Updated with schools data, comment from health director

77 new covid cases in town this week, 29 students test positive

Sep 17, 2021

Wareham saw 77 new cases of covid-19 over the past week, according to the state’s Sept. 16 covid-19 case data — bringing the total number of covid-19 cases to 2,078 since the beginning of the pandemic.  

New case counts have been increasing for the last month. The last time the weekly case count surpassed 70 was in late January, just after the worst of the post-holiday spike. 

“Vaccines are safe and they are your best bet,” said Patrick MacDonald, the town’s director of public health. 

MacDonald said that increasing vaccination rates will help bring down new case counts and fight the creation of more covid variants.

“Getting vaccinated is the best and most important thing anybody can do to help curtail this little spike we’re seeing,” MacDonald said. 

He urged those who are unvaccinated to wear masks when inside public places to protect themselves.

Wareham’s average daily incidence rate increased from 31 to 35.1 cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days. Given Wareham’s population, 35.1 cases per 100,000 people means there were about 8.05 new cases each day over the past two weeks.

On Sept. 17, Wareham Public Schools reported that over the past week, 29 students had tested positive for covid and 55 were in quarantine. Two staff members tested positive, and five were quarantined. 

The district does not currently have a vaccine mandate in place for staff or students. 

The School Committee will be holding a public workshop on Zoom at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 23, to discuss creating a vaccine policy. Patrick MacDonald, the Director of Public Health and Dr. Amy Weigandt of the Board of Health will weigh in on the discussion, and there will be a public comment portion. Click here for the meeting’s agenda and a link to the zoom meeting.

Vaccination rate

The town’s vaccination rate lags behind other Massachusetts communities. According to the state’s Sept. 16 data, 55 percent of Wareham residents have received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine. That amounts to 13,229 people — up 118 people from last week. 

This week, Wareham reported that 51 percent of its residents — 12,305 people — are fully vaccinated. That’s 116 more than last week.

Of the 27 municipalities in Plymouth County reporting vaccination data to the state, Wareham now reports the second-lowest percentage of individuals with at least one dose of the vaccine — having squeaked by Middleborough, which sits at 54 percent.

Every other municipality in Plymouth County reported that at least 60 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 12 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 12 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 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.