COVID developments in New England – NECN
Here is an overview of the evolution of coronaviruses in New England:
Massachusetts prisoner advocates are stepping up legal efforts to free inmates from state prisons due to the coronavirus pandemic. Massachusetts Prisoners’ Legal Services argued in a Suffolk Superior Court filing Thursday that the state’s Department of Corrections should release inmates on house arrest, on leave, on medical parole and to other legal measures so that the remaining detainees can safely distance themselves socially behind bars.
The organization submitted testimonies from about 40 inmates about overcrowded conditions in state prisons and their fears of contracting COVID-19 to strengthen their appeal. Prisoners’ Legal Services also said four prisons – MCI-Norfolk, MCI-Shirley, NCCI Gardner and MCI Concord – accounted for almost all of the more than 1,000 new cases of the virus in the correctional system since October 29.
“The inability to create the opportunity to gain distance within the prison walls has resulted in unchecked epidemics, mass illness and preventable death,” said Elizabeth Matos, executive director of the organization, in a statement Thursday.
The State Department of Corrections declined to comment on the ongoing litigation, but noted that its prison population had declined by more than 1,200 since March and its facilities were at 61 percent of capacity.
Vermonters can now track the progress of the state’s efforts to immunize the population against the virus that causes COVID-19 on a new dashboard on the website of the Ministry of Health.
The dashboard, which went live on Wednesday, will provide information on how many people have been vaccinated and how many have completed the series of two-shot vaccines needed to be immunized against the virus. It will also show vaccination rates by age, sex, race and ethnicity.
As of Thursday, just under 4,400 people had received the first dose of one of two vaccines currently being administered in Vermont. The state expects to receive a total of about 34,000 doses of the vaccine by the new year.
Health Commissioner Dr Mark Levine said that initially the dashboard will be updated weekly on Wednesday, but as progress is made in the vaccination campaign of the Condition, it could be updated more frequently.
An inmate in adult correctional facilities died on Christmas Day after contracting COVID-19. The name of the 79-year-old inmate has not been released.
He was serving a life sentence for murder, according to a press release from the State Department of Corrections. He had been incarcerated in the medium security unit of the ACI. The man is the second COVID-19 inmate to die in a Rhode Island jail this month.
Director of Corrections Patricia Coyne-Fague said in a written statement, according to the Providence Journal, that the department is doing “everything in our power to keep people as safe as possible.”
Maine reported two more deaths from COVID-19 and 321 more cases of the coronavirus on Friday. To date, more than 18,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the state since the start of the pandemic.
More than 1,000 people have been hospitalized during the pandemic and 319 people have died. 185 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Friday. Fifty-four people were in intensive care and 16 people on ventilators.
Friday’s figures come as Maine prepares to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines with the arrival of additional doses expected next week, the Portland Press Herald reported. These doses will be used to immunize healthcare workers, residents and staff in long-term care facilities.
More than 15,700 people have been vaccinated in Maine.
A respiratory therapist embraces his talent for baking to boost the morale of his colleagues. Daniel Liberatore is part of the respiratory therapy team at Cheshire Medical Center in Keene.
He and his colleagues have struggled to help patients with COVID-19 who have trouble breathing. This often results in long and difficult shifts.
The other passion of Libertore is baking. Libertore said he uses this talent now to bake birthday cupcakes for his co-workers.
He estimated that he had made hundreds of cupcakes.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont on Wednesday urged residents to limit their interactions with family and friends during the holidays to avoid another wave.
The Democrat noted that “things have calmed down” since the rise in COVID-19 infections following the Thanksgiving rallies. But he said he feared more people would travel on Christmas than Thanksgiving, especially by air.
He urged residents not to fly unless they absolutely have to. Those who steal should test and quarantine. He also urged people to celebrate with only their immediate family.
Lamont also signed an order extending the moratorium on state evictions until February 9.