Charlie Baker

Over 100K Doses of J&J Vaccine to Arrive in Mass. Next Week, Baker Says

Meanwhile, Baker announced $20 million in funding for supportive housing initiatives across the state to help those struggling with housing insecurity.

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Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday said he was expecting more than 100,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine to arrive in Massachusetts next week.

During a press conference on housing security in Quincy, Baker said the shipments would be "definitely north of" 100,000 doses and part of 10 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses expected to distributed across the country by the Biden administration next week.

"I can't tell you how important that is," Baker said, stressing that because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose, it helps streamline the vaccination process. "It basically doubles the capacity that is available, but in addition to that, the speed with which somebody actually comes to get vaccinated."

"This is a big sign that things are actually starting to get here," he added.

The expected doses represent a significant increase from this week, when the state says 40,000 doses arrived here.

Meanwhile, Baker announced $20 million in funding for supportive housing initiatives across the state to help those struggling with housing insecurity.

In a press conference at Father Bill's and MainSpring, a non-profit group in Quincy helping the homeless population, Baker said the funding would be infused into a variety of programs and help those in the shelter system.

Officials said the funding will go into building permanent supportive housing units across the state. Some $4 million will go to building housing resources at Father Bill's.

Social distancing and rising unemployment have put a greater focus on housing stability during the pandemic, forcing state and federal policymakers to make large new investments in housing programs and rent supports. The federal government has extended through June its ban on evictions, which was scheduled to end Wednesday.

Baker was joined at 38 Broad Street by Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy, House Speaker Ronald Mariano and Sen. John Keenan of Quincy, Mayor Thomas Koch and Father Bill's and MainSpring President and CEO John Yazwinski.

On Tuesday, Baker and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky toured a mass vaccination site at the Hynes Convention Center on as the location prepared to dramatically ramp up the number of vaccines it will begin to administer.

Baker cautioned against thinking that the increase in vaccinations means the pandemic is over in Massachusetts, pointing to a recent rise in cases.

“While we’re making great progress on vaccines, we can’t let this progress give us a false sense of security about the fight against COVID being over. COVID is still a serious, highly contagious virus with all sorts of new variants that are making it even more challenging,” the Republican said.

Massachusetts still has a mask mandate, he added, urging residents not to let their guard down.

Gov. Charlie Baker provides update on COVID-19 and vaccine distribution in Massachusetts.

Walensky echoed Baker, cautioning that cases are rising across the country.

“We are just asking you to hang on a little bit longer,” said Walensky, who said she has encouraged all governors to keep mask mandates into effect.

In those states where governors have refused or eased mask mandates, Walensky said she is still encouraging residents to make the decision on their own to use masks.

“We all have to sort of take care and be careful, doing our masks and social distancing as cases rise,” said Walensky, who previously served as chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky addresses COVID-19 and vaccine distribution at the Hynes Convention Center on Tuesday.

There were nearly 1,700 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, while the number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts rose by 18.

The new numbers push the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 16,808 since the start of the pandemic, while its confirmed caseload rose to nearly 596,000.

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