Southwick nurse says trust local COVID numbers

SOUTHWICK- The Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District School Committee received a COVID-19 update Tuesday from the Southwick Health Department. 

Public Health Nurse Kate Johnson told the committee that the Town of Southwick has had just one new case of COVID-19 this week, bringing the total to 86 since March 1, with seven people currently in isolation as contacts of positive cases. 

She advised the School Committee that the data being published by the state about Southwick is inaccurate and is apparently underreporting numbers. As of Tuesday evening, the state counted 74 total cases since the beginning of the pandemic. She advised the committee that herself and Health Department officials know the COVID-19 landscape of Southwick a bit better than the state would, and that the local numbers should be trusted.

“Kate knows each person who has tested positive in this community,” said Superintendent Jennifer Willard, “As soon as she has a positive, she contacts me and we try to figure out if there is any connection between the case and our schools.”

Johnson also suggested that while certain sports may not be overly conducive to the spread of the virus, more people will need to isolate if there is one positive case among a sports team. She said that hockey in particular is being looked at across the state, as there have been many situations where players are not wearing masks on the ice. When players are trying to get a puck out of a corner, they can be basically on top of each other, possibly transmitting the virus. 

“Several of the contacts I have been working with were exposed on an ice hockey rink,” said Johnson, “When there is a deviation, there is going to be an increased risk of transmission.”

Johnson spoke about how difficult contact tracing can be and how some people are less willing to cooperate. 

“Sometimes people will talk to me, sometimes people won’t talk to me,” said Johnson. 

She said there have been many cases in Southwick so far where a contact of a positive case is unwilling to go get tested themselves. Typically, she said, that person will simply wait the 14 days in isolation without ever getting tested. 

There has also been a decrease in the severity of symptoms in recent cases in Southwick according to Johnson. 

“The acuity of symptoms has definitely weakened, at least in our population of people,” said Johnson. 

She and Health Director Tammy Spencer said that Southwick residents should continue to wear a mask, socially distance and wash their hands anyway, as our understanding of the coronavirus is always subject to change. 

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