After six weeks of declining new COVID-19 cases in Springfield, Massachusetts, there has been a slight surge.
Springfield recorded 593 confirmed new COVID-19 cases last week – an increase of 62 cases from the week before.
Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris said her office is “drilling down” the available data to find a cause for the increase in cases. There’s speculation it could be tied to people who ignored public health guidance and attended Super Bowl parties.
"Potentially, it could be a Super Bowl surge. We are not sure," said Caulton-Harris. " We do know that it is samll clusters of individuals gathering."
A majority of the new cases were in people under age 50. Caulton-Harris said there was also an increase in positive tests of students on some of the college campuses in the city.
Until last week the number of new COVID-19 cases in Springfield had been falling week over week after peaking at 1,177 new cases during the first week in January.
Speaking at Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno’s weekly COVID-19 response update, Caulton-Harris said it has been recently observed that some large retailers in the city are becoming lax in enforcing both face-covering requirements and the 40 percent of capacity cap on customers. She said no fines were assessed, but verbal warnings were made.
"We are still in a pandemic and we will still enforce the regulations put forth by the governor's office," said Caulton-Harris.
Sarno said he remains hopeful the state will allocate coronavirus vaccine to the city’s health department so that neighborhood clinics can be stood up.
" We would strategically place them at ten sites throughout the city of Springfield in our neighborhoods," said Sarno. "We're ready to go."
One of the state’s large-scale vaccination sites is located at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, but it is largely inaccessible to people who do not have access to a car. In discussing how the Baker administration plans to direct additional resources to Springfield and 19 other municipalities hit hard by the pandemic, transportation to vaccination sites has come up, said Sarno.
"We would more than happy to try to get those kind of assets here," said Sarno.
As of Monday, the city’s health department was in the process of totaling how many city residents have been vaccinated at the Eastfield Mall site.