Massive Covid Surge in Town and schools; High Booster rates

by beth on January 3, 2022

The bad news on the Covid front is a massive surge in the number of new cases reported over the past two weeks. The good news is that the state is reporting that a good portion of the Town has received Vaccination Boosters. So, I’m hoping that most of the cases are fairly mild.

The Town has posted that Covid cases spiked over the holidays with 192 new cases in two weeks as of last night. It’s by far the largest surge we’ve seen, representing 18% of the total cases throughout the pandemic.

Jan 2 - Confirmed per Day in Southborough over 14 days Jan 2 - Cumulative total Covid in Southborough Jan 2 - tracking Covid in Southborough

The most vulnerable age group, 70+ years old, was the one least impacted (at least in sheer numbers, with only 2 cases). The biggest spike in recent cases were among teens. The age group that has the highest number of cases throughout the pandemic is now the youngest group.

Jan 2 - Covid by ages in Southborough over time

Given the figures, it’s not surprising that Northborough Southborough Schools are also reporting a surge.  As of this evening, the combined district has reported 226 new cases since December 22nd.  The surge represents 38% of the total cases this school year. 109 cases were among Algonquin students/staff and another 47 from Southborough K-8 schools.

Dec 28 - Vaccinations-table - fixedThe CDC has been recommending booster shots for ages 16+ to mitigate the risk of serious illness. As of December 28th, over 40% of Southborough residents had received them. (About half of those eligible.)

Looking at the numbers, it looks like a small percentage of residents are unvaccinated (although, clearly the state’s data on our population is outdated, so there may be additional unvaccinated residents not represented by the figures.)

Dec 28 - Residents vaccinated by age

Metrowest Daily News recently covered Southborough’s success in vaccinating residents and shared advice from Public Health Director Dr. Heather Alker for other towns struggling. You can read that here.

Tomorrow at noon, the Board of Health will be meeting. Among the topics are a mask advisory for the Town and logistics for the Annual Town Meeting scheduled for March. They are then scheduled to discuss Town Meeting with the Board of Selectmen that evening.


{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 James January 4, 2022 at 9:11 PM

Interesting the town, the schools, or this blog do not publish cases in the vaccinated. We know they have decent data. Particularly in schools, but the BOH has to have the data given their intense focus on contact tracing and maintaining increased staffing levels justified in part on that task. To clarify, Mary Ellen Dugan was asked the question on the spot in the last SC committee meeting, and she was immediately able to pull up the data and respond to the question by the SC member with exact numbers on infected Vaxxinated students at ARHS. I can only assume this is intentionally withheld data. It is very deceiving with Omicron as it is becoming more and more clear the vaccinated are more vulnerable to contract and spread the disease now than the unvaxed. Perhaps this is due to natural immunity, but Danish and Israeli data seem to make clear the vaccine has negative efficacy against the variant. As for severe disease component. Is there any severe disease with Omicron? How do people transition one day back to reality? Honestly, this is not even the flu at this point. People really need to snap out of the trance.


2 beth January 5, 2022 at 8:21 AM

The figures on cases of vaccinated people are not published by the state in their weekly reports, therefore I don’t have access to those figures. As for the schools, I looked and Mary Ellen Duggan told the Regional Committee in December that 82 of the 319 cases (across Southborough, Northborough, and Regional) at that point in the school year were fully vaccinated. That is about 25% – consistent with what the Board of Health informed me earlier in the fall for our town.


3 Resident January 5, 2022 at 1:23 PM

How is it “becoming more and more clear the vaccinated are more vulnerable to contract and spread the disease now than the unvaccinated” when all reports concerning hospitalization due to covid related illnesses are stating that the hospitals are full of unvaccinated people?


4 Rebecca Deans-Rowe January 5, 2022 at 6:08 PM

James, I’m confused by your claim that the vaccinated are more vulnerable than unvaccinated. The hospitals are bursting with Covid patients, and the vast majority are unvaccinated. The unvaccinated are at much higher risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death.


5 James January 6, 2022 at 11:14 AM

Here’s most recent one from Ontario detailing the negative efficacy of the vaccines.
against Omicron meaning you are more likely to be infected if you are vaccinated. Here is the Danish Study.
I’ll send Israeli when I get back to my home computer. Go to the chart on page 18. (I am vaccinated by the way). The data is piling up and it seems clear. You can do your own experiment. Find the most vaccinated state or county and take a look at the cases. Now do the opposite. Find low vaccinated states or counties and look at the cases. Either way, the good news is the risk of death or severe disease from Omicron are practically nothing compared to the earliest version of this Covid-19 disease. If you love the vaccine, have at it, keep getting the boosters. We all should be reassured we can now go back to normal life and if you don’t want the vaccine there are certainly a mountain of reasons not to get it.


6 beth January 7, 2022 at 4:30 PM
7 James January 7, 2022 at 5:04 PM

No problem, I’ll wait. Plenty of more data has been flooding in where I’m comfortable you will understand soon once Mainstream media stops distorting the information.


8 southsider January 8, 2022 at 9:29 AM

thank you Beth… I think it was Mark twain who said there are lies, damn lies, and statistics!


9 Dean Dairy January 8, 2022 at 2:56 PM

I have no position on the argument here. The data seem preliminary and inconclusive.

But that Reuters “fact check” is emblematic of the kind of straw man fact checks that are prevalent in today’s media: Present the most extreme argument, and then beat that extreme straw man with zero nuance. In fact, notice that even the two source Tweets cherry-picked by Reuters had never argued the study “concluded” anything.

Reuters: “Danish study did not conclude that COVID-19 vaccines adversely impact immune systems or that COVID-19 vaccines are completely ineffective against the Omicron variant

False. A study conducted using Danish data between Nov. 20 and Dec. 12 did not conclude that mRNA vaccines cause harm to immune systems.”

Alternatively, why not frame the fact-check as: “Inconclusive. Data from Danish study shows drop-off in vaccine effectiveness, but the study’s authors think they know why it isn’t because the vaccine weakens immunity.”

Why the change? Because the Reuter’s Fact Check’s one-sided refutation seems based almost entirely on speculation by the study’s scientists who want to avoid (perhaps for political reasons?) one logical inference being drawn from their data once the media come knocking for their “fact check.”

Again, I have no position here. I have no problem with hypothesizing: it’s where science begins. But the refutation presented by Reuters does seem to be based on speculation by the scientists who are now under the media microscope. Just read the thing.

We expect therefore that there was an overrepresentation of vaccinated people among the first generations of Omicron cases identified in Denmark…”

Meanwhile, “if socialising in larger groups is more common among the vaccinated than the unvaccinated population, then the infection rate will be higher in the vaccinated population because they are much more likely to be exposed to the virus, not because of their vaccination status…”

“VE estimation relies on vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals behaving in a similar fashion in their every-day lives with respect to COVID-19 precautions and exposure to infection risk. It is conceivable that the increasingly small cohort of unvaccinated individuals that remains in Denmark takes further precautions.

“On that basis it is reasonable to expect that the vaccine effectiveness estimates presented in our study are too low, not only for the fourth period (91-150 days after vaccination) but likely also for the earlier time intervals. To conclude, the vaccines’ protective effect may be low against infection with Omicron after 4 months, but it is most unlikely to be negative!”

Sheesh! It’s clear Reuters set out to discredit certain other people, but in truth only brought discredit upon themselves as unbiased “fact checkers” and, indirectly, the scientists involved in the study.


10 Peter Quirk January 8, 2022 at 8:10 PM

Here’s a Danish research PREPRINT (i.e. still being reviewed by scientific peers) that introduced the negative efficacy topic, with a possible explanation for it. The article is in English, with all of the researchers named, unlike your first article generated by an enthusiast for data visualization. There is a robust discussion in the comments that you should not treat as scientific proof of anything. We have to wait until this paper is fully reviewed and published (if found to be correct.)

Note the conclusion:
“Our study contributes to emerging evidence that BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273 primary vaccine protection against Omicron decreases quickly over time with booster vaccination offering a significant increase in protection. In light of the exponential rise in Omicron cases, these findings highlight the need for massive rollout of vaccinations and booster vaccinations.”


11 southsider January 5, 2022 at 11:33 AM

I think you’ve got some incorrect info, James. Vax’d people are not more likely to get Omicron than un vax’d but they are more likely to get it than they were likely to get Delta. And Omicron alone may not be a killer like its predecessors but because of the sheer number of people it has infected, there are still many many deaths.. more now may be from other comorbidities but those comorbidities were exacerbated by Omicron. Hospital across the nation are full… there’s no trance here… COVID is still a nationwide/worldwide problem … everyone need to be vax’d and boosted.
Personally, i think it’s time for the insurance companies to deny claims from people who could be vax’d but have chosen not to be… Those people are costing us billions and are filling our hospitals unnecessarily.


12 Djd66 January 6, 2022 at 7:12 AM

James, not quite sure if you are a crazy anti vaxer, based on you comments, I will assume you are.

Unvaccinated are 12X more likely to be hospitalized for Covid
Unvaccinated are 15 times more likely to die of COVID-19 compared with fully vaccinated 65+ year-olds.

Any questions?


13 James January 12, 2022 at 11:39 AM


I am not “a crazy anti vaxer”. Making assumptions about people is more telling about you than anything. Now I will admit that technically technically I am an anti-vaxxer based on the definition change in the Merriam-Webster dictionary this year to include “people who oppose regulations mandating vaccinations”. Your numbers are not aligned with the esteemed Dr Fauci who says it’s 10x hospitalized and 20x to die, but those numbers are deceiving as they do not factor in the denominator (testing) and as Walenskey and Fauci have stated recently the differentiation of hospitalized/died with and from is not being tracked in hospitals and is deceiving. All that being said I agree with the importance of the vaccine for certain individuals. My main point is that the vaccinated are spreading the virus now at a higher rate than the unvaccinated and it is hard to argue this at this point. You can do your own analysis. Take the 10 highest vaccinated states and compare to the 10 lowest vaccinated states. The amount of news stories and chatter reporting on this is growing at an exponential rate if you look past mainstream media sources. I have more to say, but Beth seems to like to cut off any conversation that does not align with her views.


14 beth January 13, 2022 at 7:24 AM

It’s not about cutting off conversation that doesn’t align with my views. It’s about not allowing the spread of misinformation.


15 Jamea January 14, 2022 at 4:26 PM

TRUTH does not mind being questioned. A LIE does not like to be challenged. You have allowed a tremendous amount of lies on this platform. Perhaps you did not realize they were lies at the time because you refused to accept anything that conflicted with your own beliefs. I don’t believe you are lying with intention. I’m curious how much of the truth was suppressed.


16 James January 26, 2022 at 10:38 AM

I’ve been thinking a lot about this “misinformation” comment. It’s a very interesting word.


17 Kelly Roney January 13, 2022 at 12:08 PM

My main point is that the vaccinated are spreading the virus now at a higher rate than the unvaccinated and it is hard to argue this at this point.

This is simply false unless you’re using some deceptive meaning of the word rate. The unvaccinated carry higher viral loads and are thus more contagious than the vaccinated Your immediate example suggests confusion about rates. If someone cares about truth or falsity, one must compare rates in similar circumstances

These vaccines, like all vaccines, are imperfect. They don’t protect 100% of those who receive them. But, even though vax resisters (and less developed countries) have provided opportunities for Covid to evolve, for instance into omicron, vaccines protect most people who receive them from infection, from serious illness, from death, all of which are positive outcomes. And, without a doubt, they do a better job of all these positives than doing nothing.


18 John Kendall January 12, 2022 at 12:44 PM

Let’s just simplify this: I work in a hospital as a phlebotomist. Every morning over the past few weeks the number of inpatients has climbed. The Covid numbers are ever increasing. Vax or no vax, breakthrough or not, the numbers are way up. Wear a mask, get vaccinated


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