Apr. 9—NEWBURYPORT — With 11,500 vaccinations given through the regional clinic consortium, and continuing low COVID-19 infection rates in the city, Mayor Donna Holaday had high praise Thursday for the city's Health Department staff and health directors in the region.
Holaday said in her weekly address on cable Channel 9 that only seven positive COVID cases were reported in Newburyport last week and the city remained in the "green" low-risk category.
Noting volunteers administered vaccine doses to 1,500 people on Easter Sunday, Holaday called it a "monumental effort that shows there's strength in numbers."
The collaborative effort involved health officials from Amesbury, Newburyport, Groveland, Georgetown, Merrimac, Newbury, West Newbury, Rowley and Salisbury, with clinics held at Amesbury High School and in West Newbury, most recently.
The latest phase of vaccinations opened the door for residents ages 55 and up, Holaday said, adding an additional 1 million people to the list of those eligible.
"We are hopeful to be looking forward to a summer of gatherings and celebration," the mayor said, noting that many community groups are making plans for events, depending on the trending of COVID infection numbers.
Holaday pointed to construction of wooden "parklets" for outdoor dining along State Street in Newburyport as an expansion of outdoor dining at restaurants, but she cautioned that "now is not the time to stop being careful."
The parklets are being built with some of the $260,000 grant received by the city for pandemic recovery.
A total of $5.4 million in money for Newburyport from the Massachusetts Local Rapid Recovery program will be spent over two years. The mayor urged businesses to fill out a questionnaire at www.cityofnewburyport.com to give officials input about their needs and concerns.
She noted that there are very positive signs in Newburyport schools, which began reopening for in-person classes this week. She said 1,000 students were tested last week and all were negative. By April 26, when schools fully reopen, she predicted 90% of teachers and other school staff will be fully vaccinated.
Massachusetts administered more than half a million vaccine doses in the past week, and the state's cumulative total of doses administered crept above 4.2 million on Thursday, health officials announced Thursday afternoon.
Between March 31 and April 6, the Department of Public Health counted a total of 524,155 total doses administered, the first time the weekly total has surpassed the half million mark.
Overall, Massachusetts has now received 5,052,940 doses, the DPH said in a separate daily report Thursday and administered 4,204,152 of them. Including residents who received both doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson option, 1,617,249 people in Massachusetts are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Concerns about the virus's spread remain elevated amid progress on the vaccination front, particularly given the rising presence of more infectious variants. Cape Cod officials said Thursday that an outbreak in the region is still a "deep and urgent worry."
The DPH reported 1,938 new cases Thursday from 112,416 tests, pushing the seven-day average positive test rate down from 2.46 percent to 2.29 percent. There have been 613,763 COVID-19 cases in the state during the pandemic.
Eight deaths from COVID-19 were reported in the previous 24 hours, bringing the confirmed total statewide to 17,022, the DPH said.
Thursday's report counted 735 patients in hospitals with COVID-19, a decrease of 20 from Wednesday's report.
The state reported increases in COVID-19 infections in Greater Newburyport, including the following: Amesbury went from 996 to a total of 1,013 cases since the pandemic began; Georgetown rose from 516 the previous week to 529; Groveland rose from 443 to 454; Merrimac went from 357 the previous week to 367 this week; Newbury rose from 284 to 287; Newburyport went from 949 to 959; Rowley went from 365 to 373; Salisbury rose from 596 to 602 positive cases; and West Newbury went from 175 to 177.
State House News Service contributed to this report.