Across the country and in the state of Massachusetts, new COVID-19 cases are growing rapidly. However, due to our very high statewide vaccine coverage, the actual number of cases and hospitalization rates remain much lower than what we have seen for most of the pandemic. And while we are seeing more breakthrough cases lately, this is not surprising due to our relaxation of most prevention methods and the increasing dominance of the 225% more infectious Delta variant among new infections. Reported breakthrough cases in Easthampton among vaccinated individuals have so far numbered less than 10. They have occurred in individuals in their teens up to their 50s. Their symptoms have ranged from nothing at all, to a mild runny nose, to severe cold symptoms plus a fever. None have been hospitalized, and the likely spread beyond them has been minimal overall due to individual vigilance with testing. Several cases were caught only because of conscientious testing after returning from travel; another had a known exposure but no symptoms and was only tested because other exposed, vaccinated people tested positive; one person was initially treated for respiratory illness but not tested for COVID for nearly a month.
Any resident who learns they have been exposed to someone who recently tested positive for COVID-19, or any resident with new, unexplained symptoms (especially those that seem like a summer cold), is advised to get a PCR test for COVID-19 and stay home until they receive their result. Other household members are also encouraged to stay home until the result comes back, if possible. This advisory is for everyone, even those who are fully vaccinated. This is due to how contagious the Delta variant of the virus is proving to be, and how rapidly it is spreading in many parts of the country, including Massachusetts. This advisory also acknowledges that most individuals, worksites, and indoor venues are no longer using face masks or social distancing while indoors. This makes it easier for the virus to spread through airborne transmission.
Unvaccinated individuals, those who are vaccinated but at special risk for COVID-19 complications, and those who have unvaccinated family members at home are all strongly encouraged to mask and social distance while indoors to reduce their chance of contracting the virus and spreading it to others.
Anyone who is eligible for the vaccine but has not yet gotten their shot(s), is urged to do so as soon as possible. Easthampton is hosting walk-up COVID-19 vaccine clinics on Monday, July 26th, at the Easthampton Community Center, located at 12 Clark St., from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. and Big E’s, located at 11 Union St., from 12:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. No appointment is necessary. Both Pfizer and J&J vaccines will be available.