Town sees more than 60 new covid cases in past week
Wareham saw 62 new cases of covid-19 over the past week, according to the state’s Sept. 23 covid-19 case data. The total is slightly lower than last week’s number of new cases, which came in at 77, but the number of student cases of covid-19 remains on the rise.
New case counts have been increasing for the last month. The last time the weekly case count was in the mid-60s was in late April 2021, when the town was in the red covid-19 risk category, according to the state.
At a Sept. 22 Board of Health meeting, Patrick MacDonald, the town’s director of public health, reported that 78 percent of the individuals testing positive for covid-19 in Wareham were unvaccinated against the disease. Among other people who tested positive, 1 percent were partially vaccinated and 21 percent were vaccinated.
Since the start of the pandemic, MacDonald said 75 Wareham residents have died of covid-19.
Wareham’s average daily incidence rate increased from 35.1 to 41.1 cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days. Given Wareham’s population, 41.1 cases per 100,000 people means there were about 9.45 new cases each day over the past two weeks.
As of about 9 a.m. on Sept. 22 (the most recent data available), Wareham Public Schools reported that 16 students had tested positive for covid and 33 were in quarantine. In addition, one staff member was quarantined, and none had tested positive for covid.
The district does not currently have a vaccine mandate in place for staff or students, but a possible vaccine policy was the subject of impassioned discussion during a Sept. 23 School Committee workshop meeting.
A potential vaccine mandate for town employees was also the topic of discussion during the Board of Health’s Sept. 22 meeting.
At both meetings, multiple town employees and public school staff members spoke in opposition to a possible no-exceptions vaccine mandate — with many citing disproven claims about the covid-19 vaccines’ safety and effectiveness. Such a policy hadn’t been drafted or proposed by the Board of Health or School Committee, however.
Since the start of the pandemic, Wareham has seen 2,140 confirmed cases of covid-19.
The town’s vaccination rate lags behind other Massachusetts communities. According to the state’s Sept. 23 data, 56 percent of Wareham residents have received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine. That amounts to 13,423 people — up nearly 200 people from last week.
This week, Wareham reported that 51 percent of its residents — 12,373 people — are fully vaccinated. That’s 68 more than last week.
Of the 27 municipalities in Plymouth County reporting vaccination data to the state, Wareham has the second-lowest percentage of individuals with at least one dose of the vaccine — having surpassed only Middleborough, which sits at 54 percent.
Every other municipality in Plymouth County reported that at least 61 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.