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LYNN PASSES 10,000 VIRUS CASES

BY GAYLA CAWLEY| December 18, 2020

LYNN — Lynn reached a grim milestone on Friday when it surpassed 10,000 coronavirus cases.

The city has now reported 10,045 cases since the COVID-19 pandemic began, which includes another 94 new cases reported on Friday.

Of that total, 1,798 cases are active, 147 people have died, and 8,100 have recovered from the virus, according to city data.

Reaching the 10,000 case threshold is reflective of the rising case numbers that are currently being seen across the state, said Mayor Thomas M. McGee, who announced on Friday that City Hall would continue to be shut down until Monday, Jan. 4.

City Hall has been offering services remotely since Tuesday following several positive cases that were reported among city employees.

However, McGee said the decision to keep City Hall closed through early January was made based on another anticipated virus surge after the holidays.

“We had some cases in City Hall, (but) those cases are under control,” said McGee. “(It’s) out of an abundance of caution and obviously the case numbers continue to rise.”

The anticipated surge after Thanksgiving is still being seen nearly a month after the holiday, and another spike is expected after the December holidays, McGee said.

“(Experts predicted that) once we got into the holidays and into winter, there could be a real substantial increase and we’re seeing that,” said McGee. “We’re looking to take the kind of measures to continue to educate people and continue to follow what all of the scientists and experts are telling us to do.

“We need to continue to be vigilant and follow the recommendations to address it in Lynn.”

In addition to City Hall, McGee has asked other city facilities, including the Lynn Public Library, to follow suit with operating remotely. His office noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and many health experts have expressed that actions such as this should be taken to reduce community spread during the holidays.

City Hall employees who are considered essential will continue to report to work in person, which includes public safety, custodial and maintenance staff, parking enforcement, public works crews, and IT staff, according to McGee’s office.

All appointments scheduled with City Hall staff will need to either be held virtually or postponed. Those with scheduled appointments will be contacted by those respective departments, McGee’s office said.

On Friday, the city of Lynn began to roll back to a modified Phase 2, Step 2 of the state’s reopening plan, a decision McGee and several other mayors made earlier this week in order to limit the size of social gatherings.

The rollback requires certain businesses to close that were open in Phase 3, such as indoor gyms, fitness centers and museums. In addition to Lynn, mayors in Boston, Arlington, Brockton, Newton, Somerville and Winthrop, chose to roll back their economic reopening based on the skyrocketing case numbers that have followed the Thanksgiving holiday.

If numbers continue to rise, McGee said the real concern becomes the strain on hospitals, in terms of not only a limited number of beds being available, but the staffing shortages that could be seen with increased hospitalizations due to COVID-19 illness.

Following the holidays, McGee said the city and state will have to take a look at the health metrics and determine whether another rollback or pause is warranted if there is another large surge.

Lynn has the fifth highest positive test rate in the state, at 13.74 percent over the past 14 days, and its daily incidence rate climbed to 130.4 new cases per 100,000 residents this week, according to the state Department of Public Health.

Last week, the city’s positive test rate was 12.27 percent and its daily incidence rate was much lower, at 89.19 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the state Department of Public Health.

New cases were also reported in Lynnfield, Marblehead, Peabody, Revere, Saugus and Swampscott.

Lynnfield (549 cases, 17 deaths) reported nine new cases, Marblehead (558 cases, 31 deaths) reported 55 new cases, Peabody (3,424 cases, 219 deaths) reported 138 new cases and two additional deaths, Saugus (1,886 cases, 46 deaths) reported 39 new cases, and Swampscott (452 cases, 11 deaths) reported 23 new cases.

Numbers remained the same in Nahant, which has reported 113 cases and six deaths.

Lynn, Lynnfield, Peabody, Revere, Saugus, and Swampscott are all in the red this week, which is the state’s classification for high-risk communities, according to the DPH.

Along with Lynn, Revere and Saugus both have double-digit positive test rates at 11.26 and 11.14 percent respectively. Lynnfield and Peabody rates are nearing double digits at 9.16 and 9.44 percent respectively, according to the DPH.

McGee said the arrival of the vaccine, which began to be administered to healthcare workers this week, is reason for optimism, particularly since it will become available to the general public this spring, but he urged residents to stay vigilant with following COVID-19 protocols.

“We’re (on) a bridge to a better place,” said McGee. “We need to continue to understand that we’re not there yet and we need to continue to work together to get past this and that means being smart and being safe.”