Summer COVID surge puts new urgency in vax drive

DPH reports >1,000 new cases in 4 days

BOSTON — They had a perfect location with a great view and plenty of foot traffic. Trouble is, not much of it was heading into the pop-up vaccine tent outside the Boston Children’s Museum Tuesday.

“Right now, we’re all about choosing locations that are as convenient as possible for people,” said Philippa Edwards of Cataldo Ambulance, one of the sponsors. “I think we want to send the message that this is safe, this is effective, this is what we need to do as a community to protect ourselves against COVID-19 and to protect each other.”

The other message Edwards wanted to send: “We really see it as a race against time to get people vaccinated.”

Over the weekend, there was some evidence the race is slipping away. The state’s Department of Public Health said COVID-19 testing from Friday, Saturday and Sunday produced 717 positive results, which bumped up the 7-day rolling average past 1%, a level not seen since late May.

Things didn’t get any better as the new week started, with DPH adding another 366 confirmed cases to the tally along with another 86 probable cases. That made for a new 7-day rolling average of 1.18%.

Related: State’s positvity rate continues to climb in latest report

“This is due to Delta, primarily, there’s no doubt about it,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. “This is such a contagious virus that it just spreads very, very rapidly and has just turned off that nice drop-off we had in cases.”

Schaffner likened what’s happening now with the Delta variant across the country with a locomotive picking up speed. Before you know it, it can become unstoppable. That’s because contagious viruses spread exponentially with each infected individual passing the virus on to more than one person.

“It seeks out people who haven’t been vaccinated, who are susceptible and tries to make them sick,” Schaffner said, noting that nearly all patients in his hospital who wind up in a bed there from COVID-19 have not been vaccinated.

At the Boston clinic, Carol Churchill was among the walk-ins willing to try and stop the Delta variant locomotive. She reported in for initial vaccination, choosing the Johnson & Johnson one-and-done shot.

A TSA agent at Logan Airport, Churchill said she chose the shot precisely for its convenience.

“Well, the coronavirus is still around, and I wanted to do my part to stay healthy,” Churchill said. “I have a job where I’m around a lot of people daily. It just seemed like a good idea. It’s not too late.”

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