The Winthrop Town Council met in the Harvey Room of Town Hall on Sept. 7, where it heard updates on the coronavirus.
As of Sept. 7, Winthrop had a percent positive rate of 4.3, almost double the rate over the summer. DPH Director Meredith Hurley called the recent spike in COVID cases “pretty significant.”
In the two weeks preceding the meeting, there were 94 new positive cases. Forty-two percent of these were breakthrough cases of the Delta variant in individuals who had already been vaccinated.
Hurley said she was “most concerned” about individuals in the age 50 to 64 group, which has shown the highest level of vaccine hesitancy, especially among males.
“Please get vaccinated,” said Pres. Boncore. “It’s not going away. We don’t want to go back and put a joint emergency order in.”
“I talked to some people who were reluctant. There’s a lot of people out there who think that it can’t happen to them,” said the Board of Health’s Bill Schmidt. “We don’t want to go back to a mask mandate. Hopefully people will start to do the right thing.”
Director Hurley said that businesses should use “whatever platform they have” to urge the public to get vaccinated. One business recently sent out a newsletter to its customers, telling them not to come in unless vaccinated.
“COVID’s here to stay,” said Town Manager Terence Delehanty. “We have to learn how to work with it.”
Director Hurley added that contact tracing has become more difficult as residents are mingling in more social settings than before.
“Before, people were just going to the grocery store and back,” she said.
The DPH is still waiting on information about the availability of a third booster shot, as well as making the vaccination available to younger groups. Boosters would be focused on the homebound and immunocompromised.
Students are back in school and as of the date of the meeting there were no reports of in-school spreading.
Town Manager Delehanty said that his staff require greater support if the town is to continue making remote attendance a possibility for town meetings. Staffing hours have had to be adjusted to account for employees attending Zoom meetings after normal business hours.
“We have staff members staying up until midnight on Zoom meetings,” he said.