COVID numbers break new record; expected to climb higher

More than 400 Abington residents are actively battling COVID infections according to new numbers that reflect the largest one-day jump in cases since the start of the pandemic.

As of 5 p.m., Tuesday, Abington’s positive case count stands at 421, or 124 more cases than the same time on Monday. The peak last winter was 184.

[UPDATE: The case total reached 500 Wednesday. According to the Board of Health, 68% of those cases were not fully vaccinated.]

“They’re bad,” Marty Golightly, Abington’s Public Health Director, said about the latest numbers.

As a result, more Abington committee meetings are moving virtual. The Charter Review Commission and Finance Committee announced their meetings will be held via Zoom this week.

The spike is fueled by a combination of omicrom, a more contagious varient of the COVID-19 virus, becoming the dominant strain, and the end of the holiday season.

“I do expect [the numbers] to not improve any time soon.” Golightly said.

Wait lines at some regional testing sites are more than two hours long.

Although there is some evidence the symptoms associated with the omicrom virus isn’t as severe for those who are fully vaccinated, and with nearly 75 percent of the state’s population now vaccinated, the tidal wave of new cases is still threatening to overwhelm local hospitals.

“Initial reports and studies indicate that hospitals do not need a great deal of severity to be overwhelmed,” Goliughtly said, adding that hospitalization numbers lag behind growing case numbers.

The Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians and Massachusetts Emergency Nurses Association released a statement Monday saying that the state’s emergency departments are “at a breaking point” and will get worse in the coming days and weeks.

“Our Emergency Departments are at critical capacity and things will get worse. Waiting rooms are overflowing and hospital admission beds are limited throughout Massachusetts,” the groups wrote. “In the coming days and weeks, we will see more nurses, doctors, and support staff become infected and stay home to isolate and get well.”

The groups said those experiencing severe symptoms should still seek medical care at local hospitals, but that emergency rooms shouldn’t be used by people people with mild symptoms, or seeking tests.

[Disclosure: the author of this article is chairman of the Charter Review Commission]

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