SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Beginning Monday, the City of Springfield is implementing a mask mandate for all indoor public areas.
If you plan to go indoors anywhere in the city of Springfield you will need to wear a face covering, regardless of vaccination status. They’ll be required indoors like restaurants, bars, stores, gyms, and places of worship. A mask will also be needed outdoors but only when social distancing isn’t possible.
Officials are calling this the 4th wave of the pandemic and are directly linking it to the unvaccinated people. The president and CEO of Baystate Health Dr. Mark Keroack said 75% of all hospitalized COVID patients are unvaccinated. He added that vaccinated people hospitalized have preexisting conditions, putting them at greater risk of severe illness but he attributes the vaccine for keeping them out of the ICU.
“It is largely an epidemic among unvaccinated individuals. 75 percent of all of our cases and an even higher percentage of our more severely ill patients are unvaccinated individuals,” said Dr. Keroack.
Both Mercy Medical Center and Baystate Health are operating at or beyond capacity because of the surge in COVID patients and it’s beginning to affect the local health care system. Most of the cases being reported are among the younger population, as well as an increase in the Delta variant.
“It is indeed a call to action. our systems and our hospitals are not invincible,” said Dr. Robert Roose, president, and CEO of Mercy Medical Center.
For the week of August 29, Springfield reported 547 cases, with 55 or 300 of them being people under the age of 30. Below is the weekly breakdown of cases over the past five weeks:
|Week of July 25, 2021||122|
|Week of August 1, 2021||279|
|Week of August 8, 2021||374|
|Week of August 15, 2021||477|
|Week of August 22, 2021||517|
|Week of August 29, 2021||547|
“During the weekend of Henri one of the things I’ve even most frightened of our hospital was so filled and our emergency room was so backed up on that Sunday that we almost reached the point of saying we can’t take any more ambulance traffic,” said Dr. Keroack.
The most recent COVID-19 data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health shows Springfield with a case count of 1,003 from August 15 and August 28. As of September 2nd, Springfield has had a total of 24,425 positive cases of COVID-19.
“We just hope that you remember that this is all to save lives,” said Health Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris.
Enforcement of the mask mandate is mostly up to personal responsibility but, non-compliance could result in a fine. Sarno said, “There is a $300 fine to the person and or entity that’s controlling that venue or establishment.”
The mask mandate goes into effect Monday and will be in place until November 1. The city said it’s behind in vaccinations; 54 percent of residents with at least one does and 47 percent are fully vaccinated. A vaccination breakdown by race and ethnicity, according to DPH as of August 31, 2021:
|Race/Ethnicity||At Least One Dose||Fully Vaccinated|
The vaccination breakdown by age Springfield, according to DPH as of August 31, 2021:
|Age||At Least One Dose||Fully Vaccinated|