Growing concern as COVID variants spread this holiday season

Coronavirus Local Impact

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Surging Covid-19 cases across the country is causing fear just before the busy holiday season.

New daily cases in Massachusetts exceeded 6,300 Friday, the most cases reported in a day since January. This, plus the Delta and Omicron variants have infectious disease experts urging vaccinated individuals to get their booster.

There are more than 500 locations across the state to get a booster shot including community health centers like this one. With worries over rising cases and a new variant, the Caring Health Center are encouraging families to get boosted before the holidays.

“That’s what the science is calling for, to get the booster,” said Jacqueline Johnson, Chief Operations Officer at Caring Health Center. “To make sure we remain safe and with the new variants coming out we must make sure we continue on the path of safety.

Health experts are also advising parents to get their children five and up the vaccine. Paula Gallego, a Holyoke mother, told 22News, “I have a seven-year-old I’m responsible for. Although kids are resilient I think it’s important they are vaccinated and fully equipped to fight the virus if they do get it.”

Meanwhile, hospitals in the state are reporting more patients than beds, while at the same time dealing with staff shortages. Currently, 146 people are hospitalized with COVID at Baystate Health hospitals, that’s 37 more than a week ago.

Right now, 66 percent of those patients are unvaccinated and a third are breakthrough cases. Based on current infection trends, Baystate Health’s President & CEO, Dr. Mark Keroack believes a statewide mask mandate should be brought back.

“My own feeling is that even if we could increase mask wearing a little bit, by having a mandate it’s probably a good idea,” he expressed. “I would love to see the governor change his mind and do a mask mandate.”

Dr. Keroack said the omicron variant hasn’t yet been found in western Massachusetts, but everyone should be practicing social distancing and hand washing, precautions that he says have worked all along.

“We miss our festivals, no mask wearing, hugging, kissing, partying, and getting together, being social I’m not sure that’s how we should continue to live right now,” said Gallego.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Only on WWLP.com | Digital First

More Digital First

Trending Stories

Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases

Coronavirus News

More Coronavirus