Health director urges continued mask wearing
WESTFIELD- The Health Department reported 67 new weekly COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, March 10 to bring Westfield’s pandemic total to 2,616 cases.
The Health Department also reported two additional COVID-19 related deaths this week, bringing the pandemic death toll in Westfield to 105. Seventy-four people were in isolation with COVID-19 as of Wednesday.
During the Board of Health meeting Wednesday Health Director Joseph Rouse expressed concern with the rise in the number of new cases this week. The general COVID-19 infection rate had fallen significantly from the peak in January before the numbers began to level out in recent weeks.
“We are still not done,” said Rouse, “There are people who believe that if the numbers get out of control and continue rising, this is another wave we will have to worry about.”
Rouse pointed out that Massachusetts is getting the vaccine out relatively quickly but not fast enough to allow people to begin to forgo COVID-19 guidelines. Massachusetts recently ranked among the top 10 states for vaccine distribution.
“Sixty-seven cases in a given week at this point in time as we go into phase 4 is very concerning,” said Rouse, “[The infection rate] should not be going up, it should be plateauing or going down. People need to be reminded that we are not out of the woods yet. Let’s not ruin our pending phase 4 status that we have been waiting for for an entire year.”
According to Rouse there are no known COVID-19 clusters in Westfield and there is no particular demographic that is becoming infected at higher rates than others.
Board of Health member Dr. Stanley D. Strzempko said during the meeting that, by his observations as an Emergency care physician at Baystate Noble Hospital, there are not many people coming to Noble with serious COVID-19 symptoms.
“Overall, knowing what the numbers are out there, it seems like it is hitting a population that tends to get less sick when they test positive,” said Dr. Strzempko.
Rouse said that it is possible that COVID-19 variants such as B.1.1.7 (the “U.K variant”) could be contributing to the new increase in weekly cases. Most of the new variants of COVID-19 share the characteristic of being much more infectious than the original variant.