Patriots fly health care workers to the Super Bowl

February 7, 2021 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — Dozens of vaccinated health care workers scored a free trip to the Super Bowl on Sunday, courtesy of the New England Patriots and the Kraft family.

The 76 workers come from all six New England states and work a variety of health care jobs that have put them on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. They flew to Tampa on the Patriots’ team plane Sunday to watch the Kansas City Chiefs play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

All expenses of the trip, including two nights of hotel lodging, were covered by the Patriots and team owner Robert Kraft and his family, who said they wanted to show their appreciation for the resilience and sacrifice shown by health care workers during the pandemic.

ADVERTISEMENT

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker praised the health care workers Sunday at Logan Airport before they lifted off.

“Honestly when you think about some of those great Patriot slogans — ‘do your job,’ ‘no days off’ — there is probably no group over the course of this pandemic who has demonstrated that more day after day after day than our health care workers,” Baker said.

___

TREASURER TESTS POSITIVE

Massachusetts State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg announced Sunday that she has tested positive for COVID-19.

Goldberg is monitoring her symptoms while quarantining at home, her office said in a statement, Goldberg got tested after learning she might have been exposed to someone with the virus.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Massachusetts stood at 2,781 as of Saturday, down from 4,338 on Jan. 23.

Fifty-nine newly confirmed coronavirus deaths were announced on Saturday, bringing the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 14,622 since the start of the pandemic.

___

CONNECTICUT

Health officials’ warning to Connecticut residents to avoid gathering in groups outside their own household for Sunday night’s Super Bowl included the news that four more cases of a highly infectious variant of the coronavirus have been detected in the state.

Connecticut now has 20 confirmed cases of B117, a mutation that was first reported in the United Kingdom and is considered more easily transmittable.

“Connecticut’s numbers are going in the right direction,” Department of Public Health Commissioner Deidre Gifford said in a statement. “We don’t want the spike in cases that we saw after the holidays, so please enjoy the game with your household members only. Vaccines are being administered at a steady pace so if we can all minimize spread just a bit longer, we’ll be in a much safer, healthier place in the near future.”

The B117 variant has been found in more than 30 states. Officials in Germany said last week that it now accounts for 6% of cases there.

Two other variants, originating in South Africa and Brazil, haven’t been reported in Connecticut, the New Haven Register reported.

___

MAINE

Nearly 150,000 Maine residents have now received an initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

That’s according to the latest numbers from the state that were announced Sunday. On top of at least 140,180 people who have received their first shot, another nearly 51,630 people in Maine have received their second dose.

Maine’s seven-day average for new cases decreased to about 270 on Saturday, down from more than 480 on Jan. 23.

On Sunday, the Maine Center for Disease Control reported a single additional COVID-19 death, bringing the state’s total to 635.

___

NEW HAMPSHIRE

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen reintroduced a bill to provide rural communities with emergency assistance to fix water systems after the pandemic created big budget shortfalls.

More than 80% of small water systems in New Hampshire reported decreased revenue since the pandemic, according to the Rural Community Assistance Partnership. That’s hampering their ability to maintain and repair water system equipment and infrastructure.

The Emergency Assistance for Rural Water Systems Act would provide $1 billion in emergency grants, low- and zero-interest loans and loan forgiveness for struggling small and rural water and wastewater systems across the nation.

“With local governments struggling under the economic weight of COVID, we’ve seen massive budgetary shortfalls that threaten their ability to maintain crucial infrastructure like water systems,” Shaheen said in a statement Friday.

Shaheen, a Democrat, reintroduced the bill with U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina. Similar legislation is pending in the U.S. House.

New Hampshire’s seven-day average for new cases has decreased over the past two weeks from 804 on Jan. 23 to about 386 on Saturday.

The state reported 362 new cases on Sunday and six deaths related to the virus.

___

RHODE ISLAND

Wintry weather prompted Rhode Island to shutter all of its state-run COVID-19 testing facilities Sunday.

Test sites are expected to reopen on Monday. State officials say people who had scheduled a test on Sunday won’t have to make new appointments but should just show up at their scheduled testing site when it reopens.

Rhode Island’s seven-day average of new cases continues to fall, from 748 on Jan. 23 to 393 on Saturday. No new data was announced on Sunday.

___

VERMONT

Vermont is continuing to look for any potential variants of the coronavirus through genetic sequencing of specimens taken from various parts of the state, said Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.

He said Friday that the state is expecting its first result early this coming week.

The variant first identified in the United Kingdom has now been detected in 33 states and is expected to show up in Vermont, he said.

“It’s normal for viruses to mutate but some of the variants recently found may require us to strengthen our prevention measures,” Levine said.

Vermont reported nearly 130 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, for a statewide total since the pandemic began of 12,900 cases. A single additional death was reporting, bringing the state’s total to 183.

Vermont’s seven-day average of new cases has dropped slightly in the past two weeks, from about 142 on Jan. 23 to just under 134 on Saturday.