WESTFIELD- The number of new weekly COVID-19 cases in Westfield nearly doubled this week with 36 new cases being reported by the Westfield Health Department Wednesday afternoon.
The 36 new confirmed COVID-19 cases represent a worrying trend in recent weeks where the number of new cases in the city, and state as a whole, have been rising. Last week there were 19 new confirmed cases.
There was also one additional death due to COVID-19, bringing the total to 59 since the beginning of the pandemic. The total number of confirmed cases in Westfield since March now stands at 622. There are 24 people currently in isolation in the city.
Health Director Joseph Rouse said Wednesday evening that there is one cluster of seven or eight cases in a nursing home in the city. Otherwise, the rest of the cases are spread out geographically.
“Cities are turning to ‘red’ status everyday, which is somewhat to be expected as we enter the final phases,” said Rouse, “In April and May we predicted a rebound in October.”
He said that there could be many factors contributing to the current spike in cases. While some students in Westfield returned to in-person learning this week, Rouse said few to none of the new cases were among student aged populations.
“We don’t have the numbers in the schools right now to sound the alarm one way or the other,” said Rouse.
Should the virus begin to spread among student aged youth, Rouse said he would inform the Westfield School Committee and hope they would make the right decision with that information.
Part of the cause, he said, has to do with activities being less limited and the colder weather setting in.
While the rise in cases is significant, Rouse said the number by itself does not tell the full story. He said one must also consider the percent positive rate, the hospitalization rate, and the number of deaths.
Rouse suggested that Gov. Charlie D. Baker’s phased reopening plan may need to roll back somewhat to prevent the spread from getting out of control again.
“If everything remains the same and all activities remain the same, it will continue to grow exponentially,” said Rouse. “Until something happens where the governor’s orders are scaled back, we don’t have any other model to look at other than the escalating number of cases on a weekly basis.”
He said he believes that the first thing Baker will look at will be the limit to the size of gatherings. He said he thinks that will at least be decreased by half of the current limit.
“It’s not too much longer that the governor and his board of advisors can wait on giving new orders,” said Rouse. “We will have to limit activities and people won’t like it but we can’t just keep doing what we are doing.”
While the weekly number is high compared to recent months, Rouse said it is not yet to the point where the more extreme measures need to be taken again.
“It’s not anything I feel uncomfortable with yet. The number just says right now that people need to take care and remember that this virus is still here,” said Rouse.