Town sees another record-breaking week of covid-19 cases
Wareham saw 131 new cases of covid-19 this past week — another record-breaking total for the town. The total marks a 10-case jump over last week’s 121 new cases, which had been an all-time high in terms of Wareham’s new cases within a week over the course of the pandemic.
The increase continues a recent trend of rising cases, and Public Health Director Patrick MacDonald told Wareham Week on Dec. 14 that it’s possible the situation could get worse this holiday season before it gets better.
“With this being one of the more lax holiday seasons since the start of the pandemic, it’s not unexpected,” he said. “We want to reiterate the fact that people should still be careful. You should still take precautions, try to limit large gathering exposures and wear masks when you feel necessary.”
He emphasized that although mask requirements are less common now, that “doesn’t mean you have to stop wearing one.”
Heading into the holiday season, MacDonald’s biggest advice was to “use safe practices and get vaccinated.”
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 2,907 covid-19 cases in Wareham.
During the Board of Health’s meeting on Dec. 15, one member observed that despite covid cases being higher than ever before, “people are not masking up like they used to.”
Dr. Amy Wiegandt, the chair of the Board of Health, emphasized the importance of continuing to wear masks and getting vaccinated.
“We see what happened after Thanksgiving,” she said.
During the meeting, MacDonald said that the town was “exceedingly high” in the category of 12 to 15-year-olds who have contracted covid-19. Sports were particular “hot zones” for cases, he said.
“It’s really incredible why everybody’s not flocking to get their vaccines,” she said. “There are deaths in that age group, and that age group may pass it on to a parent or grandparent and kill them.”
She urged people to listen to the science and get vaccinated. She said it was particularly promising that the town’s 75+-year-olds, for example, are 91 percent vaccinated.
MacDonald also told Wareham Week that although the omicron variant has been identified within the Commonwealth, there is no definitive reason to think that variant of covid-19 is in Wareham and playing a role in the current spike of cases.
Wareham was also recently awarded thousands of free covid-19 tests, which the town has decided will be distributed to people who are symptomatic or have had a covid-19 exposure when unvaccinated and are having difficulty getting tested.
Continuing the pattern of previous weeks, Wareham’s vaccination rate lags behind other Massachusetts communities.
According to the state’s Dec. 16 data, 61 percent of Wareham residents have received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine.
Wareham reported that 55 percent of its residents — 13,423 people — are fully vaccinated.
Of the 27 municipalities in Plymouth County reporting vaccination data to the state, Wareham is tied for last place with Middleborough. Just 61 percent of residents in each town have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.
Every other municipality in Plymouth County reported that at least 68 percent or more of its population had received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine.
Opportunities to get vaccinated
Local public health experts continue to encourage people to get the vaccine as soon as possible — and the state is now offering in-home vaccinations for those unable to get to a vaccination site.
People aged 5 or older who live, work or study in Massachusetts are eligible to be vaccinated against covid-19. Those over the age of 18 can sign up to receive any vaccine, but those ages 5 to 17 can only get the Pfizer vaccine.
In Wareham, the CVS on Main Street (419 Main St.), the CVS on Cranberry Highway (2421 Cranberry Hwy Ste 110), the Walgreens on Marion Road (121 Marion Rd.) and the CVS in East Wareham (2992 Cranberry Hwy) offer covid vaccines for those ages 12 and up, either for walk-in visitors or by appointment.
Those eligible for the vaccine can find appointments at providers around the state using the state’s website vaxfinder.mass.gov.
In-home vaccinations can be scheduled by calling 833-983-0485, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. English and Spanish speaking staff are on hand, and have access to translators for over 100 languages. In-home vaccinations are performed by medical professionals following public health guidelines and tailored to the needs of the patient.
In-home vaccinations are performed using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, except for those ages 12 to 17, who would be offered the Pfizer vaccine. Scheduling is based on location, rather than on a first-come, first-served basis.
The state has also set up a call center for those who are unable to access the vaccine appointment website or who have trouble navigating the complex online system.
From 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, people can call 211 and navigate to the vaccine help line by pressing one when prompted. The call center has workers on staff who speak English and Spanish, and there are translators available to support residents in about 100 additional languages.