By Grace Mayer
FRAMINGHAM – As the contagious Delta variant spreads across Massachusetts, upping COVID-19 case counts, Mayor Yvonne Spicer and acting Framingham Director of Public Health Alexandra DePalo urged Framingham residents to get the vaccine to protect against the new strain, during a remote community hour session last night, August 3.
“The state has not given any definitive language around requiring masks in indoor settings sort of across the board yet,” DePalo said about the rise in COVID cases. “They have made it clear they’re looking really closely at the data, and they’ve made it clear that a lot of communities across Massachusetts are seeing this increase in numbers.”
The number of weekly COVID cases in Framingham has been on the incline since cases jumped in mid-July, though they don’t come close to the number of cases reported last summer.
From July 14 to July 20, cases jumped from 3 new cases to 17.
From July 28 to August 2, there were 37 new COVID cases in Framingham.
According to the Framingham Government COVID tracker, there are currently 43 active cases in Framingham.
With the risk of “breakthrough” cases—rare instances when a fully vaccinated person contracts the virus—DePalo said residents who are vaccinated should continue to get tested if they think they’ve been exposed to the virus.
As of July 21, 65.6% of residents in the City of Framingham have been fully vaccinated.
Currently, those eligible to receive vaccines in Framingham are residents who are 13 and older.
“As people are sort of regrouping around returning to school and returning to some of our more traditional schedules, we are really hoping to encourage people to get vaccinated if they haven’t already done that,” DePalo said.
Although at the state level and within Framingham there aren’t currently plans to implement measures, like reinforcing mask-mandates, DePalo said it’s never a bad idea to wear a mask indoors in public spaces.
DePalo said vaccination is still the best method to prevent the spread of COVID and from contracting a severe case of COVID.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in public settings if in an “area of substantial or high transmission.”
Middlesex County, where Framingham is located, is classified by the CDC as an area of “substantial transmission.”
In Massachusetts, COVID-19 vaccines are free for all residents, and you don’t need insurance.
The City of Framingham Office of Public Health on 113 Concord Street is offering the Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Moderna vaccines to residents – no appointment required. Framingham is also offering home visits for those who are disabled or can’t get to a vaccine site.
Mayor Spicer also spoke about the moratorium on rent being lifted, reminding residents that if they filed an application for government rental assistance then they can’t be evicted for not paying rent through April 2022. She said the City of Framingham also has financial assistance programs to help residents pay for rent.
With the school year approaching, DePalo said that Framingham’s Department of Public Health will work in collaboration with Framingham’s public schools to offer other required vaccines to students.
“The pandemic really caused people to put off health care and medical appointments often, and so people and many children may be behind on some of their school vaccines that are required to be in school,” DePalo said.
Tuesday’s webinar was a part of the Mayor’s Community Hour meetings, a series she’s hosted to better facilitate communication with the residents of Framingham. She had started to hold the meetings in person this summer, but this one was remote only.
DePalo said the Department of Public Health will continue to monitor COVID cases in Framingham as cases rise. The City of Framingham is announcing COVID cases weekly on Wednesdays.
“The reality is there’s going to be more to come on this,” DePalo said. “We’re going to continue to look at our numbers and we’re going to continue to ask the State Department of Public Health for their ongoing guidance.”
Grace Mayer is a SOURCE intern this summer. She is a senior at Boston College studying marketing and journalism. She is also the head arts editor for Boston College’s newspaper, The Heights, where she’s covered the arts beat for three years.