The mayor of Springfield, Massachusetts Monday marked the one-year anniversary of weekly public status reports on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, who held his first COVID-19 update on March 16, 2020 and has not skipped a week since, began Monday’s briefing with several “thank-yous.” First, to his department heads and their families, the news media for covering the briefings, and, to the residents and business owners of Springfield.
"We appreciate your continued understanding and your patience and your cooperation as we defeat this COVID-19," Sarno said.
When Sarno stepped in front of the cameras and microphones to deliver that initial briefing a year ago there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Springfield. In the last year, the city has recorded 18,473 cases with 227 deaths.
" My thoughts and prayers and sympathies and encouragements go out to the affected families," Sarno said.
New weekly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Springfield appear to have plateaued. There were 326 cases last week, down slightly from 391 the week before and 414 cases two weeks ago.
The number of new weekly cases is down 72 percent since a peak of more than 1,100 cases in the first week of January. But Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris cautioned the risk of infection in Springfield remains high.
" Springfield is still in the red zone and so we continue to need everybody to work with us in our city, all of our residents, to make sure you are following good public health practice," Caulton-Harris said.
Efforts continue to vaccinate more Springfield residents against COVID-19. Fifty-nine percent of Springfield residents over the age of 75 have received at least one dose of vaccine. But only 8 percent of city residents between the ages of 65 and 74 have received a shot.
The city has scheduled pop-up vaccination clinics in four city neighborhoods.
"We will be standing up different sites," said Caulton-Harris. She said the city plans to make some sites available for vaccinations for several months at a time.
To promote the efficacy of coronavirus vaccinations and pushback on misinformation, Sarno appointed a task force of medical professionals and community leaders – dubbed the “Springfield Vax Force.” The group is holding a virtual town hall Tuesday night.
"There are an amazing group of professionals who will be taking questions and giving information," Caulton-Harris said.
The town hall will be broadcast on Focus Springfield Community Television and streamed on the Facebook page of the City of Springfield’s Office of Communications.