Little increase in virus cases in Hampshire County

  • At Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, staff members work at their drive-up COVID-19 testing station located in a blocked-off parking lot at the corner of Federal and Beacon streets, Thursday, April 23, 2020. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 6/25/2020 5:13:42 PM

NORTHAMPTON — For the second straight week, Hampshire County communities again saw little to no increase in COVID-19 cases in the most recent state-released data by cities and towns, while Holyoke also dropped into single-digits for new cases.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported 905 cases in Holyoke as of June 23, up from 899 on June 16. The previous week, Holyoke recorded 22 new cases.

In Hampshire County, cities and towns had new cases in the single digits or no new cases over the course of that week, according to the state, as they did the week before. Northampton had 273, up from 271; South Hadley 144, up from 142; Belchertown 102, up from 101; Amherst 94, up from 93; Easthampton 83, up from 82; Hadley 43, up from 42; Southampton 30, with no increase from the previous week; Granby 28, no increase; Hatfield 17, no increase; Huntington 14, no increase; Williamsburg 10, no increase; and Westhampton six, up from five.

Plainfield, Cummington, Goshen, Chesterfield and Pelham again reported fewer than five cases, and Worthington and Middlefield remain at zero cases.

Cumulatively, the state reported 17 new cases in Hampshire County between June 16 and June 23. During the previous week, the state reported 25 new cases in the county.

Amid similar reports last week, Northampton Public Health Nurse Jenny Meyer said that these numbers do not reflect people who could be infected but have not been tested, but said that the numbers are also a good sign that residents have been following social distancing protocols, such as wearing masks, leading to a better regional COVID-19 outlook at this time.

Other protocols to continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 include limiting the proximity and duration of interactions between people and keeping these interactions in spaces with good ventilation, like outdoor settings, Meyer said.

Statewide, most Massachusetts residents continue to take precautions against COVID-19, with 44% of residents polled between June 18-21 saying they are “very strict” about adhering to social distancing protocols such as staying home as much as possible, not gathering in groups, and avoiding handshakes and hugs, while an additional 38% described themselves are “pretty strict.” Just 11% said they are “not very strict,” according to the poll by Suffolk University-led polls.

Massachusetts is tied with Washington, D.C. for the lowest COVID-19 transmission rate in the U.S. as of Thursday, according to COVID-19 tracking website rt.live.

But in some other states, cases and hospitalizations continue to climb. The University of Massachusetts Amherst COVID-19 Forecast Hub predicts that 139,000 people in the U.S. will have died of the disease by July 18.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.

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