Boston Marathon May Ask Athletes For Negative Virus Tests

BOSTON (AP) — Participants in this year's Boston Marathon may be required to show proof of up to two negative COVID-19 tests before the race even if they have been vaccinated, the Boston Athletic Association said Wednesday.

The historic race will also carry a new $25 fee to cover costs associated with preventing the spread of the coronavirus, and organizers are eliminating a staging area in Hopkinton where athletes traditionally mingle and stretch before the start of the race.

“The B.A.A. is committed to taking all necessary steps to ensure the health and safety of participants, volunteers and the public,” Tom Grilk, the organization’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “We will continue to follow the science and adapt the event plan to reflect guidance from our local, city and state partners.”

The BAA announced in January that the 125th edition of the marathon would be pushed back from its traditional April running to Oct. 11, assuming road races are allowed to take place under Massachusetts’ COVID-19 restrictions by then.

Organizers later announced the race would be capped at 20,000 participants to allow for social distancing along the course. A virtual option is also being offered for up to 70,000 athletes.

Officials said they would share more details on testing requirements “in the coming months.”

Instead of gathering at the traditional “Athletes’ Village” in Hopkinton, waves of participants will be bused to the starting line for their assigned take-off time, the BAA said.

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COUNTERFEIT MASKS

3M has filed a trademark and fraud lawsuit against a Florida company that’s accused of selling counterfeit surgical N95 masks to a Massachusetts hospital.

The suit alleges that MM Medical Supply sold tens of thousands of counterfeit 3M masks to South Shore Health System this year. The company led the hospital to believe it was an official 3M distributor, the suit says, and sold the masks at “exorbitantly inflated” prices.

It came to the attention of 3M after a worker at the Weymouth hospital noticed that the masks seemed off. He contacted 3M, which confirmed that the masks were fakes. The suit was filed March 31 in federal court in Florida.

Leigh Lane, chief finance officer for MM Medical Supply, said the lawsuit's claims are “entirely without merit.”

"We will be vigorously defending the lawsuit," Lane said.

The suit accuses the company of “pandemic profiteering,” saying it “not only jeopardizes the health and safety of those fighting the pandemic on the front lines, but also seeks to divert precious public and other funds from the purchase of genuine personal protective equipment.”

The company is seeking to have MM Medical Supply barred from selling fake 3M products and to turn over all profits from fraudulent sales. The suit says the money would be donated to COVID-19 relief efforts.

It’s one of more than 30 similar suits 3M has filed during the pandemic.

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VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS

The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 increased by about 2,200 Friday while the number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts rose by 9.

The new numbers pushed the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 17,031 since the start of the pandemic, while its confirmed caseload rose to about 616,000.

The true number of cases is likely higher because studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.

There were about 710 people reported hospitalized Friday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with about 170 in intensive care units.

The average age of those hospitalized was 61. There were an estimated 35,000 people with current active cases of COVID-19 in the state.

There were 9,014 probable or confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported in long-term care facilities.

More than 4.3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Massachusetts, including more than 2.6 million first doses and more than 1.5 million second doses.

More than 1.6 million people have been fully immunized.