January 5, 2022 By Carol Britton Meyer
There has been a large surge in new COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts, and the same is true for Hingham, which "is also experiencing a significant spike," Town Administrator Tom Mayo reported to the Select Board Tuesday night.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported 234 new COVID-19 cases in Hingham during the 14-day period ending Dec. 30, compared to 167 cases over the two-week period reported two weeks earlier, on Dec. 16.
"It is also important to note that many residents are now taking home-based testing, which is most often not reported and therefore not included in these statistics," Mayo said. "As a result, we are assuming that the actual number of positive cases is much higher than these statistics show."
The overall vaccination rate for Hingham is now 81 percent (for fully vaccinated individuals). Considering only vaccine-eligible individuals (ages five and up), the percent of fully-vaccinated eligible residents is 86 percent, according to Mayo.
About 53 percent of Hingham residents ages 5-11 are currently fully vaccinated, according to MDPH statistics.
In addition to a Jan. 13 regional booster vaccination clinic at South Shore Baptist Church (pre-registration at https://home.color.com/vaccine/walk-up/hingham/south-shore-baptist-church is required; no walk-ins will be accepted), booster shots are also available at the Hingham Centre Pharmacy and at local CVS and Walgreens locations.
The town is partnering with MobileMed LLC and Covid Clinic Inc. to open a temporary drive-through COVID-19 testing site at 335 Lincoln St. in Hingham as soon as mid-next week.
The clinic will be open Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Priority access will be given to residents and employees of the Towns of Hingham, Cohasset, Hull, and Scituate. "We are partnering with those other communities to offer this as a regional testing resource," Mayo said.
Testing options at the site -- by appointment only -- will include PCR, rapid antigen, and antibody tests in addition to other options. No walk-ins will be accepted. "Anyone who does not have an appointment for that day will be turned away," Mayo said. "We will have testing staff and detail officers on site to enforce this rule to keep traffic moving."
More details will be posted on the Town of Hingham in the near future.
Public Health Protocols
MDPH recently updated its quarantine and isolation guidelines to align with revised guidance from the Centers for Disease Control:
- As of now, those who test positive for COVID-19 are expected to self-isolate for 5 days. "You may resume public activities after day five as long as you have gone 24 hours without a fever, without taking fever-reducing medications such as Tylenol, and have experienced improvement in other symptoms," Mayo explained.
Guidance for close contacts has also been updated:
- Those who have received a booster shot or completed the primary series of Moderna/Pfizer within six months or Johnson & Johnson within two months, are now considered fully vaccinated. "As such, fully vaccinated individuals who are identified as close contacts do not need to quarantine unless they have symptoms," Mayo said. "Fully-vaccinated individuals who are close contacts should wear a mask around others for 10 days and test on day five if possible. As always, if you develop symptoms, get a test and stay home."
- Individuals who are not fully vaccinated and are identified as a close contact are expected to quarantine at home for five days. "If they cannot quarantine, they need to wear a mask for 10 days. Testing on day five is recommended, if possible," Mayo further explained. "Again, if you develop symptoms, get a test and stay home."
Hingham residents are encouraged to take precautions to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. "As we all know well by now, public health protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 include vaccination, wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing, and frequently washing hands, among other measures," Mayo said.
Effective December 21, 2021, the MDPH advises that all residents, regardless of vaccination status, wear a face mask or covering when indoors (and not in their own home). Masks continue to be required in Massachusetts on public and private transportation, in healthcare facilities, and in congregate care facilities.
"Our mask policy remains unchanged and in effect for municipal facilities," Mayo said. "We are working with the Health Department to review the latest guidance and data and to determine whether broader community measures may be recommended."