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Montague’s COVID-19 cases reach greatest level since January

Staff Writer
Published: 12/1/2021 3:46:58 PM

MONTAGUE — During the holiday week, the town saw the highest number of new positive COVID-19 cases it has reported since early January.

According to Health Department figures discussed with the Selectboard on Monday, Montague recorded 27 new COVID-19 cases between Nov. 21 and Nov. 27. The current two-week rolling case count that began Nov. 14 stands at 39 positive cases, which puts the town in the “red zone,” defined by the town as having 25 positive cases or more.

While the data was discussed with the Selectboard on Monday, no vote was cast in response to the rise in cases. Members instead elected to wait until the Board of Health meets to discuss the situation on Thursday during a 5 p.m. meeting in Town Hall.

“I’m feeling like I would like the Board of Health to do their due diligence around this to make recommendations,” Selectboard Chair Rich Kuklewicz said. “My thinking is that as a Selectboard, we let the Board of Health do this work this week. My suggestion would be that we strongly recommend that people wear masks or keep their distance in public settings as best as possible.”

Among those who tested positive between Nov. 21 and Nov. 27, eight people were vaccinated and 19 were unvaccinated, according to the Health Department’s figures. Overall, 62% of Montague’s population is fully vaccinated as of Nov. 25, while 72% of residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

“There are times when I think people look at it and say, ‘Well, I can get (COVID-19) either way,’” Town Administrator Steve Ellis said of those who aren’t vaccinated. “But remember ... you are far and away more likely to contract this, and further, you are more likely to be seriously ill.”

On Nov. 1, Selectboard voted unanimously to rescind the town-wide mask mandate that had been issued on Sept. 27 and instead issue a “mask advisory.” The mask advisory, which remains in effect, merely recommends that residents wear face coverings in town buildings and other publicly accessible indoor spaces. Non-vaccinated individuals, however, are still required to wear face coverings in town buildings and are requested to wear them in publicly accessible buildings. At the time, members of both the Board of Health and Selectboard argued that Montague’s “gray” COVID-19 risk status (which indicates limited active concern) as a result of several weeks of low case counts warranted relaxing restrictions.

Speaking during a Nov. 22 Selectboard meeting, Board of Health member Melanie Ames Zamojski noted a rise in COVID-19 cases stemming from Thanksgiving gatherings might not show up in the data until a week after the holiday.

“It’ll probably be another seven to 10 days before we see a rise related to Thanksgiving,” she said at the time.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.

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