The Town of Auburn has once again been designated as a red zone based on the State’s community level data as of December 17th. Over the previous 14-day period, Auburn had 197 new Covid-19 positive cases. We have now confirmed 681 positive cases since the start of the pandemic in March. The rate at which our cases are rising is cause for concern. To put it in perspective, on October 29th we had 299 cases. On December 17th we had 681, an increase of 382 or a 128% rise in new cases in 6 weeks. Last Wednesday night into Thursday morning, we had 28 cases alone. Compared to 26 towns in our District 7 fire region, Auburn had the 3rd highest incident rate, closely behind Southbridge and Worcester, and our positivity rate is in the highest third of those communities.
In the past month, Auburn has experienced increased cases of family spread in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, and cases have risen sharply since the holiday gatherings. The majority of new cases continue to be attributed to household spread, many originating from Thanksgiving holiday gatherings. This pattern of household spread is prevalent across the Commonwealth, with 187 communities now in the high-risk red zone. As of last Thursday, Auburn is ranked #31 in the list of highest risk communities out of 351 in the State. Due to the increased number of cases in the State, and the resulting strain on our health care system, the Governor moved all municipalities back to Phase 3, Step 1. Some communities are taking additional measures to revert back to even earlier phases and implement additional restrictions.
The next couple of weeks are crucial. With the Christmas and New Year’s holidays approaching, officials estimate the number of Covid positive cases to dramatically increase. If the cases are not brought under control, the State may revert to an earlier phase of the Reopening Plan once again, potentially triggering the closure of additional businesses and further restrictions. Please help Auburn and the Commonwealth curb the spread of Covid-19 over the next couple of weeks so that we can keep our economy open, keep our schools open, and keep our residents safe and healthy. Please celebrate the holidays responsibly and with those members of your household only. Protect yourself and your family by celebrating in new ways that keep non-household members physically apart such as remote gatherings. We all miss being with our children, grandchildren, parents and relatives. We miss gathering with our friends and neighbors. But we have to make these sacrifices over the next few weeks so that we can once again celebrate holidays and milestones together in the near future.
We know this is a sacrifice and we understand the toll that this pandemic has taken on all individuals, families, friends, neighbors and businesses. Today is the start of winter solstice, the astronomical first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the shortest day of the year. As we head into the winter season, we are imploring everyone to take extra precautions this holiday season so that we can curb the spread and reduce our incidence rate for the health and welfare of the Auburn community.
2020 has been a tremendously challenging year locally, nationally and globally. Working together, let’s make 2021 a year of the “RE”: recovery, rejuvenation, resiliency, revitalization, renewal, rejoicing, reconnecting. Let’s keep Auburn and its “re”markable citizens safe, healthy and protected.
Julie A. Jacobson