Framingham’s rate of known new Covid-19 cases more than doubled from last week’s record-shattering number. And, test positivity topped 20% for the first time since at least summer of 2020 (I don’t have data from March-June 2020).
The city’s known new daily case rate hit 294.2 per 100K population – now higher than the state-wide average of 267.3, according to data released today by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Number of tests administered to city residents rose 29.6% while cases more than doubled.
The Framingham Board of Health discussed a possible mask mandate for all public indoor spaces, not just municipal buildings, at a meeting Tuesday. Unfortunately, Mayor Sisitsky has not yet acted to implement one, instead taking the matter under advisement, according to the Framingham Source. Natick, though, has instituted a mask requirement for all indoor spaces open to the public beginning Monday; Sudbury has had one for some time.
While most people who become infected with the Omicron Covid-19 variant do not become seriously ill – especially if they’ve been vaccinated – a small percent of a huge number of cases needing hospitalization is still a large number. And, even some who are vaccinated can still be vulnerable to bad outcomes due to age or medical issues such as undergoing cancer treatments.
“So here’s the bind: Omicron is less severe for individuals, but it’s disastrous for the health-care system that those individuals need,” Pulitzer Prize winner Ed Yong explained on Twitter, along with a link to his Atlantic article Hospitals are in Serious Trouble. “Once again, personal risk and collective risk are at odds, and the former is masking the latter.”
Many proposed solutions—troops! antivirals!—are insufficient, and can’t be deployed at scale or in time. Unbelievably, it’s 2022, and the fate of the healthcare system once again depends on flattening the curve, in days not weeks. 14/ https://t.co/1OmtMu1mw7— Ed Yong (@edyong209) January 7, 2022
“This is what it looks like when a healthcare system collapses,” he added. “It’s not a dramatic, movie-style thing. First, it’s just a lot of waiting. Things take longer, then they don’t happen. Care gets gradually worse. More staff leave. This is happening now.
“Many proposed solutions — troops! antivirals! — are insufficient, and can’t be deployed at scale or in time. Unbelievably, it’s 2022, and the fate of the healthcare system once again depends on flattening the curve, in days not weeks.
“And even then, when hospitalizations fall, it won’t be over because, frankly, many healthcare workers have just had enough. More and more are talking about leaving . . .
“Again, this is no longer just about Covid. It’s now about our ability to get the standard of medical care that we’ve come to expect for anything. If you’re impervious to harm or disease, or can regenerate, you can sit this one out. Otherwise. . . .”
One piece of good news
There’s been a marked decline in Covid-19 traces in MWRA wastewater – often a leading indicator of case trends. That data are considered a good predictor in part because wastewater samples don’t depend on how many tests can be given to individuals or who is able to be tested.
Instead of seeing this as a reason to do nothing, though, the data show that emergency measures probably wouldn’t have to last very long in order to help reduce case loads, do what we can to protect those at high risk, and safeguard our hospitals for all those who need them.
Graph is below. Framingham is part of MWRA’s South region. (You can click the legend to turn lines off and on as well as click and drag to zoom in on a portion of the graph.)
75.6% of city residents are now “fully vaccinated”, defined as two mRNA doses or one J&J. However, the more important number may be how many have received an additional “booster” dose, which is considered important to fight the latest Omicron variant. 32.7% of city residents have received the booster, according to Massachusetts DPH data, up from 30.1% last week.