Westfield Health Director

By Juanita Carnes FNP, Board of Health chair and Joseph Rouse, director of health

After months of a comfortable plateau of no new COVID-19 cases in our community, last week we had 1 new case and this week we have 8. This is a low number but statistically significant. Next weeks numbers will be more telling. We and the public health officials world[1]wide are carefully monitoring this trend. We were on a similar course at this time last year. COVID-19 cases are up in 47 states by at least 10%. 35 states have seen increases of more than 50% for 4 consecutive weeks. New cases have increased globally as the vaccination pace continues to decline. Nearly all patients currently hospitalized are unvaccinated. Only 48.3% of the country is vaccinated. Maybe more important and alarming to some, the Red Sox vs. Yankees game was postponed due to several of the Yankees players testing positive. These numbers and the mutant strength of the Delta variant are concerning and threatens the progress the U.S. has made toward ending the pandemic.

Vaccines are as readily available as the misinformation about them. It is fact, not opinion, that there is a direct correlation between vaccination rates and infections. “Health misinformation has cost lives”( US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy). Disinformation is largely to blame. Some of this is purposeful, some is innocently passed on when a person hears/reads something incorrect and shares it with others. Although not intended to cause harm, it is now truly a life and death situation.

The Delta variant has features that allow it to evade some of the body’s immune defenses. It is more transmissible than anything seen yet with this virus. Public Health officials are concerned it “will trigger dramatic surges in cases and deaths in the US and around the world.” The variant is seen in all 50 states and accounts for 52% of new infections in the U.S. Adults age 18-49 account for 40% of COVID-19 hospital admissions. To date, it has not graduated to a variant of high consequence, it is still classified as a variant of concern. To become a variant of high consequence, the virus would have to demonstrate diagnostic failure, decreased vaccine effectiveness and other attributes. Obviously, we absolutely do not want that to happen. Vaccinations, herd immunity and personal health measures are the tools to prevent this variant from strengthening.

Chair, Westfield Board of Health

With statistics reflecting our continuing fear that this pandemic is not over, we implore you to get vaccinated. We thank you again if you have. Please encourage the vaccine to those around you. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director said, “So deaths were preventable with a simple safe shot.”

The vaccine alone slows the progression as it increases herd immunity. Social distancing, hand sanitizing and masking are proven strategies to decrease the spread. Relaxing public health restrictions and declaring victory prematurely provide the opening for another surge. We aren’t given the opportunity to postpone this game. As more preventable lives are lost, the virus wins. Take care of yourself and someone else.

Dedicated health department members who have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic are: Debra Mulvenna RN, Assistant Director Evelyn Bristol RN, Steve Cipriani, Health Inspector Thomas Hibert, Office Manager Crystal Dugay, Kathi Cotugno, CORE coordinator Other Board Members: Margaret Doody, Stan Strzempko MD.



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