Health director reports 117 new COVID cases this week

Vaccine rollout begins throughout the state

WESTFIELD -COVID-19 continues to spread across the city, with 117 new cases reported this past week.

The new cases brings Westfield’s total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 1,285. A total of 155 active cases were in isolation as of Thursday morning. The Health Department also reported one additional death due to COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed COVID-19 related deaths in Westfield to 80. 

Health Director Joseph Rouse said Thursday morning that, as in recent weeks, there are no known case clusters in the city. He said the virus is still in a state of full-blown community spread.

This week’s new case report comes just days after the first COVID-19 vaccinations were administered to people in Massachusetts. Heather Erdem, a registered nurse at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield was the first health professional in the Baystate system to receive the shot Tuesday. She did so in front of a pool of journalists.

“We are getting vaccinated to keep the rest of our family that does not work in the hospital safe,” said Erdem after she received her first dose. 

Erdem and everybody who receives the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines will need to get a second dose of the shot several weeks later. 

A Baystate Noble Hospital spokesperson was unable to confirm if any frontline health workers from Baystate Noble have yet been vaccinated.

Rouse met with Westfield Public School Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski to discuss local case numbers in the schools and Czaporowski announced Thursday afternoon that the city’s schools would move entirely to remote learning for one month. 

In a Facebook post Thursday, Czaporowski said that schools would return to phase 3 learning on Jan. 19.

“After much deliberation with the City’s Health Department and the School Committee, we have decided that it is in the best interest of our students and staff to pivot to full remote learning starting tomorrow through Monday, January 18, 2021,” said Czaporowski.

Czaporowski noted that most people are following COVID best practices.

“I do want to commend those parents and students that followed CDC guidelines, which allowed our schools to be open this long. In hindsight, had anyone said that we were going to make it to almost Christmas when the school year began, I would have said that it was at the very least overly optimistic. This has been a true team effort,” wrote Czaporowski.


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