Hampden County infection rate remains high, despite dip in red communities in the state

Coronavirus Local Impact

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – As the United States crosses the 32 million COVID-19 cases mark, the infection rate is improving in Massachusetts as a whole.

The total number of red communities dipped to 48, down from 59 the previous week. However, Chicopee, Springfield, Holyoke, and Southwick remain in the red, while Hampden and Palmer also became COVID-19 hotspots.

“It does surprise me, because I notice in the community people wear masks and are trying to protect themselves from the virus,” said Kathy Heroux of Chicopee.

Even though the state still considers Chicopee as a red community, restaurants like Lucky Strike are noticing more people choosing to dine-in, something they’re confident is associated with more vaccinations.

“People are starting to come out more than they were previously as things get better, and people are getting vaccinated,” said Mike Lipinsky, General Manager of Lucky Strike Restaurant. “So we are doing better, for sure.”

But Hampden County still has a considerably lower vaccination rate for first doses, at 35 percent. In Berkshire and Franklin County, it’s 49 percent, and Hampshire County is at 44 percent. And this, as city leaders continue to urge residents to think about others and sign up for a vaccine so the pandemic can end sooner.

“I say it very frequently, our collective success depends on all of us,” said Chicopee Mayor John Vieau.

“Vaccinations are critical to moving us forward towards a normal life,” said Springfield Health Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris.

52 percent of Massachusetts residents have had at least the first dose. About 2.1 million are fully vaccinated, which is about one-third of the state’s population.

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