Easthampton reminds residents to get vaccine booster ahead of omicron variant arrival

Coronavirus Local Impact

(Easthampton Health Department)

EASTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The Easthampton Health Department released its a weekly COVID-19 dashboard Monday indicating a slight dip in cases last week.

The Easthampton Board of Health is reminding residents to get the vaccine, booster, wear a face mask, and limit your time in crowded indoor locations as the omicron variant could be more contagious. A public COVID-19 testing location will begin in Easthampton on Monday, December 6.

Testing will be available on Mondays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at City Hall. A weekend site will be offered on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Eastworks located at 116 Pleasant Street.

“I am so excited to finally have a permanent, public testing location. Unfortunately, this far into the pandemic, it can still be difficult to find COVID19 testing in a timely manner. I hope by opening these sites, testing is more convenient for our residents and the public. We’re really grateful to partner with Curative and Eastworks.” Health Director Bri Eichstaedt

The city reports 36 new cases for the week of November 17 through November 23, which brought the total number of cases in Easthampton to 1,266. The 7-day average of percent positivity for the state of Massachusetts is 3.37%, Easthampton is 2.6%.

Hampshire County:

  • New Confirmed Cases as of 11/25/2021: 102
  • Total Confirmed Cases: 12,484
  • New Deaths: 0
  • Total Confirmed and Probable Deaths: 324

87.1% of Easthampton residents are fully or partially vaccinated.

Masks are required in Easthampton to be worn in public indoor and certain outdoor spaces that went in effect on September 2. Any one two years or older are required to wear a mask in public indoor spaces, large outdoor gatherings/events where 100 or more people are expected and social distancing cannot be maintained, and on the sidelines/benches/dugouts of moderate to high risk outdoor sporting events, regardless of vaccination status.

Omicron: What we know and don’t know right now:

(According to the Easthampton Board of Health)

  • The omicron variant has 32 mutations on the spike protein. This is a lot. For comparison, the delta variant has 9 mutations on the spike protein.
  • We don’t know what all 32 mutations mean in the real-world. We’ve seen some of these mutations before, and some are new to us. What that means is that we know some are “bad news” and we know some are “no big deal” and then there are some we have no idea about yet.
  • Early modeling is indicating that omicron is more contagious than delta, perhaps on the order of 5(ish) times more contagious. This is an estimate – we don’t have this data to confirm yet.
  • Early data is indicating that omicron does not result in more severe disease, compared to other variants. Again, we don’t know this for sure – we don’t have the data to confirm yet.
  • Early data is indicating that omicron does not “evade” the immune response – that implies that prior immunity no longer works against the omicron variant. There may be some reduced effectiveness of the vaccines, but there’s no reason to believe that vaccines won’t be effective at all. Again, we don’t know this for sure – we don’t have the data to confirm yet.
  • We don’t need to sequence for omicron to know if it’s circulating. We haven’t had a variant make itself so obvious on PCR tests until now – this is good news! We should be able to collect good real-time data on the spread of omicron.

The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told Biden Sunday during a task force meeting that it would take two more weeks to learn how transmissible and how severe the omicron variant really is. When omicron arrives, and it will, Biden said, America will “face this new threat just as we’ve faced those that have come before it.”

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