Infection rate begins to level off, most students remain in remote learning
SOUTHWICK- The Southwick Health Department reported Friday that 22 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed this week to bring the town’s pandemic total to 365.
Health Director Tammy Spencer said Friday morning that there were 28 Southwick residents in isolation due to COVID-19. She said there was one additional COVID-19 related death this week. Six Southwick residents have now died from COVID-19.
Southwick’s new cases come just a week after the town reported a record weekly high of 34 cases. The drop in the number of weekly cases follows a pattern that is playing out locally and across the state. While the infection rate remains high compared to the spring and summer, it has been steadily decreasing as more time has passed from Christmas and New Year’s, when ill-advised gatherings are believed to have contributed to record infection levels.
Southwick remains in the high-risk category, as it both has more than 25 active cases and a positivity rate above 5 percent. It has been in the high risk category since the week of Nov. 19.
In the previous 14 days, 893 COVID-19 tests were conducted in Southwick.
While the rate of infection across the state has begun to level off, health officials are still concerned about the future of the pandemic. On Jan. 17, the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant was detected in Boston. B.1.1.7 is the same variant that rapidly became the dominant variant in the United Kingdom.
It is believed to be 70 percent more infectious than existing variants, but it is not considered to be any more deadly. The variant was discovered in Massachusetts in a woman in her 20s who had recently traveled to the U.K. and had tested negative prior to leaving.
While it is not any more deadly, the variant being much more infectious means that many more people could become infected if the variant spreads out of control. More people becoming infected could lead to more people being hospitalized or succumbing to the virus.
As of Jan. 17, 88 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant have been discovered in 14 states.
On Friday, Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School Superintendent Jennifer Willard announced students in grades 3-12 will remain in remote learning this week while students up to grade two and those in substantially special programs will retrun to in-person learning but would pivot to remote if there was one positive COVID case in the schools.