New covid cases this week soar to more than 250
Covid cases continue to soar in Wareham this week, indicative of the ongoing post-holiday spike.
In the past week, the town has seen 271 new cases of covid-19, according to state covid data.
The total, which is an increase of nearly 100 cases compared to last week’s 172 new cases, sets another record for most new covid cases in a single week — a record that has been broken week after week since Dec. 9, 2021.
“This is running rampant,” said Town Administrator Derek Sullivan during a Jan. 4 Select Board meeting. He also reported that there had been two covid deaths in the past week.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 3,502 covid-19 cases in Wareham.
Southcoast Health, the nonprofit that operates Tobey Hospital in Wareham along with Charlton Hospital in Fall River and St. Luke’s in New Bedford, sent out a message on Jan. 5 to its patients, urging them to get vaccinated against covid-19.
“As variants continue to spread, vaccination is the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones, and the community from severe illness and hospitalization due to COVID,” the hospital system wrote.
As of Jan. 7, Southcoast Health reported 162 covid-positive patients across all three hospitals. In January 2021 — before covid vaccines were made more widely available — the peak number of covid-positive patients across the hospital system was 153.
Only 6 percent of hospitalized covid-positive patients are vaccinated and boosted, according to Bethany Fernandes, a Southcoast Health spokesperson. In addition, 29 percent of hospitalized covid patients were vaccinated.
Roughly 65 percent of hospitalized covid patients were unvaccinated.
Southcoast also reported that 10 percent of its covid patients — 17 people — were in the ICU.
Fernandes stressed that none of the patients in the ICU with covid-19 were fully vaccinated and boosted.
In contrast, 16 of the covid-positive ICU patients were unvaccinated, and 6 percent of covid patients — one person — in the ICU was vaccinated.
In the Jan. 5 message, Southcoast emphasized that the low percentage of hospitalizations among those vaccinated against covid-19 demonstrates the vaccines’ “effectiveness of protection from severe illness and death and that boosters are demonstrating even more substantial protection against covid-19.”
Fernandes said Southcoast is preparing for higher volumes of patients at all of its facilities and stressed the need for people to get vaccinated.
“Importantly, we strongly urge everyone in our community to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and influenza, to get booster shots, and to continue smart and sensible practices such as wearing a mask and social distancing,” she said.
Opportunities to get vaccinated
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.