Everett health officials said they are watching closely as cases are going up slightly over the past few weeks, with an average of about six cases per day after having it down as low as zero cases around July 4.
On Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Charlie Baker did designate Everett, Chelsea, Revere and Lynn as higher-risk communities in the state compared to elsewhere, with rates at greater than 8 per 100,000 residents.
Public Health Nurse Sabrina Firicano said there has been an uptick in cases coming from tests mostly administered in Emergency Rooms and at workplaces.
“We’ve been seeing kind of an uptick of cases, like seven, eight or nine cases daily now,” she said. “That’s a little higher than what we were at a few weeks ago when it was two, three, or four cases a day. It was concerning to see it trending back up into close to double digits of daily new cases. We want to go the other way.”
In context, though, at the height of the COVID-19 surge, there were between 35 and 50 cases reported per day.
As part of the governor’s declaration on Tuesday, it was announced that Stop the Spread mobile testing would be extended. Testing has been on going Monday to Friday by Fenway Health in public locations using a mobile van since July. It was to end Friday, Aug. 14, but now has been extended through Sept. 12.
The governor on Tuesday released data on the average daily cases per 100,000 residents, average percent positivity, and positive tests, for all 351 Massachusetts cities and towns over the last two weeks.
Based on the average daily cases per 100,000 residents, each city or town has been designated as a higher risk, moderate risk, or lower risk community. Going forward, this information will be updated and included in the Department of Public Health’s weekly public health dashboard, which is published each Wednesday.
Any city or town designated higher risk is considered to have a high level of COVID infection, and will receive additional support from the Commonwealth to address the spread of the virus. On Tuesday, those communities statewide listed as high-risk included Everett, Lynn, Chelsea and Revere.
Firicano said the majority of positive tests are not coming from the expanded mobile testing sites being offered by the Stop the Spread program. Instead, they are coming from hospitals and workplaces.
“We are testing more and we are actually seeing better numbers for that testing,” she said. “We’re not seeing as many positives at the Fenway Health mobile testing. We’re seeing more of our positive cases come fro other test sites. Whether it’s through the doctor, a hospital or a workplace, that’s where it’s coming from. We haven’t seen a big number of positives coming from the mobile testing site.”
Most of those being testing at the mobile site seem to be those that need a negative test to go back to college or school, to go on vacation, or those returning from vacation.
“In the big picture, it doesn’t seem concerning,” she said. “In the short-term it seems concerning because we had it down to zero, one, two, three or four a day. When you’re up to about double-digit cases, you need to try to understand what’s going on.”
Gov. Baker said they would be providing statewide enforcement and inspections to help communities that are high-risk. The supports include:
•Targeted interventions and inspections by a range of member agencies, including Local Services, Labor Standards, DPH, MSP and ABCC, coordinated by EOPSS and MEMA.
•Increased enforcement, including fines, of sector guidance for businesses to ensure businesses and residents are aware of and following COVID-19 orders.
•Cease and desist orders as necessary for businesses and organizations in violation of the COVID-19 orders.
•Support for ABCC and local licensing boards in exercising their existing authority to fine restaurants or suspend or cancel liquor licenses when restaurants do not comply with required COVID-19 safety measure or sanitation codes.
•Targeted public messaging to alert residents of higher risk COVID communities (road signs, PSAs, reverse 911, etc.).
•Technical support to local government officials to support enhanced local COVID-19 prevention efforts such as assistance in accessing CARES Act funding.
•Potential restrictions or shutdowns for parks, playgrounds, businesses or other entities and locations believed to be contributing to the COVID-19 spread in higher risk COVID-19 communities.
•Additional public health support such as testing, tracing and quarantining.
Racial and Gender Data Released for Everett COVID-19 Cases
The City of Everett has begun to release COVID-19 case data in a breakdown by race, gender and age – something that residents and Councilor Gerly Adrien have been calling for recently.
The data goes through July 27, and shows that shows that Hispanic residents have been by far the most affected by COVID-19, and with a much younger average age of 37 for those infected.
Hispanic residents came in at 493 cases, with an average age of 37 for those infected. Meanwhile, white residents reported 315 cases with an average age of 48. Black/African American residents logged 210 cases with an average age of 47. Asian residents had 33 cases with an average age of 46.
Much of the information on race was incomplete, however, as has been in the case in most municipalities that break down the numbers in this fashion. The ‘Other’ category had 481 cases, ‘Unknown’ logged 219 cases, and those that did not answer had 177 cases.
Interestingly, there were more female cases than male, with 935 females infected versus 895 males.