COVID cases climbing in region; Hampshire County at ‘substantial’ level of community transmission

  • Dr. Manjul Shukla transfers Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at a mobile vaccination clinic in Worcester, Mass. Pfizer said Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, that a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine may protect against the new omicron variant even though the initial two doses appear significantly less effective. AP

Staff Writer
Published: 12/12/2021 1:44:27 PM
Modified: 12/12/2021 1:43:50 PM

COVID-19 case numbers are climbing in the Pioneer Valley and throughout Massachusetts as the entire state is again experiencing a “high” level of community transmission, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One month ago, both Hampshire and Franklin counties were experiencing “substantial” community transmission, one level below “high.” The CDC recommends everyone wear a mask in indoor public places throughout Massachusetts.

The state Department of Public Health’s Dec. 8 report showed 5,402 new cases of COVID-19 statewide since the previous week.

The CDC reported 550 new cases in Hampshire County since Dec. 2, a 78% jump from the previous week, and fewer than 10 deaths. More than 74% of eligible people have received at least one shot of vaccine and 62.3% are fully vaccinated.

In Franklin County, there were 304 new cases since Dec. 2, a 36% increase over the previous week, and fewer than 10 deaths. More than 76% of eligible people have received at least one shot of vaccine and 63% are fully vaccinated.

Data from DPH show that from Nov. 21 to Dec. 4, Holyoke saw 351 new cases of coronavirus, while there were 147 in Greenfield, 108 in Northampton, 99 in Easthampton, 70 in Montague and 67 in Southampton.

On Friday, the Amherst Health Department reported 154 active cases.

The latest CDC weekly data show that testing dropped 25% in Hampshire County and 21% in Franklin County since the prior week.

Children age 5-17 can get the Pfizer vaccine and anyone over 18 can receive any vaccine. DPH recommends vaccine booster shots for everyone 16 and older who lives, works or studies in Massachusetts, and 1.44 million boosters have been administered so far in the state.

Since the start of the pandemic, 16,876 people in Massachusetts have died of COVID-19. Statewide, DPH reported 1,204 active hospitalizations on Dec. 8 with 252 patients in intensive care units and 144 on ventilators.

The Baker administration released new guidance on Friday ordering hospitals to reduce nonessential and elective services and procedures by 50% in response to “a critical staffing shortage which has contributed to the loss of approximately 500 medical/surgical and ICU hospital beds.” In a statement, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services said that “hospitals are also seeing a high level of patients, mostly due to non-COVID related reasons.”

The administration had already ordered a 30% reduction on Nov. 23.

Brian Steele can be reached at bsteele@gazettenet.com.

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