers and licensed nursing assistants, creating opportunities for many low-wage or unemployed workers looking for new skills.

Called the “Moving On, Moving Up” workforce training initiative will offer 10 weeks of free, specialized training to 35 students. The program is a partnership between the city, the University of Vermont Medical Center, Cathedral Square and Ethan Allen Residence.

“The experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has made the essential nature of caregiving and healthcare services crystal clear,” Weinberger said last week when he announced the new program.



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