After remaining in the lower-risk coronavirus yellow zone for two weeks, the Hull was downgraded to the high-risk red category on April 8. By way of comparison, the town was in the lowest-risk green zone as of March 18, slipped into the yellow category the week of March 25 and remained there the following week, then was rated red as of last week.
Between March 31 and April 14, 24 COVID-19 cases, including confirmed and probable, were reported in Hull. “Probable cases are treated in the same manner in which we treat our confirmed cases,” Hull’s Public Health Nurse Joan Taverna told The Hull Times. “These cases all fall under the same quarantine [protocols] and COVID-19 guidance,” she added.
Hull entered the red zone, according to Taverna, because the number of positive coronavirus cases in town totaled 28 between March 21 and April 3, exceeding the number that would have allowed the town to remain in the yellow category – or perhaps a less-risky zone if the numbers were low enough.
The threshold is based on a community’s population, with Hull falling into the 10,000-50,000 category.
“The increase in the number of cases bumped us into the red zone, which is surprising given that more residents are being vaccinated,” Taverna said. “Perhaps people are getting more lax because they feel safer knowing that residents are being vaccinated and are going without face masks and aren’t social distancing as much, but that’s only my guess.”
Taverna is concerned that there could be another increase in the number of positive cases after next week’s spring break. To help avoid that possible scenario, she recommends that indoor gatherings be limited to household members and outdoor get-togethers be limited to a small number of people. “Everyone should continue to social distance and wear face masks,” she said.
In response to an email inquiry, School Superintendent Judith Kuehn said that, despite the town being in the red zone, “there’s no evidence of transmission of the virus in our schools, and fortunately we have not had a spike in cases. We continue to strictly follow safety protocols, consult with the Board of Health, offer weekly COVID-19 pooled testing for grades six through 12, and have PCR COVID-19 testing available for students and staff with symptoms or for students who need to quarantine if they were a close contact at school, through South Shore Hospital,” she said.
As for the spring break, Kuehn said, “As a community, we need to remember to adhere to social distancing protocols to avoid a spike in cases within the schools after vacation.”
The Hull Board of Health is wrapping up inoculations of second doses of the vaccine and is now at a “standstill,” according to Taverna, because the state is no longer providing vaccines to local clinics. Instead, the focus is on mass-vaccination sites for the most part and on providing the vaccine to pharmacies involved in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. (See sidebar below.)
Federal program enables pharmacy to make the vaccine available locally
Nantasket Pharmacy has received a “small allotment” of the COVID-19 vaccine through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, according to owner Rocky Tenaglia, with appointments available by email.
Hull residents who want to be vaccinated can email the pharmacy at email@example.com. The pharmacy will respond with the necessary forms to fill out and will also provide appointment availability information. Those receiving vaccinations are required to upload medical insurance information.
Residents are asked not to call the pharmacy about vaccinations. All appointments will be made by email on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Last week Nantasket Pharmacy administered Johnson & Johnson vaccinations. “We’re working them into our work flow,” Tenaglia said. This week the pharmacy received a limited supply of the Moderna vaccine. More deliveries are expected on a week-by-week basis for the administration of first or second doses, as needed.
“The supply may increase as time goes on,” Tenaglia said. “We’re in this for the long haul, and hopefully we’ll be able to take care of everybody [who wants to be inoculated].”
As of April 19, the general public ages 16 and older will become eligible for the coronavirus vaccine as part of the final phase of the state’s rollout plan. Individuals who need assistance with preregistration or scheduling an appointment at a vaccination site can call 877-211-6277.