Breakthrough COVID cases in Massachusetts though rising

DWQA QuestionsCategory: QuestionsBreakthrough COVID cases in Massachusetts though rising
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Breakthrough COVID cases in Massachusetts though rising, have not resulted in severe illness in 97% of cases. Although cases of COVID-19 among vaccinated individuals have risen in the past few months along with overall cases, a new report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health shows the overwhelming majority of those people aren’t getting seriously ill.
“The data are clear. This review shows that fully vaccinated people in Massachusetts have near-universal protection from severe illness and death and that boosters are demonstrating even stronger protection from COVID,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “Amid the season of gathering indoors and the emerging Omicron variant, the time to get vaccinated and boosted is now. It is the best gift of protection for yourself and your loved ones.”
Data last week showed 11,431 new COVID cases among fully vaccinated residents reported over a seven-day period ending on Dec. 11. Yet even with the increase, breakthrough cases remained in the minority as overall cases surged with the state reporting a total of 30,904 new cases during that same time period.
According to the Department of Public Health on Monday, 97% of all breakthrough cases in the state have not resulted in hospitalization or death.
“Additionally, the review found unvaccinated residents are five times more likely to become infected than fully vaccinated residents (two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or one dose of Johnson & Johnson) and unvaccinated residents are 31 times more likely to become infected than fully vaccinated residents who have received a booster,” the department stated in a press release issued Monday.
The information on the effectiveness of the vaccines in fighting the virus to this point comes as the omicron variant has raised concerns about rising cases in the coming weeks. There is still a lot officials don’t know about omicron, but early evidence suggests is can spread much faster than the delta variant, which has been the dominant variant of the virus for the past several months.
But although breakthrough cases have risen as has hospitalizations, data continues to show that unvaccinated individuals have been impacted the hardest in the most recent spike.
Data released by the state Friday showed that about 71% of COVID hospitalizations in Mass. are people who are not fully vaccinated.
Deaths have also remained low overall during the current COVID wave compared to daily deaths prior to widespread vaccination.
The review released Monday by the state’s top health department found that 99.9% of breakthrough cases among fully vaccinated people under the age of 60 did not result in death. Among the breakthrough cases for residents over the age of 60, 97% did not result in death.
No deaths have been reported in breakthrough cases among those under age 30, the review found.
“Vaccination continues to be the most effective tool we have against Omicron and all COVID-19 variants,” said Acting DPH Commissioner Margret Cooke. “The data indicates that fully vaccinated and boosted individuals are well protected from severe outcomes of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death, and the Department of Public Health strongly urges all residents to get vaccinated and, when appropriate, get a booster.”
Springfield police on Monday released photos of the man they believed told a Santander Bank teller he had a gun before robbing the bank near “the X” intersection last Wednesday.
The yet-unidentified man, who was wearing a COVID face mask, entered the bank at 590 Summer Ave. just before noon and indicated to the teller he had gun. But the man never showed bank staff the weapon, and no one was injured in the robbery, Springfield Police Department spokesman Ryan Walsh said.
In the photos, the man can be seen with a bike outside the store, near the well-known convergence of Sumner Avenue, Belmont Avenue and Dickinson Street. He is wearing a face mask in some of the images, but at one point removes it.
Walsh did not say how much money the man had taken.
After a discussion that offered different ways the city could increase sewer revenue, including charging a fee to residents with septic systems that choose not to hook up to sewers when available, and changing the City Charter to make the Water Commission an elected body, the City Council voted unanimously last week to support a 10% increase in the sewer rate.
At-large Councilor Kristen Mello, who chairs the council’s Natural Resources Committee, said her committee voted 2 to 1 to recommend the increase as voted on by the Water Commission and presented by Jeffrey Gamelli, deputy superintendent of wastewater treatment. She said the increase would help keep the Water Commission from dipping into the general fund due to an anticipated shortfall in the enterprise fund in 2023.
Committee member Dan Allie said Westfield’s sewer rates are lower than most cities in the area, and seniors enjoy a 70% discount — paying a little more than one-quarter what a non-senior household would pay. He said he would be in favor of changing that to a 50% senior discount.
Allie also said during the process of looking at the fees, the department discovered a glitch in the system when seniors sold their houses. Instead of the sewer rate returning to the full rate, it went to zero percent, and new owners were not getting charged. He said a resident pointed out the discrepancy to the city.
Councilors Nicholas J. Morganelli Jr. and Cindy C. Harris at first expressed their opposition to increasing the fees. Morganelli, who was the dissenting vote in Natural Resources, said he had been opposed since the state first mandated the fees in 2011, saying they amounted to another tax. He also said he would prefer waiting until the new mayor came on board to give his suggestions. Harris said the residents just had their residential taxes increased and needed a break.
Council President Brent B. Bean II said the sewer fees are not a tax, but a usage fee. After several councilors pointed out that the increases only amounted to about $40 annually for residents paying full price, and $12 annually for seniors, Harris relented and said she would vote for the increase.
Ward 3 Councilor Bridget Matthews-Kane said she would support the increase because an enterprise fund is supposed to be self-sustaining, with expenses and revenue balancing.
At-large Councilor James Adams said the city had spent a lot of money installing sewers, and a lot of people hadn’t hooked up to them.
“If they had, we probably wouldn’t need this increase,” he said.
Allie said he would agree that when a new sewer system goes in, there should be a base rate that residents pay after a certain date, even if they don’t hook up to it.
Ward 5 Councilor John J. Beltrandi III also agreed, saying the city spent a fortune putting sewers in his ward and people are not hooking up.
“There should be a fee for people who have a sewer in front of their house that they have to pay if they want to stay on septic. That’s the only way we can create enough revenue to have this thing go,” he said.
At-large Councilor Dave Flaherty said he would vote yes also.
“A ‘no’ vote will transfer the burden to the rest of the taxpayers. We’re mandated to pay for sewers. This is an insignificant change in rates for these people. We’re below market rate in this area. We just have to do it. Next year, I’m going to suggest that we change the charter and the Water Commission be elected, then water and sewer can have complete control over this,” he said.
“Kudos to Jeff and his team who have been working on this for eight months. The mayor isn’t involved with this anymore. I couldn’t agree more with Councilor Flaherty about an elected board. This shouldn’t be done here, it should be decided at the Water Commission,” said Ward 4 Councilor Michael Burns.
“If you don’t charge a minimum fee when it runs in front of your house, after you’ve signed a petition to get it, then you’re putting the burden on everybody. You wanted the service, everybody else is paying for it. You’ve got some responsibility. The sewer rate setting shouldn’t be done in this body — we don’t do water,” agreed at-large Councilor Richard K. Sullivan Jr.

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