The case rate in Easthampton and Hampshire county continues to creep upwards. Easthampton remains solidly within the state designated yellow category of transmission. The city case rate is substantially higher than the average case rate for Hampshire county, although lower than the average case rate for Hampden county.
All of Massachusetts, with the exception of Franklin county, is now designated as high transmission according to the CDC county tracker (Franklin county is designated as substantial transmission). In fact, nearly every county in the United States is designated as high transmission according to the CDC, which makes it difficult to use as a way to compare hot spots of risk. The New York Times COVID-19 tracker is more useful for that purpose right now.
The increase and levels of transmission we are experiencing now are similar to the increase and levels in mid-November 2020, at the start of the holiday surge. It is too soon to know if we will reach a similar peak.
Regardless of which organization's categorization we use, cases continue to increase. Notably, pediatric cases make up the largest proportion of new cases in Easthampton in the past two weeks. Most of those cases are among children under 12 years of age who are not yet eligible for the vaccine. A high level of vaccination coverage among those over 12 years old is the best protection for children under 12 right now - epidemiologists are calling this the "vaccine wall." We cannot speed up vaccine emergency use approval, but we can build the vaccine wall strongly around them while we wait.