Spread of milder respiratory virus may have caused increase in tests
SOUTHWICK — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported nine new COVID-19 infections in Southwick for the second week in a row.
The increased infection rate in Southwick has brought the town back into the “moderate risk” category for COVID-19 spread for the first time since May 27. Southwick’s positivity rate of 4.42 percent is now higher than the Hampden County average of 4.05 percent.
Southwick’s pandemic case total now stands at 650.
Health Director Tammy Spencer said that she thinks there are a lot of people getting tested for COVID-19 because there is another, less serious virus going around that causes similar symptoms. She said she believes it to be respiratory syncytial virus, which causes mild, cold-like symptoms, but can be serious in young children and older adults.
Spencer the increase in administered tests has likely caused COVID-19 cases to be detected when they otherwise would not have.
Spencer said that she does not believe there to be any significant community spread of COVID-19 in Southwick. She said four of the last 12 newly reported cases have been in children under the age of 12, and that a few individual households have had multiple COVID-19 cases.
She said that the children who have been getting infected have been experiencing more symptoms than the infected children had faced with the original COVID-19 virus. Spencer said that the delta variant could be to blame, as it is believed to cause more significant symptoms in children.
Spencer does not receive data on the vaccination status of Southwick residents who test positive.