Sen. Warren returns to New Bedford, touting $3.9M for waterfront vaccines

SE Mass

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren made her first visit to New Bedford in more than two years on Wednesday, touring a new federally funded vaccination center and expressing gratitude to essential workers in the food sector.

Warren joined Mayor Jon Mitchell to inspect a waterfront building that the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center is turning into a vaccination site designed to serve employees in the nearby fish processing plants. It will begin offering Johnson & Johnson doses on April 10.

“This center is about protecting our essential workers,” Warren said. “It is about treating our fishermen with respect. It is about treating our food workers with respect.”

The Community Health Center has received a $3.9 million grant under the newly enacted American Rescue Plan Act that will help cover the cost of the vaccination site. The building where the shots will be administered is on Hervey Tichon Avenue, and was recently given to the city by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which had been using it for the Superfund cleanup of New Bedford Harbor.

“This center is a way of saying thank you, and opening up vaccinations so they are here, for the people who have been here for the rest of America over the past year,” Warren said.

Mitchell said New Bedford leaders have been focused throughout the pandemic on avoiding large-scale outbreaks of coronavirus inside the fish houses, pointing to the “calamities” that struck some meatpacking plants in the Midwest last year.

“We’ve worked very hard to protect our waterfront workers over the last year,” Mitchell said. “We’ve put in place some of the strictest workplace rules in the country.”

Warren, a Democrat who won a second six-year Senate term in 2018, had not held a public event in New Bedford since a pre-election rally that year. The 71-year-old’s profile has grown significantly since then, mainly due to her unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Wednesday’s visit was part of a series of events that Warren is holding this week in communities across Massachusetts while the Senate is in recess. The senator argued she remains focused on her home state, no matter how much time she spends on national-level policy, and described herself as “deeply connected” to Bay State voters.

“I am grateful that they have sent me to Washington to fight on their behalf, and I try to honor their faith in me every single day,” she said.

Asked about balancing her responsibilities, Warren said, “Each of us has a job to do. The mayor does a wonderful job. Our state legislators are out there doing hard work. Our job in Washington is to try to get the resources together to help out in a time of crisis. And to try to get the resources in place to make the investments to build a stronger future for this country.”

“That’s the fight I’ve been in for nine years now,” she added.

Congressman Bill Keating and multiple state legislators joined Warren and Mitchell for the tour. Also on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey’s office announced that Massachusetts will receive an additional $23 million in fisheries disaster funds from the federal appropriations act enacted last December.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram

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