Transportation workers can sign up for COVID vaccine March 22

Certain workers in Massachusetts will be eligible to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments as part of Phase 2, effective this coming Monday, March 22.

For a complete list of worker categories in this eligibility group, visit the Massachusetts government website related to vaccinations. This information is current as of Wednesday, March 17 and is subject to change.

Worker categories include, but are not limited to…

Food, meatpacking, beverage, agriculture, consumer goods, retail, or food service workers – All staff involved in the production, processing, storage, transport, wholesale and retail sale, preparation, and service of food and consumer goods, including farm and other agricultural workers, including farm stand and nurseries.

Medical supply chain workers – Workers directly involved in the manufacturing and production, packaging, transport, quality control, and sale of materials critical to the delivery of medical care.

Vaccine development workers – Workers directly involved in research, development, manufacturing and production, packaging, transport, quality control, and sale of vaccines (COVID-19 and others).

Transit/transportation workers – Drivers/operators, attendants, sales, administrators, maintenance staff, public and private bus, train/subway, passenger boat/ferries, passenger air, and automobile (including rental car, car service/limousine, taxi, and ride apps) transportation, bridge and road construction and maintenance workers, shipping port and terminal workers, commercial transportation.

Public works, water, wastewater, or utility workers – Utility: Electrical generation and supply system, natural gas delivery, nuclear power plant, water supply, telephone, cable/fiber optical/broadband/cellular service workers Public works including street repair, street lighting, public park, beach, and trail maintenance workers.

Sanitation workers – Drivers, solid waste handlers, recycling staff, street cleaners, sewer and storm water system workers

How to Schedule

Register in advance…

  • Preregister at VaccineSignUp.mass.gov to be notified when it’s your turn to schedule an appointment at one of 7 mass vaccination locations: Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium, Reggie Lewis Center, DoubleTree Hotel in Danvers, Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Natick Mall and former Circuit City in Dartmouth.

or

  • Use VaxFinder.mass.gov to search for appointments at pharmacies, health care providers, and other community locations

RMV implements further federal credential extensions through May

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) has implemented further Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) extensions to the renewal timelines for expiring Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs), Commercial Learner’s Permits (CLPs), and CDL Medical Certificates.

This extension does not apply to any CDL or CPL holders whose privileges were suspended or revoked for traffic offenses, or to non-domiciled CDL or CLP holders whose lawful presence has expired.

Credential Extensions

  • All CDLs and CLPs that expire between March 1, 2020 and May 30, 2021 will remain valid until May 31, 2021
    • CLP holders do not need to retake the general or endorsement knowledge tests if their permits originally expired during this time and have been extended.

CDL Medical Certificates

  • Certificates that expire between December 1, 2020 and May 30, 2021 will expire on May 31, 2021.
  • Commercial drivers must self-certify prior to the expiration date listed above or their CDLs will be downgraded to Class D licenses.

CDL Road Tests

  • The RMV has also waived the 14-day road test waiting period until May 31, 2021.

These changes are part of the continuing effort by the RMV to minimize in-person interaction between customers, RMV Service Center staff, and associated business partners.

Note

  • This is the last extension implemented by the RMV unless declared by the FMCSA.
  • The RMV is sending emails next week to commercial drivers informing them of the most recent extensions.

FMCSA extends Medical Exam waivers again

FMCSA issued another extension to the previous CDL/CLP and Medical Examination waivers that were set to expire the end of this month. This waiver becomes effective on March 1, 2021 and expires on May 31, 2021. Please read the specific provisions below, as the dates and applicability vary. As with the previous extensions, state drivers licensing agencies (SDLAs) have the authority to exercise discretion in extending these dates, consistent with the outline below. Carriers and drivers should check with the SDLA to confirm their state’s expiration periods.

For CDL/CLP Drivers, the waiver will:

  • Waive until May 31, 2021, the maximum period of CDL validity for CDLs due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020;
  • Waive until May 31, 2021, the maximum period of CLP validity for CLPs that are due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020, without requiring the CLP holders to retake the general and endorsement knowledge tests;
  • Waive until May 31, 2021, the requirement that CLP holders wait 14 days to take the CDL skills test;

Medical Requirements for CDL/CLP and non-CDL drivers:

  • This notice will waive, until May 31, 2021, the requirement that CDL holders, CLP holders, and non-CDL drivers have a medical examination and certification, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification and any required medical variance that were issued for a period of 90 days or longer and that expired on or after December 1, 2020.
  • This notice will also waive, until May 31, 2021, the requirement that, in order to maintain the medical certification status of “certified,” CDL or CLP holders provide the SDLA with an original or copy of a subsequently issued medical examiner’s certificate and any required medical variance, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after December 1, 2020.

For State Driver License Agencies (SDLA):

  • This notice waives, until May 31, 2021, the requirement that the SDLA change the CDL or CLP holder’s medical certification status to “not certified” upon the expiration of the medical examiner’s certificate or medical variance, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after December 1, 2020. Additionally, the notice waives certain requirements with regards to SDLAs downgrading a driver’s CDL or CLP upon expiration of the medical examiner’s certificate or medical variance, provided the SDLAs have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after December 1, 2020.

NOTE—in the notice, FMCSA reiterates that the extension “permits, but does not require” states to extend the validity periods and processes referenced above. This ultimately means that a SDLA may choose not to extend the validity periods, based on the operational status within their state. The full waiver notice can be found here. Carriers and drivers should review this waiver, and confirm with the SDLA, to ensure all terms, conditions, and restrictions are met.

Additionally, FMCSA also announced extension of waivers related to CLP holders operating with a CDL driver in the front seat, out of state CDL applicant testing, and third-party knowledge testing.

[Update] Massachusetts truck drivers and COVID vaccine

Updated Feb. 9 at 2 p.m. ET

While we were initially told Massachusetts truck drivers were included in Phase 2, Group 3, we have been informed this is not the case. At this time, truck drivers do not have any favorable status. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has also informed us they will not be reviewing requests from any groups concerning vaccine availability until at least until April.

TAM will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as they become available.

The original post from Feb. 1 is below.

[Original post starts here.] The Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirms Truck Drivers in Massachusetts will be in Phase 2, Group 3, Transit. They advise to monitor, When can I get the COVID-19 Vaccine? | Mass.gov webpage, for the latest information on the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan. At this time, the Department of Public Health is not scheduling appointments directly.

Phase 2 will launch Feb. 1.

  • First group is now 75 and older
  • Second group is now 65+ or individuals of any age with two co-morbidities as outlined by the CDC. Please remember it is only the diagnosis that puts an individual “at increased risk” grouping, not the “may put at risk” grouping on the CDC website – Certain Medical Conditions and Risk for Severe COVID-19 Illness | CDC. Start date for this group is TBD and based on availability of vaccines.
  • The rest of the phases remains as two additional groups
    • Early education and K-12 workers, transit, utility, food and agriculture, sanitation, public works, and public health workers,
    • Individuals with one comorbidity.

Additional information will be forthcoming regarding groups within this phase, timing, vaccination access and clinics. Groups are placed sequentially within each Phase. You will also be able to check with your primary care provider or local pharmacy. Your primary care provider and local pharmacy may also have additional information at that time.

Phase 3, once the vaccine is available to the public, which is projected to be in April, vaccine clinics will be available on the CDC’s interactive website: vaccinefinder.org.

Please monitor COVID-19 Vaccine in Massachusetts | Mass.gov for updates to the COVID-19 Vaccine Plan.

Second COVID-19 relief package expected soon

The US House of Representatives is set to pass a second COVID-19 relief package – totaling about $900 billion – on Monday night [Dec. 21]. The coronavirus relief is wrapped into a $2.4 trillion spending package. From Forbes.

This proposed bill is being enacted to correct a number of problems that PPP borrowers have had, and also opens the door to new opportunities for borrowers who were not treated as well under the previous program.

The broad parameters concerning the business side of the legislation are generally not surprising, though there are important details still outstanding:

  • PPP first and second draw loans are included . It appears there will be a $284 billion pot for all PPP loans. The maximum loan size for any PPP loan will be $2 million. Additional qualifying expenses for PPP loan forgiveness include computing software to enable remote work for employees, property damage from the public unrest earlier this year, supplier costs of essential goods or services in effect at the time the PPP loan was applied for, and costs related to PPE and adaptive investments made to comply with local governmental mandates. Authority for the SBA to issue PPP first and second loans expires March 31, 2020. PPP loans that are under $150,000 shall have a simplified loan forgiveness application.
  • In order to qualify for a second draw PPP loan, a business may not have more than 300 employees, have spent or will spend their first PPP loan, and demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts against same 2019 quarter.
  • The bill allows businesses to deduct expenses associated with their forgiven PPP loans- though we are not sure if there’s a cap on the size of the loan that you can be permitted to deduct (I saw one report of a $150k cap, which wouldn’t be great for us)
  • PPP eligibility expanded to 501(c)(6) entities with some restrictions. A 501c6 is eligible for a PPP loan if it does not receive more than 15% (up from 10% in “908” of its receipts from lobbying. Lobbying activities cannot compromise more than 15% of the activities of the entity, and the cost of lobbying activities of the organization did not total more than $ 1 million during the most recent tax year that ended Feb. 15, 2020. Finally, to be eligible for a PPP loan, a 501(c)(6) cannot have more than 300 employees.
  • Business meals will be fully deductible for the next two years (2021-2022). Currently there is only a 50% deduction for such expenses.
  • The Employee Retention Credit is extended to June 30, 2021. Beginning in January 2021, the new credit rate rises from 50% to 70% of qualified wages. The legislation also expands eligibility for the credit by reducing the required year-over-year gross receipts decline from 50% to a 20% decline.
  • The agreement would also temporarily allow people receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit and the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit to use their 2019 incomes when applying for the payments. Because the credits are linked to how much people earn, that would help those who’ve seen their incomes fall in the wake of the pandemic.
  • Direct payments: Individuals making up to $75,000 a year will receive a payment of $600, while couples making up to $150,000 will receive $1,200, in addition to $600 per child. The deal also makes the stimulus checks more accessible to immigrant families.
  • Employers who receive Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans may still qualify for the ERTC with respect to wages that are not paid for with forgiven PPP proceeds . This is retroactive to enactment of the CARES Act.

Updated FMCSA COVID-19 guidance

Please see the attached waivers, Notices of Enforcement Discretion Decision (NEDDs), and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), which update FMCSA’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) guidance previously issued on Sept. 18.

These waivers are posted at the links below and allow carriers and SDLAs to continue to adapt to the pressing issues related to physically distancing and COVID-19 in light of the continuing public health emergency.

These waivers, NEDDs, and FAQs have been updated to extend the expiration date to Feb. 28, 2021, and include the following:

Boyle Transportation on moving COVID-19 vaccine

In a recent CNBC interview, Andrew Boyle, co-president of Boyle Transportation, discussed the recent rollout of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Boyle Transportation is working with UPS to distribute the vaccine. Boyle was interviewed on the Worldwide Exchange program with Dominic Chu.

Diesel tax revenue for states steady during pandemic

From Transport Topics.

Though the loss of revenue from gasoline taxes ultimately caused a steep decline in funding streams that states badly need, the financial picture from diesel tax revenue generated by trucking looks less bleak. That’s because when others stayed home and avoided filling up their tanks, truckers kept hauling and purchasing diesel — pumping money into states’ accounts.

Read the full article at Transport Topics.

FMCSA clarifies ag products that qualify for hours-of-service exemptions

From Heavy Duty Trucking online.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published an interim final rule clarifying agricultural commodity and livestock definitions in hours-of-service regulations.

During harvesting and planting seasons as determined by each state, drivers transporting agricultural commodities, including livestock, are exempt from the HOS requirements from the source of the commodities to a location within a 150-air-mile radius from the source. In addition, the requirement for a 30-minute rest break does not apply to drivers transporting livestock in interstate commerce.

However, the agency found that the definition of those terms was not well-understood and enforced consistently when determining whether the HOS exemption applies.

The clarifications will primarily affect transporters of perishable horticultural commodities, non-processed food, and aquatic animals.

ATA reports FMCSA Emergency Declaration Expansion and Extension

FMCSA has announced that they have expanded and extended the Emergency Declaration that was set to expire on December 31st. A PDF of the declaration is available online here. This extension includes the same regulatory relief for motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to COVID-19, as included in the September 11th modified and extended declaration. The primary change with this current declaration is the inclusion of vaccine transportation.

The expanded declaration published today is limited to the transportation of:

  • Livestock and livestock feed;
  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;
  • Vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention of COVID-19;
  • Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants, and;
  • Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.

Please note, this expanded declaration became effective at 12:00 A.M. December 1st, and expires on February 28th, 2021.

As with previous declarations, emergency regulatory relief is provided from parts 390 through 399 of the FMCSRs, including the hours-of-service regulations. Emergency relief does not include certain FMCSR’s related to the safe operation of CMVs, such as controlled substance and alcohol testing, financial responsibility requirements, CDL requirements, operation of a CMV while ill or fatigued, size and weight requirements, and additional FMCSR’s which are outlined in the declaration.

We encourage everyone to review the applicability, restrictions, and limitations which are included in the exemption posted to the FMCSA’s website.