5 Things You Need to Know Today in Worcester - April 16

 by TWIW StaffApril 16, 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 – Friday, April 16 - you can now order online from The Wonder Bar, Governor Charlie Baker filed a a bill to regulate rideshare companies, the Attorney General's office is reminding residents they don't need certain forms of identification to receive a vaccination, Massachusetts is now ranked the eighth safest state to live during the pandemic, and the Better Business Bureau has issued a warning on gift card scams.


You can Now Order Online from The Wonder Bar

The Wonder Bar is now offering online ordering.

You can use the online ordering tool on their website to place orders ahead for takeout. Their full menu is available online including their classic pizzas, specials and a kids menu.

The Wonder Bar is open for dine-in and take out Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12 PM to 7 PM and Fridays and Saturdays from 12 PM to 8 PM.

Governor Baker Targets Rideshare Companies with New Proposal

Governor Charlie Baker filed An Act Relative to Transportation Network Companies [TNC] on Thursday, April 15, that would enable the state to regulate rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft.

The Governor’s proposal would implement the following relative to rideshare drivers:

  • Increasing fines and penalties, up to two and half years in a House of Correction, for the practice of “account renting,” or allowing another individual to utilize a TNC driver’s account or identity, to provide TNC services.
  • Making it a criminal offense for a driver to exploit the personal information of a rider to stalk, harass or defraud a rider.
  • Implementing tougher penalties for drivers who:
    • Fail to maintain a driver certificate or a background check clearance certificate
    • Fail to display TNC vehicle decals
    • Fail to maintain adequate insurance, or carry proof of a TNC vehicle inspection

The legislation would also grant the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) exclusive authority to regulate large livery companies operating throughout the state on a digital network. Any livery company with over 100 drivers would be subject to statewide TNC laws and regulations.

This legislation also allows for new transportation data to be collected from TNCs and eases the administrative burden on small towns.


Attorney General Maura Healey's Office Reminds Residents Don't Need Certain Forms of ID to be Vaccinated

Attorney General Maura Healey is reminding residents and vaccine providers that ID cards, Social Security numbers, health insurance information, and other forms of identification are not required to get the vaccine and people cannot be turned away because they don’t have them.

“Our most vulnerable populations, including immigrants, have been hard hit by COVID-19 infections, yet they often face the greatest barriers to accessing the vaccine,” said AG Healey. “We are reminding both residents and vaccine providers that people don’t need identification or health insurance to get the vaccine. It’s vital that we work to remove these kinds of obstacles so we can effectively combat this virus and make sure vaccines are accessible to our most at-risk residents.”

While the federal government encourages vaccine providers to ask patients for ID and health insurance information, you cannot be denied the vaccine if you don’t have them or don’t provide them.

To reduce these barriers to accessing the vaccine, it’s important that the public and vaccine providers are aware that identification and health insurance are not required for people to receive the vaccine.


Massachusetts Ranked the 8th Safest State During COVID-19

A new study by Wallethub.com ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia for safety during the COVID-19 pandemic using five key metrics and a 100 point scale.

The study found Massachusetts the eighth safest during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the individual metrics, Massachusetts ranked:

  • 5th – Vaccination Rate
  • 5th – Positive Testing Rate
  • 12th – Transmission Rate
  • 20th – Death Rate

Here is how Massachusetts compared with New England and nearby states in ranking and score

  • #1 New Hampshire - 83.88
  • #5 Vermont - 77.85
  • #6 Rhode Island - 74.22
  • #7 Maine - 73.23
  • #8 Massachusetts - 72.88
  • #18 Connecticut - 66.50
  • #47 New York - 43.04
  • #49 New Jersey 40.72

The worst states after New York are:

  • #48 West Virginia - 40.92
  • #50 Michigan - 29.59
  • #51 Georgia - 28.41

The study found the safest states in the top 8, outside of the New England states, are:

  • #2 Hawaii - 81.97
  • #3 Alaska - 81.22
  • #4 Kansas - 78.84

See the full rankings and methodology at WalletHub.com.


BBB Warns on Proliferation of Gift Cards Used in Scams

The Better Business Bureau has tracked growth of nearly triple between 2017 and 2020 using gift cards in scams.

According to a December 2020 analysis by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “About one in four who lost money to a fraud say they paid with a gift card. In fact, gift cards have topped the list of reported fraud payment methods every year since 2018. During that time, people reported losing a total of nearly $245 million, with a median individual loss of $840.”

Payment by gift card is a common thread among many scams including government impersonators, business email compromise frauds, tech support frauds, romance scams, fake check scams, prize/sweepstakes scams, and online sales of nonexistent vehicles.

Here are four red flags the Better Business Bureau advises to watch for to avoid gift card scams:

  • Government agencies requesting payment. No government agency ever requests money through gift cards.
  • Statements that buying gift cards is a safe way to make a payment. Providing the numbers for a gift card is like sending cash, and the money is rarely recoverable. Gift card payment requests are a big red flag for a scam.
  • Keep the receipt when buying a gift card. Keep the physical card as well. These may help prove that the card was paid for and activated if problems arise later.
  • Inspect the card carefully before buying it to be sure it has not been tampered with. Some scammers open the card to get the numbers on the back so that they can take the money when the card is later activated.


Lead image courtesy: The Wonder Bar/Facebook

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