5 Things You Need to Know Today in Worcester - Feb. 18, 2021

 by Tom MarinoFebruary 18, 2021

In today’s daily 5 Things You Need to Know feature, ThisWeekinWorcester.com explores five important items and stories that Worcester and Central Massachusetts residents should keep a close eye on.

These five things can cover a whole range of subjects and issues that we feel are pertinent to understanding what’s going on in the city and the cities and towns surrounding Worcester.

In today’s edition – Thursday, February 18, 2021 - Amazon holds a series of hiring events, Governor Baker signs an order to support military families, RMV says 584,000 vehicles need new inspection stickers, WRTA advisory board meeting to consider fares and the Better Business Bureau issues advice for travelers during the pandemic.


Amazon Holds Hiring Info Sessions for Worcester Area

Starting today, Amazon will hold several virtual info sessions for hiring in Worcester and other parts of Massachusetts. Attendees must register in advance.

Each session includes a short presentation and question and answer sessions, with the opportunity to live chat with Amazon hiring staff.

The sessions are being held:

  • Thursday, February 18, 12:30 PM
  • Wednesday, February 24, 4 PM
  • Friday, February 26, 9 AM
  • Thursday, March 4, 12:30 PM

For more information and to register, click here.


Governor Signs Order to Support Military Families Transferring to MA

Governor Charlie Baker signed an executive order on Wednesday, February 17, to support military families transferring to Massachusetts military installations.

The order directs the Division of Professional Licensure [DPL] to improve license portability for military personnel and their spouses so that they can continue their civilian careers and provide for their families without interruption.

DPL is instructed to investigate opportunities to participate in one or more interstate compacts, a preferred vehicle for simplifying and improving licensing for professionals moving between states, while also ensuring the public continues to be served by highly qualified practitioners.

DPL will also ensure that each covered board has procedures to expedite and afford priority to the licensing of military personnel and spouses. Each board will be encouraged to process applications within 30 days, and track data on how long that process takes for military personnel and families.

DPL will focus on priority occupations identified in a recent US Air Force assessment: Physical Therapists, Accountants, Engineers, Psychologists and Barbers and Cosmetologists.


Massachusetts RMV Says 584,000 Vehicles Due for Inspection

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles [RMV] says more than a half-million vehicles with active registrations in Massachusetts overdue for annual emissions and safety inspections.

While the number of vehicles overdue for inspection changes constantly, the number exceeded over 584,000 during the week of February 22.

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, extensions granted those with annual inspection stickers expiring between March and May 2020 extra time. All extensions have since expired. State officials do not expect further extensions.

The state is encouraging Law enforcement to use discretion and help remind and not cite expired drivers whenever possible.

Drivers with vehicles that are overdue for inspection can find one of 1,800 local inspection stations across the state at mavehiclecheck.com.


WRTA Advisory Board to Consider Resuming Fare Collection

On Thursday, February 18 at 8:30 AM the WRTA advisory board will consider resuming far collection after waiving fees for riders since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Rep. Jim McGovern will share his thoughts with the board on how the $37.5 million awarded to the WRTA through the CARES Act can support an extended suspension of fare collection as residents endure the hardships of the ongoing pandemic.

  • Join the meeting by Zoom. passcode: 827255
  • Join the meeting by phone by calling (312) 626-6799.
  • Webinar ID: 935 2951 0532, Passcode: 827255


BBB Advises Consumers on Trip Planning Safety During COVID-19 Pandemic

The Better Business Bureau is advising consumers who plan on spring or summer travel in 2021 on ways to minimize risk.

Understand the risks and delay plans if possible.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out that “COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are extremely high across the United States.” Since travel increases your risk of infection, CDC recommends delaying unnecessary travel plans to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. In addition, if anyone in your household or at your travel destination is at high risk of infection, everyone in the household should act as if they, themselves are at increased risk of infection.

Research travel restrictions

Travel restrictions vary by state and country and are constantly changing. Visit the U.S. State Department’s "Know Before You Go" page and the CDC Travel Planner to get up-to-date information on COVID-19 related travel restrictions as you plan your trip and as your travel dates approach.

Take precautions before and after your trip.

During the 14 days leading up to your trip, avoid situations that could put you at risk for infection, such as attending large group events or using public transportation, recommends the CDC. Then, get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before you travel and keep a copy of your negative test results with you. After your trip, get tested again 3-5 days after arriving home and make plans to self-quarantine for 7 days after travel, regardless of your test results. The CDC also advises getting vaccinated, if eligible, and waiting until two weeks after your final vaccination dose to travel.

Pack a “pandemic bag”

Condé Nast Traveler recommends stocking up on pandemic essentials before you head out. Pack a bag with COVID-19 prevention staples including “hand sanitizer, face masks, disinfecting wipes, health insurance cards, a thermometer, latex gloves (for one-time use in public spaces), and hand soap.” If you’ll be on the road for extended periods of time, it’s a good idea to bring drinks and snacks along too so as to avoid unnecessary stops in public places.

Make flexible travel plans

Flexibility is key during the pandemic. Be willing to pay extra for fully refundable flights, car rentals, and accommodations. Your plans may change last-minute due to an unexpected lockdown or infection.

Understand what travel insurance covers.

CNBC reminds travelers that purchasing travel insurance is wise, but it may not cover every situation. Read the fine print or work with a travel agent to understand how your policy works. Most travel insurance will cover medical expenses if you get sick during your trip or the cost of your trip if you must cancel due to illness, but they may not cover the cost of your trip if you need to cancel because a state or city goes into lockdown unexpectedly. Read BBB's tips on buying travel insurance.

Opt for a road trip instead of a flying

Waiting in security lines and sitting on crowded flights will increase your risk of infection, says Nerd Wallet. If you, or anyone you'll be in contact with, is in a high-risk group, it’s best to drive. Road travel carries risks too, but it’s much easier to mitigate them from within a smaller space you and your family control. Read BBB's tips on renting an RV and buying camping gear.

Book accommodations that make it easy to follow COVID-19 guidelines

Business Insider recommends speaking with the hotel or host before you book a stay. Find out what precautions and sanitary measures they are taking in between guests. Inquire about shared facilities, such as gyms, pools, spas and restaurants. In many cases, such facilities could be shut down until further notice. Make sure you are comfortable with the precautions any hotel or vacation rental has in place ahead of time.

Wear a mask and social distance

To protect yourself and your family, CDC advises travelers to wear a mask, avoid crowded areas and stay at least six feet away from others whenever you are in a public space.

Enjoy the great outdoors

Hiking and camping at state and national parks are a great way to enjoy warmer weather since they don’t involve sharing indoor spaces with others. If you want to stay a few days, book your campsite well in advance. Parks have become a popular pandemic vacation option and spaces are limited.

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