- Associated Press - Thursday, March 18, 2021

BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts’ latest coronavirus mass vaccination site, at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston’s Back Bay, held a soft opening Thursday and plans to be fully operational Monday.

The Hynes site is replacing Fenway Park, which the Red Sox need for the start of baseball season on April 1. The two sites will overlap for a while, with Fenway expected to keep operating until March 27.

About 500 shots a day will be given out at the Hynes at first, with plans to boost that to about 9,000 per day, making it the largest mass vaccination site in the state, according CIC Health, which is running the site.

Medical oversight is being provided by the Mass General Brigham health care organization.

CIC says by the time the Fenway site closes, it will have given out about 55,000 COVID-19 shots.



CIC also operates mass vaccination sites at Gillette Stadium and the Reggie Lewis Center.

The two-shot Pfizer vaccine will be administered at the Hynes site, but that may change later depending on the vaccine supply the state receives.

The Hynes is easily accessible by public transportation and people who drive to the site for their appointment will be offered up to two hours of free parking in the Prudential Center Garage.

The site will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. seven days a week at first, with expanded weekday hours planned.

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NEXT REOPENING PHASE

Just in time for baseball season, ballparks, arenas and indoor and outdoor stadiums will be allowed to open on Monday with a strict 12% capacity limit after submitting a plan to the state Department of Public Health.

The step is part of the state’s reopening efforts as Massachusetts continues to ramp up vaccination efforts and hospitalizations associated with COVID-19 continue to drop, according to the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker.

Also Monday, gathering limits for event venues and in public settings will increase to 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors. Outdoor gatherings at private residences and in private backyards will remain at a maximum of 25 people, with indoor house gatherings remaining at 10 people.

Dance floors will be permitted at weddings and other events only, and overnight summer camps will be allowed to operate this summer. Exhibition and convention halls may also begin to operate, following gatherings limits and event protocols.

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VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS

The number of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased by about 1,800 on Thursday, while the number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts rose by 27.

The new numbers push the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 16,426 since the start of the pandemic, while its confirmed caseload rose to more than 574,000.

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

There were fewer than 600 people reported hospitalized Thursday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with about 160 in intensive care units.

The average age of those hospitalized was 61. There were an estimated 25,000 people with current active cases of COVID-19 in the state.

The number of probable or confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported in long-term care facilities rose to 8,809.

More than 2.7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Massachusetts, including nearly 1.7 million first doses and 928,000 second doses.

About 997,000 people have been fully immunized.

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TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

Beginning Monday, Massachusetts will institute a new pandemic travel advisory that will urge everyone entering the state, including returning residents, to quarantine for 10 days after arriving if they’ve been out of state for 24 hours or more.

An earlier advisory called for a 14-day quarantine and made the quarantine a mandate.

The advisory won’t apply to travelers who have a negative COVID-19 test result administered up to 72 hours before their arrival in Massachusetts, workers who enter Massachusetts to do critical infrastructure work and travelers who are fully vaccinated and who do not have symptoms.

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