Virus notes: Really, Williamstown a hot spot?
Are we surging or not? Trace-contact soft-launch
WILLIAMSTOWN, a bucolic town in western Massachusetts whose website barely mentions COVID-19, discovered on Wednesday that new state data suggests the municipality is a hotspot for the disease.
Chelsea, Brockton, Randolph, and Williamstown led all other municipalities in the state in terms of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, according to new state data.
Chelsea was the leader with 712 residents testing positive, which works out to 1,890 cases per 100,000 residents. Brockton was second with 1,202 residents testing positive for a rate of 1,223 cases per 100,000 residents. Randolph was third, with 367 cases, or 1,072 per 100,000 residents.
Then there is Williamstown, which had 74 residents test positive. Because its population is less than 8,000, the municipality’s population-adjusted number was 1,004 cases per 100,000 residents – the fourth-highest in the state.
These nursing home outbreaks are occurring all across the state and they aren’t always publicized.
According to the state’s new municipal data, the average population-adjusted number for all municipalities was 487 cases per 100,000 residents. Boston, with the most COVID-19 cases in the state at 4,609, had 663 cases per 100,000 residents. Worcester, with the third-most confirmed cases (886), came in below the statewide average at 461.
According to the data, 22 tiny towns had no COVID-19 cases. State officials withheld data on another 59 towns because they had fewer than five cases and less than 50,000 residents. State officials are worried releasing their state could violate patient confidentiality in those small towns.
With those caveats, the state data indicate 270 cities and towns have at least one case of COVID-19.
Baker says we’re in the surge
Gov. Charlie Baker says the state is in the midst of its COVID-19 surge, but the available data makes it hard to tell.
The number of new COVID-19 cases averaged 1,481 over the last three days, well below the level of 2,500 that Baker set last week as the metric for the surge. COVID-19 deaths increased by 151 to 1,108. Middlesex County saw the biggest increase in deaths with 33, followed by Suffolk (27), Norfolk (24), and Hampden counties (19).
He also seems optimistic that the state is well prepared for what’s coming. He’s been checking his list of beds, personal protection equipment, and tests and everything is going well. “We are pretty well positioned to deal with this,” he said.
The governor raised one concern with the business buzzword of just-in-time supply chains. He says that sounds good in normal times, but it’s not so good in the middle of a pandemic when people and nations are hoarding supplies.
“Having a big gigantic stash of gear is not a bad thing,” he said.
Soft launch for contact and trace effort
Marylou Sudders, the state secretary of health and human services, said Partners in Health is currently doing a “soft launch” of its initiative to trace and contact anyone who comes in contact with someone with COVID-19.Sudders said the nonprofit received 15,000 applications for its 1,000 positions. She said Partners in Health has hired about 250 people so far and has started working in eight communities north of Boston.
Sudders said everyone had been estimating there would be 10 people to contact for every one person infected. So far, she says, it’s worked out to six contacts for every person infected.