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What Is Holding Western Massachusetts Behind In COVID Fight?

Richard Bodo of Auburn, Massachusetts, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Massachusetts, on February 1, 2021.
Alden Bourne
/
NEPM
Richard Bodo of Auburn, Massachusetts, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Massachusetts, on February 1, 2021.

The surge in COVID-19 cases across Massachusetts since the late summer fueled by the delta variant is showing its first signs of slowing down. But concern remains high in the western half of the state, which is home to the counties and communities with some of the state’s highest rates of COVID infection and lowest rates of vaccination.

The city with the highest number of new cases reported each day is Springfield, which also has the state’s lowest vaccination rate. With 60 new cases each day, according to the latest Massachusetts Department of Public Health weekly report, Springfield has two-and-a-half times as many new daily cases as the next highest city in the state, Boston.

It’s estimated that half of residents in Springfield are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Only 54% of Hampden County residents are fully vaccinated, according to state figures. It’s the county with the lowest vaccination rate in Massachusetts. Neighboring Hampshire County has a full vaccination rate of 59%, the third lowest rate in the state.

While all public schools are again holding in-person classes and few statewide pandemic precautions remain, individual communities are putting new rules into place. Various mask mandates are becoming common in many cities and towns. Public tension can be seen between people who choose to take different precautions.

What precautions do you and your family take? Which ones do you believe go too far? Do you wish there were more rules in place for everyone? Do you have COVID fatigue? Check in and share your experiences and point of view.

Send your comments to @AATonNEPM on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, by email to andanotherthing@nepm.org, or by calling 800-639-9120.