Coronavirus infections are rising in Springfield, Massachusetts even as vaccines become more widely available.
While COVID-19 cases have fallen statewide in Massachusetts for three consecutive weeks after a new wave of infections crested in mid-March, Springfield has seen its weekly case counts climb during that time.
The city recorded 548 cases last week, an increase of 27. Springfield is one of 59 municipalities in Massachusetts still considered to be at high risk for community spread of the coronavirus, according to the latest weekly report from the state health department.
As it has been for several weeks now, the vast majority of the COVID-19 cases in Springfield are people under the age of 50 – with 57 percent of the new cases people age 30 and under.
With all adults in Massachusetts now eligible to book a vaccination appointment Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno urged people to do so.
" Get those shots in the arm, shots in the arm, shots in the arm," Sarno said at his weekly COVID-19 response briefing.
As the elderly and more people with underlying health conditions have become fully vaccinated in Massachusetts, the number of new deaths has steadily fallen since February. Springfield recorded no new COVID-19 deaths last week.
Dr. Robert Roose, Chief Medical Officer at Mercy Medical Center said the Springfield hospital and others in New England have recently seen an increase in patients under 30 who were not vaccinated and had no serious underlying health conditions and developed serious complications from COVID-19.
"The most likely reason for that is the B.1.1.7 variant, or another variant that is more infectious and could be more severe," said Roose. "I urge those who are not vaccinated to remain cautious."
As more people are now eligible to be vaccinated in Massachusetts, there are now more places to go for a shot. A regional collaborative vaccination site opened Tuesday at the Big E fairgrounds in West Springfield.
"It is incredibly encouraging at the hospital and throughout the community that the vaccination efforts are picking up pace," said Roose.
Springfield’s health department is administering second doses of the Moderna vaccine this week at several pop-up neighborhood vaccination clinics.
This Saturday, an inter-faith vaccination drive is scheduled at Saint John’s Congregational Church in Springfield.
"Twelve houses of worship came together and decided they wanted to vaccinate their worshipers together and that is what will happen this Saturday the 24th and we're very excited about that coming together," said Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris.
More than 7,000 doses of vaccine have been put in arms at neighborhood-based clinics.