Town considers next steps as COVID cases rise

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3D illustration of coronavirus

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

One month ago, the town’s COVID-19 positivity rate was just .20 percent—and today it’s increased to 2.6 percent.

It’s a trend seen nationwide as cases have quickly increased. Many involve the far more dangerous Delta variant and unvaccinated patients, but there have been several breakthrough cases as well. In North Attleborough there are 29 active cases, with 11 of those infected having had a vaccination.

At the Aug. 9 Town Council meeting, Town Manager Michael Borg said the news has been a growing concern. In the days to come he will meet with the Board of Health and school superintendent on what can be done to curb the spread. He said Bristol County, which North Attleborough is a part of, is among the areas with a high transmission rate. Borg added that the town’s numbers are only half of what is seen county-wide.

We should begin having discussions as COVID begins to make a resurgence,” said Borg.

Health Director Anne Marie Fleming said that in June the number of cases was very low, and there was even a brief period where no infections were reported. At that time nearly all of Massachusetts communities were designated as Grey, or those with a very low COVID case count.

It was boring and it was lovely,” she said.

But after July 4, cases began to rise sharply, some potentially from Fourth of July parties and the recent Kid’s Day fundraiser. The last week of July saw 20 cases and 32 in the first week of August. The current case count is far from the worst the town saw in 2020, when over 200 active infections were reported at one time in the summer.

I’m hoping we never see it as bad as what it was (then),” said Fleming.

Fleming said that it is hard to see what the full impact will be, though those that have been vaccinated or have had COVID before will have better protection. She added that 58 percent of the town has been vaccinated, with 92 percent of those over 75 years having gotten their shots. Of the town’s children ages 12-15, approximately 40 percent have been vaccinated. The town held clinics for this age group during the spring, and for seniors early this year.

Fleming said that the Delta variant has become prominent, with 81 percent of 3,000 samples showing it. She said that those with vaccinations are showing far less serious symptoms even if infected with the Delta variant than those without.

Borg’s recommendation is that everyone who can get the vaccine should and that it is readily available through health care providers, supermarkets, and pharmacies. Among the strategies being considered is vaccination of municipal employees and masking in town offices an wearing masks in municipal buildings.

It’s the only way to stop the spread, aside from vaccinations,” said Borg on masking.

Borg said he isn’t looking at another shutdown and doesn’t think that will happen. He told the council he will closely monitor the positivity rate. Fleming agrees that a shutdown isn’t likely, and this news, while bad, doesn’t put the town back to square one.

This issue will creep back into something that we need to be aware of,” said Borg. “I’m concerned about the rapid increase from next to nothing to 2.5 percent. If you haven’t got the vaccine, please consider getting the vaccine. If you do not want to wear masks, that’s the best way (to stop the spread).”