IPSWICH — Director of Public Health Colleen Fermon is urging residents to remain vigilant against the spread of COVID-19 as the community has reached a high risk designation for the disease, and to share health and safety guidance for residents as they finalize plans and prepare for their holiday celebrations this year.
According to the public health data released on Thursday, Dec. 17, the Town’s designation is now at “Red,” indicating a “high risk” of spread in the community. The average daily incidence rate for the Town of Ipswich is 43.2 per 100,000 residents, up from 29.83 last week.
There are currently 68 active cases of COVID-19 in the community. There have been a total of 277 cases in Ipswich since the start of the pandemic. During the two week period which the state’s gathered data from for its latest weekly report, from Nov. 29 through Dec. 12, there were 81 cases of COVID-19 in the community. This is the second consecutive week the town has had the highest number of cases in a two week period since the pandemic began.
Of all COVID-19 tests taken over the past two weeks among residents, 5.37% have returned positive test results for the virus.
Residents are strongly encouraged to avoid high risk activities, especially indoor social or holiday gatherings, and all Massachusetts residents are under orders from the Governor to wear masks at all times while in public.
“Residents need to be smart about the way they celebrate the holidays this year– and the safest thing you can do is to limit your festivities to your household, and connect with other family and friends virtually,” Fermon said. “It’s a sacrifice we need people to make, for the health and wellbeing of the people you love, yourself, and your community.”
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), residents should take the following precautions this holiday season:
- Limit in-person celebrations to household members only
- Postpone or cancel travel this holiday season. If you do choose to travel, be aware of and comply with Massachusetts travel order requirements. Note: Hawaii is currently the only state where people can travel from to Massachusetts without being required to fill out the state’s travel form and quarantine and/or produce a negative COVID-19 test result.
- Follow the current state gathering size limits and sector-specific workplace safety standards.
Those who still choose to travel or host a small gathering are urged to consider lower risk alternatives and review the precautions they can take to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.
DPH recommends several lower risk activities for celebrating the holidays this year, such as:
Lower-Risk Celebrations and Activities:
- Limit in-person holiday gatherings to only people you live with.
- Host a virtual holiday dinner with extended family or friends.
- Prepare foods for family and neighbors and deliver them in a contactless way.
- Virtually attend your traditional holiday activities, such as a visit with Santa.
- Consider virtual caroling or reciting. Provide a link to your virtual caroling for the people you want to sing to.
- View holiday lights from your car with those you live with.
Higher-Risk Celebrations and Activities:
- Any time you gather with others outside of your household, you increase the risk of contracting or spreading illness. All residents are discouraged from gathering with those from outside their household. Gatherings in Massachusetts are subject to gathering size limits.
- You are risking your health and the health of others if you host or participate in any in-person festivities if you or anyone in your household:
- has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not completed the isolation period;
- has symptoms of COVID-19;
- is waiting for COVID-19 viral test results;
- may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days; or
- is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, such as older adults or those with certain medical conditions.
- If in-person caroling or reciting, stay more than 25 feet from the people you are reciting or singing for and wear a mask. Remain outdoors while caroling.
- If you visit Santa Claus in person, wear a mask, stay six feet from Santa and others while in line, and make a reservation for your visit where available.
- If viewing holiday lights outdoors, take a one-way walk with those you live with and maintain distance from others.
Other Recommendations and Guidance:
- Always wear your mask and watch your distance. (Remove your mask only for eating and drinking.)
- Do not share food, drink, or any utensils, including serving utensils.
- Seat people with plenty of space (at least six feet) from one another while dining.
- Consider seating people at smaller tables in multiple rooms instead of around a large family table.
- Improve ventilation by opening windows and doors.
- If setting up outdoor seating under a tent, ensure guests are still seated with physical distancing in mind. Enclosed four-wall tents will have less air circulation than open air tents and should be considered indoor spaces (also check fire codes for heating tents).
- If outdoor temperature or weather forces you to put down the tent sidewalls, consider leaving one or more sides open or rolling up the bottom 12 inches of each sidewall to enhance ventilation while still providing a wind break.
More information about the state’s guidance for holiday celebrations can be found here.
For the latest COVID-19 updates for the Town of Ipswich, visit https://ipswichcovid19.com/.