NEW BEDFORD — Although it’s really no surprise to anyone, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said on WBSM Wednesday afternoon that there will be no New Year’s Eve fireworks in the city Thursday night.

“Like everything else, we’ve had a different Thanksgiving this year, a different Christmas, a different Hanukkah and now a different New Year’s,” Mitchell told WBSM’s Barry Richard. “And it’s for reasons we’re all familiar with. We can’t have big crowds, and the fireworks we put on year in and year out are good fireworks and they draw big crowds.”

Mitchell said the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to the public now has him optimistic about the city’s next potential fireworks display.

“The way things are going with the vaccines, I think we have a pretty good shot at having a fireworks show on the Fourth of July,” he said. “Although that’s several months away at this point, as I’ve said before, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

The city’s 2020 Fourth of July fireworks were canceled along with just about every other event this year due to the pandemic.

In his weekly appearance on WBSM, Mitchell also gave an update on the distribution of the vaccine in New Bedford but said the plans at the city level “have to wait for the state to act,” because it is the state that controls the rollout to communities.

“In the meantime, we’re going to be ready,” he said. “I told everyone in city government that I want us to be ready to get the vaccines out once we have access to them.”

Mitchell said that as healthcare workers in the city have been inoculated, he also believes that the state has begun scheduling nursing homes for vaccinations as well. He also said there were additional doses that were sent in the first round to healthcare workers that were then used to inoculate first responders in the city.

“It hasn’t rolled out as quickly in the early going as people would have hoped, but it feels like it’s picking up. As it reaches a certain momentum, there will be an opportunity for us to grab more and to get it out there,” he said. “When the state says ‘we have extra,’ we have to put our hand up and take it.”

He said after healthcare workers are inoculated, they will be followed by other first responders, school personnel, critical employees “like those who run the wastewater plant” and the rest of the vulnerable population.

“One of the big priority groups in New Bedford is people who work in food industries, like fishing and seafood processing,” Mitchell said. “That’s one of the reasons I think we’ll get more doses of the vaccine than others.”

Mitchell said although the infection numbers “have dipped” recently, he thinks that might be due to fewer people being tested over the holidays and that there may be a post-Christmas “bump.” He also said there are more COVID inpatients right now in the Southcoast Health system than at any other point in the pandemic – he said he believes there are more than 60 COVID patients at St. Luke’s right now, which he said is more than in the first surge – and he’s concerned about how that is trending. He said the city is working with the state to get one of the city’s two surge centers open again to “take some of the pressure” off St. Luke’s.

Although he admitted he is impatient about how quickly the vaccine has been distributed, he understands the state is working through issues and is in close communication with them about getting the vaccine to New Bedford.

“I told our folks we need to be as ready as possible and be assertive when it comes to getting the vaccine,” he said.

LOOK: Just some of the photos that capture the historic year that was 2020

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