Wellesley has boasted of high COVID-19 vaccination rates and relatively low case counts, but the case numbers are rising fast and town officials are sounding the alarm as the Delta and Omicron variants spread.
The Wellesley Health Department is warning that “the majority of individuals in Wellesley will likely contract COVID–19 at some point.” The department adds that older people and those with underlying health conditions are more at risk to get moderate or severely sick if they contract COVD-19, and that those not vaccinated stand a higher chance of getting very sick or dying from the virus.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that more than 50 million Americans, or roughly 15% of the population, have now had COVID.
The Board of Health at its most recent meeting in mid-December called attention to rising case counts, up from a handful per day to 10, and emphasized the need for more people to get vaccinated and get boosters. It strongly advised wearing masks in public indoor spaces, though stopped short of issuing a mandate. The average daily incidence rate is now up to nearly 38, according to the town’s COVID dashboard.
The town’s public school system is bracing for a return from vacation after the new year following this past week in which confirmed cases skyrocketed throughout the system among students and staff, and who knows what will happen this week.
“This was a tremendously busy week at the high school with regards to Covid,” Wellesley High Principal Dr. Jamie Chisum wrote on Dec. 23, the last day of school before the holiday break. “As of this writing there were 25 confirmed cases in the high school community this week alone. We assume because it is so challenging to find PCR tests right now, there may in fact be more than that.”
More than 50 cases have been reported across all schools over the past two weeks, with only Sprague going unscathed, according to the Wellesley Public Schools COVID dashboard.
The Wellesley School Committee is requiring all Wellesley Public Schools students and staff to wear masks indoors through Jan. 15, in accordance with state rules. The school system has said it will revisit the masking requirement, but the case increases would seem to be making a change in policy less likely by the day.
Both at-home COVID-19 tests and outside PCR tests have been tough to come by, with residents sharing tips across social media whenever stores get tests in stock or facilities have openings for test appointments.