When I have questions about COVID-19, there are several people I go to for answers. One of them is Cheryl Bartlett, the CEO of the New Bedford Community Health Center and a former Commissioner of Public Health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

During an interview this week on Townsquare Sunday, Bartlett told me the latest variant of the virus (Omicron subvariant BA.2) appears to be equally contagious as the initial Omicron variant, but it doesn't seem to make people as sick.

According to Bartlett, the new variant is being blamed for about half the new cases of COVID in New England.

"People should be cautious; when people gather indoors in large groups they should continue to wear masks," she said. "Caution is the word of the day till we see this virus settle down."

She added that vaccines are still the best medicines we have to combat the virus.

Congressman William Keating (D-Massachusetts) recently announced a $2 million federal grant for the New Bedford Community Health Center.

Bartlett said the funding will be used to update the center's electronic record-keeping and to provide telehealth services for their patients.

Also on tap are plans to build a new entrance for the Health Center at the rear of the building. Bartlett said $2 million may not be enough to complete both jobs, but she's already on the lookout for grant money to finish the projects.

Her Townsquare Sunday interview can be heard here:

Townsquare Sunday is a weekly public affairs program heard every Sunday morning at 6 and 11 a.m. on 1420 WBSM and 99.5 FM. The program highlights individuals and organizations seeking to make Greater New Bedford a better place to live and work.

If you would like your organization featured on Townsquare Sunday, please e-mail the host at jim.phillips@townsquaremedia.com.

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