May 13, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer
The number of coronavirus cases in Hingham -- as reported by the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health today, May 13 -- reached 223 this week, up from 186 reported on April 29.
The MDPH statistics include only laboratory-confirmed cases (tested positive), so the number of cases in Hingham is projected to be higher that that figure.
At the same time, increased testing, including at nursing homes, is considered to be one reason for the rise in the number of reported Hingham COVID-19 cases recently.
In his weekly COVID-19 update to the Selectmen Tuesday night, Town Administrator Tom Mayo reported that according to Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health statistics, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide "is slowly decreasing."
At the same time, hospitals are reporting a decrease in the number of people seeking medical attention for urgent, non-COVID-related issues, such as heart attacks, strokes, appendicitis, and other health issues.
"Medical professionals are concerned that this may mean that people are delaying or avoiding seeking care for serious medical issues out of fear of contracting COVID-19," Mayo said. "May serious conditions such as strokes can be successfully treated if care is received quickly -- but can be fatal if treatment is delayed."
Accordingly, Mayo urges Hingham residents to call 911 if in need of immediate medical attention.
On a related note, Mayo said the town is awaiting guidance from the state's reopening advisory board in working out a reopening plan of its own for Hingham town facilities. The state reopening plan is expected to be completed by next Monday, May 18.
The Hingham Health Department is working with local businesses and organizations to ensure compliance with the reopening guidance from the state.
"The Baker-Polito administration has announced a four-phase reopening approach for transitioning out of our current 'stay-at-home' status," Mayo said. "Businesses and activities that provide COVID-19 essential services per Gov. Baker's March 23 order will continue to operate."
Certain businesses and activities with a lower risk of COVID-19 transmission will be allowed to open in earlier phases.
The reopening advisory board, created by Baker, is charged with putting together a gradual, multi-stage process for lifting at least some restrictions on businesses and activities.
In the meantime, Mayo noted, Baker recently issued a four-phase plan to reopen businesses that could begin to be implemented as soon as May 18.
* Phase 1: Start, would allow limited businesses to resume operations with "severe" restrictions;
* Phase 2: Cautious, would allow additional businesses to resume operations with restrictions and capacity limits;
* Phase 3: Vigilant, would allow further businesses to resume operations with guidance;
* Phase 4: New Normal, would involve the development of a vaccine and/or therapy to enable resumption of a "new normal."
"This approach comes with the caveat that we may move back to a prior phase if public health metrics fall below thresholds," Mayo said.
Mandatory workplace requirements to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission as employees and customers begin to return to businesses/workplaces during Phase I relate to social distancing, hygiene, staffing and operations, and cleaning.
Guidance related to summer camps and programs is expected soon.
"We'll continue to incorporate the state's [recommendations] into our local plan," Mayo said.
Town officials continue to urge residents to wear cloth face masks at all times when unable to maintain a six-foot social distance in public places, both inside and outside, in conformance with Gov. Charlie Bakers's recent order.
Even when social distancing is possible, it is strongly recommended to keep a face mask handy in the event of coming across another person or group of people while on a walk, bike ride, or in another setting, where social distancing may be difficult to maintain.
For COVID-19 updates visit hingham-ma.gov. Go to the following link on the Town of Hingham website's Health Department link for a one-page COVID-19 guidance and information sheet: https://www.hingham-ma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/9556/Covid-19-Guidance. Residents can call the Health Department at (781) 741-1466 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.