CDC: You can stop doing that now

You know all that disinfecting you’ve been doing at your place of work or at home?
You can stop doing it, the CDC said yesterday.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that while it’s possible to become infected from contaminated surfaces, the risk is low.
“Disinfection is only recommended in indoor settings, schools and homes where there has been a suspected or confirmed case of Covid-19, within the last 24 hours,” Walensky said.
Fogging, fumigation and electrostatic spraying is not recommended as a primary method of disinfection and actually carries several safety risks.
Wearing masks consistently and correctly and handwashing remains everyone's best bet.
Other than that, clean once a day with soap or detergent when no one who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID has been in a space.
But disinfecting? Been there. Done that.
Commuter rail changes strands Newton riders
The MBTA’s new commuter rail schedule went into place yesterday and its becoming clear that Newton has drawn the short end of the stick.
Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller says the new schedule, "severely" limits the ability of Newton residents to get into Boston during the day and doesn't allow commuters from Boston to get to Newton until after noon, reports Jenna Fisher at Newton Patch.
"The revised Commuter Rail Service schedule for the Worcester Line came as a surprise to us as there was no public input or communication," Fuller wrote in a letter to the MBTA.
"The City of Newton recognized immediately that much of our region will experience improved Commuter Rail service, but not Newton."
Fuller is calling on the MBTA to either restore or augment the schedule times for trains stopping in Newton or to re-instate express buses from these station areas as a workaround as the MBTA works to speed up permanent improvements to platforms in Newton to provide regular commuter rail service to Newton.
If this new schedule has impacted you or your employees please send me an email.
Vaccine eligible pool expands
An additional one million Massachusetts residents became eligible for COVID vaccines yesterday.
The expanded pool includes those 55-plus as well as an expanded list of medical conditions, including being overweight or a former smoker.
In addition, about 90 percent of the state's elementary schools returned to full-time, in-person learning yesterday.
Walgreens adjusts second dose schedule
Walgreens has agreed to adjust its second dose vaccination scheduling, after inoculating hundreds of thousands of Americans with the Pfizer vaccine against the prescribed schedule. 
Individuals are supposed to get their two Pfizer doses three weeks apart. But Walgreens separated appointments by four weeks, according to the New York Times.
There is no evidence that separating the doses by an extra week decreases the vaccine’s effectiveness.
The CDC recommends a three-week gap, although the agency says it is acceptable to separate the doses by up to six weeks if needed.
New Rep's interim leader to pick up where Bobbitt left off
Watertown’s New Repertory Theatre has selected a veteran arts administrator to serve as its interim artistic director.
M. Bevin O’Gara is replacing former artistic director Michael Bobbitt, who left New Rep to head the Mass Cultural Council.
O’Gara takes the helm during a time of huge uncertainty, writes the Globe’s Don Aucoin. She will be tasked with figuring out when and how to reopen after a year when virtually all theaters have been decimated. New Rep has lost a projected $1.3 million since last March.
Under Bobbitt, New Rep had reinvented itself, making diversity and racial equity central to its mission.  O’Gara tells Aucoin she plans to continue the work Bobbitt began.
“I love what Michael has said in the New Repertory Theatre statement about diversity being an act of love,” she said.
Wellesley establishes Indigenous Peoples Day
Wellesley’s Select Board voted 4-1 last night to designate the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples Day.
Wellesley voters endorsed a nonbinding referendum to make the change away from Columbus Day last month.
Need to knows
  • The City of Newton, in partnership with the Town of Needham, and the MassTrails grant program is looking into reusing or replacing the rail bridge that connects Christina Street in Newton with Needham Crossing for use as a fully accessible, shared-use bicycle and pedestrian connection. They’ve created a great video that explains the project and a survey to collect input.
  • Watertown is exploring changing from a town manager (with an elected town council) to having and elected mayor (and elected council). The charter revision proposal will be discussed at a meeting tonight (April 6) at 6 p.m. via zoom and WCATV.
  • LabShares Newton’s monthly Lunch@LabShares virtual networking event on Thursday April 8th at noon will feature Monika Vnuk, Vice President of Worldwide Business Development for Pfizer Inc. Email to reserve a spot.
  • A four-story 25 unit building has been proposed for 1149-1151 Walnut in Newton Highlands. Renderings here and see other docs here. The Land Use Committee will hear about the proposal tonight (April 6) at 7 p.m.. Agenda and zoom link.
Marty Walsh calls for BC LGBTQ+ resource center
US Secretary of Labor and former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has signed a petition calling for Boston College to create an LGBTQ+ resource center on campus and include gender identity in the University’s nondiscrimination policy, according to BC Students 4 Equality and Walsh’s office.
Students at BC have a decades-long history of advocating for an LGBTQ+ resource center and increased support from the university. The BC Heights has more.
Legislation freezes UI, avoids PPP taxes
Governor Baker signed a bill last week that included several provisions of importance to employers and workers:
  • Freezes an unemployment taxes increase for the next two years. Otherwise the tax was expected to climb nearly 60 percent.
  • Eliminates the five percent state income tax on PPP loans for pass-through entities (including LLCs, S Corps, & partnerships).
  • Authorizes a new bond of up to $7 billion to pay the debt the state took from the federal government to cover unemployment insurance.
  • Eliminates state taxes on unemployment benefits and extends the deadline to pay state income tax on UI benefits.
  • Creates a hardship waiver that eliminates state taxes on unemployment benefits. Individuals with household incomes equal to or less than $25,760 (1 person).
Small biz grants go to Newton businesses
Newton has awarded $302,000 in small business economic recovery grants to 27 Newton brick and mortar businesses.
The majority of the awards, which come from federal COVID funds, went to restaurants or personal service establishments, sectors which have suffered disproportionately. Awardees also included retailers, youth focused enterprises and a dance studio.
Coming soon: An easy way to support locals through catering
As companies prepare to go back to the office, or others begin looking for safe ways to provide meals for groups, the chamber’s Newton-Needham Dining Collaborative is exploring ways to make it easy to place catering orders locally.
Watch for an announcement soon about, Easy Eats, a one-stop shop for you to browse catering options for any occasion and any time using local independent restaurants and caterers.
Tomorrow, Needham’s big night
Finally, this morning, if you’re from Needham, have a business in Needham, work in Needham, have clients or customers from Needham, or just like the place (who doesn’t), please join us tomorrow night for our annual Needham Night Celebration.
Yes, it’s virtual this year but, given the year we’ve just had, we’re more than a little excited about the businesses and individuals we’ll be honoring with our annual awards. 
Following the award presentations, we'll split off into breakout rooms to connect with fellow members of the Needham community. 
It’s free and starts a 7 p.m.
OK, have a good day. Be back tomorrow. And please don't take more ketchup packets than you need okay?
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.

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