- Associated Press - Thursday, April 8, 2021

BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker isn’t a big fan of “vaccine passports” - at least not now.

The passports are meant to allow those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to have greater access to public places as the state and country slowly emerges from the pandemic.

Asked whether he would favor such a program in Massachusetts on Wednesday, Baker said, “No. No. No.”

Baker said he continues to be focused on getting vaccine doses into the arms of Massachusetts residents.

“I want to vaccinate people. Let’s get people vaccinated,” the Republican said during a news conference. “I think having a conversation about creating a barrier before people have even had an opportunity to be eligible to be vaccinated - let’s focus on getting people vaccinated.”



Baker didn’t rule out the idea completely.

“I think it’s perfectly appropriate for people to have conversations about some of these other issues, but I don’t want them to distract from the goal that remains in front of all of us,” he added.

Baker’s comments come as some in Massachusetts are pressing for the creation of vaccine passports or passes.

In a letter addressed earlier this week to Baker and President Joe Biden, two Democratic state lawmakers - state Sen. Barry Finegold and state Rep. Linda Dean Campbell - said the adoption of vaccine passes could help the state and nation emerge more quickly and safely from the pandemic.

“Vaccine passes will allow us to live with the virus without having to impose costly lockdowns. People will feel more comfortable getting on airplanes or going to sports arenas if they know others there have been vaccinated as well,” the lawmakers wrote.

“By distributing vaccine passes, we can re-open our economy more fully without compromising public health,” they added.

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THE NUMBERS

The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 increased by about 1,900 Thursday, while the number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts rose by eight.

The new numbers pushed the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 17,022 since the start of the pandemic, while its confirmed caseload rose to nearly 614,000.

The true number of cases is likely higher because studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.

There were about 730 people reported hospitalized Thursday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with about 170 in intensive care units.

The average age of those hospitalized was 61. There were an estimated 35,000 people with current active cases of COVID-19 in the state.

There were 9,013 probable or confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported in long-term care facilities.

More than 4.2 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Massachusetts, including more than 2.5 million first doses and more than 1.4 million second doses.

More than 1.6 million people have been fully vaccinated.

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COLLEGE ACTIVITIES

A college in Boston is temporarily restricting campus activities amid a recent rise in COVID-19 cases.

Emerson College officials said Wednesday that all in-person student activities and gatherings will be halted, including athletics.

The campus fitness center will close, the dining center will offer only to-go meals, and the library be open for socially distanced study and reserved study spaces only, Erik Muurisepp, the college’s assistant vice president for campus life, said in a message to the campus community.

Students are also being asked to leave their residences for a limited number of reasons such as picking up food, seeking medical care, or going to and from employment. Travel is prohibited.

The changes took effect Wednesday evening and will remain in place for at least a week, according to Muurisepp. In-person classes will continue as normal, he said.

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