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Maura Healey ending COVID-19 public-health emergency, vaccine mandate in May

Boston Herald 3/15/2023 Sean Philip Cotter, Boston Herald
Brockton, MA - March 2:  Mass Gov Maura Healey tours the Brockton Fire Station on a tour of the city that will also take her to a number of hospitals and health care facilities that have been impacted by the Brockton Hospital fire on March 2, 2023 in , Brockton, MA. © Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald/TNS Brockton, MA - March 2: Mass Gov Maura Healey tours the Brockton Fire Station on a tour of the city that will also take her to a number of hospitals and health care facilities that have been impacted by the Brockton Hospital fire on March 2, 2023 in , Brockton, MA.

Gov. Maura Healey is ending the state’s COVID-19 public-health emergency and vaccine mandate on May 11, coinciding with the feds’ corresponding move.

Healey said in a press release Wednesday morning that the announcement two months in advance “allows additional time for impacted organizations to prepare for the end of the public health emergency.”

“Thanks to the hard work of our health care providers and communities, we’ve made important progress in the fight against COVID-19,” Healey said in a statement. “We know that we have the tools to manage this virus – vaccines, masking, testing, getting treatments and staying home when sick – and we’ve reached the point where we can update our guidance to reflect where we are now.”

Throwing a bone across the aisle to her predecessor Gov. Charlie Baker, as the Democrat Healey has taken to doing with the Republican, she continued on to say that “I’d also like to acknowledge the leadership of Governor Baker and his administration, who saved countless lives by putting these important measures in place in a time of immense crisis.”

Notably among the changes that will come May 11 is the vacating of Executive Order No. 595, which required state employees to get vaccinated. The administration touted the policy, which had been challenged in court, as having achieved its aims.

“Executive Order No. 595 has been a successful tool for boosting vaccination rates and reducing the spread and severity of COVID-19 in Massachusetts,” Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll said in a statement.

The Healey-Driscoll administration, which took power in January, makes this move a day after the Herald first reported that Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s administration had signed agreements with two unions to formally end enforcement of its vaccine mandate as officials say the city is assessing what to do next with the order as a whole.

While the state did discipline employees under its mandate, the city never actually enforced its vax rule, which became and remains tied up in court.

The state said 99% of its employees followed the mandate, though nearly 1,000 of the 41,629 total state workers left their jobs at one point due to the vaccine mandate. Of those, about two-thirds were fired, and the others left voluntarily. Some were then rehired.

Some coronavirus requirements remain in place “in certain roles and settings.”

Healey’s office touted that the governor had filed legislation to continue some pandemic-era practices, including changes in ambulance staffing and an extra six months for out-of-hospital dialysis centers to get back up to pre-pandemic staffing requirements.

This comes exactly three years after one of the most striking weeks in recent history as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country, shutting the world down in mid-March 2020. Baker declared a state of emergency March 10, 2020, and though that ended in 2021, the public-health emergency has remained in place in modified forms.

On the federal level, President Biden’s administration has said it’s ending the national public-health emergency May 11.

©2023 MediaNews Group, Inc. Visit at bostonherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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