Northampton’s COVID cases soar

  • A graph released Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, by the Northampton Health Department shows the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the city. NORTHAMPTON HEALTH DEPARTMENT

Staff Writer
Published: 12/30/2021 9:14:05 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The city recorded an average of 22 cases of COVID-19 per day and totaled 311 cases in the two weeks prior to Dec. 28, according to the latest data released by the Health Department on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported another record-breaking single-day case count statewide — 21,137 — almost 6,000 cases higher than the previous day’s report.

The highest single-day case count in Northampton since Dec. 15 was 55, and there were 267 confirmed active cases on Thursday, but the department said in a written statement that the numbers “are most likely a significant undercount as a result of testing access and supply not meeting significant demands.”

The 14-day incident rate — the number of infections per 100,000 people in the population — was 150% higher than during last year’s winter surge.

“In the past 14 days, we have well surpassed previously recorded peaks in COVID-19 transmission in Northampton,” the Health Department wrote. “The evolving surge in cases is also observable across the state and the country.”

The Northampton and Easthampton health departments have collaborated to open a new drive-through regional testing site at Millside Park, 2 Ferry St., Easthampton. Testing begins on Tuesday, Jan. 4, and will be available by appointment only.

Both departments issued a joint statement on Thursday explaining that the new site amounts to a change of plans for each city. Anyone who made an appointment at the Round House testing site in Northampton will need to go to the Easthampton site instead.

“Previously, the City of Easthampton planned to host a testing site three days per week, while Northampton planned to host a testing site two days per week, ultimately offering testing five days a week between the two cities,” the statement reads. “After much consideration, the cities’ two health directors, Bri Eichstaedt and Merridith O’Leary, determined it made more logistical sense and conserves our limited resources to offer testing five days a week at one central location instead of two.”

The hours for the new site are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Friday from 12-4 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Easthampton reported 110 new COVID cases between Dec. 15-21.

Holyoke Community College’s Stop the Spread testing site has announced it will stay open through March 31. The first-come, first-served site does not accept appointments.

Amherst reported 159 active cases on Thursday, nearly double the total of 81 on Dec. 22. UMass Amherst has not offered on-campus testing services since Dec. 23; the programs restart on Sunday.

Brian Steele can be reached at bsteele@gazettenet.com.

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