COVID infection rate at its lowest in weeks

WESTFIELD/SOUTHWICK – The local weekly infection rate dropped to the lowest it had been in weeks in Westfield and Southwick as students in some communities prepare to return to the classroom. 

The City of Westfield saw just three new COVID-19 cases between Aug. 27 and Sept. 2, bringing the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 522. 

The Town of Southwick had just one new COVID-19 case with two people currently in isolation. Two others came out of isolation last week, Public Health Nurse Kate Johnson said that she had some concerns about discrepancies in the data being presented at the state level.

Johnson said that the state has Southwick listed as having just 64 total cases, when in fact they have had 73 since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Despite the under reported numbers by the state and the consistently low infection rate, Southwick’s risk level for COVID-19 was raised to the second-highest level. Johnson said that the risk level for a municipality is based on that location’s number of new cases per 1,000 people in the previous 14 days. Southwick’s relatively low population possibly contributes to the elevated risk level. 

“There were only five positives in the whole month of August out of 545 tests administered,” said Johnson. 

At least four of those five cases were infected during trips out of state to New York and Rhode Island, meaning there is little to no community transmission that the health department is aware of. 

Johnson did say that she is concerned about Labor Day weekend and how it may affect the rate of infection going forward. She said she is worried about more people traveling and returning to Southwick with the virus after the weekend is over.

“That could bump us up in a very ugly way, so we have to remain diligent in every communication that we have,” said Johnson.

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