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 – Tuesday, November 3 – the state announces Election Day safety steps, open enrollment through Mass. Health Connector is happening now, gas prices are down across the state, QCC has been named a top five school to get your Associate's Degree online, and the City's leaf collection program continues in Main South and Vernon Hill.
Massachusetts public safety officials have outlined preparations to ensure that the state is positioned to maintain public safety following Tuesday’s election.
Governor Charlie Baker signed an order that will make up to 1,000 members of the Massachusetts National Guard available in the event their assistance is requested by local officials to maintain public safety or protect opportunities to exercise first amendment rights during large scale events. Similar orders in recent months have not required any Guard operations.
“At this time we are aware of no specific or credible threats to election sites in Massachusetts,” said Massachusetts State Police Colonel Christopher Mason. “We continue to monitor all available intelligence and will maintain an enhanced operational posture for Election Day and beyond, and will be prepared to assist in any situations that arise in order to protect public safety and the rights of all our citizens.”
Colonel Mason said State Police will operate with increased staffing levels on and following Election Day, both to ensure safety on state roadways and property and to assist local police departments that request assistance in their communities.
COBRA participants and the uninsured can now seek new, affordable health insurance through the Massachusetts Health Connector. Open enrollment began November 1.
The Health Connector is the state-based health insurance exchange, offering commercial plans to people who do not get coverage through their employer or other sources. The Health Connector offers subsidized plans to those who are income-eligible through the ConnectorCare program, which offers lower premiums and co-pays, and no-deductibles to those enrolling in a plan.
People who need health insurance can go to MAhealthconnector.org, complete an application, and immediately find out what kind of coverage for which they qualify.
Applicants who qualify for ConnectorCare will see a list of qualifying plans that include important benefits, including for COVID testing and treatment.
ConnectorCare premiums are priced on an income-based scale for individuals making up to $38,280, or a family of four earning up to $78,600. Premiums for some people cost nothing, while lowest-cost plans at the highest income levels are $133 per month.
Quinsigamond Community College’s online Associate Degree programs were named the fifth best return on investment in the country.
According to OnlineU, a rankings organization that compares all online colleges and universities in the country, QCC was the only community college listed in the top five, and one of only two community colleges in the country to make the top 10 in the 2020 list.
The rankings include an annual tuition comparison of each school, based on out-of-state tuition rates, unless in-state rates are offered to all students. QCC’s ROI ranking of 95.9% is based on its out of state annual tuition. QCC’s Fall 2020 out-of-state tuition is $411 per credit, as compared to its in-state tuition rate of $205 per credit.
AAA Northeast, the popular not-for-profit auto club, reports changes in gas prices across the region on a weekly basis.
Massachusetts’s average gas price decreased two cent from last week ($2.10), averaging $2.08 per gallon. That price is the three cents lower than a month ago ($2.11), and 48 cents cheaper than November 2, 2019 ($2.56).
Massachusetts’s average gas price is four cents lower than the national average.
AAA Northeast’s November 2 survey of fuel prices found the current national average to be four cents lower than last week, averaging $2.12 a gallon. Today’s national average price is seven cents lower than a month ago ($2.19), and 49 cents cheaper than this day last year ($2.61).
Comparison to neighboring states, according to AAA Northeast:
Today -- Tuesday, November 3 -- leaf collection will take place in neighborhoods in Main South and Vernon Hill areas [see map below].