Cases still rising in Dartmouth

Dec 11, 2020

Seven new Covid-related deaths were reported this week as new cases continue to rise in town amid the fall surge.

On Dec. 11, the Board of Health reported 177 new cases this week — up slightly from 156 the week before. The town’s weekly numbers also show an increase in virus-related deaths, with 55 since the start of the pandemic.

At a Board of Health meeting on Dec. 9, Public Health Director Chris Michaud noted that while numbers have “appeared to plateau,” it has been at a level much higher than the 78 cases reported at the peak of the spring surge and mostly through community spread.

“That surge in April — about half of those cases were in congregant facilities,” Michaud said. “We are seeing an uptick at congregate facilities, but nothing like we saw in April.”

Town data also shows 72 active cases among students and staff at Dartmouth’s public schools, with the illness affecting nearly 2.8% of students in the system.

Across all six schools, 63 students and nine employees have tested positive for the virus, with 42 cases already resolved — meaning the person has completed the required 10-day isolation and can safely return to in-person learning.

Dartmouth High School is the most affected school, with 26 students (or 1.82% of the student body) and three staff members actively infected and isolating, closely followed by Dartmouth Middle School with 17 students (2%) and three staffers infected.

The least affected school is Cushman Elementary with just one student and no staff members actively infected.

This latest increase comes after Dartmouth — along with the rest of the commonwealth — had to take a step back in the state’s four phased reopening plan after remaining in the “high risk” category for three straight weeks.

According to state’s weekly report released on Dec. 10, Dartmouth remains in the red. The latest numbers have the town’s 14-day average daily case rate of over 51 per 100,000 people and a percent positive test rate of 6.90%.

Michaud has stressed that residents should take all necessary precautions to reduce the risk of transmission, reminding them that just 15 minutes of contact accumulated over 24 hours can transmit the virus.

“All of this is for the purpose of reducing transmission,” he said at the start of the November surge. “We have to reduce transmission. It’s out of control. We’re too high right now, and every week we’re going up.”

Meanwhile UMass Dartmouth reports 15 new positive Covid cases in the past seven days — nearly 2% of all those tested.

As of Dec. 15, Massachusetts has 72,587 estimated active Covid-19 cases, with 11,190 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths reported. There have been 26,890 cases in Bristol County since the start of the pandemic.