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Regional News

A 'Holding Pattern' For Many Amid Rising COVID-19 Case Rates

A vial with a swab test for COVID-19.
Tony Spinelli
/
Connecticut Public
A vial with a swab test for COVID-19.

COVID-19 case rates have been on the rise over the last few weeks in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

City officials in Springfield met this week to consider their options to deal with the growing number. MassLive reports some leaders there expressed frustration they've had to wait too long for guidance from the state on how to handle it.

Governor Charlie Baker said Thursday he has no plans to change any state policies right now. 

"We have a set of statewide standards, and they're based on what we see on a statewide basis," Baker said. "If communities believe that they need to pursue strategies that are more effective and appropriate for them, that they should do so."

Panelist Chris Collins noted Baker's approach — letting local officials do what they deem best — is "exactly what he didn't allow when the first wave of this hit." 

"The reality is that these Delta variant cases have gone up in every state, including Massachusetts. You got to go with [what] the data tells you," Collins said. "But I think it's not gonna be too much longer before the state's going to have to make a move, if these numbers keep going up, and make a decision on what they're going to impose, in terms of restrictions."

Towns he covers are "sort of in a holding pattern as well," Collins said. "But some of them are having to make decisions without state guidance, and that's not making anybody real comfortable."

Panelist Dave Eisenstadter indicated there is some public weariness around safety protocols, which could make mandates difficult to enforce, wherever they come from.

"Unfortunately, people are kind of sick of wearing masks, even though it's probably the thing that people should be doing," he said. "People don't want to close down businesses, even though it's probably [among] the things that people should be doing. So there might be some enforcement issues. I think that's where some guidance from the state would be helpful."

Eisenstadter said the reality is the Delta variant has a faster spread and is often more serious when you're infected.

"And there's still a ton of people who are not vaccinated, including every single person under the age of 12, and a whole lot of other people who decided not to get the vaccine," he said.

Baker also said this week he has no plans to mandate masks in public schools when classes begin in a little more than a month. That was after a dozen state lawmakers urged him to mandate masks for younger students who are not vaccine-eligible. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics is calling for any student over the age of two, along with staff, to wear masks regardless of vaccination status. More guidance on the upcoming school year is expected to be released soon by state education officials.

Recent rainy weather caused flooding and severe road damage in the region. And a weak tornado hit Somers, Connecticut, causing a lot of tree damage. Some scientists say climate change could be playing a role. A professor at the University of New Hampshire said extreme conditions can accompany a changing climate, and that warmer air can hold more moisture — delivering storm systems with more water.

Guests:

  • Chris Collins, contributing editor, Franklin County Now
  • Dave Eisenstadter, veteran western Mass. journalist

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