Bellingham Struggles to “Get Out of the Red” as Covid-19 Cases ClimbDec 30, 2020 06:00AM ● By Pamela Johnson
written by Jennifer Russo, Contributing Writer
Although there is a measure of hope for some relief as Covid vaccines are approved and becoming available, cases in the community still cause concern. As of December 18th, Bellingham was still considered a red community and had been for nearly a month, with 607 confirmed/probable cases and 56 active cases. (NOTE: By Dec. 28, the number of confirmed active cases had risen to 87.) Although these individuals have been advised to quarantine to prevent the spread of the virus, there may be those with whom they came into contact who have not yet been tested. Although there is an 87% recovery rate, there have been 13 deaths in the town due to the disease.
At the last Covid update meeting on December 14th, Bellingham town nurse Esther Martone gave updated metrics on the current cases and discussed the vaccine, letting viewers know that the state has not yet released the plan for rollout, so which vaccine we will receive is neither confirmed nor scheduled for distribution. She advised to continue to stay diligent, to wear masks, to try not to leave the home if it isn’t necessary, and to get the flu shot if you haven’t already done so.
Board of Health Agent Bruce Wilson discussed the Governor’s decision to place the state of Massachusetts in Phase 3, Step 1, and encouraged residents to stay home as much as possible and to maintain social distance otherwise.
Peter Marano, Bellingham Superintendent, gave an update on our schools, saying he had done a walk-through and was impressed with how our teachers, parents and students are working hard to support the efforts to contain the virus. With December break from school and the possibility of people traveling, he reminded families to notify the school principals and nurses if there is travel planned so that guidance can be given.
State Representative Mike Soter said that he thinks the numbers are high because of recent Thanksgiving travel, and he hopes not to see another spike after the Christmas holiday. Soter reinforced the Governor’s desire to keep public education open and kids in school and commended Bellingham’s protocol, calling the town a role model for the effective way in which this is working. He also shared his hope to keep independently owned businesses open as much as possible, because these are tied to owners’ livelihoods, and they are doing what they need to in order to follow new regulations.
Soter shared that the FDA-approved drug Remdesivir is now being used in Massachusetts hospitals and seems to be working well therapeutically when given early enough to patients. He discussed the two vaccines (approved for ages 16+) that will be available to residents and the necessity to be astute in knowing the differences between the two. When the plans roll out and vaccines are distributed, it will be critical to know which vaccine has been taken so that the correct booster can be given when it is time for it since timing of that booster is very specific.
To bring our numbers down, please practice social distancing and avoid gathering in groups. Remember to avoid close contact with those who are experiencing any kind of symptoms, wear a mask when leaving your home, avoid touching your face, and wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Try to stay home as much as possible, use hand sanitizer, and wipe down frequently touched surfaces.