© 2024 New England Public Media

FCC public inspection files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact hello@nepm.org or call 413-781-2801.
PBS, NPR and local perspective for western Mass.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

As COVID-19 concerns rise again, some western Massachusetts businesses notice fewer customers

New Massachusetts data show the rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations is up in the aftermath of the holidays.

More people are staying home, and some businesses are noticing.

The hairdressers at Chameleons Hair Salon in Northampton don't need to be told health trends are worsening. They measure the pandemic in cancellations.

Stylist Gary Caron said about four clients a week are canceling a week, citing COVID or flu.

"It takes a quarter of your income per week out of your pocket, at least," Caron said. "And then there's the long-term [problem] of trying to fit those people back into your schedule."

Salon co-owner Frankie Molongoski said they're considering requiring masks again.

"It may come down to that, just to make everyone else feel comfortable — and us," she said. "We're working so close to people, face to face."

Nearby, the health food café Noho Nutrition was almost empty.

"Normally people have their New Year's resolutions — they want to get in shape, they want to lose weight," owner Jenny Weber said. "So we usually have an influx of customers, and this year just hasn't started off like that."

"Even looking out in the parking lot — doesn't have as many cars in it as it normally does," Weber added. "There's just not a lot of people out."

In its most recent public data on January 12, the state reported almost 1,300 people hospitalized with COVID in the 7-day average, compared to 600 in early December.

The number of confirmed cases appeared to be relatively steady over the past few weeks, and even down a bit, with the most recent 7-day average of new cases around 1,200. But health officials have noted that case numbers are unreliable since many people get tested at home and don't report the results.

The state reported 142 confirmed deaths from COVID over the previous week, with more than 21,500 over the course of the pandemic.

Karen Brown is a radio and print journalist who focuses on health care, mental health, children’s issues, and other topics about the human condition. She has been a full-time radio reporter for NEPM since 1998.
Related Content