As new COVID-19 cases continue to rise in New Bedford, many city employees are masking up while on the job again, beginning today. It shouldn't come as much of a surprise as earlier this month Mayor Jon Mitchell issued a vaccination mandate for some city workers, including police and fire personnel. The New Bedford School Committee decided that students returning to school on September 2 should wear masks.

It appears likely that a mask mandate will be issued for the rest of us before long.

New Bedford continues to have one of the lowest vaccination rates in the Commonwealth, and new COVID cases are being reported at a rapid rate. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, New Bedford trails only Boston and Springfield in newly-reported COVID cases.

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Southcoast Health's Shawn Badgley told the New Bedford Light that folks need to reconsider their decision not to get vaccinated. "If we don't do something right now, it's going to get much worse – doing something is getting vaccinated," he said.

Most New Bedford residents have opted not to receive one of the three vaccines against COVID. The New Bedford Light reported roughly 43 percent of city residents have been fully vaccinated, "well below the state's vaccination rate." I don't understand the reluctance of so many folks to get vaccinated. That reluctance comes with a price as more New Bedford residents will become ill, and more of us will be required to take precautions, including masking to avoid spreading the virus.

As always, I will refrain from telling others what to do. But I will ask that everyone reevaluate their decision not to get vaccinated to be sure that decision is based on solid information and not emotion, and that it is indeed the best decision for you and your family.

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 and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.

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