Covid cases continue downward trend, vaccine clinic coming
Dartmouth’s Board of Health will begin giving the Covid-19 vaccine to elderly residents starting next week as the town’s case numbers continue a recent downward trend.
An appointment-only vaccine clinic will be set up at Dartmouth High School to give shots to those aged 75 and over after school hours, with more details on scheduling and how to book appointments to be posted on the town’s website by Feb. 3, according to the Board of Health.
The clinic is part of Phase 2 of the state’s vaccine distribution plan, which begins Feb. 1 and includes a broader list of Massachusetts residents eligible for the shot, including the elderly and those with two or more comorbidities.
“This is a significant undertaking,” said Dartmouth Public Health Director Chris Michaud about the clinic at a Jan. 20 Board of Health meeting.
A full list of those eligible in Phase 2 (in order of priority) is available at mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-vaccine-distribution-timeline-phase-overview#phase-2-.
Meanwhile the number of new cases this week remains in the triple digits, but fell to 123 or nearly 60% down from the 300 cases at the peak of the post-holiday surge, according to town data released on Jan. 29.
Testing in town also appears to be up, with the state reporting 5,604 Covid-19 tests in Dartmouth in the two weeks ending Jan. 23, more than the 3,000-5,000 tests reported in 14-day periods in December and January.
According to state data, Dartmouth had a 14-day average daily incidence rate of 68 per 100,000 people and a 7.2% positivity rate in the two weeks ending Jan. 23.
At the Jan. 20 health board meeting, Michaud warned the public not to be swayed by the recent drop, noting that the current numbers should be compared over the course of multiple weeks — not just to the previous week.
“I’m afraid of the numbers not being necessarily representative,” he said, noting that he’s been getting reports from local businesses that have led him to believe “that transmission is still going on.”
This is especially evident in Dartmouth’s public schools, as Covid case numbers have gone up after the second week of in-person classes for most students following a two-week delay due to the winter holiday surge.
Schools are currently seeing 226 active cases among students and staff as of Jan. 29, with the illness affecting 6.3% of the student population. Active cases may include those who tested positive and are still isolating from the week before.
The case numbers are up from around 200 each week in mid-January. High schoolers will be the last group of students to return to school buildings for in-person classes on Feb. 1.
Meanwhile, UMass Dartmouth reports 16 positive cases in the past seven days, or 1.6% of all those tested. On Jan. 27 — the last day reported — there were zero positive tests out of 278 on campus.
As of Jan. 28, Massachusetts has an estimated 74,595 active Covid-19 cases, with 14,154 coronavirus-related deaths reported. There have been 491,642 total confirmed cases in the commonwealth thus far, representing over 7.2% of the population.