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Neal hopes $1.9 trillion stimulus plan will be passed by mid-March

Representative Richard Neal.ERIN SCHAFF/The New York Times/file

Governor Charlie Baker said Monday that he believes the new call center launched to help residents aged 75 and older book appointments for their coronavirus vaccines has been “very successful,” and he urged eligible people to continue seeking appointments as the state seeks to get the treatment to more residents.

“A lot of people have called it, and a lot of people got appointments as a result, which is exactly what it was intended to do,” Baker said.

Baker also said there are still thousands of open appointments for eligible residents later this week at mass vaccination sites at Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, and the Eastfield Mall in Springfield.


Officials said Monday that there were 1,276 new confirmed coronavirus cases in Massachusetts, bringing the state’s total to 517,806. The Department of Public Health also reported 55 new confirmed coronavirus deaths, bringing the state’s total to 14,753.

The DPH said 58,439 people were estimated to have active cases of the potentially deadly virus, and 1,387 confirmed coronavirus patients were in the hospital.

Baker, a Republican, made his comments at a State House news conference with Democratic US Representative Richard Neal of Springfield, who said he believes Congress will pass a $1.9 trillion economic relief package by mid-March.

Noting that many people have lost their jobs amid the health crisis, Neal said, “We are going to make good on our promise of $2,000 checks, supplementing those based on what we did back in December, with an additional $1,400.”

He said there will be additional assistance for low-income families, and for people who have lost their jobs during the pandemic, supplementing unemployment payments by between $300 and 400 each week.

Additional priorities being addressed by the package include small business relief, shoring up multi-employer pension plans, aid to the elderly, and more funding to support safe school reopening, according to Neal.


Baker, speaking about the vaccine rollout, said a number of factors at the federal level, including possible approval of another vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, will have a bearing on the pace of inoculations in Massachusetts.

He stressed that state officials want to see as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible. He said the mass vaccination sites have been able to administer virtually all their doses in a timely manner.

“I think the goal here is to make sure that every appointment we have that’s available is taken by somebody who’s eligible,” Baker said. “And if there are open slots in certain places, those vaccines are going to go somewhere else. But the mass [vaccination] sites are basically batting almost 100 percent in terms of doses delivered and doses administered.”

Such sites are “by far the most successful performers we have in our vaccine delivery system right now in Massachusetts,” Baker said. “They have the ability more than most to scale up or scale down pretty quickly based on what their appointment schedule looks like.”

Baker contrasted the sites to long-term-care facilities, who in many cases have gotten more vaccine than they could distribute.

He said state officials were “able to along with a number of other states and help with some folks in Congress to get the feds to let us take some of the doses that had been going to that system, and redistribute them back into the community, so that they can be used in places where you get a higher administration rate.”


Martin Finucane of the Globe staff and correspondent Jeremy C. Fox contributed to this report.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.