Expert Says Massachusetts Is Facing A Third Surge Of COVID-19 | WAMC

Expert Says Massachusetts Is Facing A Third Surge Of COVID-19

Mar 29, 2021

Dr. Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health said Massachusetts is seeing a new surge in COVID-19 cases with the infections mostly occurring in young people who have not been vaccinated.
Credit Paul Tuthill / WAMC

     In what some see as the start of a Spring surge, coronavirus infections are again on the rise in Massachusetts.

   Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city of Springfield soared more than 42 percent last week from just the week before, climbing from 310 cases to 546.

    Statewide, the seven-day average of new daily cases is 1,500 up from 1,100 cases just a few weeks ago.  The test positivity rate has climbed to 2.35 percent.  The number of communities considered statistically to be at high risk for the virus spreading is at 32 – more than double the number two weeks ago.

   "The virus is not done with us and the virus will not be done with us until the great majority of us are either vaccinated or infected," said Dr. Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health.

     He said this latest surge  is marked by infections predominately in young unvaccinated people. 

   There are more highly contagious variants of the virus around and people are less careful about following public health guidance.

   "Air travel is at its highest level since before the pandemic," said Keroack. "There are more gatherings and more gatherings without masks and that is obviously trouble, as we all know."

    The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the Baystate network Monday was 78 –30 more patients than two weeks ago.   At Mercy Medical Center in Springfield 13 people were being treated tor COVID-19 Monday, an increase of three in the patient count from last week.

    COVID patients requiring intensive care at both hospital is relatively low with seven at Baystate and two at Mercy.

     Despite the huge jump in cases last week in Springfield, there were no deaths from COVID-19 recorded.  232 Springfield residents have died since the start of the pandemic.

     The surge in new cases comes as vaccinations are picking up in Massachusetts. About 50,000 doses of vaccine are being put in arms each day in the state.

     Last week, 1,144 people were vaccinated at a series of neighborhood clinics in Springfield.  Almost 75 percent of the people who were vaccinated at the clinics are from the neighborhoods and are people of color, according to Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris.  

     "When we went into our neighborhoods, the response has been very positive," said Caulton-Harris.

      She said the clinics met the objective to vaccinate people who lacked the means to get to the large-scale vaccination site at the Eastfield Mall.

     A statewide program launched Monday to bring vaccines to an estimated 25,000 people who are homebound because of medical conditions or other circumstances.  

     This program will use the one shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.

     People can call 2-1-1 to find out if they are eligible and schedule an appointment.