WESTFIELD- The Westfield Health Department confirmed Thursday morning that there are 24 residents who tested positive for COVID-19.
Public Health Director Joseph Rouse said March 25 that some residents had been tested previously, but due to issues with the state’s electronic lab reporting system they were unable to be confirmed until now.
Per protocol, those individuals would have been quarantined while their results were pending.
“Now that testing is more readily available you are going to see a bigger spike in cases,” said Rouse, “When more people are tested, more positive cases will be known.”
Rouse said that the Health Department has not been notified of the severity of each case or whether each individual needed to be hospitalized.
Going forward, Rouse said that the Health Department page on the City of Westfield website will display a counter with the number of cases in the city on the right side of the screen. It will be updated every day at 10 a.m..
Rouse said that the 24 cases in the city are not clustered to any particular area, but instead spread out throughout the city. He said that, surprisingly, that may be a good thing.
“With that number of cases, we don’t have any cluster cases. Fortunately right now it is spread out in the city,” said Rouse, “That may sound concerning to some people, but it is widespread in small numbers rather than a large concentration.”
If one believes they may be infected with the virus, Rouse said the first thing they should do is call their doctor. Anyone who believes they have the coronavirus should not go to the emergency room without first calling their doctor unless their symptoms are immediately life threatening.
The doctor will interview each person to gauge their symptoms and the severity of the illness. From there, they will decide if the patient needs to get a test.
Rouse advised that people refrain from believing or spreading rumors as the outbreak unfolds locally.
“The only accurate information is through our office, not what you hear from someone else,” said Rouse.
Throughout the week, health departments in the area have been confirmed cases of the coronavirus in individual towns. As of Wednesday at 4 p.m., the number of confirmed cases in Massachusetts was above 1,800.