New cases identified in vaccinated Needham residents; largely travel-related and confined to households


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a busy week.

Only a few days after announcing updated mask guidelines last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control released new scientific data on the delta variant that gives a snapshot of how the highly contagious strain triggered a wave of coronavirus cases. 

And cases in Needham also rose during July, with nearly a dozen fully vaccinated residents testing positive for the coronavavirus.

The much-anticipated report comes a day after a presentation compiled by a doctor with the agency was leaked to the media and detailed the dangers of the delta variant and how mask-wearing is essential to bring it under control.

In a briefing Tuesday, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the new data spurred the agency to take immediate action by recommending fully vaccinated people to wear mask indoors in public settings where coronavirus transmission is high. 

“The delta variant is showing every day its willingness to outsmart us and be an opportunist in areas where we have not shown a fortified response against it,” she said earlier this week. “This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations.”

In Norfolk County as of Aug. 1, CDC labeled the risk of transmission in Norfolk County as “moderate” with 46.97 new cases COVID-19 per 100,000 residents reported over the seven days prior; along with 1.73 percent of all tests reported positive. 

  • Scroll down for the latest COVID-19 from Needham Public Health

In other Massachusetts counties like Middlesex and Plymouth, the Aug. 1 CDC data put the risk of transmission at “substantial”.

As of Monday, the counties designated at a “high” risk of transmission are Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, and Nantucket; and Suffolk.

Fully vaccinated people made up nearly three-quarters of COVID-19 infections that occurred in Provincetown during and after Fourth of July festivities, according to a CDC study published Friday in the agency’s Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report.

Out of 469 cases that were identified in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, from July 3 to 17, the agency found 74% occurred in fully vaccinated people. The CDC sequenced samples taken from 133 patients and discovered 90% were caused by the delta variant. 

Mapping CDC’s new guidelines: High transmission areas where you need to wear a mask indoors

“High viral loads suggest an increased risk of transmission and raised concern that, unlike with other variants, vaccinated people infected with delta can transmit the virus,” Walensky said in a statement sent to USA TODAY on Friday. “This finding is concerning and was a pivotal discovery leading to the CDC’s mask recommendation.”

Health officials continue to reiterate the majority of COVID-19 transmission occurs among the unvaccinated, not fully vaccinated people.

“Vaccinated individuals continue to represent a very small amount of transmission occurring around the country,” Walensky said.

Needham COVID-19 Update: July 29

At the local level in Needham, COVID-19 case data collected by Needham Public Health showed 46 confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases identified among residents of the town between May 1 to July 29 – with 20 of those coming between July 1 and July 27.

Out of the 20 new cases identified last month, Needham public health nurses identified 11 in fully vaccinated individuals, with contact tracing efforts showing 75 percent to be related to travel and affecting close contacts within their own household.

embed: Needham Public Health Update

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On the vaccination front and excluding the 16 percent of the town’s population under the age of 12 who are ineligible to receive the shot, almost every resident in Needham is fully vaccinated.

As of July 22: 79% of adults in Needham are completely vaccinated, according to Needham Public Health, with an additional seven percent of the population at least partially vaccinated.

Eighty-eight percent of Needham residents ages 16 to 19 are fully vaccinated, along with 78% of 12 to 15 year-olds.


Contributing: Ken Alltucker and Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY. Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT. Trevor Ballantyne, The Needham Times

Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.

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