October 22, by Carol Britton Meyer
This is the second consecutive week that Hingham has been in the COVID-19 "red" zone.
Today's Massachusetts Department of Public Health statistics -- released on Thursday rather than Wednesday starting today, Oct. 22 -- show 24 new Hingham COVID-19 cases since last Wednesday and a case count of 39 in the last 14 days. This brings the number of Hingham COVID-19 cases to 395 since Jan. 1. The Oct. 14 MDPH statistics showed 19 new COVID-19 cases since Oct. 7.
"This past week was our first week in the 'red' category," Town Administrator Tom Mayo told the Selectmen this week before today's statistics were released. "The Town takes this designation very seriously. The MDPH has informed us that they will consider Hingham to be 'high risk' if we remain in 'red' for three consecutive weeks."
A prolonged period in the 'red' category could negatively impact the local economy and residents' ability to enjoy many of the sectors and activities that have cautiously reopened over the past few months, according to Mayo.
The Hingham Health Department continues to work with the state’s Community Tracing Collaborative to conduct contact tracing of close contacts to help accelerate the town's efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. "We are also working closely with state epidemiologists," Mayo said.
Anyone who is within six feet of an individual who has had a positive test result for more than 15 minutes is considered a "close contact" and therefore required to quarantine for 14 days.
"As I mentioned last week, we are seeing an uptick in cases in the youth sports community, leading to many teams being quarantined in town," Mayo said. "This also affects parents and other family members of participants as we are seeing household spread of COVID-19."
So far, these cases have not resulted in large-scale impacts to the Hingham Public Schools, as students in Hingham Public Schools remain at least six feet apart in classrooms, Mayo said. "However, should social distancing in classrooms change (decrease), the number of COVID-19 cases and students subject to quarantine could rise as they have in some other schools where social distancing is not able to be practiced to the same degree."
Mayo reminds residents to "please answer the phone to discuss quarantine, your symptoms, and your close contacts" if contacted by the Hingham Health Department or the state's Contact Tracing Team.
"If you are subject to a quarantine, a negative test will not lift the quarantine," Mayo explained. "You must remain home for the 14-day period and refrain from engaging in school, sports, work, and other activities."
The Health Department and other town officials are asking all residents, businesses, and visitors to be vigilant in following state and federal COVID-19 recommendations, especially as they relate to social distancing and face coverings.