ORANGE, N.D. — The town’s health board issued its weekly COVID-19 update a day early Thursday night to report it had learned of 33 new cases in the previous six days.
“This week’s case count data dwarfs the previous highs seen over the 2020 holiday weeks,” the board’s update states.
As of Thursday night, Orange had had 284 cases of the novel coronavirus, with four deaths. There had been 11,821 negative test results. Clinics in Orange have fully vaccinated 644 people — 54 with the Moderna vaccine and 590 with the Pfizer one.
Health officials believe the surge is the result of a combination of factors — the state’s loosening of public health measures, poorer compliance with social distancing and face coverings, an increase in gatherings, community spread between households, and a prevalence of the contagious variants in Massachusetts.
“We want to stress the importance of remaining diligent. Even with the nicer weather, the virus is still prevalent in our community,” a recent Facebook post from the Board of Health states. “Restrictions are easing and things are starting to seem more normal, but cases are on the rise. We need to put a stop to that now to prevent further community spread.
“Keep in mind, 33 new confirmed cases could mean there are many close contacts, who may now be carrying the virus also,” the post continued. “We do not want to see this spike in cases become an upward trend.”
Orange Health Director Matthew Fortier said a simple trip to a store can prove troublesome if the shopper quietly becomes infected and then hosts a large gathering, spreading it to others who, in turn, spread it further.
In the past two weeks, three of the recent cases involved children between birth and 12 years of age while four affected those between 13 and 18, six involved people 19 to 24 years old, eight infected those between 25 and 34, 11 affected adults between 35 and 49 years of age, and six involved people 65 and older. One case involved someone between 50 and 64 years old.
Board of Health member Jane Peirce said Orange receives its statistics from the state Department of Public Health. She noted there were far fewer recent cases involving senior citizens and schoolchildren, indicating infections might be spreading from get-togethers of unvaccinated younger adults. Peirce said it is crucial for people not to let down their guard.
“I think the advice is what it always was — to observe the precautions we’ve been putting out there since the beginning,” she said. These measures include wearing at least one mask, adhering to social distancing and regularly washing your hands, using hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t readily available.
“We so badly want to go back to normal,” Peirce said.
She said Orange is hosting a clinic for a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on April 10.
Fortier said he received word Orange will receive 100 Johnson & Johnson vaccines (which require only one dose) from the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG). He said FRCOG will give Orange 12 percent of the 800 vaccines it is receiving, and that percentage will remain intact in the future because it is the amount of Franklin County’s population the town holds.