State Vaccine Mandate Extended to Home Care and Hospice Workers

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BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration has set a deadline of Oct. 31 for staff to be vaccinated at rest homes, assisted living residences and hospice programs, as well as for home care workers providing in-home, direct care services.
The plan to expand the vaccine requirement for caregivers is subject to Public Health Council approval and is part of the administration's effort to protect older adults against COVID-19. Last month, the administration announced a vaccine requirement for employees of skilled nursing facilities.
Following the council's approval, the requirement would be implemented through the respective Department of Public Health and Executive Office of Elder Affairs regulations that would cover 62 freestanding rest homes and 268 assisted living residences in Massachusetts, 85 hospice programs and up to 100,000 home care workers across the commonwealth, subject to regulatory requirement.
All personnel at these facilities and home care workers will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccination by Oct. 31 unless they qualify for a limited exemption because they have a medical condition that prevents them from receiving vaccination or they object to vaccination based on a sincerely held religious belief. 
The requirement applies to all individuals employed directly by a provider/facility as well as contractors who regularly enter the facility.
The vaccination requirement for home-care workers applies to individuals providing in-home, direct care who are employed by an agency that is contracted or subcontracted with the commonwealth, including:
  • Home health agencies enrolled in the MassHealth program
  • Home care agencies providing services under the state's home care program
  • Continuous skilled nursing agencies enrolled in the MassHealth program
  • Hospice programs (including hospice facilities and agencies that provide services in homes) group adult foster care agencies enrolled in the MassHealth program delivering personal care services that assist individuals with eating, toileting, dressing, bathing, transferring, and mobility.
The vaccination requirement also applies to independent, non-agency-based home care workers contracted with the state providing in-home, direct care including:
  • Independent nurses enrolled in the MassHealth program
  • Personal care attendants providing services through the MassHealth program
  • Consumer directed care workers providing services under EOEA's self-directed program.

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Pittsfield Man Charged in Second Fire at White Terrace Building

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Pittsfield man is being charged with arson after firefighters responded Thursday to a second blaze at the large apartment building on White Terrace and North Street.
Police say Joseph Stone, 43 was taken into custody on Thursday and will be arraigned on Friday in District Court on a single charge of arson.
The fire was called in at about 2:17 p.m. on Thursday at 8 White Terrace. Firefighters were quickly able to extinguish the fire, though the building did suffer damage. No injuries were reported and the investigation led to Stone, said police.
The vacant building was the site of a major structure fire on Wednesday, Sept. 8, at 6 White Terrace, the neighboring building. The multi-apartment structures have been vacant since another major fire in 2017 that was deemed accidental.
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