The Winthrop Town Council convened in Town Hall on Aug. 17 where it heard updates from DPH (Department of Public Health) Director Meredith Hurley on the recent spike in COVID cases and how it’s impacting the community.
In recent months, there were 20 new cases per month. Starting July 14, cases began to rise. In just the first two weeks of August, there were 45 positive cases. The town sits at a 2.3 percent positive rate, the same as August of last year.
“We’re heading in the wrong direction. People are not being vaccinated,” said Council Pres. Phil Boncore. “Please get vaccinated. It’s available. It’s there. It’s free.”
According to the latest numbers, 28 percent of Winthrop residents over age 12 still aren’t vaccinated.
“This isn’t about lack of access,” Director Hurley added. “This isn’t about not knowing where to go. This is resistance that we’re seeing right now.”
Walk-in vaccines are available at CVS and Beth Israel. The FDA may approve a third dose of the vaccine, as there are signs that it might wear off over time. Those in the age 60 to 80 group are showing breakthrough cases of COVID, and they were the first group to be vaccinated.
Following infections in two separate town departments, the Town Manager’s Office issued a mandate that all municipal employees must be masked indoors unless completely vaccinated or medically exempt. Staff will have to show proof of vaccination or medical exemption to Director Hurley.
After a heated school board meeting on Aug. 16, the school committee voted to adopt the mask policy proposed by DESE. This means that masks will be mandatory indoors for all students in Pre-K to sixth grade. Students in grades seven and up can provide proof of vaccination to their school nurse.
Masks will also be required of all individuals on public transportation. No masks are required outdoors. Only six school staff are unvaccinated, and will be masked at all times. Rapid test kits will be available at all schools for symptomatic students.
“There is still COVID out there,” said Pres. Boncore. “Protect the ones you love, and the ones you don’t.”