Town Administrator Tom Mayo and Assistant Town Administrator Michelle Monsegur provided the following COVID-19 update at the Board of Selectmen meeting on December 22, 2020.
- As of yesterday, the MA Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting 314,850 total confirmed COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts, of which 21,019 are in Plymouth County.
- Hingham cases continue to rise. As of Friday, Hingham remains in the state’s “yellow” COVID-19 category, with 698 total cases (compared to 470 total cases one month ago).
- Our average daily incidence rate is 40.2 per 100,000 people over the prior 14 days, compared to 11.9 one month ago. These are big increases.
- The percent of people testing positive for COVID-19 is also rising. The percent positivity for the last 14 days was 4.26% for Hingham, compared to 2.03% one month ago.
- There are almost 2,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state at this point, and COVID-19 deaths have also been increasing since October.
New State Measures
- Because of these trends, Governor Baker announced new COVID-19 restrictions today that will go into effect on 12:01am on Saturday, December 26th. They will continue until at least Sunday, January 10th, with a possibility of an extension.
- The new measures reduce the allowable occupancy from current capacity levels of 40% to 25% in multiple sectors. A few highlights:
- The new capacity limit will now apply to restaurants. Capacity will be set at 25% of pre-COVID seating capacity and distancing between tables and other requirements will remain in place. This does not include employees.
- Limits at indoor event venues are being reduced to 10 people.
- Limits at outdoor event venues are being reduced to 25 people.
- Current limits at private residences remain the same (10 indoors and 25 outdoors)
- Office spaces will be required to reduce capacity to 25%, but there will continue to be allowances for offices with “critical services”, such as public safety, public health, and other critical services.
- K-12 schools continue to be exempted from these capacity limits and will need to follow DESE standards and guidelines.
- These new requirements signal that the COVID-19 situation is worsening significantly. Please make sure that you adhere to social distancing, face covering, hand washing, and other public health guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Vaccine distribution began in Massachusetts last week. The state has announced a three-phase vaccine rollout plan that corresponds with CDC recommendations.
- Phase 1 will run from about December 2020 – February 2021 and will cover the following people, listed in order of priority:
- Clinical and non-clinical health care workers doing direct and COVID-facing care
- Long term care facilities, rest homes and assisted living facilities
- Police, fire and emergency medical services
- Congregate care settings, including corrections and shelters
- Home-based health care workers
- Health care workers doing non-COVID-facing care (dentists, behavioral health clinicians, hospice/palliative care professionals, etc.)
- Most health care workers and first responders will be vaccinated at their place of employment.
- Individuals living and working in long term care will be vaccinated as part of the Federal Pharmacy Partnership Program. For example, residents at Linden Ponds will be vaccinated through a partnership with CVS.
- Vaccination for individuals in other congregate settings (e.g., group homes, shelters, corrections) will be coordinated by the management of those facilities.
- Phase 2 will run from about February – March 2021 and will cover the following people, again listed in order of priority:
- Individuals with 2+ co-morbid conditions (high risk for COVID-19 complications)
- Other workers including: early education, K-12, transit (including Uber/Lyft/ride share services), grocery (including convenience store workers), utility, food and agriculture, sanitation, public works and public health workers, vaccine development workers, and food pantry workers
- Adults age 65+
- Individuals with one co-morbid condition
- Finally, Phase 3 is expected to start in April 2021. At that point, the vaccine is expected to be available to the general public.
- Once the vaccine is available to the general public, public vaccine clinics will be available on the CDC’s interactive website vaccinefinder.org. People will also be able to check with your primary care provider, local pharmacy, or local health department.
- The Town’s Vaccine Planning Group is coordinating logistics for the Town so that we’re prepared to do our part. At this point, the Town is eligible to request vaccines from DPH for police, fire, and emergency medical services personnel only.
- We are partnering with Cohasset, Hull, Norwell, and Scituate to apply to DPH to facilitate vaccination of public safety personnel for these five communities. If DPH approves, we anticipate coordinating clinics for public safety employees in January.
Hingham Testing Site Update
- Finally, please continue to take advantage of the new mPathy COVID-19 testing site at 308 Cushing Street if you need it. The site is open from 7am – 4pm Mondays through Saturdays and mPathy has been accommodating over 200 COVID-19 tests per day.
- The testing site will close at 2pm (instead of 4pm) this Thursday, December 24th and will be closed for all of Friday, December 25th.
- Please visit mpathy.org/schedule to book an appointment. Appointments from 7am-10am each testing day are reserved for Town of Hingham residents and employees.
- As we enter the holiday season, DPH continues to urge residents to follow the public health guidance that we know will help keep people safe, stop the spread of COVID-19, and prevent deaths. This year DPH asks residents to:
- Limit in-person celebrations to household members only
- Postpone or cancel travel this holiday season. If you do choose to travel, you need to comply with Massachusetts travel order requirements.
- Follow the current state gathering size limits and sector-specific workplace safety standards. Right now, indoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 25 people.
- Lower risk celebrations and activities include:
- Hosting a virtual holiday dinner with extended family or friends
- Preparing foods for family and neighbors and delivering them in a no-contact way
- Virtually attending your traditional holiday activities, such as a visit with Santa
- Considering virtual caroling or reciting. You can provide a link to your virtual caroling to the people you want to sing to or with.
- Viewing holiday lights from your car with those you live with.
- We know it’s hard to maintain the holiday spirit in this environment. Please be conscious of the continued COVID risk and celebrate the holidays in a safe way to protect your health and the health of others. None of us want COVID for Christmas.
- Please also take some time to call your neighbors or friends who might feel especially isolated this season. We wish everyone a safe and healthy new year.