Rouse ‘cautiously optimistic’ after drop in weekly COVID-19 cases

WESTFIELD- The City of Westfield Health Director Joseph Rouse reported a drop in the number of new weekly COVID-19 infections this week in part because one cluster in the city is being contained. 

The city reported 53 new confirmed cases and five new COVID-19 related deaths. There were 95 people in isolation as of  Tuesday. The number this week is not a complete 7-day picture, as the Health Department released the data early due to the holiday Wednesday. Any cases that were detected Wednesday will be reported in next week’s data.

The outbreak at the Westfield Gardens nursing home on Feeding Hills Road is no longer as severe as it was, but Rouse said during the Board of Health meeting that most of the COVID-19 related deaths this week occurred at the facility. 

The cluster at Westfield State University remains while the campus is in a shelter-in-place state until next Thursday. 

The remainder of the cases in the city are largely spread out, with no other significant clusters having been identified. Rouse said he hopes that people will see the increase in overall numbers and take the necessary steps to protect themselves. He said there has been a relative resistance to local contact tracing efforts among residents. 

Due to the drop in the number of weekly new infections, Rouse said he is cautiously optimistic that the city is heading in the right direction. 

“The numbers are comparable to what we had in the Spring, but now we have more resources and experience,” said Rouse. 

He said it will still likely be after new years that he is able to report more manageable numbers every week. 

While there have been some individual cases in schools, Rouse said there is still little to no significant spread among school-aged youth in the city. The Intermediate School was closed for two days this week when one case was identified. 

“We expect there are going to be cases. You can’t have that many people without having a case or two in the school system at a given time,” said Rouse, adding “it is not something that we can’t handle, and it is not something the schools can’t handle. I don’t want anybody to think that the school closing is leading into something bigger.”

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