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, January 11 - Massachusetts launches an online tool to create your own digital vaccination card, Rachael Rollins sworn in as U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, QCC hosts the 37th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast, Reliant Medical Group recognized by the American Heart Association, and the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal on safe home heating tips during this bitter cold.
A new tool launched at MyVaxRecords.Mass.gov enables Massachusetts residents to access their vaccination records and generate a COVID-19 digital vaccine card, with similar vaccination information to a paper CDC card.
There is no requirement by the state to show vaccination records at any venue. Governor Charlie Baker’s office said the tool is for those who wish to produce a digital copy of their record.
The COVID-19 digital vaccine cards produced by the system utilize the SMART Health Card platform and generate a QR code that can be used to verify vaccination.
The tool requires residents to enter their name, date of birth and phone number or email associated with their vaccine record to create a 4-digit digital pin. Users will then receive a link and use the pin number to access the record.
For additional ways to access your COVID vaccination record, visit the Mass.gov website.
Former Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins was sworn in as the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts in federal court in Boston on Monday, January 10. A formal ceremony will be held at a later date.
President Joe Biden nominated Rollins for the position in July. The U.S. Senate confirmed appointment on December 8.
“As I begin this next chapter as the United States Attorney, I look forward to the challenges ahead. There is much to be done, and I am blessed to be walking into an office with highly skilled attorneys and staff who have the same commitment to public safety and community wellbeing and health,” said Rollins.
Quinsigamond Community College will host the 37th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast on Monday, January 17, 2022. This year’s event theme will once again focus on the day of recognition for Dr. King as, “More than a Day Off.”
The Master of Ceremony for the breakfast will be Phil Niddrie, former Special Projects Coordinator for the City Manager’s Office.
Also scheduled to appear is Educator and Author Dr. Kellie Carter Jackson, an associate professor in the department of Africana Studies at Wellesley College and author of the award-winning book, Force & Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence, listed by the Washington Post as one of 13 books to read on African American History.
All Worcester and surrounding community members are welcome to view the virtual event at no cost, beginning at 7:45 AM on January 17, on the QCC website.
The American Heart Association [AHA] recognized Reliant Medical Group for gold-level achievement in three clinical quality programs aimed at reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke through management of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol.
This is the second consecutive year Reliant received AHA recognition.
Gold level in the 2021 Target: BP Recognition Program recognizes Reliant and other physician practices across the country that have 70 percent or more of their adult patient’s BP controlled.
The Type 2 Diabetes Gold Award recognizes practices that have improved the quality of care through awareness, detection, and management of type 2 diabetes by educating and empowering patients with evidence-based information and tools.
Gold-level recognition in the 2021 Check. Change. Control. Cholesterol program recognizes healthcare systems for improving quality of care through awareness, detection, and management of high cholesterol.
With bitter cold temperatures heading our way, Massachusetts State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey reminds residents to “Keep Warm, Keep Safe” and avoid fire and carbon monoxide hazards while heating their homes this week.
“Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are your first line of defense,” State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said. “They should be installed on every floor of the residence and tested monthly to be sure they’re working properly. If an alarm is ‘chirping’ due to low batteries, replace the batteries right away – don’t disable the alarm. If the alarm is more than 10 years old, it’s time to replace it.”
“It’s important to keep space heaters at least three feet from curtains, bedding, and anything else that can burn,” State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said. “Plug them directly into a wall socket, not an extension cord or a power strip, and remember that they’re for temporary use. Always turn a space heater off when you leave the room or go to sleep.”
When purchasing a space heater, select one that’s been tested and labeled by a nationally recognized testing company, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Newer space heaters should have an automatic shut-off switch that turns the device off if it tips over. Unvented kerosene space heaters are illegal for sale and use in Massachusetts, officials said: the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning that they pose is too great.
Fireplaces, woodstoves, and pellet stoves should also be used safely. Open the dampener before lighting a fire; use only dry, seasoned wood; don’t use flammable liquids to start the fire; and keep a three-foot “circle of safety” around the fireplace or stove free of anything that can burn. Shovel ashes from the stove or fireplace into a metal bucket with a metal lid and place it outside on the ground away from the building. Officials recommend having the chimney inspected and flue cleaned at the beginning of the heating season: most chimney fires occur because of a build-up of creosote, a tarry byproduct of burning wood.
If you have a furnace, water heater, or oil burner with a pilot light, keep the three-foot “circle of safety” clear of anything that could catch fire, and don’t store gasoline, painting supplies, or other flammable solvents in the home: their vapors can be ignited by a pilot light. These heating systems should be checked each year, as well. If you smell gas, don’t use any electrical switches or devices: get out, stay out, and call 9-1-1 right away.
“Carbon monoxide is the #1 cause of fatal poisonings, and home heating equipment is the leading source of carbon monoxide in the home,” State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said. “We can’t see, smell, or taste carbon monoxide, but CO alarms can alert you to the danger. If your CO alarm activates, leave the residence and call 9-1-1.
Everyone should have a home escape plan that accounts for two ways out of every room, and everyone should be able to open the doors and windows along the way. Remember that children, older adults, and people with disabilities may need extra assistance.
The Department of Fire Services offers a wealth of home heating safety information, including the “Keep Warm, Keep Safe” tool kit for local fire departments and care providers, on the DFS web site.