COVID-19 cases climb, as vaccination rates continue to lag in Hampden County
Massachusetts health officials on Thursday reported 9,042 new cases of COVID-19, the highest daily figure since the start of the pandemic.
In western Massachusetts, Hampden County is bearing the brunt of the recent spike of the virus, and lags behind the rest of the state in terms of the percentage of people who are fully vaccinated.
The 14-day positivity rate in Hampden County is 9%, among the highest in the state. It has risen sharply in recent weeks, from 5.72% on December 2. That’s according to the latest data released Thursday by state health officials.
Massachusetts’ overall positivity rate stands at 5.66%.
In Springfield, the 14-day positivity rate is 8.98%. The numbers are even worse in other communities, with Southwick at 11.16%, Westfield at 10.16%, and 9.15% in Agawam.
The positivity rates are substantially lower in the other three counties of western Massachusetts. Hampshire County has the lowest of any county in the state at 2.9%. Berkshire County is at 4.62% and Franklin County checks in at 5.55%.
As for vaccinations, Hampden County has the lowest rate of residents who are fully vaccinated, at 60%. The situation is better elsewhere in the region. Hampshire County has a 66% fully vaccinated rate, Franklin County at 70% and Berkshire County at 71%.
Overall, 74% of Massachusetts residents are fully vaccinated.
Locally, the holidays have impacted the availability of COVID-19 testing. The testing site at the Eastfield Mall will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day as well as New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
Another location, at Holyoke Community College, is closed through December 27, and will be shuttered again starting December 30, reopening January 3. The testing site at the Holyoke Mall next has available appointments on Monday, and will also be closed December 31 and January 1.