Boncore on COVID: ‘We’re gonna beat this thing’

COVID-19 was the dominant theme of the evening at the meeting of Town Council on Feb. 16.

Following a dip in cases, Winthrop was finally downgraded to a Yellow Zone community. As of the meeting date, the town had 1,919 total cases, with 35 deceased and 47 in isolation. The percent positive rate of 4.85 was 18 percent lower than the previous council meeting.

Winthrop currently has the space and the staffing to open its own vaccination site, either at the Senior Center or on Golden Drive. However, the Mass. Dept. of Public Health (DPH) had not yet issued any vaccines to the town.

The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) received 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine from the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC), which it was able to administer to homebound elders in Winthrop. The EOC expects to procure an additional 200 to 300 doses from DPH or EBNHC. Appointments for at-home vaccines can be made by calling the EOC at 617-539-5837.

Vaccines are still available at clinics in East Boston, Chelsea and Revere by appointment only by calling 617-568-4870.

The EOC is in the process of producing informational mailers for elderly residents without access to the internet.

Winthrop’s vaccination efforts have been reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Costs not covered by FEMA are likely covered by the town’s CARES Act allocation. 

Council Pres. Phil Boncore urged residents to continue with preventive measures such as wearing masks, washing hands and socially distancing.

“If we can do that, we’re gonna beat this thing in the next month or two,” he said.

Students continue to learn with a hybrid of remote and in-person classes. In-person learning may resume four days per week as early as Apr. 4, pending the results of a safety study. The school department recently reached out to the 515 students who had opted to remain fully remote, inviting them back to the hybrid model. It is unclear how many will choose to return.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, resident Kathleen Capuccio pressed the council to take up the issue of returning students to the classroom.

“I would hope at some point that a councilor would make a statement with regard to our children not being in school,” she said.

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