South Shore Communities Continue to See Spike in COVID-19 Cases, as Concerns of Second Wave Mount
Greg Lane, Hingham Current Staff, September 24, 2020; Updated 6:40 PM on September 24, 2020
Total positive COVID-19 tests on the South Shore as reported in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's COVID-19 Dashboard
Numbers of new COVID cases may have fallen in some parts of the state, but on the South Shore, cases are still growing. In some communities, they are setting records - especially in the northern part of the region.
Quincy, Weymouth, Braintree and Hingham all added more cases in the past two-week stretch and cases continue to climb in September. According to the state’s Weekly COVID-19 Public Health Report published yesterday, these four towns reported 176 new cases in the period which ended on Wednesday. That is 50.4% of the South Shore total.
The spike occurred between Sept. 2 and Sept 23.
Hingham, which had made it through the summer without suffering the big increases seen in other parts of the state, has set a positive test result record. They have seen this coronavirus rate increase sixfold. In the health report, Hingham is shown to have added 27 new positive cases, their worst results of September yet. The state lists Hingham in the yellow (moderate risk) category.
"The Hingham Health Department continues to work with DPH, state epidemiologists, and municipal and school leaders to monitor the COVID-19 situation in Hingham," stated a Hingham Department of Health email sent to residents today.
The situation is similar in Braintree, Quincy and Weymouth.
Could a fall COVID-19 spike be coming?
Public health experts are warning communities of a possible second wave of new coronavirus infections in the fall and winter.
Unlike in the spring, the recent increase in cases is not primarily attributable to nursing homes and residences for vulnerable populations. Instead, we are seeing an increase in transmission in the community at large and in particular, an increase in transmission between members of the same household say Hingham health officials.
Total positive COVID-19 test results by town as reported in the DPH COVID-19 Dashboard
In addition, the days are getting shorter and the weather is colder, so people are starting to gather inside more. It is less likely for the virus to spread when people are outdoors where there is more airflow.
The Hingham Department of Health sent an email reminding residents to wear masks that cover their mouths and noses any place where it is difficult to keep at least 6 feet apart from anyone else, especially indoors. They are also reminded to frequently wash their hands.
"Now is not the time to let your guard down - we need everyone to do their part and remain vigilant," said the health department communication. "Please continue to practice social distancing, wear a face covering in public, avoid large gatherings, and frequently rewash your hands."
Gov. Charlie Baker said at a recent press conference that the Massachusetts will be ready if it is hit with a second wave of the coronavirus this fall. "There's a lot of scenario planning going on," Baker said at the press conference. "We've been working with the folks in the healthcare community and the public health community on a variety of scenario plans with respect to the fall."
On the DPH website, communities are color-coded based upon the average number of reported cases in the last 14 days. Red indicates that there were more than 8 cases on average per a population of 100,000 that were reported. Yellow indicates an average daily case rate of 4-8 cases per 100,000 population; green indicates fewer than 4-8 cases per 100,000 population; and white indicates there were fewer than 5 cases reported in total.
DPH points out that their data is fluid. "Data for these tables are based on information available in the DPH surveillance database at a single point in time," says a notation on the spreadsheet. "Case counts for specific cities and towns change throughout the day as data cleaning occurs (removal of duplicate reports within the system) and new demographic information (assigning cases to their city or town of residence) is obtained."