Colder weather is driving more people indoors, and that has resulted in an increase in COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts. New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell told me more people are becoming lax about practicing common-sense precautions, and that is adding to the problem as well.

Mitchell said schools remain among the safest of places in terms of the spread of the virus. He said there has been no known spread among patrons to restaurants and stores, though there have been cases recorded among some employees.

He said most of the spread appears to be happening in the home among family members or where folks are gathering in large groups.

Mitchell told me New Bedford has recorded 177 cases of COVID-related deaths since the pandemic began earlier this year. Three deaths occurred on Tuesday alone. He said it is difficult to say how many of those deaths are directly attributable to COVID and how many died of some other cause but had the novel coronavirus as well. That is still not bad in a city of nearly 100,000 people.

Mitchell said the three hospitals, including St. Luke's in New Bedford, that comprise the Southcoast Hospitals Group are at about 70 percent capacity right now. There is currently no need for the two overflow facilities the administration established in the spring, though Mitchell said they could be reactivated within three weeks if necessary.

There is no doubt that New Bedford, like many other cities across the country, is experiencing a "second surge" of COVID, but the numbers appear to be manageable, at least for the moment. It is within our power to keep it that way.

Practice good hygiene, wear your mask, and avoid large groups. If we the proper precautions, it'll be over before you know it.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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