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How vaccine passports work in other states, cities

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How vaccine passports work in other states, cities

A digital passport system coming “soon” to Massachusetts could look like others that already exist in other states through health care providers.

A vaccine passport is proof that a person has been vaccinated or tested negative against coronavirus. It can be digital, like a phone app, or physical, such as a small paper card and can be shown if required, like before entering an office, when boarding an airplane or visiting a restaurant, movie theater or gym.

Use of vaccine passports is banned in 20 mostly Republican states. Ten states — New York, California, Hawaii, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, Louisiana, Washington, Michigan and Minnesota — are currently using them.

President Biden has issued an executive order that asks federal agencies to look into the possibility of a national vaccine passport option.

California was an early adopter, giving residents access to a digital copy of their vaccination status with the California Vax Pass. California has lifted restrictions for vaccinated people, like mask-wearing or gathering in certain areas. Proof of vaccination is mandatory at events with more than 1,000 people.

In states like Louisiana, the app is used to streamline verification for the many businesses that now require it.

New York City’s Excelsior Pass — dubbed the “Key to NYC” by officials — is one of only four accepted vaccine certificates for people entering venues like restaurants, gyms and performance venues. Residents have been required to provide vaccine verification since Aug. 16.

Digital copies of vaccine records are also available through retail pharmacy providers like CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and Albertsons.

Copies of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-issued vaccine cards can also be requested online.

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Boston officials ‘cautiously optimistic’ about coronavirus as new testing clinics open

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Boston officials ‘cautiously optimistic’ about coronavirus as new testing clinics open

Mayor Michelle Wu’s administration is rolling out three new coronavirus testing facilities as officials say they’re “cautiously optimistic” about the direction the omicron-variant-driven surge is now taking.

Wu spoke to reporters in a room of the Bolling building in Roxbury’s Nubian Square where the city is partnering with CIC Health to open what she called a “high-capacity” testing clinic, one of three to start up this week in the city.

The school administration building’s large corner storefront — which is slated to become a jazz club this year — will be open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. for walk-in COVID tests, with people either able to wait in line or get a card that features a designated time to come back and slide right in. Wu touted the fact that 20 testers will be able to each test one person every three minutes when the place is fully up and running.

This — plus soon-to-come sites in Dorchester and Mattapan, and possibly more elsewhere — is aimed at increasing capacity and cutting down on wait times that boomed along with the current omicron surge.

Wu also announced she’ll be asking the city council to send over $5 million of the federal relief American Rescue Plan Act funding to refuel the city’s small business fund, which has existed for the past couple of years to help local establishments get through the pandemic.

Boston Police Health Commission Executive Director Dr. Bisola Ojikutu — then echoed by Wu — said she’s “cautiously optimistic” about the city’s coronavirus numbers. She said the still-high case counts, positivity rates and emergency-room visits are all dropping. Hospitalizations, which throughout the pandemic have lagged those other metrics by a couple of weeks, do continue to climb, she noted.

This comes just after Wu’s vaccination mandates kicked in on Saturday. Now city workers are required to get the shot or face discipline as soon as next week, and restaurants and other venues are required to ask patrons for proof of vaccination.

The officials said more than 81% of Bostonians now have gotten the vaccine, with many coming in the past week, and more than 1,000 city workers also got the jab since last Monday, bringing compliance up to 95%, according to the city.

Wu, doing a radio hit on GBH just a few minutes after the presser, said, “Vaccination rates across the city have been really jumping in the past week.”

Asked in the press conference if she has contingency plans for if the city has to put large numbers of workers on leave, Wu said, “Far more of our city workforce has been out because of COVID positivity than we anticipate when it comes to a lack of vaccinations.”

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NH gov. questions Massachusetts’ handling of Montgomery case

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NH gov. questions Massachusetts’ handling of Montgomery case

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu harshly criticized a Massachusetts court on Tuesday for placing Harmony Montgomery, missing since 2019 at age 5, with her father and stepmother before the state could complete a study of their home.

Sununu, in a letter to the chief justice of Massachusetts’ highest court, described the father, Adam Montgomery, as a “monster.” Adam Montgomery has a criminal record that goes back to least 2007 in both states. In Massachusetts, he was previously convicted of shooting someone in the head and a separate armed attack on two women, Sununu wrote.

Sununu asked why the Massachusetts courts went ahead and placed Harmony Montgomery with him. The governor said that at the time the court ruled, New Hampshire’s child protection agency had asked Massachusetts for additional information to complete the home study and would have likely found the father unfit.

“It is unclear why the Massachusetts courts moved so quickly with this permanent placement prior to the completion of the home study. Why would the Massachusetts court choose to place custody of Harmony with this horrible individual? What caused such a fateful decision?” Sununu wrote.

Sununu is requesting the court review the decision and all events leading to the judge’s ruling.

“No child should ever leave Massachusetts in the custody of a dangerous criminal like Adam Montgomery,” Sununu wrote. “We must ensure that, moving forward, at-risk children of our states are protected and adequately monitored.”

Massachusetts Court System Spokesperson Jennifer Donahue said Chief Justice Kimberly Budd received the letter from Sununu and that the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate has opened an investigation “into this tragic situation.” The Massachusetts Trial Court, she added, was cooperating fully with that investigation.

Harmony Montgomery was last seen at a Manchester home in October 2019, when she was 5. Manchester police were notified last December that the child had not been seen in two years.

Since then, police have searched the house where she was last seen. Harmony Montgomery’s father and stepmother have been arrested on charges related to her well-being.

Adam Montgomery was arrested on a second-degree assault charge earlier this month, as well as charges of interfering with custody and child endangerment. Police accused him of “purposely violating a duty of care, protection or support” by failing to know where the girl has been since late 2019 — the last reported sighting.

Adam Montgomery, 31, had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf by his lawyer. He has been jailed without bail.

Prosecutors dropped a welfare fraud charge last week against Harmony Montgomery’s stepmother, Kayla Montgomery, for collecting food stamps in the child’s name. The charge was replaced with three other charges, including theft.

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Protestors depart from Michelle Wu’s house — and end up at Ed Flynn’s

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Protestors depart from Michelle Wu’s house — and end up at Ed Flynn’s

There’s been some peace and quiet for a couple of days outside Mayor Michelle Wu’s Roslindale home — because the protestors who’ve been screaming at her about the vaccine mandate trekked across town and began doing so outside Council President Ed Flynn’s house.

Flynn, of South Boston, is now the target of the anti-vaxxers’ ire after a couple of different statements over the weekend in which he decried the tone the demonstrators were taking with Wu outside her house over the mayor’s vaccine mandates.

“A person’s home should be a safe place,” Flynn said in a statement on Tuesday. “Here in Boston and across the country, we are seeing behavior that is crossing the line with the potential to escalate to violence. We need to treat each other with respect and dignity.”

Video shot Tuesday morning, the second in a row in which people have been outside his house, features a woman yelling at the top of her lungs that Flynn, who’s a Navy veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, is a “communist” and a “traitor.”

This is similar rhetoric that the protestors used with Wu outside her Roslindale home as most days dawned over the past couple of weeks — calling her a communist and, on the morning of her 37th birthday last week, chanting “Happy birthday, Hitler.”

Wu, speaking on the radio on GBH on Tuesday, called these types of chants “hateful language” that’s “quite scary in some ways,” and said protestors had seized on “national right-wing talking points.”

The protestors are taking issue with her vaccine mandate for city workers and the requirement that many Boston venues have to require proof of vaccination. Both of those prongs of the mandate went into effect this week, and the city will begin to place non-compliant city workers on leave next week.

Flynn, whose district includes Southie and Chinatown, on Saturday had been responding to a question about whether his father, the former mayor Raymond Flynn, ever had protestors outside of his house. Yes, Flynn had told reporters, but he said this is a “different level of intensity” and, he added, “I honestly believe some of it is related to an anti-Asian sentiment in this country.”

The protestors hadn’t totally forgotten about Wu, though — a couple of people did show up at her press conference on Tuesday to shout questions about what they characterized as “discrimination” against them and other unvaccinated people over the city’s implementation of vaccine mandates and passports.

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