Local COVID-19 infection rate remains low despite spike in the Sun Belt

WESTFIE/SOUTHWICK – The City of Westfield and the Town of Southwick continued their streaks of low numbers of new COVID-19 infections this week while some parts of the country are seeing the beginnings of what may be a second wave of infections.

Southwick Health Director Tammy Spencer reported Thursday that there had been zero new infections in the town over the previous week, remaining at a total of 54 cases. In Westfield there were just three new infections over the last week, bringing the total to 439 cases over the course of the pandemic. Fifty-three people have passed away from the virus in Westfield while Southwick has had two deaths.

While the new infection rates remain low locally and across the state, some parts of the country have seen a spike in infections that has prompted fears that a second wave could come soon. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. surpassed 2 million this week as states in the Sun Belt saw spikes in hospitalizations and cases after being among the first to reopen in the country.

Texas, Arkansas, California, Arizona, and Florida all saw spikes in new infections or hospitalizations due to COVID-19.

The low number of new infections in Massachusetts comes as the state is going through phase 2 of Gov. Charlie D. Baker’s reopening process for the state. This phase allowed for hotels, restaurants, outdoor recreation centers, and retail stores to open up with certain conditions. Restaurants are allowed to offer outdoor dining only and many industries are subject to occupancy limits. Youth and professional sports are also allowed to resume without spectators.

Phase 3 of the four-phase reopening plan is expected to begin as early as June 29, but Baker has said that the phases can be delayed or even reversed if a new spike in COVID-19 infections hits the state.

Phase 3 is expected to allow for some “non-essential” businesses to reopen under certain guidelines. This includes museums, fitness centers, horse tracks, and casinos.

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