April 25, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer
The number of coronavirus cases in Hingham -- as reported by the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health on April 22 -- reached 108 this week, up from 49 cases a week ago. Several deaths were reported recently among residents of a senior living community and a nursing home in town, along with dozens of cases, combined, of residents who tested positive for COVID-19 between the two facilities.
While these are sobering and sad statistics, Asst. Town Administrator Michelle Monsegur put the numbers in perspective this week at the Hingham Anchor's request.
"Expanded state COVID-19 testing, particularly in nursing homes, accounts for part of the increase in COVID-19 cases reported in Hingham," she said. "Massachusetts is still experiencing the surge that was predicted to occur around this time, so we have to stay vigilant."
Even as some states are considering lifting some coronavirus restrictions in their communities, Hingham town officials continue to emphasize the need for social distancing and remaining at home as much as possible. "Now is not the time to let our guard down. We appreciate everyone’s efforts to stay home as much as possible and to practice social distancing. We’re not through this yet, but we’re getting through it together," Monsegur said.
The statistics released by MDPH each Wednesday report breakdowns by county, city and town, nursing homes, gender, and many other categories. "There's a whole new data dashboard," she said.
Even with increased testing being one reason for the rise in reported Hingham COVID-19 cases recently, town officials believe the current figures actually "under-represent the true number of cases in Hingham, because they take into account only those residents who have been tested," Monsegur said.
Massachusetts Department of Public Health numbers reflect only laboratory-confirmed cases (people who tested positive), but they don’t include clinical diagnoses by medical professionals (as when a primary care doctor evaluates a patient's symptoms and determines they have the virus without a test), people who self-diagnose and stay at home, or asymptomatic people who don’t know they have the virus and haven’t been tested, according to Monsegur.
"We are urging Hingham residents to continue to take social distancing and other precautionary measures seriously," Monsegur said. "We do think they are responsive to our consistent message, and we thank them for it."
The Hingham Board of Health issued a new advisory to residents via phone call, email notification, the town website, and social media yesterday, April 24, urging all members of the public to wear a cloth face covering when a social distance of six feet cannot be maintained in public settings.
Information from the Centers for Disease Control on making and wearing cloth face coverings can be found on the CDC website, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html. It's recommended that the general public in most cases wear fabric face masks rather then N95 masks (personal protective equipment that protects the wearer from airborne particles and from liquid contaminating the face) in order to reserve those for health-care providers and first responders.
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 [email protected] with any questions or concerns.