NEW BEDFORD — COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed in the city from 449 the week after Thanksgiving to 816 during the week ending Dec. 8.

The pandemic’s statewide death toll is also mounting. In the first seven days of December, 119 people died from COVID-19 in Massachusetts, a rate nearly 30% higher than the first week of November.

LEARN MORE: Find the latest data on COVID-19 in New Bedford and Bristol County in the COVID Dashboard

Children and teens accounted for 29% of new cases in Massachusetts during the last two weeks, a higher proportion than at any other time in the pandemic. Only 3% of people infected in March and April of 2020 were younger than 20. There were 132 new cases among students and staff in the New Bedford Public School District last week, also the highest number in a single week since the beginning of the pandemic. There have already been 113 cases in the school district this week.

According to the hospital census on Dec. 8, 160 were people hospitalized with COVID-19 across five Bristol County hospitals, and 23 of them were in intensive care unit beds. The most recent data on hospital capacity in southeastern Massachusetts shows 92% of regular beds occupied in the region and 83.1% of ICU beds occupied.

The average daily incidence of COVID-19 in New Bedford leapt to 74.5 cases per 100,000 during the most recent 14-day reporting period, from Nov. 21 to Dec. 4. In Bristol County as a whole, the average daily incidence rate was 65 per 100,000.

Of a total population of 99,980 in New Bedford, 52,775 are now fully vaccinated. In the last two weeks, the city’s fully vaccinated population grew by 658, bringing the vaccination rate to 52.8% as of Dec. 7. New Bedford still lags behind Bristol County and statewide vaccination rates.

In the last seven days, 320,018 people received booster doses in Massachusetts, bringing the total number of boosters administered in the state to 1,437,185.

Of the 8,681 children ages 5-11 in New Bedford, 340 are now fully vaccinated. So far in the rollout of Pfizer-BioNTech’s pediatric vaccine, 884 eligible children have received their first dose in New Bedford, 10.2% of the population in this age group. New Bedford has vaccinated fewer eligible children than 96% of towns and cities in Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, the Omicron variant was detected in Massachusetts over the weekend in Middlesex County. On Dec. 4, genetic sequencing at New England BioLabs identified the variant in a mild case in a fully vaccinated person who had traveled out of state.

Email Abigail Nehring at


Sign up for our free newsletter

Receive in-depth news stories and arts & culture coverage from around New Bedford in your inbox every weekday.

Support local news

Give today to keep The Light shining. As a nonprofit with no paywall we rely on reader donations to fund our high-quality reporting.

New Bedford Light is an IRS-determined 501(c)(3) Public Charity; all gifts are tax-deductible. Our EIN number is 86-2407296.

Thank you to our sponsors

Founding benefactors: Joan and Irwin Jacobs fund of the Jewish Community Foundation, Mary and Jim Ottaway

Bank 5 logo.
Jardim & Marotta logo.
Sylvia Group logo.
Unger LeBlanc logo.

Learn more about our community of individual donors

For questions about donations, contact Chrystal Walsh, director of advancement, at

For questions about sponsoring The Light, contact Peter Andrews, director of business development and community engagement, at