Local COVID rate remains low as state experiences rise in daily counts

WESTFIELD- As the number of daily COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts rises above a 2 percent positive rate on some days, Westfield and Southwick continue to post low numbers for the week.

The Westfield Health Department reported 10 new cases between July 30 and Aug 5 with seven people reported to be in quarantine or isolation. The number of cases reported in Westfield since the beginning of the pandemic is now 502. 55 people have died in the city from COVID-19.

The Southwick Health Department reported just one new case of COVID-19 with three people in isolation. Two of those people are expected to leave isolation early next week and the third is expected four or five days later according to Southwick Public Health Nurse Kate Johnson. 

Johnson said that 1,000 people have been tested in total in Southwick and that they average about 13 to 15 tests daily. 

Johnson said to the Board of Health Wednesday evening that as the school year approaches the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Department of Education are disagreeing on how to handle contact tracing and quarantines among students, faculty, and staff. 

Johnson said that the DPH wants close contacts of any positive cases to be out for 14 days in isolation whether they have a negative test or not. The Department of Education has said that a negative test should mean that the person can come back to school. 

Although much of the Northeast continues to report low infection rates, Rhode Island Gov. Charlie D. Baker announced that all visitors from Rhode Island would be subject to a 14 day quarantine if they enter Massachusetts. The small New England state has in recent weeks been seeing an uptake in the daily positive test rate, with many days in which more than 100 new cases are confirmed. In a state with a population seven times lower than that of Massachusetts, that is cause for concern. 

On Friday afternoon, Gov. Baker announced that the maximum size of outdoor gatherings would be cut in half as the state experiences a rise in the number of new daily cases in recent weeks. Baker has said that the cause is attributable to house parties that have taken place in the state.  The limit was lowered from 100 people to 50 people for outdoor gatherings. He authorized state and local police to enforce the order and that those who host such large events are subject to fines.

He also announced that step 2 of phase 3 of his reopening plan would be delayed indefinitely due to the rise in cases. He said that communities surrounding Boston have had some of the highest test rates in the state.


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