Workplace COVID exposures a concern in Northampton

Staff Writer
Published: 3/18/2021 9:02:46 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Although more people are getting vaccinated, public health nurses in Northampton are still doing a lot of contact tracing of COVID-19 cases.

“We’re still getting a pretty significant amount of cases in Northampton which is surprising to me,” Merridith O’Leary, the city’s public health director, told the Board of Health at its meeting on Thursday night.

“We’re not increasing at a significant rate but we’re also not plateauing,” she said. “We’re seeing a lot of workplace exposures over the last few weeks.”

Those workplaces include restaurants and day care facilities, O’Leary said.

“We have establishments that have seven-plus positive people within their operation,” O’Leary said. Schools have had some cases, but not clusters, she said.

In the past two weeks, the city has had 54 COVID-19 cases, making the average daily incidence rate per 100,000 people 13.2, according to the Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 report released Thursday.

Cases in most Hampshire County towns declined in the past two weeks, according to the DPH report. In the past two weeks, cases were highest in Amherst where there were 249 cases, with an average daily incidence rate per 100,000 people of 44.2.

Of all counties in the state, Hampshire County has the lowest amount of vaccine shipped to the county per capita. As a percentage of the population, the amount of doses shipped to Hampshire County is 26%, according to the most recent weekly DPH report on vaccinations released on Thursday.

“I don’t know why Hampshire County is getting less,” O’Leary told the Board of Health.

Bristol County was the second lowest, with its percentage at 28%. Nearby, Franklin County’s figure is 38%, Berkshire County’s is 55%, and Hampden County’s is 44%.

Greta Jochem can be reached at

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