NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

State’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout not enough to quell disproportional number of positive cases in Lawrence

Massachusetts vaccine distribution is categorized into three phases. Phase 1 is made up of front-line workers such as doctors, nurses, home health aides, long term care/assisted living facility residents and workers. Phase 2, which is where we are currently in the scheduled distribution, consists of groups who in numbered order will be eligible. In group 1, individuals aged 75 and older, then in group 2, individuals aged 65 and older, individuals with 2 or more known conditions, and residents and staff of low income and affordable senior housing. Group 3, who are not yet eligible for vaccination are all other workers, such as teachers, waitstaff, bus drivers, and state and city workers. Group 4 includes all other individuals with one certain medical condition. Phase 3 includes the general public and anyone else who did not qualify in earlier phases for vaccination.

According to The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the total positive case number of 17,822 as of February 27. 2021, puts Lawrence with the highest positive case rate in the State of Massachusetts, clocking in at just over 7%. With only one public vaccination site in the city, a Lawrence General clinic at South Lawrence East Elementary, the site is tasked with the duty of administering vaccines not to only Lawrence residents, but to people from all over the county.

Even the new mayor Kendrys Vasquez said to a reporter when asked about the South Lawrence East clinic, that more vaccine sites need to be opened, and they need staffing.

Vasquez also said that the city has already hired 100 student workers and plans on hiring 30-35 nurses to staff the new sites once the city receives the state and federal finds to open them.

Those who have gotten their vaccine(s) at the South Lawrence East clinic describe it as being orderly and efficient, with immediate disinfection of chairs, handrails, clipboards, and pens after every patient.

Currently, the people who are the main contributors to Lawrence’s high positive test rates are not being actively vaccinated, because according to the Lawrence Board of Health, more than 10,000 of the positive cases are people under 30.

Even though people under 30 are the demographic with highest positive case number, there has only been 1 reported death within that age group, while people aged 60-99 make up 203 of the 224 total reported deaths.

This is because people under 30 assume that because they have no underlying conditions, and because they are young, that the virus will not affect them. This mentality can very quickly turn people into super spreaders because they are not as diligent when it comes to social distancing, proper mask wearing, and avoiding risky activities. Socializing venues and private parties run rampant within the city. While the young people play, and pretend that the virus does not exist, parents and grandparents suffer and die because of their children and grandchildren’s foolish behavior.