After Year End Review, Belmont Records 13 ‘Extra’ COVID-19 Deaths, 10 Since Thanksgiving

Photo: COVID-19 deaths in Belmont is higher than originally thought.

A year-end review of official death records maintained by the Belmont Town Clerk’s Office revealed 13 additional Belmont deaths attributed to COVID-19 in 2020, according to the Belmont Health Department.

The revised total brings the town’s total COVID-19 death count since March 2020 to 74 resident including a death since the beginning of the new year, said Wesley Chin, Belmont’s Health Department director in his weekly health report dated Friday, Jan. 8.

And the Belmont health director is anticipating more cases and possible deaths in the near future.

“It’ll be a tough winter,” Chin told the Select Board last week due to the record number of COVID cases and deaths in the US and state over the past five weeks, as residents traveled to see relatives and were more likely to be at social events during the holiday season.

According to Chin:

  • Ten Belmont residents – all living outside long-term facilities – have died from COVID-19 since Thanksgiving.
  • COVID-19 deaths have disproportionately older residents, with the average age of death being approximately 85 years old.
  • 22 of these all deaths occurred among community members who were not residing in a local long-term care facility.

Belmont has 737 cumulative confirmed cases of COVID-19, which is an increase of 48 cases since a Jan. 4 report.

Due to the new case count over the past two weeks, this puts Belmont in the state’s “yellow” zone according to the new color designation metrics; lower than 10 average cases/100,000 or five percentage positivity, as reported in the last two weeks.

The Town Clerk’s Office will continue to provide information for COVID-19 death statistics; the data will contribute to the town’s COVID-19 dashboard on Fridays.

The COVID-19 Vaccine

The Belmont Health Department is monitoring the availability of COVID-19 vaccines and preparing for the eventual vaccination of the general public. The Town is updating plans for large-scale vaccination of residents to ensure that doses of the vaccine are given quickly and efficiently when they arrive in Belmont.

At this time, Massachusetts is currently in Phase 1 of its vaccine distribution plan, and vaccines in Massachusetts are reserved for healthcare workers doing direct and COVID-facing care as well as employees and residents of Long-Term Care facilities. Vaccine requests for these groups are being
approved and overseen by the state.

Belmont is participating in a regional collaborative to administer vaccinations to first responders, the third priority group within Phase 1 of the Commonwealth’s vaccine distribution timeline. First responder vaccinations will begin on Tuesday, Jan 12.

At this time, the Belmont Health Department does not currently have access to COVID-19 vaccine, other than the vaccine that has already been allocated to the Town’s first responders, Chin said. Currently, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has not determined that local health departments will be involved with additional vaccine administration prior to the general public in Phase 3 of the State’s distribution plan, but that is subject to change.

Flattened: COVID-19 Barely Registers In Belmont With 2 New Positives In Past Month

Photo: COVID-19 numbers have flattened in Belmont

Just as the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic is sweeping over the country, the coronavirus has all but vanished from Belmont.

In the month between June 12 and July 10, the Massachusetts Department of Health confirmed only two new positive cases of COVID-19 in Belmont residents – now at 231 – while deaths have remained steady at 60 since the third week of May, said Wesley Chin, Belmont Health Department director who announced this updated data at Monday’s Select Board remote meeting.

Chin told the board that it was the town’s residents strictly following health rules and advice – from wearing masks to avoiding crowds and washing hands – has flattened the coronavirus curve in Belmont.

“I just want to … recognize the hard work and sacrifice of all Belmont residents,” said Chin.

“I know that the past four moths have been a really challenging time for all of us in many different ways. We’ve been asked to change our way of life and to make sacrifices that sometimes doesn’t make sense to us at first, but ultimately it’s been a really good thing for the community,” he told the Board.

Chin said the town’s adherence to public health guidelines has resulted in Belmont’s positive testing rate – calculated by dividing the positive case number by the number of residents tested – to stay under 10 percent for the first six months of the year. And since the beginning of July, the positive tests rate has taken a significant drop to under one percent, an accomplishment town residents “should take a moment to just recognize and be proud of,” said Chin.

Unfortunately, said Chin, those numbers don’t mean our way of life can return to normal. “[We have] to encourage people to continue to engage in socially distancing and, please, wear face masks.”

Belmont’s accomplishment comes as the state has entered Phase Three in the reopening of the state from the impact of COVID-19, with more businesses and offices – movie theaters, gyms, non-contact outdoor sports – given the green light to open.