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MBTA to cut back bus routes Dec. 19, citing workforce shortages

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MBTA to cut back bus routes Dec. 19, citing workforce shortages

Amid a national workforce shortage cutting across industries, the MBTA has not been spared.

The agency announced that, starting Dec. 19, bus service and Mattapan line service will be scaled back to accommodate employee attrition, which is outpacing new hires.

“Like other transit systems across the country, the MBTA is experiencing significant challenges in attracting the workforce needed to meet demands for service,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said. “The MBTA is budgeted for a full level of service, and ready to add back services when we have hired and trained new bus and train operators.”

Poftak added in his comments that teams at the MBTA are working to streamline the hiring process and encouraged those interested in applying to head to mbta.com/apply.

The MBTA’s winter schedule will focus on maintaining service for routes with “durable ridership,” on routes with crowded buses and on supporting those returning to in-person work and school. The routes will also be adapted to new, COVID-induced travel patterns.

Buses will reduce in frequency by about one in every 20 scheduled trips, with many of the changes reducing frequency on weekdays, especially in the morning.

Several other bus changes are going into effect later this month. Route 111, with service to and from Woodlawn, will operate a simplified service pattern this winter, and Routes 62 and 76, which run between Alewife and the Bedford VA Hospital, will resume rush-hour weekday service.

The MBTA will hold a public information session Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. to discuss the changes. People can learn more about the affected routes at mbta.com/servicechanges.

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Fauci says most states should hit omicron peak soon, Massachusetts on the downslope as wastewater data shows progress

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Fauci says most states should hit omicron peak soon, Massachusetts on the downslope as wastewater data shows progress

Most U.S. states should hit their omicron variant peak soon, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday as the Bay State and other New England states are already on the surge’s downslope.

In Massachusetts, the daily average of COVID-19 cases has dropped by 62% in recent weeks as the Boston-area coronavirus wastewater data has plunged — a signal that fewer cases are on the way.

Most states across the country should follow this trend soon, said Fauci, who is President Biden’s chief medical adviser, noting that most regions should reach an omicron peak by mid-February.

“Things are looking good,” Fauci said on ABC News “This Week.”

“We don’t want to get overconfident,” he added. “But they look like they’re going in the right direction right now.”

Fauci said he’s “as confident as you can be” about that mid-February prediction.

“You never want to be overconfident when you’re dealing with this virus … because it has certainly surprised us in the past,” Fauci said.

“But if you look at the patterns that we have seen in South Africa, in the U.K., and in Israel, and … in the Northeast and New England and upper Midwest states, they have peaked and starting to come down rather sharply,” he said. “There are still some states in the southern states and western states that continue to go up.”

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US draws down Ukraine embassy presence as war fears mount

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US draws down Ukraine embassy presence as war fears mount

WASHINGTON  — The State Department on Sunday ordered the families of all American personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine to leave the country amid heightened fears of a Russian invasion.

The department told the dependents of staffers at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv that they must leave the country. It also said that non-essential embassy staff could leave Ukraine at government expense.

The move came amid rising tensions about Russia’s military buildup on the Ukraine border that were not eased during talks Friday between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva.

State Department officials stressed the Kyiv embassy will remain open and that the announcement does not constitute an evacuation. The move had been under consideration for some time and does not reflect an easing of U.S. support for Ukraine, the officials said.

In a statement, the State Department noted recent reports that Russia was planning significant military action against Ukraine. However, the Russian Foreign Ministry has accused NATO countries of escalating tensions around Ukraine with disinformation.

The State Department added: “The security conditions, particularly along Ukraine’s borders, in Russia-occupied Crimea, and in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine, are unpredictable and can deteriorate with little notice. Demonstrations, which have turned violent at times, regularly occur throughout Ukraine, including in Kyiv.”

The department’s travel advisory, which had warned against traveling to Ukraine because of COVID-19 as well as the tensions over Russia, was changed Sunday to carry a stronger warning.

“Do not travel to Ukraine due to the increased threats of Russian military action and COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Ukraine due to crime and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk,” the department advised.

The travel advisory for Russia was also changed: “Do not travel to Russia due to ongoing tension along the border with Ukraine, the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens, the embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, COVID-19 and related entry restrictions, terrorism, harassment by Russian government security officials, and the arbitrary enforcement of local law.”

The State Department would not say how many Americans it believes are currently in Ukraine.

U.S. citizens are not required to register with embassies when they arrive or plan to stay abroad for extended periods.

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U.S. draws down Ukraine embassy presence as war fears mount

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U.S. draws down Ukraine embassy presence as war fears mount

WASHINGTON — The State Department on Sunday ordered the families of all American personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine to leave the country amid heightened fears of a Russian invasion.

The department told the dependents of staffers at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv that they must leave the country. It also said that non-essential embassy staff could leave Ukraine at government expense.

The move came amid rising tensions about Russia’s military buildup on the Ukraine border that were not eased during talks Friday between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva.

State Department officials stressed the Kyiv embassy will remain open and that the announcement does not constitute an evacuation. The move had been under consideration for some time and does not reflect an easing of U.S. support for Ukraine, the officials said.

In a statement, the State Department noted recent reports that Russia was planning significant military action against Ukraine. However, the Russian Foreign Ministry has accused NATO countries of escalating tensions around Ukraine with disinformation.

The State Department added: “The security conditions, particularly along Ukraine’s borders, in Russia-occupied Crimea, and in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine, are unpredictable and can deteriorate with little notice. Demonstrations, which have turned violent at times, regularly occur throughout Ukraine, including in Kyiv.”

The department’s travel advisory, which had warned against traveling to Ukraine because of COVID-19 as well as the tensions over Russia, was changed Sunday to carry a stronger warning.

“Do not travel to Ukraine due to the increased threats of Russian military action and COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Ukraine due to crime and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk,” the department advised.

The travel advisory for Russia was also changed: “Do not travel to Russia due to ongoing tension along the border with Ukraine, the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens, the embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, COVID-19 and related entry restrictions, terrorism, harassment by Russian government security officials, and the arbitrary enforcement of local law.”

The State Department would not say how many Americans it believes are currently in Ukraine. U.S. citizens are not required to register with embassies when they arrive or plan to stay abroad for extended periods.

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