Covid cases hit new high this week

Nov 20, 2020

For the second week in a row, new coronavirus cases in Dartmouth have hit an all-time high as the town experiences a record surge that has already put it “in the red” — or at high risk of transmission, according to the state.

On Nov. 20, the Board of Health reported 133 new cases this week — up from 115 the week before and well over the 78 cases reported at the peak of the spring outbreak in May.

Earlier that day town officials had announced the closure of Town Hall through Dec. 3 due to “widespread community transmission,” according to Town Administrator Shawn MacInnes.

State data released Nov. 19 listed Dartmouth among 61 other municipalities at higher risk for contracting the virus due to a 14-day average daily case rate of over 43 per 100,000 people and a percent positive test rate of 5.97%.

The town has seen 48 of its residents die from the illness since the start of the pandemic.

Public Health Director Chris Michaud 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. “We have to reduce transmission. It’s out of control. We’re too high right now, and every week we’re going up.”

According to Bristol County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jonathan Darling, the Faunce Corner Road facility currently has four inmates with Covid-19, as well as a few staffers who are quarantining at home. 

“We’ve seen the news about outbreaks at [correctional] facilities and other jails in Massachusetts and are very fortunate to not be in that boat,” he commented. “Anything can happen going forward so we have to remain careful and vigilant.”

Darling noted that safety precautions taken include health questionnaires and temperature checks for all staffers entering the facility, and requiring masks to be worn inside the jail at all times, as well as sanitizing every day on every shift.

“We’re going to continue to be vigilant and do all we can to make our facility as safe as possible for inmates and staff,” he said.

Meanwhile UMass Dartmouth reports ten positive Covid cases on Monday and Tuesday alone — the last two days for which data is available. Last week the university reported nine new cases in four days.

As of Nov. 20, Massachusetts has 35,526 estimated active Covid-19 cases, with 10,238 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths reported. There have been 17,337 cases in Bristol County since the start of the pandemic.