Health Bulletin: Some positive news on COVID-19


Chair, Westfield Board of Health

By Juanita Carnes FNP, Board of Health chair

This is my 39th article written for The Westfield News regarding COVID. My oldest son turned 39 this month. He is an assistant director of a health department in the Berkshires. Like everyone in public health, this pandemic has created unprecedented work demands on health departments. It has taken an emotional toll on all of us. He is taking a birthday stay-home vacation from work this week. I have asked him to edit some of my articles, and some weeks he does it with reluctance because he is so overwhelmed with COVID by the end of the work week. So for his birthday and for all of you, this week’s column is focused on anything positive about COVID. This is not to say that we have forgotten in any way those who grieve, suffer from illness, loss and the multitude of issues this pandemic has created.

This week our Health Department Director, Joe Rouse, reports our Westfield statistics with some cautious optimism. For the first time in several months, we saw a huge decrease in the number of new confirmed cases. There were 30 new cases, down from 64 last week. That is a hugely significant 50 percent decrease. Thank you to everyone out there following COVID precautions and guidelines to slow the spread. This shows that these control measures are working. Please keep up the good work.

Nationally, COVID cases have dropped by 12 percent. Hospitalizations have decreased by 14 percent. 215.7 million Americans have been vaccinated with at least one dose. The first week of
the Pfizer COVID vaccine booster has been successful, with nearly 2 million vaccines administered. Johnson & Johnson has filed for emergency use of their booster.

Pfizer-BioNTech submitted request to FDA for approval for vaccine for ages 5-11. Pfizer is also trialing a new drug that has so far shown to decrease severity of illness, hospitalization and death in those who take it early in the course of COVID infection. This is the first oral antiviral with effectiveness against the coronavirus. The company has plans to submit this for emergency use.

Some subjective and unmeasurable good things that have come out of this pandemic include people finding new ways to connect with family and friends, realizing how important community is, feeling a deeper sense of gratitude, appreciating and focusing on others, relearning the importance of personal hygiene to decrease transmission of illness, changes in work habits, improving technology for communication purposes, decreased pollution, and our pets have been happier than ever, having their family home.

Please take time to check out this uplifting photo. National Geographic depicted a photo by Stephen Wilkes memorializing our country’s loss with a white flag on the National Mall for each American life lost. His photo captured monumental loss with true grace. This photo illustrates beauty while respecting and remembering:

Let’s keep the momentum going. Get vaccinated, get your booster, encourage the unvaccinated to get vaccinated, help eliminate harmful misinformation, wear your mask, use hand sanitizer and maintain social distancing, Thank you for reading and doing your part to end this pandemic. Happy Birthday, Zach!

Take care of yourself and someone else.

Dedicated health department members have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic, as well as Board of Health members Juanita Carnes, FNP, Margaret Doody, and Stan Strzempko, M.D.

We keep working to keep you safe.

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