Covid cases remain high as new year starts

Jan 3, 2021

For the second week in a row, Dartmouth’s Board of Health has reported more than 200 new weekly cases for Covid-19.

According to the town’s weekly report, Dartmouth saw 207 new cases as of Jan. 1 — slightly down from the record 211 the week before. While cases are down, they are expected to increase rapidly following gatherings for the Christmas holiday and New Year’s festivities.

Public Health Director Chris Michaud warned officials last month that the town will likely see widespread community transmission of the virus continuing through January. 

“The darkest part of winter is ahead,” he said over the phone just before Christmas. “People will still want to go over people’s houses at the holidays. Now is not the time — It’s the most dangerous time right now to be doing this.”

No residents have died from the virus in the past seven days, although there have been 55 virus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

According to state’s weekly report released on Dec. 31, Dartmouth still remains in the red. The latest numbers have the town’s 14-day average daily case rate of over 68 per 100,000 people and a percent positive test rate of 10.22% — up from  8.83% the previous week.

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

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.

Meanwhile UMass Dartmouth students are on winter break, with the second semester set to start on Jan. 19. The university reported nine new positive Covid cases in just the two days before break began, Dec. 14 and 15.

As of Jan. 2, Massachusetts has 79,092 estimated active Covid-19 cases, with 12,236 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths reported. There have been 35,721 cases in Bristol County since the start of the pandemic.