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Framingham Covid-19 Rate Dips; Walk-in Testing Resumed Yesterday

Framingham’s rate of known new Covid-19 infections dipped a bit again this week, according to data released today by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The city’s reported infection rate was down to 27.1 per 100,000 and test positivity was 3.1%. That keeps Framingham in the state’s yellow, moderate-risk zone – but still in the CDC’s high-risk red zone for in-school transmissions. (Framingham had an estimated 169 total cases per 100K in the last seven days; the CDC level for red-zone high risk of in-school transmission is 100.)

Framingham was back above daily state averages this week: 27.1 per 100K here vs. 23.3 statewide, and 3.1% positivity here vs 2.15% statewide.

Number of tests administered in the most recent 14-day period declined 3.8%, while number of known new cases dropped 5.4%.

More testing

Free walk-in testing resumed downtown yesterday at Saint Tarcisius Parish, 562 Waverly St. That’s good news for accurately understanding infection rates throughout the city, since it should mean more tests for higher risk neighborhoods. Walk-in testing ended downtown in December, which meant that access to free state-sponsored testing required a car for the remaining drive-through test center at the Framingham State commuter lot (484 Franklin St.) Both locations require appointments.

Testing numbers two weeks from now should give us a better idea about infection rates, since they should include more people without access to a vehicle.

Vaccine scarcity particularly acute in MetroWest

There’s less good news about the vaccine rollout here, though. The “regional center” at Natick Mall has only been allocated 100 doses per day by the Baker administration, compared to Gillette Stadium’s 4,000 daily appointments. The Natick site is supposedly going to ramp up to 5,000 daily by April.

And, problems continue at the state’s vaccine Web site, with people trying to make appointments today being told they had wait times of thousands of minutes. State legislators grilled Gov. Baker today about vaccine rollout failures during a six-hour hearing.

Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone urged legislators to ask the governor: "Why is the state only now starting to involve local governments, health departments, hospitals and medical facilities in vaccine dispersal when they’ve been asking for month? Did you not realize they are essential for scaling the operation? . . .

“Why has the state abandoned our existing public health infrastructure for vaccine distribution when it has been built for this exact sort of crisis? Why are we reinventing the wheel at the exact moment when moving forward with purpose?”

Several of the state’s largest regional vaccine centers are being run by CIC Health, a less-than-year-old tech startup, while most public health departments with years of experience serving (and vaccinating) their communities have been cut off from vaccine allocations. Framingham is one of 20 hard-hit cities still eligible for Health Department vaccines, however, local media report.

With 225 known fatalities since the pandemic started, one out of every 331 Framingham residents has died from Covid-19.

Covid Infection Rates Elsewhere in Massachusetts

MetroWest communities are now out of the Baker administration’s red zone. You can see known Covid-19 infections per capita elsewhere in Massachusetts in the map and table below: