Haverhill High Graduates 484 with Pandemic Memories Looming Large Over Public Ceremony

Haverhill graduated 484 seniors Friday night in as large a public gathering as the city has allowed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. The stark change hit home as the Class of 2021 honored one of the school’s own, 19-year-old Logan Todd, who became Haverhill’s youngest victim of the disease when he died this past January. “A year ago, Logan was first in line in a wheel chair when I presented him with a graduation certificate of achievement,” recalled Mayor James J. Fiorentini. “Logan was a young man who, despite his disabilities, smiled every day and every day put a smile on the face of everyone who met him.”

The mayor gave Todd’s brothers, Myles and Lucas Panneton, an honorary diploma for the young man. He further noted the city lost its 105th victim the day before.

Groveland Residents May Receive Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Next Monday

Groveland residents who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 are being invited to receive the one-dose Johnson and Johnson shot next Monday. A clinic takes place Monday, June 7, from 10 a.m. to noon, at A.W. Chesterton, 860 Salem St. It is open to anyone 18 and older and there is no charge

“While signs are trending positive, increasing the number of vaccinated residents increases the chance of community immunity,” said Groveland Selectman William O’Neil. Online preregistration is required here.

Sen. DiZoglio Vows to Fight On for Continuing Restaurant Protections After Amendments Fail

Sen. Diana DiZoglio is vowing to fight on for restaurant protections during the post-COVID-19 era despite the Senate shooting down her efforts in a series of voice votes this week. DiZoglio filed budget amendments that would extend takeout cocktail and caps on the fees that delivery apps charge restaurants, along with other measures involving pay for legislative staffers. “I’m pushing non-stop until it’s done,” DiZoglio told WHAV Wednesday. She explained she will next try to add it to the June 3 bill in response to Gov. Charlie Baker lifting his state of emergency. “Whatever it takes,” she added.

Elder Services Receives State Contract to Build COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence and Access

Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore was one of 25 community-based organizations to receive a state contract as part of the Massachusetts Vaccine Equity Initiative to increase awareness and access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the 20 cities and towns hardest hit by the pandemic. The contracts are part of the Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration’s investment of $27.4 million in federal money announced in March. “With the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines, we have hosted vaccination clinics and supported the clinics of our community partners to ensure as many people as possible are vaccinated,” said Elder Services’ CEO Joan Hatem-Roy. “This contract allows us to expand that work in the areas hardest hit by the pandemic.”

Under the contract, Elder Services will target Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell and Methuen to increase trust in the vaccine’s safety and efficacy, especially in communities of color; identify and reduce barriers for accessing the vaccine; and increase vaccine access through existing vaccination locations and mobile vaccination options. “Our services will be delivered in concert with existing community vaccine distribution programs and through new initiatives by bilingual and bicultural staff and community health workers, who have experience serving priority populations,” said Hatem-Roy.

Haverhill to Bring Back In-Person Independence Day Holiday Fireworks and Celebration

In another sign of normalcy, Haverhill’s annual Independence Day fireworks celebration returns Friday, July 2, after being cancelled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayor James J. Fiorentini said more details about festivities and fireworks show will be released soon. “I have been saying for some time that my goal was to have a live firework show in Haverhill this summer,” Fiorentini said. “With the governor lifting the state of emergency, I am very pleased that we are going to be able to do it. There will be live fireworks,” Fiorentini said.

DiZoglio Wants Restaurant Benefits, such as Beverage Take Out, to Continue After COVID-19 Pandemic

Sen. Diana DiZoglio wants the state to keep in place certain benefits that helped restaurants during the lockdowns caused by COVID-19. DiZoglio specifically seeks to keep beverage take-out and delivery options for restaurants and limits on third-party delivery costs after Gov. Charlie Baker’s state of emergency ends. DiZoglio wrote this week to Senate President Karen E. Spilka and House Speaker Ron Mariano, calling for two of her bills to advance through the legislature. While DiZoglio filed amendments to the state budget to keep the benefits, she said they won’t be signed into law until well after the end of the state of emergency. “These measures were critical to helping our small businesses remain afloat in the face of the pandemic—and remain just as essential to them now, on the road to recovery,” said DiZoglio.

City Says ‘Use it or Lose it’ Free COVID-19 Testing This Saturday in Downtown Haverhill

City officials are urging residents to take advantage of free and local COVID-19 testing, saying, it’s a matter of “if you don’t use it, you may lose it.”

Free COVID-19 testing takes place every Saturday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Locke Street parking lot, off Winter Street, but the number of people being tested has dropped below 50 two weeks in a row. Mayor James J. Fiorentini is urging residents to take advantage of the local convenience before the state takes it away. “We are fortunate to have a free testing site that our residents can go to every Saturday if they need to get tested without leaving the city,” said Fiorentini. “The past two weeks we have dropped below the number of appointments we need for the state to keep the site, so please help us spread the word that this is the place to go if you need a test.”

The mayor made his remarks on the same day Gov. Charlie Baker said all coronavirus restrictions will be lifted Saturday, May 29, as the state is on track to meet the goal of vaccinating 4.1 million residents by the first week of June. Fiorentini warned, however, “We all look forward to the day when we don’t need a free testing site in Haverhill anymore, but I don’t think we are quite there yet.”

The testing site is next to Common Ground food pantry and behind Butch’s Uptown restaurant.

Haverhill Schools to Offer Two Student COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics for Those Age 12 and Up

Although the COVID-19 risk rating in Haverhill has dropped to yellow, school Superintendent Margaret Marotta says that has not carried over into the public schools. She told the Haverhill School Committee last Thursday night the number of students testing positive and the number of close contacts are both on the rise. She said, as a result, there will be an increase in COVID-19 testing in one of the schools. “There will be some testing tomorrow at the Nettle School for several classrooms of students because there were just so many close contacts that we really need to get ahead of that,” she said. She added she is pleased the Pfizer vaccine has now been approved for children over the age of 12.