Covid numbers surge ahead of New Year
New cases of Covid-19 are back on the rise in Dartmouth as 2021 draws to an end.
In the past two weeks, the state’s Department of Public Health confirmed 381 cases in town — the highest number of new cases since early January.
According to state data, Dartmouth had a daily average incidence rate of 73.3 per 100,000 people and a 9.39 % positivity rate.
Due to the holiday, the state’s weekly school district numbers will not be reported until Jan. 6.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bonny Gifford said at a recent School Committee meeting that based on current trends, she expects another spike in the schools following Christmas break.
The superintendent added that school officials also regularly remind students of the importance of following district Covid policies such as wearing a mask, along with encouraging kids to get their vaccinations.
The state’s mask mandate is currently in place until at least Jan. 15. After that date, schools that show an 80% vaccination rate can seek approval from the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to lift the mandate.
Local school officials would also have to okay the decision.
Unvaccinated students and staff would still be required to continue wearing masks.
According to state data as of Dec. 30, 21% of Dartmouth kids ages 5 to 11 have gotten at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Pediatric vaccinations were approved for use in Massachusetts last month.
Sixty-two percent of kids 12 to 15 and 34% of those 16 to 19 are also partially vaccinated.
People aged 5 or older who live, work or study in Massachusetts are eligible to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Those over the age of 18 can sign up to receive any vaccine, but those ages 5 to 17 can only get the Pfizer vaccine.
Those eligible for the vaccine can find appointments at providers around the state using the state’s website vaxfinder.mass.gov.
Vaccinations also continue at the clinic being operated by Southcoast Health at the VF Outlet. Clinics will be operated Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Patients can book their shots by signing up through their MyChart account or by visiting www.southcoast.org/covid-19-vaccine-scheduling.
To mitigate the spread of the virus, state officials recommend all Massachusetts residents 16 and up get their booster as soon as possible. At UMass Dartmouth, getting a booster will be required for all students and staff returning to campus by Jan. 18.
Students who were granted vaccination exemptions for the fall semester will remain exempt from this requirement.
Residents are eligible to get a booster six months after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two months after receiving the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Centers for Disease Control recommendations allow for mixing and matching of different booster doses.
The Covid-19 vaccine is free, and individuals do not need insurance or an ID to get the vaccine.
As of Dec. 30, 64% of Dartmouth residents have received at least a first vaccination dose. That amounts to 23,744 people. More than half of all residents — 57% — are fully vaccinated against the virus.