MONTAGUE, Mass. (WWLP) – The indoor public mask mandate in Montague and its surrounding villages goes into effect just as the state faces a surge in its positivity rate.

In mid-September it went from 2.2 percent, when the Delta variant arrived, to 6.45 percent as of Monday. Despite Franklin County being one of the more rural parts of the state, its positivity rate has now reached 5.41 percent.

“We’ve just see a very rapid escalation,” said Steven Ellis, the Montague Town Administrator. “Hospital officials and physician groups across the state have urged mask mandates.”

According to Baystate’s Tuesday report, there are nine people hospitalized at Franklin Medical Center, that’s about double what it was in mid-September. However, hospitalizations statewide due to COVID-19 are lower than what they were a year ago. From nearly 2,000 on December 20th, 2020 to over 1,600 in 2021.

The state’s Department of Public Health reports that the majority of COVID-19 hospitalizations are unvaccinated. Ellis says getting the vaccine, as well as the booster shot if you’re eligible, can be the best defense in preventing hospitalization numbers from jumping.

“We’re in a new phase of the pandemic and it doesn’t have to be as difficult as previous phases,” he said.

According to the state’s most recent vaccine report from December 16, 72 percent of people eligible for the vaccine are fully vaccinated in Franklin County.