New mass vaccination sites opening; high school sports begin

BOSTON (AP) — Two more coronavirus mass vaccination sites are opening in Massachusetts this week, including one Monday at a now-closed Sears store at the Natick Mall.
The Natick location is expected to administer about 500 shots per day at first, with the capacity to boost that to 3,000 doses per day once the supply is available, state health officials said in a statement.
Another site is opening Wednesday at the former Circuit City in Dartmouth. That site will also begin by giving out 500 shots a day before ramping up to about 2,000 per day.
Only those eligible under state guidelines are allowed to sign up for an appointment, according to the state Department of Public Health, including residents age 65 and older with those with two or more medical conditions that put them at high risk for COVID-19.
The state already has mass vaccination sites at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Fenway Park in Boston, the DoubleTree Hotel in Danvers, and the Eastfield Mall in Springfield. Hospitals and retail pharmacies are also offering shots.
As of Sunday, almost 15% of Massachusetts residents had received at least their first dose of a vaccine and 5.6% had been fully vaccinated, according to the state’s COVID Command Center.
The Boston Calling music festival has been canceled for second year in a row, organizers announced Monday.
“After exploring all possible options for hosting Boston Calling this year, we have made the difficult decision in conjunction with local and state authorities to cancel the 2021 festival," organizers said in a statement on the festival’s website. “The health and safety of our entire community is always our top priority, and there was no appropriate scenario under which we could provide the Boston Calling experience you love and deserve."
The three-day festival is traditionally held on Memorial Day weekend in May.
Although ticket refunds are being offered, tickets purchased for the 2021 event will be honored in 2022, organizers said.
Foo Fighters, Rage Against the Machine, and Red Hot Chili Peppers were scheduled to appear at the 2020 festival before the pandemic forced its cancellation.
High school sports postponed by the pandemic officially opened Monday in Massachusetts.
The fall sports season — dubbed “Fall II” — is slated to run from Feb. 22 to April 25.
The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association says there’s no officially sanctioned postseason play and school districts are able to opt out altogether.
Among the sports beginning this week are football, cheerleading, indoor track and unified basketball.
School districts also had the option of moving other fall sports, such as cross-country, dance, golf, field hockey, soccer, swim and dive and volleyball.
The coronavirus pandemic scrambled the second half of the 2019-20 high school sports season and the start of the 2020-21 season.
Immigration lawyers in Massachusetts want to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association’s New England chapter, the Boston Bar Association and more than 20 other law organizations wrote a letter to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s office earlier this month arguing they should be included in the second phase of the state’s vaccine distribution plan as defense attorneys.
Phase 2 covers judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, clerks and other court officers not already qualified for the vaccine as first responders.
The organizations say immigration attorneys face a high risk of exposure to COVID-19 because the Boston immigration court – and others like it across the country – has been open and operating at “near-full capacity” for much of the pandemic.
Massachusetts’ state-run court system, in contrast, has curtailed in-person court matters and is conducting much of its business by telephone or video conference, they said.
The federal immigration court, located in the JFK Federal Building, serves Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire with many travelling across state lines to attend hearings, even during the pandemic, the organizations said.
Baker’s office didn’t respond to an email seeking comment Monday.
State health officials on Monday reported 26 additional deaths and 1,150 new confirmed coronavirus cases.
Massachusetts has had more than 15,000 deaths from COVID-19 and more than 540,000 positive cases since the pandemic started.
The state’s seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate dropped over the past two weeks, going from about 2.9% on Feb. 7 to 1.9% on Feb. 21, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
Massachusetts’ average daily new cases has also dropped, from 2,844 per day on Feb. 7 to about 1,644 per day on Feb. 21.