Westfield has 42 new COVID-19 cases

Vaccine eligibility timeline released by governor

WESTFIELD- The Health Department reported a drop in the number of weekly COVID-19 cases March 17, with 42 new cases reported to bring Westfield’s pandemic total to 2,658.

Two additional COVID-19 related deaths were also reported, bringing the city’s pandemic total for deaths to 107. Fifty-five Westfield residents were in isolation as of March 17 due to COVID-19.

Westfield Health Director

Health Director Joseph Rouse said Thursday morning that the number of daily cases that were reported to the Health Department dropped on Tuesday and Wednesday. For most of the week, the city was averaging seven or eight reported cases per day. On Tuesday and Wednesday that number suddenly dropped to two or three cases per day, according to Rouse. 

Rouse said he wanted to look optimistically at the sudden drop in cases, but that similar patterns have played out before in the pandemic where the drop was later attributed to testing lab delays.

“The only thing I worry about that has been a pattern in the past is a lab delay,” said Rouse, “If we get past the rest of the week and we still see two or three cases a day then we could be in good shape. If we go back up to our daily average from before, that means it was a lab issue.”

He said that if the drop in cases is not a lab delay but a true reflection of the infection rate, then that is a sign that more people are getting vaccinated and being more mindful of COVID-19 guidelines such as mask wearing and social distancing. 

“I think with the last two weeks of rising numbers people have taken notice and are being more careful about all of the basics,” said Rouse. 

On March 18, Gov. Charlie D. Baker announced the rest of the timeline for the vaccine rollout in Massachusetts. On Monday, March 22, residents aged 60 and older and certain workers such as restaurant and grocery store employees will be eligible to receive the vaccine. 

On April 5 the eligibility will be extended to those aged 55 and up and residents with at least one comorbidity. 

On April 19, all Massachusetts residents aged 16 and up will be eligible to receive the vaccine.

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