Vol. III No. 05 3/1/2022
Board of Health Update
From Charles Kenny, MD
Chair, Tri-Town Boards of Health, Stockbridge Board of Health
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has now revised its mask guidance for fully vaccinated persons only. No change has been recommended for unvaccinated persons. DPH now advises that fully vaccinated persons should wear a mask when indoors only if they have a weakened immune system or increased risk from an underlying medical condition, or, at home if a family member is at risk. Such risks should be determined by their health care provider. Masks still are required of everyone in health care facilities.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not yet changed its recommendations: it still recommends that vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks indoors in Berkshire County because we still have a high transmission rate.
Tri-Town anticipated the DPH move toward normality, so we already have scheduled a meeting to review the current directive. Until then, the Tri-Town directive advising people about safe behavior remains in place and is not changed by the DPH policy change.
Remember, this past two-week's Covid statistics indicate not only our continued CDC rating as a high transmission rate zone. The data shows that Berkshire County again has the highest 14-day average daily incidence rate in the state (shared with Franklin County). Delaying consideration of the current directive by a matter of a few weeks will give our Boards the ability to respond to what is actually happening here in the Berkshires, where it counts, rather than to what is happening elsewhere in the state. This is logical, prudent, and appropriate, in my opinion.
Obviously, the disease has put everyone through a great deal of stress, and we all would like to have it behind us. I am pleased to note that the community and institutional leaders in our towns have already taken steps or have plans in place to help seniors, children, parents, teachers, clergy, businesses, employees, first responders, and health-care workers who paid dearly during this crisis. We all need to pitch in to support our communities' efforts.
I cannot speak for the Boards, but I personally applaud the DPH change in policy, and I hope the Tri-Town Boards will be able to follow suit at the upcoming meeting on March 3rd at 4 pm. I look forward to the coming spring when those who are vaccinated among us can feel liberated from this plague.
Photo: Jay Rhind