The COVID-19 positivity rate increased more than tenfold in the City of Newton since the beginning of December, according to data from the city’s dashboard. COVID-19 deaths in Newton, however, have not risen proportionally.
The city reported four COVID-19 deaths between Dec. 30 and Jan. 12, according to newsletter updates from Mayor Ruthanne Fuller. In the same two-week period, 2,116 people tested positive for the virus in Newton, according to the updates.
“While positive cases in Newton are rising at their fastest pace since the pandemic began because of the highly contagious Omicron variant, deaths are not rising at a similar pace,” Fuller wrote in a Jan. 13 newsletter.
Newton boasts a higher vaccination rate against COVID-19 than the average rate in Massachusetts and across the country. According to the municipal dashboard, 87 percent of Newton residents are fully vaccinated as of Jan. 11. The state and national metrics, respectively, are 76 and 64 percent, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
Only 13 percent of Newtonians are unvaccinated, and only 15 percent of people in Massachusetts have not received a single vaccine dose, according to Fuller’s update. But around 50 percent of people hospitalized with COVID-19 at Newton-Wellesley Hospital as of Jan. 11 have not received a vaccine, according to Fuller.
Similar to trends in the city, cases of COVID-19 in Newton Public Schools (NPS) have risen since classes started on Jan. 3.
Between Jan. 6 and 12, NPS reported 441 student and 63 staff positive cases, according to the dashboard. The combined 504 cases eclipses the cumulative 385 student and staff cases in the NPS community between Sept. 2 and Dec. 22 of last year.
In its Jan. 2 COVID-19 update, NPS recommended that parents equip their children with surgical, N95, or KN95 masks for better protection. NPS also announced that there will be no large indoor student gatherings, and spectator attendance at athletic and performance events will be limited.
Despite the spike in COVID-19 cases in the first weeks of January, the district has not yet announced plans to adjust in-person classes.
“We are fully committed to keeping our students in school learning together in-person with their teachers, staff, and peers,” David Fleishman, superintendent of NPS, wrote in the update. “With your partnership, and the tireless work of our NPS faculty and staff, we believe we can continue to keep our school communities healthy and safe in the new year.”
Featured Image by Keara Hanlon / Heights Senior Staff